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Resolution: establishing a CTC Transformation & Healing Committee

The Care-Taking Council of the North American Dharma Teachers Sangha adopted the following resolution in March, 2015, in the wake of their visit to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel in Memphis, Tennessee, and their reflections on the collaboration between Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. on efforts to transform public opinion and bring an end to the Vietnam War. The resolution creates a new Transformation and Healing Committee within the Dharma Teachers Sangha that will concentrate on different forms of engaged and applied practice that address suffering in our present circumstances.

WHEREAS, Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh (“Thay”) and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. (“Dr. King”) are inspiring examples of contemplative people mak­ing enormous contributions to a world characterized by action;

WHEREAS, Thay and Dr. King collaborated with each other across lines of race, ethnicity, gender, and income in pragmatic ways to find ways to end the war in Vietnam;

WHEREAS, a recent visit to the National Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, Tennessee, reminded the Care-Taking Council of the North American Dharma Teachers Sangha of Thay’s collaboration with Dr. King and how a contemplative community’s emphasis on stopping, looking, and the simultaneous cultivation of insight and compassion can contribute in meaningful ways to the health and welfare of larger communities;

WHEREAS, examples of deep listening, appropriate speech, open-mindedness, open-heartedness, understanding, and love are badly needed in the world today;

WHEREAS, attentive to the recommendations in the Tenth Mindful­ness Training of the Order of Interbeing—i.e., to not turn our community into a political instrument, on the one hand, and to take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts, on the other—the Care-Taking Council of the North American Dharma Teachers Sangha aspires to further explore the example that Thay and Dr. King set by taking the following peaceful, mindful steps:

BE IT RESOLVED that the Care-Taking Council of the Dharma Teachers Sangha form a standing committee known as the Transforma­tion and Healing Committee, for the purpose of mindfully exploring the following possibilities and revisiting them with the Care-Taking Council before any substantial implementation of any one of them takes place:

1.)   to explore skillful means as a Fourfold Sangha to engage our mindful­ness practice, our understanding of the Five and Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings, and the body of Thay’s teachings to transform and heal the suffering caused by greed, anger, and delusion as they manifest in racial injustice, poverty, environmental degradation, war, and the demonization and stigmatization of people based on religion, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, or income level, and in innumerable other ways;

2.)   to consider the following efforts as examples:

      — retreats on the theme of misperception as a cause of personal, community, societal, and international suffering;

      — retreats on the theme of being mindful in the midst of complexity, and looking deeply into difficulties, with the assistance of the Four Noble Truths, Five and Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings, and insight into interdependence;

      — retreats for activists on the themes of mindfulness and rejuvenation, and the transformation of despair into joy;

      — retreats which bring together people from diverse backgrounds to offer their various points of view in a safe atmosphere of trust;

      — working groups to study the so-called “Just War” theory found in various religious traditions, and to look deeply at the “Just War” theory from a Buddhist practitioner’s perspective with the assistance of the Four Noble Truths and the Five and Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings;

      — working groups to study whether or not the Thich Nhat Hanh Fourfold Sangha can qualify as a “peace church” for the purpose of exempting young people in the Thich Nhat Hanh Fourfold Sangha from US military service under the Selective Service System;

      — working groups to study questions of racial, ethnic, gender, and economic diversity within the Thich Nhat Hanh Fourfold Sangha;

      — working groups on environmental questions and how best to sup­port environmental rejuvenation consistent with the Five and Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings;

      — “Please Call Me by My True Names” teach-ins on topics of con­cern, designed to look deeply into causes and conditions of suffering from multiple points of view;

3.)   to find ways to reach out to other contemplative communities engaged in such efforts, such as the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Fellowship of Reconciliation, American Friends Service Committee, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Southern Christian Leadership Conference, Sierra Club, Friends of the Earth, Catholic Worker, Tikkun, Protest Chaplains, and other seasoned groups too numerous to mention, for the purposes of enhancing our understanding, increasing our joint effectiveness and our ability to learn from one another, and ultimately decreasing the suffering caused by misperception;

4.)   to similarly explore ways to encourage Dharma teachers, Order of Interbeing and local Sangha members, and other communities and individuals to participate in practical, feasible, and sustainable vol­untary social service and charitable activities;

5.)   to conduct such activities not only as a standing committee of the Care-Taking Council but also as a joint effort and activity undertaken by the Dharma Teachers Sangha in harmony with interested Order of Interbeing and local Sangha members;

6.)   to conduct such activities in a way which supplements and does not compete or interfere with ongoing environmental efforts within the Thich Nhat Hanh Fourfold Sangha, including the Order of Interbeing, and which portrays recent environmental activities of the monastic community and the Order of Interbeing as pioneering examples of Sangha collaboration;

7.)   to investigate and determine within a reasonable period of time whether or not it may ultimately be feasible and possibly preferable to conduct some but not all of the aforesaid activities as a Thich Nhat Hanh Fourfold Sangha chapter of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship;

8.)   to embark upon these efforts in a spirit of community and patience—knowing that this is a life’s work—motivated by bodhicitta rather than the brief, temporary energy provided by the white sugar of anger;

9.)   to undertake each of the aforesaid efforts in ways that are consistent with the example and teachings of Thay and the Five and Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings, and in a manner that reflects a one-step, one-breath, deeply present approach to each task and to everyday life; and

10.)  to welcome widespread participation on the Transformation and Healing Committee from members of the Dharma Teachers Sangha, which will then work in conjunction with Order of Interbeing and local Sangha members on various joint efforts.

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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