Oct.15th, 2014 Bodh Gaya, India
Dear Sangha of the Order of Interbeing,
I write on behalf of our little magazine, the Mindfulness Bell, one of the communication channels for our Plum Village community throughout the world. At present, I am in India traveling with a beautiful Fourfold Sangha of seventy practitioners from around the world and with eight monastics under the guidance of Shantum, Gitu and his team. How fortunate it is to travel to these sites with practicing pilgrims! This morning our Sangha enjoyed sitting and breathing under the shade of the Bodhi Tree and afterwards, listened to Sister Hiến Nghiêm read out loud the section from Old Path White Clouds where Thầy describes in profound poetic details the gradual course of Gautama’s enlightenment. We are grateful for every moment that we are alive here and intend to share more on the trip in a future article in the Mindfulness Bell.
We have made a lot of progress with the magazine since 1999, when I personally remember, at a retreat in Santa Barbara, how Thầy sat at a desk in the early morning to calligraph the words Mindfulness Bell with his gentle style that we are all familiar with. He wrote it several times on separate sheets, each time with a different kick and swirl to the letters, before handing them all to Sister Thường Nghiêm to give to the MB cover designer to later select. With a hot cup of tea at his side, Thầy’s right hand guided the brush with grace and ease like he was performing magic. Deeply, it was a blessing for our humble magazine. We were about to undertake upgrades to the magazine with Thầy’s encouragement, to make it more appropriate and accessible to our community. Thầy shared that every community needs a medium to communicate within, to connect with others and to sustain its essence and spiritual direction. It was also our first issue for the new century and a new millennium, for the Winter 2000 issue with the new calligraphy. In it, Thầy wrote a special message to the Fourfold Sangha of the Tu Hieu lineage, namely all practitioners in the Plum Village tradition, calling on us to build Sanghas and communities of practice as a refuge for others, and for us to build a new century of collective awakening and responsibility.
In line with Thầy’s calling and encouragement, we write now to ask for your support, spiritually and financially, as we continue to upgrade and evolve this magazine. We hope to create more of an online presence that is lively and relevant, in addition to our beloved print version. We will also continue to reach out to and connect further with our growing international community for their heartful stories and breakthroughs in their practice and service.
We would like to request that all OI members at least subscribe to the magazine, if you haven’t done so, and/or find ways that you can help us raise funds. For example, you might ask your local Sangha to contribute a dollar or so, and if your group has a regular meeting space, to subscribe as a Sangha and put the magazine out for members to read who cannot afford to subscribe. You can also encourage Sangha members to subscribe for their home and give gift subscriptions for loved ones.
The added funds will contribute to bringing on board one or two new staff members who would be responsible for creating an online magazine and doing outreach for pertinent news and diverse stories to nourish our spirits and sustain our community. The funds also will be used to raise the small pocket salary of our current staff. The MB team works tirelessly to put the magazine together and the paid staff mostly survives via another paying job and serves the Bell community out of their love for Thầy and the Sangha.
Your support will help us to make sure the Mindfulness Bell is accessible to Sangha members around the world – online and in print – as a medium to sustain our community’s essence of brotherhood and sisterhood, and to nourish each other on the path of practice.
Thank you for being there. You are therefore we are.
Brother Pháp Dung
For the MB Team