By Rick Kuntz
In September 1996, I attended The Heart of the Buddha retreat at Plum Village. I had received the Five Mindfulness Trainings the year before at Omega and arrived in France with my letter to Thay and with the happy anticipation of joining the Order of Interbeing during the retreat. No one spoke to me about my letter until a few days before the ceremony. Since I did not have a sponsor or contact with Order members as required, it was suggested that I wait a year and practice with an established Sangha before taking the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings. Although I quietly agreed to this suggestion, which was offered gently and with compassion, I was devastated.
During the next three days, much of the pain from childhood came roaring back into my heart. I felt hurt, lost, and very alone. As I fought back tears at the start of the ceremony, I suddenly began to question the intensity of these emotions. I realized that being asked to wait had touched past scars of rejection that had nothing to do with taking the Trainings or the Order of Interbeing. Sitting there, holding these feelings, helped me know that my practice would have to grow much stronger if these old wounds were ever to be transformed. I closed my eyes, listened carefully, and invited each word of the Trainings into my opened heart.
Two weeks after returning home from Plum Village, I traveled to New York City for a Day of Mindfulness and began to practice regularly with the Sangha. I was warmly welcomed and immediately felt connected and at home. Sangha, the Jewel that had been missing, was now very real and wonderful, energizing my practice in ways I never thought possible! My appreciation for the wisdom of waiting was growing. My gratitude gradually became patience and understanding. With the insight, love, and support of a Sangha, I was more capable of making the subtle changes in my life that would help me fully embrace the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings.
The October 1997 retreat at Omega was a vibrant and happy experience. Many of my brothers and sisters from the New York Sangha were there. I gladly helped with meditation hall care and a Dharma discussion group. Unlike the year before, all three Jewels were alive in my practice, along with a better understanding of what it meant to join the Order ofInterbeing. At the formal ceremony, I knelt before Thay with a dear Dharma sister from the Washington Sangha on my left and a dear Dharma brother from the New York Sangha on my right. I smiled when I heard my true name, thankful that the wisdom of waiting had nourished and prepared me so well to receive the 14 Mindfulness Trainings with solidity, peace, and much joy.
Rick Kuntz, True Way of Peace, lives in Nazareth, Pennsylvania and practices with the Community of Mindfulness/New York Metro.