A Very Happy Moment

Alison and Orla were delighted to join with others from the Scottish Sangha on Tues 14th June in Findhorn’s Universal Hall to celebrate Paloma’s ordination and the transmission of the 14 Mindfulness Trainings directly from Plum Village via Zoom. Paloma joined many others from the global Sangha in receiving the trainings and joining Thich Nhat Hanh’s Order of Interbeing/ Tiep Hien as a lay member.

Paloma has the wonderful dharma name “True Direction of Goodness”.

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Our New Normal …

Dear Friends,

I hope you are all well and have been enjoying the glorious June sunshine. We are writing to give you all an update about the Poppy Seed sangha as we transition to our “new normal” following the 2 years of the Covid pandemic.

The pandemic has given us the opportunity to experiment with on-line sessions and we have discovered that these work well for some people and make the sangha more accessible. At the same time there are others who enjoy being able to spend time together in person. And there are some people who enjoy both 

So after reflecting together as facilitators and consulting with sangha members about the best way forward we have decided for the moment to alternate with one week on-line and the next in person. We will continue to send out a monthly email with the details for that month. If you are not receiving this monthly email regularly and would like to then just let us know.

The last two years have also seen us move from our previous home at Westbank to our new venue of Strathmiglo Village Hall. Westbank is in need of some repairs and was not quite suitable when we needed to be socially distanced. So although after nearly 20 years of meeting there, we have many fond memories and emotional attachments to Westbank, the time seemed right to move to a new venue. Strathmiglo Village Hall is a large airy room which gives us space to spread out when we need to and lots of space for indoor walking. It also has a lovely garden and places to walk outdoors when the weather is fine.

It would be lovely to see old and new friends at our regular Thursday Sangha in person or on-line. The move to on-line practice also means there are lots of other opportunities to practice with the UK sangha. You may want to have a look at the Plum Village UK web-site to see some of the various possibilities.

We look forward to seeing some of you on-line or in person soon,

With a bow and a smile,

The Poppy Seed Facilitators

The Poppy Seed Sangha – Practising in the Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh
Affiliated with the Community of Interbeing UK (registered charity number 1096680)

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Faciliators Retreat at Kilgraston School

The Scottish Facilitators Retreat took place at Kilgraston School in Perthshire from Thursday 17th to Sunday 20th February 2022. Around 35 of us gathered together in this beautiful setting and the students kindly cleared their bedrooms for us to stay!

It was the first in-person retreat in Scotland since before the pandemic began and there was a palpable sense of relief, comfort and joy at being together again physically. Despite some initial Covid-safety niggles – are the windows open enough, do we need more space between dining tables – we quickly settled into the embrace of the Sangha.

Dharma Teachers, Murray Corke and Susanne Olbrich, guided us skilfully in the art of facilitating and their talks generated much rich discussion and sharing. We enjoyed a fabulous bell practice session, walking meditation in the snow, a be-in and lots of nourishing silence.

The organisers, Roland Spencer-Jones and Orla Beaton, would like to thank all those in attendance for helping to make the retreat such a success. We returned to our Sanghas with a new found respect for the art of facilitation. 

Safety in Numbers

There were stars on her ceiling

I lay awake with happiness

Wondering whose room this was

Wondering how it felt

To be so far from home

So far from family

How lucky I was to be

Reunited with my family

A spiritual one

In brown half-robes

Slippers and lazy clothes

No longer imprisoned

In Zoom boxes

Our freedom was physical

We sat upright together

On a wooden sprung floor

The theatre of a local school

Our breathing room for now

The building rambled

Disorientating level changes

Lack of light and endless corridors

There was continuous window adjusting

To ease Covid nerves

And yet the school held us

There was safety in those walls

Comfort, friendship and great relief

Safety in numbers

Never would we take

Together

For granted again

© orlabeaton

23/2/22

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I am not in here

“I have a disciple in Vietnam who wants to build a stupa for my ashes when I die. He and others want to include a plaque with the words “Here lies my beloved teacher.” I told them not to waste the temple land. “Do not put me in a small pot and put me in there!” I said. “I don’t want to continue like that. It would be better to scatter the ashes outside to help the trees to grow.I suggested that, if they still insist on building a stupa, they have the plaque say, “I am not in here.” But in case people don’t get it, they could add a second plaque, “I am not out there either.” If people still don’t understand, then you can write on the third and last plaque, “I may be found in your way of breathing and walking.”

This body of mine will disintegrate, but my actions will continue me. In my daily life, I always practice to see my continuation all around me. We don’t need to wait until the total dissolution of this body to continue—we continue in every moment. If you think that I am only this body, then you have not truly seen me. When you look at my friends, you see my continuation. When you see someone walking with mindfulness and compassion, you know he is my continuation. I don’t see why we have to say “I will die,” because I can already see myself in you, in other people, and in future generations. Even when the cloud is not there, it continues as snow or rain. It is impossible for a cloud to die. It can become rain or ice, but it cannot become nothing. The cloud does not need to have a soul in order to continue. There’s no beginning and no end. I will never die. There will be a dissolution of this body, but that does not mean my death. I will continue, always.”

Thich Nhat Hanh, in “At Home In The World”

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No coming, no going

22nd January 2022

Dear Friends,
This letter comes to you with sad news.

Our much loved and respected teacher, Thích Nhất Hạnh, has passed away. Thầy was 95 years old. He passed away peacefully at his root temple near Hue, in central Vietnam, where he has lived for the past three years.

We are all connected by our love and respect for Thầy, and by a deep sense of gratitude for his example, his energy, his skilful actions and his teaching. At this time, when we may be feeling a rawness in our hearts, we invite you to create some space, and give gentle and attentive care to your thoughts and feelings. We can find comfort, strength and wisdom in the sangha, and in the many teachings available to us. We can find solidity and freedom in our breath and in our steps, both when we are alone and when we are with others.

Thay often spoke about life, death and continuation. Here is an excerpt from a talk given, at the end of the 21 day retreat, in June 2014

‘If you want to be with Thầy, if you want to see Thầy’s continuation, the surest place is in you – your way of breathing, your way of walking. If you breathe in and out, and you find peace and happiness and fulfilment, you know that Thầy is always with you. And when you walk from the parking lot to your office, and if you feel joy, fulfilment and happiness, Thay is always walking with you. And you should wish Thầy a happy continuation body. And you are that body.’

We can honour Thầy and continue his work in the world. A work of peace, inclusiveness, understanding, compassion and happiness. This work begins within ourselves and reaches out to our friends and neighbours, animals and plants, colleagues and family, Mother Earth, acquaintances and strangers. Together we can make such a difference, just one breath, one thought, one step, at a time.

A number of opportunities have been created for us, if we find it helpful, to come together online. We can be together, practise together, listen to each other, and share with each other. Please see the links below to morning meditations, and to afternoon and evening sit & share sessions. These are in addition to events that you may wish to continue with your local sangha. There are also links below to a number of ceremonies, in honour of Thầy, being live streamed from Hue and from Plum Village. All of this information is also available on the Plum Village UK website.

With love and much care,

The UK Dharma teachers
Jane Coatesworth, Lesley Collington, Murray Corke, Dene Donalds, Barbara Hickling, Vari McLuskie, Susanne Olbrich, Theresa Payne, Martin Pitt, Angie Searle, Teri West

For the audio version of the letter, please go to: https://youtu.be/gc7h5rx3XL0

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14 Mindfulness Trainings Transmission Ceremony

A very happy moment for the May Day weekend when sangha member, Orla Beaton, received the Transmission of the 14 Mindfulness Trainings along with 190 aspirants from around the world via Plum Village on Zoom. She becomes an ordained member of Thay’s core community, Tiep Hien/ Order of Interbeing and has the dharma name “True Spring Mind”.

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A Mindful Meander …

It was delightful to gather together for a short “Mindful Meander” near Strathmiglo this morning. So nice to be together in person for the first time since our walk last summer, supported by our footsteps, our breath, the sunshine and the hills. It was especially lovely to see Irene and Cate who haven’t been able to connect with the Sangha via Zoom. As well as being a safe way to be together in these Covid times, mindful walking in nature connects us with to the spiritual roots of Plum Village and right back to the times of the Buddha. We look forward to offering more meanders like these in future.

“Take my hand. We will walk.
We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Walk peacefully.
Walk happily.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.”

Thich Nhat Hanh

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Presence is the greatest gift we can offer

We had a wonderful last Sangha of the year last night, with Karen facilitating a winter solstice celebration. It was a very peaceful and connected close to this year honouring the darkness and the return of the light. We will take a break now for the festive period resuming on Thursday 7th January 2021.

Thank you to all those who have attended our Sangha gatherings during this eventful year and all our website followers. Our virtual circle on Zoom has become a refuge each Thursday evening and it has been lovely to see our connection deepen in this way.

Thay says “Presence is the greatest gift we can offer”. Are we present for ourselves and our family? Are we present with our meals? Are we present with the sunrise? May we continue to enjoy our practice during the festive season in order for that seed of presence to grow and to nourish those around us and the Earth.

Solstice blessings to all.

With a bow from all the facilitators x

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Poppy Seed Sangha now on Zoom!

web

Here are Poppy Seed Sangha we recognise how important it is for us humans to stay in touch, just like these beautiful gems of water on this spiders web, all intimately related and connected. So during this period of physical isolation, we are delighted to continue our weekly Thursday night gathering online on Zoom. Zoom is a free video-conferencing app easily accessible on your phone, tablet or computer. So far this has worked really well with up to 14 of us gathering together in the virtual world, some from further afield who had moved away and are now able to reconnect, all committing to nurturing & deepening our capacity for mindfulness and compassion at this challenging time. The session includes a guided mediation and time to share from the heart & listen deeply and is slightly shorter at 1hr 15mins. We would encourage you to give it a go and join us one Thursday soon!

Breathing in, we are blooming as flowers. Breathing out, we are fresh as the breeze.

A lotus to you all,

Poppy Seed Sangha

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Poppy Seed Sangha is going online!

Dear Sangha friends,

Following the Government’s advice last night to avoid any non-essential contact and travel, for the time being we have decided to move our Sangha to an online platform called Skype which is accessible on any digital device like a smartphone or computer. Recognising the importance of our practice, we wish to stay connected and continue to support ourselves and each other in a safe and sustainable way over the coming weeks. Please check your email inbox to find out how to stay connected in this way.

“During spring, thousands of different types of flowers wake up. Your heart can bloom too. You can let your heart open to the world. Love is possible – don’t be afraid.”  Thich Nhat Hahn

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