EDITOR’S NOTE: The following message was sent to the members of Nalandabodhi International. As such, it contains references to resources available for support to the sangha, such as our center and study group directors and practice instructors. Though these specific resources may not be relevant to the general public, the guidance on how to practice for those suffering from the tragedy can be applied by anyone. Thank you for your thoughts and prayers.
Dear Nalandabodhi Sangha,
We hope this finds you well and flourishing. As we enjoy the beauty of autumn in the northern hemisphere, we find so many reasons to rejoice in our good fortune, to make our lives meaningful, and to extend our hearts of compassion.
Continually, we hear of tragedies in the world, both on a personal level and on a large scale. The recent devastation caused by Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines has been a powerful reminder that comfort can change to unbearable sorrow in the blink of an eye, and that there are always sentient beings who can benefit from our care.
In writing this letter, we simply wanted to offer you our support for your individual and group practice. It can feel disheartening to see such devastation fill the news, but as sangha, we can also feel the benefits of the experience of compassion. When we practice and dedicate our merit and love to those who are suffering, we merge with the peaceful, free breath of all buddhas and bodhisattvas.
If you would like to practice for those affected by the typhoon, the Mitras have shared that any practice dedicated to the victims is beneficial. For example, a session could include shamatha followed by tonglen and a recitation of the Heart Sutra, followed by the Short Sukhavati Aspiration for those who have died, as well as any Tara supplications for those who face the challenges of recovering from the disaster. “An Aspiration for the World” by His Holiness the 17th Karmapa is a beautiful way to dedicate the merit.
Alternatively, if you have been leading any kind of group study or practice session, you may simply take a moment to verbally acknowledge the tragedy before the dedication of merit is recited. Please connect with your Practice Instructor, and then your local directors, for clarification or further discussion.
These and several other liturgies and meditation practices can be done in response to this or any other tragedy to which we may need to respond. And, of course, not only will our prayers and peaceful hearts help, but monetary donations to appropriate and reliable charities and humanitarian organizations will surely help relief efforts on a practical level.
We thank you for your continued presence in our sangha, and we thank you for your compassion for sentient beings.
Yours in the dharma,
Mitra Tyler Dewar (for the Mitra Council)
Diane Biray Gregorio (on behalf of Nalandabodhi US)
P.S. From Diane:
Big love and thanks for all the personal emails, texts, messages, etc. asking about the effect of Typhoon Haiyan on my family in the Philippines.
My parents and many relatives are safe in Manila, in the northern part of the country, which didn’t get the brunt of the storm. Unfortunately, it severely hit the central part of the Philippines where my mom grew up and where we have other family. My uncle and cousins suffered major property damage, with the roofs of several houses literally torn off in the 200 mph+ winds. As far as we know, no one in my family has been hurt.
Our hearts ache for those who have not been so lucky, such as the 10,000 estimated dead, those grieving their loss, and those recovering physically, emotionally, and spiritually. As always, such disasters disproportionately affect those in poverty, especially women and children. 7 out of 10 Filipinos remain below the poverty line.
May our hearts remain ever open to the suffering of beings everywhere, inspiring us to give rise to boundless wisdom, compassion, and assistance to beings, awakening us to our good fortune, and encouraging us to take full advantage of this precious human life.
We welcome your thoughts and prayers for those affected, which in this interdependent world includes us all.