Inspiring words shared with or found by Rebecca Li

Dave Mermelstein told me about this Tricycle interview with Joanna Macy on feeling fortunate to be living in this time of great despair and how we can co-create a life-sustaining culture (4/17/2020).
Beth Adelman shared this NY Times article written by Scott Kelly sharing his experience living on the International Space Station for nearly a year.  He gave very good practical advice on how to maintain a routine while working (or having school) from home (3/28/2020).
Pierce Salguero shared this on Facebook (3/14/2020):
“Instead of going around thinking that everyone else has #Covid, reinforcing our suspicion and fear of others, let’s move through the world like we’re the one who’s infected, reinforcing our compassion and concern for others.”
A group leader in the Western Chan Fellowship shared this reflection with Hilary Richards who in turn shared it with Rebecca Li on 3/16/2020.
Reflection on lockdown
Yes there is fear.
Yes there is isolation.
Yes there is panic buying.
Yes there is sickness.
Yes there is even death.
They say that in Wuhan, after so many years of noise
You can hear the birds again.
They say that after just a few weeks of quiet
The sky is no longer thick with fumes
But blue and grey and clear.
They say that in the streets of Assisi
People are singing to each other
across the empty squares,
keeping their windows open
so that those who are alone
may hear the sounds of family around them.
They say that a hotel in the West of Ireland
Is offering free meals and delivery to the housebound.
Today a young woman I know
is busy spreading fliers with her number
through the neighbourhood
So that the elders may have someone to call on.
Today Churches, Synagogues, Mosques and Temples
are preparing to welcome
and shelter the homeless, the sick, the weary.
All over the world people are slowing down and reflecting
All over the world people are looking at their neighbours in a new way
All over the world people are waking up to a new reality
To how big we really are.
To how little control we really have.
To what really matters.
To Love.
So we pray and we remember that
Yes there is fear.
But there does not have to be hate.
Yes there is isolation.
But there does not have to be loneliness.
Yes there is panic buying.
But there does not have to be meanness.
Yes there is sickness.
But there does not have to be disease of the soul.
Yes there is even death.
But there can always be a rebirth of love.
Wake to the choices you make as to how to live now.
Today, breathe.
Listen, behind the factory noises of your panic
The birds are singing again
The sky is clearing,
Spring is coming,
And we are always encompassed by Love.
Open the windows of your soul
And though you may not be able
to touch across the empty square,
By Fr. Richard Hendrick, OFM

Weekly Online Dharma Practice Gathering with Rebecca Li

Dr. Rebecca Li started this weekly online practice gathering on March 27, 2020 to support practitioners during the Covid-19 pandemic.  The group meets weekly on Friday from 8:30-10 pm E.T.  Practitioners has also been invited to share their practice reflections during the the pandemic.  You can view the practice reflections here.  For inspiring words shared with or found by Rebecca Li, click here.  For resources compiled to support practitioners, click here.


8:30-8:50 Guided meditation

8:50-9:15 Participants check in to share the week’s experience

9:15-9:45 Dharma talk and discussion

9:45 Checkout thoughts sharing

9:55 Chanting practice

10 Closing offering

Dharma talk recordings:

3/27/2020 Allow Joy into our Heart in this Pandemic

4/3/2020 Open our Heart to our Whole Self

4/10/2020 Unconditional Kindness to Ourselves

4/17/2020 Practicing with the Unfolding “New Normal”

4/24/2020 Practicing to Suffer Better

5/1/2020 Facing Uncertainty with Chan Practice

5/8/2020 Recognizing and Learning from the Bodhisattvas around us

5/15/2020 Letting Go of Our Search for Absolute Safety

5/22/2020 Restoring Meaning to Our Lives

As the community develops…

The founding members of our community, a small group of long-time practitioners, began meeting regularly with Rebecca to explore various aspects of Chan practice in Fall 2017.  We would agree to read an article or listen to a Dharma talk or research a topic and then reflect on it by practicing with it.  We then shared our experiences and reflections and raised questions to be discussed in our gathering on zoom.

Setting our minds in the right direction

The first topic our community studied was the Bodhisattva Path.  Having established a proper orientation in our practice, we reflected on and practiced with two of the six paramitas: patience/endurance and generosity.  After weeks of meaningful and heartfelt discussions, we were inspired to deepen our understanding of the Four Great Bodhisattva Vows.

Examining our biases and privileges through Chan practice

The early part of 2018 has been devoted to exploring how we can use Chan practice to examine our blind spots that, when remained unacknowledged, can result in thought patterns and actions that cause harm to ourselves and others.  We started off with reading the article on Chan Practice and Contemplation on Race and practicing with what resonated with us.  We then practiced with Charlene Leung’s “cultural humility” (published in Buddhadharma Spring 2018) to explore the origins of associations we habitually make with various categories to familiarize ourselves with how they arise in our mind.  We have been exploring privilege, belonging vs. fitting in while digesting Thanissara’s piece on privilege and power (“Dismantling the Master’s House,” Buddhadharma Spring 2018).  In the second quarter, we explored the role of money in our lives and how to practice with it, and this topic brought us to examining our experiences with social class.  We are currently working with the precepts.

Dr. Rebecca Li has invited practitioners who have participated in her retreats and expressed interest to deepen their practice to join her in an upcoming series of online Dharma courses.  The first course, “Giving Rise to the Bodhi Mind,” began in September 2018.  In 2019, Monthly Online Dharma Study with Rebecca Li began in December.