Winter 2021 Newsletter

Winter 2021 Newsletter

Dear Beloved Community,

As we near the end of designated Black History Month, we recognize that Black history continues beyond February and is not separate from our collective history. For all of us, Black history is our history. We inter-are. 

With that understanding, we would like to share some resources to support your practice: a list of books by BIPOC authors, a call to affinity sanghas to be included in a list that ARISE is compiling, and two love letters by the ARISE Core Group.

We hope these offerings will support you during this challenging time.
With a deep bow of resilience,
ARISE Core Group

Our dear teacher Thay referred to Martin Luther King Jr as a bodhisattva, “an enlightened being trying to awaken other living beings and help them move toward more compassion and understanding.” From his own words, Dr. King clearly understood interbeing.

“All life is interrelated. We are all caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied into a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. We are made to live together because of the interrelated structure of reality. Did you ever stop to think that you can’t leave for your job in the morning without being dependent on most of the world? You get up in the morning and go to the bathroom and reach over for the sponge, and that’s handed to you by a Pacific Islander. You reach for a bar of soap, and that’s given to you at the hands of a Frenchman. And then you go into the kitchen to drink your coffee for the morning, and that’s poured into your cup by a South American. And maybe you want tea: that’s poured into your cup by someone from China. Or maybe you’re desirous of having cocoa for breakfast, and that’s poured into your cup by a West African. And then you reach over for your toast, and that’s given to you at the hands of an English-speaking farmer, not to mention the baker. And before you finish eating breakfast in the morning, you’ve depended on more than half the world. This is the way our universe is structured; this is its interrelated quality. We aren’t going to have peace on Earth until we recognize this basic fact of the interrelated structure of all reality.”

— Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr, from his 1967 Christmas Sermon on Peace

Book Recommendations 

As we begin 2021 ARISE has compiled the following list of recommended books as resources in service of healing the wounds of racial injustice and social inequity:

  • You Belong: A Call for Connection, by Sebene Selassie
  • Black and Buddhist: What Buddhism Can Teach Us About Race, Resilience, Transformation, and Freedom, Cheryl Giles and Pamela Ayo Yetunde, Editors
  • America’s Racial Karma: An Invitation to Heal, by Larry Ward
  • The Deepest Peace: Contemplations from a Season of Stillness, by Zenju Earthlyn Manuel
  • When the Light of the World Was Subdued, Our Songs Came Through, an anthology of Native American poets edited by Joy Harjo
  • Being Black: Zen and the Art of Living with Fearlessness and Grace, by Rev. angel Kyodo williams
  • Love and Rage: The Path of Liberation Through Anger, Lama Rod Owens 

ARISE Love Letter In Response to the White Supremacist Insurrection at the U.S. Capitol and Those Who Perpetrated Similar Acts of Violence Across the United States, as COVID-19 Deaths Exceed 4000 in a Single Day

Dear Thay, dear Beloved Community,
We are grateful for the breath to bring us back home to our body. This simple and profound act of breathing in awareness is a skillful means to come back home during these chaotic times.The Mangala Sutra (Discourse on Happiness) offers the Buddha’s response on how we assure blessings and protection upon ourselves. It reminds us that when we practice to be an anchor, a blessing to ourselves, this is the greatest gift we can offer to the world. We offer this reminder during these ungrounded times. We remember that we are the anchor, the protection, the blessed ones that assures we act into peace and step fully into justice. From this place of patience, clarity, humility, compassion, and generosity we lay bare the need for justice for all those suffering from the insurrection that occurred in the US Capitol. We lay bare the need for justice for all those who continue to suffer from similar acts of violence across the United States. We acknowledge this history of violence and we acknowledge the suffering.
Click here to read the complete letter on the ARISE website.

Open Love Letter to Joanne Friday

The ARISE Sangha Core Group offers this letter of gratitude and celebration to Dharma Teacher Joanne Friday, known to many of us as a dear teacher, mentor, sister and friend on the path. After well over a decade of living with – but never defined by – metastatic cancer, Joanne transitioned from the Historic dimension into the Ultimate dimension on January 20, 2021. Her wisdom, clarity and abundant joy continue on in us.

‘Our life is our message.’
Thich Nhat Hanh

Dear Joanne,
This life is a precious, temporal gift, and we are its steward.  We know that this manifestation of human life does not end with the body, but instead continues in another form, a different manifestation.  All is transformation.  All is continuation.  Life cannot be destroyed.  Life cannot be created.  This body is a living continuation, a legacy of our thoughts, words, and actions. The comforting wisdom and insight of signlessness lights the way.  

We know too that happiness and suffering inter-are.  We live with both; they are interdependent. The wisdom of grief and loss is the awareness that something important, something meaningful, something we love, was lost. 
Click here to read the complete letter on the ARISE website.

Support for Finding Affinity Groups 

Support for Finding Affinity Groups

ARISE Sangha is creating a list of BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ affinity sanghas within our Plum Village tradition. Such a list will be an important resource allowing everyone who identifies as BIPOC and/or LGBTQ+ to find support and community. We hope our BIPOC or LGBTQIA+ sangha siblings will benefit from participating in these sanghas.

If your affinity sangha would like to be included in this list please email

Gatha for Healing Racial, Systemic and Social Inequity
Aware of the suffering caused by racial, systemic, and social inequities, we commit ourselves, individually and as a community, to understanding the roots of these inequities, and to transforming this suffering into compassion, understanding, and love in action. As a global community of practitioners, we are aware of the disproportionate racial violence and oppression committed by institutions and by individuals, whether consciously or unconsciously, against African Americans and people of color across the United States and beyond. We know that by looking deeply as individuals and as a community, we can engage the collective wisdom and energy of the Sangha to be our foundation for Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Mindfulness, and Right Insight. These are the practices leading to nondiscrimination, non-harming, and non-self which heal ourselves and the world.

Dana is a gift given from the heart.
It brings joy and benefit to both the giver and receiver.
 Since its inception, ARISE Sangha has been guided by the ancient Buddhist principle of Dana or Generosity. It is an economy of gifts, in which everyone gives freely from their hearts. Dana has supported the teaching of mindfulness for thousands of years. Donations make it possible for ARISE to continue to offer teachings and resources that support our mission of inclusivity and refuge for all.  We welcome your financial support with a one-time or monthly donation.
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