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Sharing Experiences of Taking Refuge in the Three Jewels and Receiving Transmission of the Five Mindfulness Trainings

26 Nov 2013 10:45 AM | Anonymous member (Administrator)
Our sangha sisters Nancy, Charner and MT each share from the heart their experiences, below.

At the last retreat I received transmission with my sangha sisters Charner, Evelyn and MT.  This was not the first time.  I had actually received transmission the first time in Naples from Fred, our teacher, back in 2005.  The transmission ceremony is offered to both those wanting to commit to the Buddhist path of practice for the first time and those who would like to “re-enlist”, meaning those wanting to re-commit anew to the path of practice.  I definitely wanted to renew and refresh my commitment.

The first time I received transmission, I was overwhelmed.  The path was big, the challenge great and although I heard the words of the transmission I had no real idea how to put into practice many of the mindfulness trainings.  I also knew that some of them would present more of a challenge then others.  This time at the retreat in the Franciscan Center I heard the mindfulness training on Nourishment and Healing almost as if it was the first time. 

Using food all my life as a method to escape my body, mind, and surroundings I knew this particular training spoke directly to me.  During the transmission, I heard the words, “Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption” as if for the first time.  I was aware.  I was deeply aware of how unmindful eating has caused pain in my mind and body for many years.  This time I heard another phrase in the training statement about practicing mindful eating, not just for oneself, but for all of society. 

Since I have always lived alone, I never realized that when I eat mindfully I am doing it not only for myself but for everyone, especially those who are hungry.  When I heard the transmission this time, a light went on in my mind.  Even if the majority of my eating is done alone in my kitchen with no one around, it matters when I don’t consume food mindfully.  It matters to society and I need to practice for society, especially for those who, every day, do not have enough to eat. 

Taking transmission is a powerful step, even after the first time.  You are declaring once again with your mind and heart and in front on the sangha community your intention to practice these five trainings.  As we live in a culture suffering from a dearth of healing and transformative ceremonies, doing this one thing on retreat had a significant impact on my path of practice.  I walked away with a new understanding that I was practicing this particular training not for myself or in service of a self-image molded from women’s magazine advertisements, but for my community, society, and especially those who suffer from hunger. 
~ Nancy Cunningham

“To the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, I go for refuge.  By this practice, may understanding, compassion and equanimity be achieved for the benefit of all beings.“  As we say these or similar words each morning before sitting down to meditate, the meaning gradually has its effect upon us like water flowing over rocks slowly smoothing their surface.  Repeating our intention every day reminds us why we practice and energizes our effort.  Though on some days I recite these words rotely without clearly seeing their meaning, on other days the words penetrate more deeply.

It was on the last morning of the recent Fall retreat at the Franciscan Center, led by our teacher Fred, where four of us, surrounded by the Sangha and facing Fred and the Buddha’s alter, formally vowed to go for refuge to the Three Jewels - the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha - and to practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings.  As I listened to the recitation of the ceremony’s words prescribed by Thich Nhat Hanh and detailed in his book Chanting from the Heart, they deeply penetrated my being.  Standing in the middle of this harmonious gathering and touching the earth after each vow, I felt the warmth, love and support of the entire community, my spiritual family, and experienced great happiness inside of me for choosing this path.
~ Charner Reese


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