Thich Nhat Hanh Leaders Visit SCU
On February 9th, 2016, the SCU Religious Studies Dept. welcomed Lyn Fine and Victoria Mausisa, two leaders in the Vietnamese Zen Buddhist lineage of Thich Nhat Hanh, the Order of Interbeing. This lineage is anchored in Plum Village, a monastery established in France by Thich Nhat Hanh, as well as in monastic and lay groups in the worldwide Community of Mindful Living.
Visiting both intermediate and advanced level courses in Religious Studies (RSOC 64 and 113), Fine and Mausisa offered mindfulness practices for students, including sitting meditation, walking meditation, deep listening, and mindful speaking. The walking meditation was particularly memorable, as each class was delighted to exit the building into the bright spring sunlight. Keeping silent, students stepped slowly and deliberately, if sometimes awkwardly, down the steps and under a tree bedecked with white blossoms. Noticing the strong sun, the gentle breeze, and the other living beings, such as grass, flowers, squirrels, and curious people nearby, students circled around the flowering tree for further mindful awareness of the tree’s strong trunk, delicate petals, and invisible yet deep roots. The teachers spoke of the tree both as a living entity with whom we share our campus space, but also as a metaphor for the potential for community to strengthen and flower when deeply rooted.
In further dialogue, the guest speakers reflected on the importance of focusing mindful attention on the most vulnerable in our communities, affected by prejudice, poverty, or racial injustice. Bringing mindful attention to others, they said, we see that we are interconnected. Their suffering is our suffering. Their liberation is our liberation. In the words of their teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, “To develop the drop of compassion in our heart is the only effective spiritual response to hatred and violence.”
Sarah E. Robinson-Bertoni
Religious Studies Adjunct Lecturer