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Welcome to Our New Blog

Beyond the Fire Road

We are fresh out of the monastery to explore and begin our journey of what awaits us beyond the Fire Road. We have said goodbye to Deer Park Monastery our first home to which we will always be grateful. The Great Hidden Mountain has a beauty like no other! May we bring with us all that it has given us, all that it has taught us, it’s healing energy and vast acceptance to embrace all and may we share it with all sentient beings who’s paths we may cross.

This uncertain and courageous trek in our young monastic lives will be an odyssey you wouldn’t want to miss! So come along as we take to the wind bringing mindfulness and our meditation practice to a community near you.

Ask The Teachers: What is the Buddhist View of Hope?

Oren Jay Sofer, Sister Clear Grace, and Ayya Yeshe look at the meaning of hope in Buddhism and what it means in today’s world. 

Sister Clear Grace: In the Anguttara Nikaya 3:13, the Buddha teaches us that there are three kinds of people in the world: “The hopeful, the hopeless, and the one who has done away with hope.”

My very existence stands on the back of hope, a hope dependent upon a complicated reality of causes, conditions, and context. I am here today partially because of the seeds of hope for emancipation. Those before me tell of great songs sung to acquire hope, songs like “We Shall Overcome” and “A Change is Gonna Come.” They tell of political slogans, like King’s “I Have a Dream” and Obama’s “Yes We Can.” They tell of poetry, like Langston’s “I, Too” or Maya’s “Caged Bird.” They tell of Biblical passages once used to oppress, turning instead into paths of freedom, giving enslaved Africans a profound sense of hope of overcoming in the midst of suffering. This sort of transcendent hope can be a way of relating to suffering amidst continuity and change. In this way, hope sustains life or becoming, and offers a belief in the possibility of positive outcomes that help us develop intention in the face of obstacles.

Hope acquired through direct experience gives us insight into change.

In the wake of Covid-19 there is much to feel hopeless about: the senseless murders of Black bodies, xenophobia, classism, and racism. These realities are not to be denied and did not just arrive with the pandemic. For many, the virus has only re-exposed a divide or a type of social distancing that has been amongst us all along. The racial, economic, gender, citizenship status, and class disparities have exacerbated the very inequalities that Black, Indigenous, People of Color, elders, migrant workers, incarcerated, and detained people have always actively opposed in the hope of creating a better or more equitable future. As people rush to return to “normal,” many of us are concerned that our imperfect past will evolve into an imperfect new normal. We must take care that our hopes for a different now or a better future don’t lead us to fall into despair.

Hope acquired through direct experience gives us insight into change, rather than just the wanting of change. This wise hope can allow us to see things as they are—that nothing is inherently permanent or fixed. The Buddha directs us to a path that is wishless or without expectation. It is from this very space that we are then able to create and be the very hope that we wish to see.

Please join us on August 31, 7  – 8:30 p.m. for meditation, dharma talk and discussion. Our special guest speaker is Sister Clear Grace of Heartwood Refuge Retreat Center. You can connect by zoom using our regular zoom link.

This session is offered freely to make it accessible to everyone. To honor the wisdom, time and commitment of the teacher and supporting organizations, we ask you to offer donations. The Buddha taught that when we donate generously within our ability to give, we let go of clinging and and our heart softens. Suggested donation is $20, or donate what you can. Donations can be  paid by Paypal here, or Venmo @onedharma.Sister True Moon of Clear Grace received her novice ordination in the Plum Village Vietnamese Zen tradition headed by the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh. She is a member of the Care Taking Council for the Earth Holder Community which is a mindful Earth/Social justice initiative in the Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism.She is also a Core member for the  ARISE Sangha (Awakening through Race, Intersectionality, and Social Equity) a community of mindfulness practitioners and monastics who come together to heal the wounds of racial injustice and social inequity, beginning with looking deeply within ourselves and using the energy of compassion, understanding, and love in action.  She has recently left Deer Park Monastery to take refuge in Heartwood’s intentional community and the vision of its founders.The Dharma has been her greatest source of insight and transformation to heal from injustices of all kinds. It has helped her to learn truths and unlearn deeply embedded beliefs that have kept her away from the liberation of such sufferings in her daily life. She wishes to integrate these skills, understandings, wisdom traditions and worldviews in her intention for contributing to the ending of suffering for all beings. Mindfulness meditation and the dharma are ideal for transforming suffering, particularly the trauma of oppression and its many vicissitudes-where the chains around our minds and hearts can be broken and dissolved. With True Love and Inclusiveness sister Clear Grace wishes to further break through the illusions that these opinions and beliefs are internalized and ways in which they are presenting themselves in our dharma communities.

Interbeing, Intersectionality and True Happiness

March 8th, 2020 
Dear Friends,
Dear Thay,

We are delighted to announce that the upcoming March 8th EHC Online Sangha will be facilitated by Earth Holder Community Care Taking Council member, Clear Grace! Clear Grace will guide us in a meditation and Dharma talk: “Interbeing, Intersectionality and True Happiness”

We hope you will join us! 

A brief description of the Dharma talk topic, Clear Grace’s bio, and the zoom link are found below.

For those of us who are unable to attend, the recording will be released on the EHC YouTubechannel 2-3 days following the live gathering. 

Please contact Earth Holder Community Coordinator, Simona Coayla-Duba, at with any questions. March 2020088 AM PT/ 9AM MT/
11 AM ET/ 4PM (GMT)

Please check your time zone for accuracy of timing especially if you are not in the U.S.CLICK HERE TO CONNECT TO THE CALL
To honor the container of the EHC Online Sangha,
we encourage you to see the following documents
before joining the call:
Suggested ResourcesDharma Sharing GuidelinesTrue Moon of Clear Grace (she,her/they,them) received the Five Mindfulness Trainings in 2015 as Generous Presence of The Heart and received their novice ordination in 2018 at Deer Park Monastery. Clear Grace now resides at Heartwood Refuge where they are the supporting Prioress under the tutelage of Venerables Dr. Pannavati, Venerable Pannadipa in Hendersonville, NC the Traditional Lands of the Tsulagi~ Untakiyastiyi and the Kustiyi. They are a Core member for the  ARISE Sangha (Awakening through Race, Intersectionality, and Social Equity. A member of the Earth Holder Community Care Taking Council and a member of the New Beginnings Possible Sangha “a gathering of core members of Plum Village initiatives (ARISE, Wakeup and Earth Holders) whose purpose is to serve as a bridge among and between these initiatives and the MahaSangha, and to practice cultivating mindful social, racial and earth justice together, through our interactions and collaborations.”

Clear Grace aspires to embrace Earth Loving practices that lead towards change that protects all beings, regardless of race, ethnicity, class, status and the ways in which many are marginalized. The Dharma has been their greatest source of insight and transformation to heal from these injustices and of all kinds. It has helped them to learn truths and unlearn deeply embedded beliefs that have kept her away from the liberation of such sufferings in her daily life. She wishes to integrate these skills, understandings, wisdom traditions and worldviews in her intention for contributing to the ending of suffering for all beings. Mindfulness meditation and the dharma are ideal for transforming suffering, particularly the trauma of oppression and its many vicissitudes-where the chains around our minds and hearts can be broken and dissolved. With True Love and Inclusiveness, Clear Grace wishes to further break through the illusions that these opinions and beliefs are internalized and ways in which they are presenting themselves in our dharma communities.

Interbeing, Intersectionality and True Happiness 
When we know suffering and have come to understand the cause of suffering our true nature of interbeing becomes the lens through which we see. With this understanding we are able to see all of the causes and conditions, its origin or causality and from this point of view we are better able to uproot and transform suffering at its base. We will take a look at intersectionality and its interconnected relationship to the climate emergency, climate activism, environmental injustices and identify its underlying power structure rooted in capitalism, patriarchy, and colonization. The Mindfulness Trainings are the gateway with which we work to see through these injustices in ourselves and how it impacts others, the training of True Happiness will be our guide on the path to practicing generosity, compassion and finding freedom in our equanimity or non-discriminating mind.

Interbeing a Guided Meditation

Intersectionality, Interbeing and True Happiness:
A Guided Meditation
By Sister Clear Grace

Bell Gatha:

Our Bodies speech and minds are held in perfect oneness, we send our hearts along with the sound of this bell. May the hearers awaken from forgetfulness and transcend the path of anxiety and sorrow. (bell x3)

Aware that on the level of our being we know that we are all connected.
Being, connected (bell)

From moment to moment we are all influencing each other, aware that we share emotional fields. We share feelings, sharing fields of feeling (bell)

Whether consciously or subconsciously we become aware of how we project our perceptions on each other. Aware of our projections, letting go of our projections (bell)

We move deep into our consciousness to be in touch with the nature of interbeing.
In touch with interbeing in touch with out true nature(bell)

We move into the state of mind where we meet vast emptiness. Meeting emptiness, we find unity. Vast emptiness, unity (bell)

When we look into emptiness we see that it is not empty, it is full of everything.

In being full of everything, we see how everything is connected, we see our connected field and our connected energies. Full of emptiness, empty of a separate self (bell)

Looking to the universe we see that the stars are in the space and the space is in the stars. All is being held in space. Space in the stars, stars in the space (bell)

Seeing ourselves in this way we see that our star is dependent upon all other things in the universe. We see that all of the universe is also dependent upon our star.
Star dependent on universe, universe dependent upon star (bell)

In this state of mind we see how our past actions and the past actions of our ancestors have impacted our present and we also see how our present actions have an impact on the future. Past actions in the present, present actions in the future. (bell)

Seeing our actions of body speech and mind we see our responsibility towards the atmosphere, we see what we are adding towards the attitude of the collective.
Responsibility to the collective, responsibility to the atmosphere (bell)

We see the way out is in, going in we touch the nature of interbeing. Going out we have a clear discernment, giving us a different perspective of the world. With this clear perspective we are better able to react in a way that supports all beings. Clear perspective, all beings (bell) 

Bell X 2

Beginning A New

With the American Holiday called Thanksgiving upon us I reflect upon a beginning a new practice that has helped me to transform and heal the hurts of past holidays celebrated such as the Fourth of July. This seems relevant today, as the turkey dinners are rolling out this week. This piece has been edited to leave those teachers in my spiritual growth nameless. In Gratitude..

Shakya Munaye Buddha,

Dear Sangha,

      It is with veneration that I wish to practice beginning a new with the sangha.  Aware that my habit energies of holding on to my feelings, perceptions and attachments to ideas are strong in me. I am aware that alone I do not have the capacity to practice with and transform these energies. I trust that by allowing myself to be held in the hands of the sangha and that by following the guidance of the sangha eyes I can learn to see things more clearly. It is from a place of joy, gratitude, trust and complete vulnerability that I wish to also share a recent suffering. I speak with gentleness, love and the hope that my words are received with understanding. I humbly remain open to guidance for any unskillfulness, shortcomings or any discomfort to others that my sharing may cause. 

     To live in the sangha is a great fortune. The sangha provides everything for me to be able to live and to be able to practice. I have not needed for anything, I have more than enough conditions to be happy. It is only with the support of the sangha that I am able to become intimate with, open my heart of compassion and to begin to understand the roots of my unknown sufferings. These sufferings only come alive by those who remind me of the pain that I have learned to ignore.

      I am grateful to have had many opportunities, to be included and to have been able to share wonderful moments with the sangha. I cannot express the honor and the joy that still manifests in me by being invited to join the MahaSangha in great togetherness and the expansion of sibling hood. I am thankful for the many sangha outings and activities that have been planned and organized with love, hard work, time and much consideration. In being a part of the sangha, I have been filled with love and a sense of belonging, a feeling of coming home both internally and externally. I am aware that my presence in the sangha is not dependent on my background, origins, upbringing, or status but only by my heartfelt intention to practice toward transformation and healing. I am overflowing with gratitude for the many ways in which the sangha has nourished and cultivated wholesome seeds in me. 

 In sharing my regrets I am aware that the individual is a part of the collective, looking within I see that social and cultural experiences shape my perspective and limit my understanding. I am aware of the distortions in me by systematic oppression. Aware of my embodiment and the experiences that it brings within this country and around the world. I recognize the regret of living most of my life outside of my raced, sexualized and gendered body. This internal oppression has been a part of my life training as was deemed essential to becoming successful within the dominant culture of mainstream America.  I regret the shaping of myself into what was expected in order to be accepted or for a false sense of belonging. Even as I sometimes experience microagressions in the sangha, I am aware of this internal oppression and aware of this all too familiar habit to shape for a sense of belonging, or to be accepted, or as I begin to see myself as different. 

      By assimilating and acculturating, I recognize that this only creates an increased loss of identity, culture, connection and affiliation on top of the displacement, dispossession and the loss of my ancestral identity. Only by acknowledging and having an intimate relationship with this loss can I learn to begin to transcend it. And only then can I work through the relative truth of life, by understanding the nature of life as it is experienced in this embodiment. By knowing the nature of this suffering, I am able to move towards transformation and healing with gentleness and care.

    The teachings and the practice are helping me to embrace and to begin closing this gap of internalized treason, self hatred and societal conditioning. I am able to disengage from societal norms, its ways and the clinging of its systematic mistreatment. I am able to begin shedding the labels and identities that were such a huge part of who I thought I was. Even living within the sangha, the impact of oppressive systems will remain my embodied experience. It is an element of my origin and my experience in this body and in this life. The practice is helping me to see my innate goodness, move closer to my true self and to find freedom in my true nature. I learn to see that true beauty blossoms from within. With the sangha, I know that I can make space for a new way of being and dying in the world, a new way of being born and unborn. 

     Expressing hurt. In me I see the fear and the pressure that speaking up may bring me harm or judgement. I feel the ancestral habit energy in me, to allow the incident to go unnoticed, or to make excuses for others that I care for. I see a need to protect a false sense of external belonging. I am aware that belonging is not based on my external conditions. I see the deep seeds of acculturation strong in me transmitted from generations of ancestors to not make waves, to not go against the norm or that of the dominant culture. Aware that by not sharing, complete freedom is not possible. Aware that by sharing I can learn to understand my community and that my community can learn to understand me. Aware that healing and transformation are only possible by making known my difficulties. I know that my personal suffering is not different from that of the collective or of the community in which I live. I am aware that these alone are not mine and that all beings share in these sufferings through different experiences. By sharing, I am able to release my regrets for not speaking up in the past, and for being afraid to look deeply at these sufferings. I speak out so that I can overcome the fear, the silence and the shame, so that I can transform these sufferings in me, in those around me, and in my communities.

       The path of practice has given me space and awareness to be in touch with what is happening within myself, the community, the country, the planet, the collective and that of my spiritual, blood and land ancestors. With stillness and a more stable, peaceful state of mind, unexplored injuries sometimes are newly discovered. I see that what needs purifying just shows up and I am learning to be present for it, to embrace it with peace, kindness and compassion. I am learning to be in contact with pains that I do not own alone and pains that I sometimes have been unaware of. These seeds are collective of my stored consciousness, humanity, land, communities, ancestors, descendants of the enslaved, immigrants, exiled, victims of war, victims of genocide and those who are unjustly treated. Aware that these seeds cause suffering, I choose to water the seeds of freedom, true independence or interdependence, interrelatedness, interconnection and interbeing. I practice to embrace the trauma, while remaining in the peace and freedom, that is available to me and not determined by that of my external conditions. I practice understanding and compassion to see beyond the separation. Looking deeply I see that the sameness cannot be recognized without knowing deeply the oneness or that of our individual uniqueness. 

   The path of practice gives me new ways to respond to these pains. New ways to move through the suffering, to listen, to be open and to learn from them. I learn not to repress, dismiss, or otherwise throw it away. I am careful not to personalize the pain, add to the story of it, or to get dragged down or stuck in it. It is only with deep looking that I am able to come out on the other side of this pain and to see that healing is possible. 

       In sharing this I also see in myself that I too both known and unknown may cause suffering to others. I aspire only to become more aware of my actions to help lessen the suffering of others. I aspire to raise the level of awareness of the personal, collective and that of my community in fulfilling our intention of creating safe spaces, to live together in a way that embodies non harm, non oppression and non exclusion. I am aware that I am only restricted by the limitations of my awareness. I am determined to look at everything with openness in order to transform violence and injustice in myself and in the world.

      Aware that lack of communication brings separation and suffering, and knowing that true community is rooted in inclusiveness and in the concrete practice of the harmony of views, I request to practice sharing my hurtful experience with the community. Dear Sangha, during our recent celebration of the Fourth of July many unwholesome seeds were touched in me, slavery, displacement, disconnection, war, dehumanization, disregard, oppression, cultural appropriation, a yearning for ancestral connection and seeds of nativism and nationalism. As these feelings rose to the surface of my mind, I felt aversion and the desire to want to escape from and push away what was happening. I felt a continuation of histories dominance, of cultural appropriation. I felt again the experiences of harm caused by racial discrimination in different periods of life and land. I felt again previously forms of oppression that our society still perpetuates. I felt separated, disconnected and a sense of detachment from my surroundings. I felt awkward, marginalized, and unsafe. The felt message was that the aspects of being a descendant of displaced enslaved Africans, a descendant of Mexican ancestry, and a descendant of immigrants, were not worthy of awareness, representation or kindness. It felt as though whole nations and whole populations of people were not acknowledged. All of the stories were not represented, the stories of our shared history, the joys and the sorrows involving all of our personal and full range of collective experiences. It felt as though we missed an opportunity to nourish our sibling hood by embodying compassion and offering ways to celebrate in a way that was inclusive, one that offers healing, one that fosters diversity and one that looks deeply into all aspects of our diverse lives. 

  Too often our communities live inside of an unconscious awareness of the violence and injustices that are the current situation in America as groups are still being terrorized because of race, political affiliation, religious choice, physical ability, class, sexual orientation and gender. I did not feel separate from those who have been exiled, from genocide, from war, from violence, economic loss and political oppression, devastation, poverty, dehumanization and other such atrocities just as beings are being turned away from and separated from their families at the very near shores and borders.

       In the midst of all of these feelings, I turned to my breath. I held tenderness in my heart and tried to keep integrity in my actions as I closed my eyes and listened to the Pledge of Allegiance being recited. Cause and conditions give me sight beyond the boundaries of my own experience and even of this event.  Aware that persons of color across this nation are “taking a knee” in the hope that, “Justice for All” and not “Justice for Some” could someday be possible. Aware that students across the nation are being expelled by choosing not to participate in this forced patriotism. Aware that the roots of the pledge arise from fear of immigrants just as today we experience restrictive immigration laws in the wake of terrorist attacks and promises to build a “great wall”. I practiced not to cause harm to myself by going along with the norm, by shaping or conforming. I practiced to not turn away from these feelings with despair and hopelessness. Instead I leaned in with a strong desire to understand these feelings so that I could learn to nourish, and to transform this suffering past and present for myself and for my community. 

Feelings of supremacy, harm, exclusion and separation came up immediately upon seeing the many flags of red white and blue. Seeing my immigrant siblings sporting hats, leigh’s and colors of pride to celebrate what they have learned from only a few of how and what this holidays represents. This gave rise to the awareness that at the current time in our nation the flag is being used by some to represent hatred and the ridding of anything other than the dominant race in this country. I could not find a representation of my ancestors or the many lands and nations that have come together to build this country in the choices and selection of the food, games or song. I did not feel a conscious awareness for persons of color and the terror and the trauma that surrounds this particular holiday and its history. I anxiously awaited for the acknowledgement of these hurts and pains and a chance to celebrate in ways that cultivated healing and peace. I awaited a chance to collectively cultivate seeds of interbeing by acknowledging all of the stories and by embracing our intention to transform these hurts and at the same time honoring the beauty of this land and all of the stories of those who have built it.

Because of this experience, I see that when all of the stories, when loss and disconnection are not acknowledged with mindful awareness the norms of the dominant culture are taken or displayed as the norm. This same dynamic of cultural unconsciousness without intention only seems to foster separation and water seeds of appropriation. My aspiration is that with the spirit of interconnectedness and interrelatedness we could foster the seeds of inclusiveness and diversity by paying closer attention to events like these. I aspire for an elevation of our multicultural awareness and for the nourishment of the multiplicity of our cultures. I aspire to foster ways where loss and disconnection do not go unacknowledged but are given a chance to heal and awaken for a greater sense of freedom. I aspire to live in a community that pays attention with love to these sensitivities, that creates a safe space for all cultural origins, for all beings, for the love of our country and our planet. 

Taking refuge in my teacher, the teachings, and the community in which I practice. I touch the earth gently, seeing the beauty of America, the beauty of its lands, rivers, mountains, its people, plants, animals, waters and minerals. I recognize, its pioneers, visionaries and all those who have transformed our nation in helping to create this land of innovation. I touch the earth knowing that America has limitless potential, I see her true beauty, I see that the land of freedom, justice for all beings, and that all beings can be created equal by cultivating seeds of love, understanding and compassion. I touch the earth in remembrance of days past, ceasing from oppression, building trust with awareness, wisdom and love, with compassion of deep suffering. I touch the earth embracing all of our root cultures with an open heart and an open mind to foster peace, equality and justice for all.

                                        Bowing my head,

                                        Joining my palms,

                                        Touching the earth in deep gratitude,

                                        Sister True Moon of Clear Grace