Celebration of Life for GAIL ERICKSON: Sun, Oct 15 – 3pm Service @ Church followed by 4pm Reception @ Shannon Door

Celebration of Life
Sunday, October 15

3pm • Service at Jackson Community Church
4pm • Reception at Shannon Door

In lieu of flowers donations may be made to The Alzheimer’s Association and/or The Mount Washington Valley Adult Day Care.


From Gail’s family: Gail Louise Erickson of Madison, NH passed away peacefully on September 11,2023, at the age of 71, after a long and courageous battle with Alzheimer’s Disease. Gail was born in Boston on July 6, 1952, the daughter of the late Edgar and Helen (Erickson) Doughty. She was the youngest of three daughters and attended the Boston Public School System.
Gail started working at a young age ultimately to purchase her first car, a Volvo PV 544. Her love of cars would continue throughout her lifetime. She was a good driver who claimed to be a fast driver yet somehow always managed to arrive late.
Gail married Brian Kelly in 1974. After spending a brief time in Massachusetts, they moved to Jackson NH. They lived a rugged life of heating with wood and often dealing with frozen pipes. Hauling water from the river became a daily ritual. Gail got a job as the bar manager at the Wildcat Tavern where she used her gift of gab to make customers feel comfortable and welcome. One such couple was Jeanne and Dave Mason who would become lifelong friends. Not only was Gail providing food and libations to customers, but she got her realtor license so that she could sell them a house. Some of her friends wanted to get married so Gail became a Justice of the Peace to meet their needs. On many occasions over the years, Gail would be approached by happy homeowners or couples thanking her for her services.
Throughout Gail’s time in the valley, she was an avid skier. One day while skiing at Wildcat she was approached by Al Risch who offered her a helicopter ride to the top of Mount Washington. Always up for an adventure, Gail became one of a select few to ski Tuckerman’s Ravine via a helicopter.
Gail married Bruce Gerrish in 1989. Bruce was a skilled equestrian, and they accepted a job working on a ranch in Wyoming. Unknown to them at the time the ranch was owned by Sharon Disney, Walt Disney’s daughter. Sharon was very generous and let them stay in the big house instead of the guest house. The ranch with the Teton Mountains as a backdrop became a vacation destination for many friends from the east.
Gail’s next move was to horse country in Virginia, then back to the Mount Washington Valley where she worked for Badger Real Estate. After a few years in the Valley, she moved to Falmouth Maine where, sadly, the first signs of early onset Alzheimer’s appeared at age 62.
Gail’s niece Joanne Turner realized that Gail was having a difficult time living on her own, so she graciously offered her a room in her house in Bartlett NH. The package deal also included Gail’s true love Brody, a 95-pound yellow lab. He is big, gentle and full of love and fur. Gail and Brody could be found on trails and in swimming holes throughout the Valley. She let her realtor license go but kept busy with seasonal jobs.
Gail met Doug Haver in the fall of 2017 and their life of adventures together began. First a trip to Hawaii to knock surfing off the bucket list. Gail was always up for a hike, motorcycle ride, or skiing with friends. Her great sense of humor was just what was needed when her car would get lost in the parking lot while she was shopping for clothes. Luckily, she was able to continue skiing, relying on 50 years of muscle memory.
As the Alzheimer’s progressed the Mount Washington Valley Adult Day Care was invaluable for providing social activities and much needed respite. In her last months, the Merriman House became her home. Gail would spend her days chatting with the patients and staff and walked many a mile. The care and compassion that they provided was extraordinary.
She will be dearly missed by her surviving boyfriend Douglas Haver of Madison, NH; her sister Carol Fraser and husband Donald of Foxborough, MA; sister Donna Hebert and husband Brian of Pinson, AL; nieces Christine Green, Barbara Tetreault, Joanne Turner, Elaine Fanning, and Erica Bertrand; nephew James Fraser and many great nieces and nephews. Gail was predeceased by her mother Helen and stepfather Edward McGillaway. Gail leaves behind her love for her loyal dogs Brody and Corey (predeceased)
In lieu of flowers donations may be made to The Alzheimer’s Association and/or The Mount Washington Valley Adult Day Care.



GENESIS 32:22-32 — Jacob Wrestles at Peniel
The same night he got up and took his two wives, his two maids, and his eleven children and crossed the ford of the Jabbok.  He took them and sent them across the stream, and likewise everything that he had.
Jacob was left alone, and a man wrestled with him until daybreak.  When the man saw that he did not prevail against Jacob, he struck him on the hip socket, and Jacob’s hip was put out of joint as he wrestled with him.
Then he said, “Let me go, for the day is breaking.”
But Jacob said, “I will not let you go, unless you bless me.”
So he said to him, “What is your name?”
And he said, “Jacob.”
Then the man said, “You shall no longer be called Jacob, but Israel  for you have striven with God and with humans and have prevailed.”
Then Jacob asked him, “Please tell me your name.”
But he said, “Why is it that you ask my name?”  And there he blessed him.
So Jacob called the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, yet my life is preserved.”
The sun rose upon him as he passed Penuel, limping because of his hip.

LADIES LUNCHEON: Wed, Sept 13 • Noon-3PM

(Wear family/ethnic attire & bring favorite recipe)
Wed, Sept 13, 2023 • Noon-3PM

  • Potluck luncheon: Bring a dish to share
  • Theme: Family/Ethnic & Fave Recipe!
  • Guests: Open to all of JCC’s Ladies (Friends & Members)
  • Location: Pivate Mountain Home in Jackson
  • Dress: Favorite Local Attire/Ethnic Dress
  • RSVP by Fri, Sept 9th:
    • Please bring your favorite recipe/family recipe/ethnic recipe as well as copies of your recipe to share. We shall consolidate and make recipe books to take home! Dress up in your favorite attire or dress in a family ethnic dress style! Let’s celebrate our JCC family!
    • Expect games, of course, and if the weather cooperates, outdoor games like corn hole.
    • Bring a favorite recipe written out on a card: we will collect them and create a recipe cookbook

Reflections from Book of Job, one of the wisdom texts we’re studying together

We must cultivate our garden. — Voltaire, Candide
The most famous line in Voltaire’s ”Candide” is the final one: ”We must cultivate our garden.” That is Candide’s response to the philosopher Pangloss, who tries again and again to prove that we live in the best of all possible worlds, no matter what disasters befall us. —




WAGE PEACE Judyth Hill
Wage peace with your breath.
Breathe in firemen and rubble,
breathe out whole buildings and
flocks of red wing blackbirds.
Breathe in terrorists
and breathe out sleeping children and freshly mown fields.
Breathe in confusion and breathe out maple trees.
Breathe in the fallen and breathe out lifelong friendships intact.
Wage peace with your listening: hearing sirens, pray loud.
Remember your tools: flower seeds, clothes pins, clean rivers.
Make soup.
Play music; memorize the words for thank you in three languages.
Learn to knit, and make a hat.
Think of chaos as dancing raspberries,
imagine grief
as the out breath of beauty
or the gesture of fish.
Swim for the other side.
Wage peace.
Never has the world seemed so fresh and precious:
Have a cup of tea and rejoice.
Act as if armistice has already arrived.
Celebrate today.

Interrelationship – Thich Nhat Hanh
You are me, and I am you.
Isn’t it obvious that we “inter-are”?

You cultivate the flower in yourself,
so that I will be beautiful.
I transform the garbage in myself,
so that you will not have to suffer.

I support you;
you support me.
I am in this world to offer you peace;
you are in this world to bring me joy.

GOD’S PART in SUFFERING (from Book of Job):

Excerpt from commentary by BibleProject (full article:
… Job claimed that God has fallen asleep at the wheel in running the universe, and because of this divine neglect he’s had to endure unjust suffering. God’s response is indirect, and it shows how his attention is actually on every single detail of the operations of the universe. In fact, God is privy to all kinds of perspectives and details that Job has never even imagined and never will…
As it turns out, Job doesn’t know as much as he thought, even about the world he lives in and should be familiar with. … God has made his first point. Job’s many accusations of divine neglect or incompetence have failed. As it turns out, God is intimately familiar with every molecule and creature in his world and knows more about them than Job can comprehend. This is an important moment in the story so far. Whatever reasons God has for having allowed Job’s suffering, neglect is not a viable option.
    Job never does find out why he suffered and neither does the reader. The goal of the book was never to offer us that information
… This means all of our claims to evaluate God’s rule over human history are always limited, and will therefore fall short. I don’t have a wide enough vantage point to accuse God of incompetence, and I never will.
God responds again, this time inviting Job to take up the divine throne and run the universe for a day. Let Job enforce the strict “retribution principle” he thinks God ought to use in directing the cosmos: “Clothe yourself with honor and majesty. Pour out your anger to overflowing, And look on everyone who is proud, and make him low. Look on everyone who is proud, and humble him, and tread down the wicked where they stand.”
Job will find the task impossible. It would require a second-by-second micromanagement approach that would essentially result in no more human beings on the planet. Job doesn’t know what he’s asking for when he demands that God uses the strict principle of retribution to reward every good deed and punish every bad one. In theory it sounds right, but in execution, it would create a universe where no human would ever have a chance for trial and error or, more importantly, for growth and change.
… Apparently, God’s world is ordered enough for the human project to flourish, but chaos has not been eradicated entirely from God’s world. The tohu-va-vohu (Hebrew for “formless and void” in Gen 1:2

Genesis 1:2) wilderness wasteland of Genesis 1 wasn’t eliminated when God made the world. Rather, a space for garden-order was carved out and given over to humans who were commissioned to spread that divine order further out. Leviathan is out there, raw and dangerous, and you just might encounter it. It has the power to wreak havoc on your life, but what you cannot conclude from a run-in with Leviathan is that God is punishing you, or that this creature is evil. Neither is the case. You just bumped into Leviathan, and it unleashed chaos, tooth, and claw into your life, and your body…
Hebrew Bible scholar John Walton puts it this way in his commentary on Job: God’s answer to Job does not explain why righteous people suffer, because the cosmos is not designed to prevent righteous people from suffering. Job questioned God’s design, and God responded that Job had insufficient knowledge to do so. Job questioned God’s justice, and God responded that Job needs to trust him, and that he should not arrogantly think that God can be domesticated to conform to Job’s feeble perceptions of how the cosmos should run. God asks for trust, not understanding, and states the cosmos is founded on his wisdom, not his justice. [adapted quote]
Human pain and suffering does not always happen as a clear consequence of anyone’s sin. There may be a reason, but there may not be. God himself said that Job’s suffering was not warranted for “any reason” (Job 2:3. The conversation with the satan certainly did not provide a reason. That dialogue simply set the stage for the real question of the book: Does God operate the universe according to the principle of retribution?
The answer to this story is no.
Sometimes terrible things happen for no reason discernible to any human. The point is that God’s world is very good, but it’s not perfect, or always safe. It has order and beauty, but it’s also wild and sometimes dangerous, like the two fantastic creatures he avows. So back to the big question of Job’s or anyone’s suffering: why is there suffering in the world? Whether from earthquakes, or wild animals, or from one another? God doesn’t explain why. He says we live in an incredibly complex, amazing world that at this stage at least, is not designed to prevent suffering.
…. So, the book doesn’t unlock the puzzle of why bad things happen to good people. Rather, it does invite us to trust God’s wisdom when we encounter suffering rather than trying to figure out the “reasons” for it.
When we search for reasons, we tend to either simplify God like the friends or, like Job, accuse God based on limited evidence. The book invites us to honestly bring our pain and grief to God and to trust that he cares, realizing that he knows exactly what he’s doing.


Excerpts from chapter 13 of Biblical Wisdom Literature by Joseph Koterski (the Great Courses):

“We don’t know how it’s going to turn out, Job doesn’t know how its going to turn out. One of the problems that is presented by life as wellas text of Job, how God in his goodness could allow innocent suffering at all. Or hos God can permit those situations in which there is massive sufferings. We might think of famines. We might think of various forms of genocide, whether it be the Holocaust in Germany, whether it be the Armenian genocide, or some of the ones that seem to be happening now. Or even just the massive wars. The Book of Job poses this sort of problem in that opening scene … not trying to give historical perspective but to ask this philosophical problem. These Biblical wisdom books, Job in versy special way, as that part of the Bible that is most philosophical, that it’s a kind of philosophical debate within Israel in which various opositions will be explored and examined, including the divine position, in so far as this is divine revelation…
[Liebniz] has established for us some of the important terms. These three claims that God is all powerful, that God is all knowing, and that God is all good are crucial to the problem… And then of course the problem is more than just the triangle, you have to work in the way in which human freedom is related to these three parts of the internal attributes of God.
If there is nothing cannot God cannot do, because he is all powerful, if there is God does not know because he is omniscient, and if there is no limit to God’s mercy, because he is all good, why are there instances of suffering that are outrageous in their extent and disproportionate to anything we might reasonably expect?
[Koterski’s opinion] … this is a world that God made for a certain precise purpose, I think the purpose was to have creatures like ourselves capable of freedom, but that freedom with which we’re made will make it so that there will be destructions, there will be sometimes the opportunities to operate badly as well as to operate well, that this is the risk of freedom.
Hartshorne and other process thinkers [philosophers] have argued that apparently we simply need to change our picture of God. In regard to one of those three attributes, something has got to give. Should it be God’s knowledge? Should it be God’s power? Should it be God’s justice? … For myself, I think It does grave notion to the idea of God… [Koterski opinion]I would try to make the argument is incoherent philosophically … it is fundamentally at odds with the view of God that is presented by the Bible and by the mainstream traditions of Judaism and Christianity…
Rabbi Harold Kushner [author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People] … repudiates the notion that suffering is a punishment by God for anyone’s misdeeds. He also … rejects … the view that God sometimes uses suffering to teach people some important lessons. … Instead Rabbi Kushner holds that suffering is simply an intrinsic part of the world that God created, but that it is by random chance that one person suffers and another does not … there was no particular design to it. … Furthermore, Kushner holds that human beings are unique in this world by virtue of having the power to make free choices, and that God refuses to intervene in these choices … [Koterski opinion] Kushner is probably quite right in saying that our freedom is protected by the fact that God allows us to do what we do… Kushner does agree that God can grant us sufficient strength to deal with the troubles in our life, and yes, it does make sense to pray.
C.S.Lewis … second chapter The Problem of Pain … general outline of his views can be sketched in the following way:

  1. First point. The free choices that we make on all soprts of issues large and small wouldn’t be free unless our actions have consequences…
  2. Secondly, for actions to have their consequneces, there needs to be a world with stable natural laws, that govern how one thing interacts with another…
  3. Third thing, the action on one being on the other may well cause injury, may well cause suffering.
  4. Fourth, it will not do to have divine agency interfering with the consequences all the time … to prevent the suffering that occurs when some beinghs interact with other beings, for instance when a volcano buries a town, when a lion kills its prey, or when a microbe infects  aperson with some disease, or when an armed robber kills an innocent bystander …
  5. Fifth point, in short, for God to have created a world in which he chose there to be beings endowed with the power of freedom of choice, God has also chosen to allow any numbers of innocent suffering.
  6. Sixth, it is not that God does not know any of this … nor is it that God couldn’t do something about any one of them … God can do, and frequently has done, miracles … in this respect … the highest level of goodness is free choice. So what this system does is that God in his goodness has made a creature that is in, this respect, like himself, this creature possesses free choice, and that’s a greater good, even though there are going to be some defects and clashes at other levels.

What an argument like this does is put the problem of evil and of suffering into a certain pserpective that can give us a sense of why God, in general, allows suffering. … It does not try to answer the question why this person or that person or some other has as much suffering as any one of these individuals might. To try to answer the particular problems and personal problems, religion is needed. Real prayer. Good friends. Solid spiritual counsel. We need to have that assistance to get through it. … CS Lewis gives us the bigger picture, why there is suffering in the world, not why I am suffering….


Pull a thread here and you’ll find it’s attached to the rest of the world. ― Nadeem Aslam

To understand just one life you have to swallow the world … do you wonder, then, that I was a heavy child? ― Salman Rushdie

The fundamental delusion of humanity is to suppose that I am here and you are out there. — Yasutani Roshi

When we help another, we are helped. If we harm another, we harm ourselves. Perhaps harder to grasp—if we harm ourselves, we harm the whole universe. ― Rachel Wooten

… nature is interconnections.― Lisa Kemmerer

It really boils down to this: that 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. — Rev. Dr. Martin Liuther King, Jr.

Love is wise; hatred is foolish. In this world, which is getting more and more closely interconnected, we have to learn to tolerate each other, we have to learn to put up with the fact that some people say things that we don’t like. We can only live together in that way. But if we are to live together, and not die together, we must learn a kind of charity and a kind of tolerance, which is absolutely vital to the continuation of human life on this planet. ― Bertrand Russell

Interbeing is the understanding that nothing exists separately from anything else. We are all interconnected. By taking care of another person, you take care of yourself. By taking care of yourself, you take care of the other person. Happiness and safety are not individual matters. If you suffer, I suffer. If you are not safe, I am not safe. There is no way for me to be truly happy if you are suffering. If you can smile, I can smile too. The understanding of interbeing is very important. It helps us to remove the illusion of loneliness, and transform the anger that comes from the feeling of separation. — Thich Nhat Hanh

In today’s interconnected and globalized world, it is now commonplace for people of dissimilar world views, faiths and races to live side by side. It is a matter of great urgency, therefore, that we find ways to cooperate with one another in a spirit of mutual acceptance and respect. — Dalai Lama


Often referred to as the “Father of Peace Studies,” Norwegian theorist Johan Galtung has developed a three pronged typology of violence that represents how a confluence of malleable factors merge in particular cultural/historical moments to shape the conditions for the promotion of violence (and, by inference, peace) to function as normative.

  • Direct Violence represents behaviors that serve to threaten life itself and/or to diminish one’s capacity to meet basic human needs. Examples include killing, maiming, bullying, sexual assault, and emotional manipulation.
  • Structural Violence represents the systematic ways in which some groups are hindered from equal access to opportunities, goods, and services that enable the fulfillment of basic human needs. These can be formal as in legal structures that enforce marginalization (such as apartheid in South Africa) or they could be culturally functional but without legal mandate (such as limited access to education or health care for marginalized groups).
  • Cultural Violence represents the existence of prevailing or prominent social norms that make direct and structural violence seem “natural” or “right” or at least acceptable. For example, the belief that Africans are primitive and intellectually inferior to Caucasians gave sanction to the African slave trade.  Galtung’s understanding of cultural violence helps explain how prominent beliefs can become so embedded in a given culture that they function as absolute and inevitable and are reproduced uncritically across generations.

From Rev Gail Doktor’s notes:

Galtung’s definition of lasting peace is built on individual, structural, and cultural aspects of peace.

  • Individual peace seeks to preserve life itself and promote human and planetary flourishing.
  • Structural peace represents the systematic ways that all groups have equal access to opportunities, goods, and services that enable the fulfillment of basic human needs.
  • Cultural peace signifies the existence of prevailing, persistent social norms that make the hallmarks of individual and structural peace seem ‘natural’, ‘right’, or ‘good’.

I and THOU: Relational

I and Thou, is a book by Martin Buber,….— Wikipedia,com

… Buber’s main proposition is that we may address existence in two ways:

  1. The attitude of the “I” towards an “It”, towards an object that is separate in itself, which we either use or experience.
  2. The attitude of the “I” towards “Thou”, in a relationship in which the other is not separated by discrete bounds.

One of the major themes of the book is that human life finds its meaningfulness in relationships. In Buber’s view, all of our relationships bring us ultimately into relationship with God, who is the Eternal Thou. Martin Buber said that every time someone says Thou, they are indirectly addressing God. People can address God as Thou or as God, Buber emphasized how, “You need God in order to be, and God needs you for that which is the meaning of your life.”
One of the major themes of the book is that human life finds its meaningfulness in relationships. In Buber’s view, all of our relationships bring us ultimately into relationship with God, who is the Eternal Thou. Martin Buber said that every time someone says Thou, they are indirectly addressing God. People can address God as Thou or as God, Buber emphasized how, “You need God in order to be, and God needs you for that which is the meaning of your life.”
Buber explains that humans are defined by two word pairs: I–It and I–Thou.
The “It” of I–It refers to the world of experience and sensation. I–It describes entities as discrete objects drawn from a defined set (e.g., he, she or any other objective entity defined by what makes it measurably different from other entities). It can be said that “I” have as many distinct and different relationships with each “It” as there are “Its” in one’s life. Fundamentally, “It” refers to the world as we experience it.
By contrast, the word pair I–Thou describes the world of relations. This is the “I” that does not objectify any “It” but rather acknowledges a living relationship. I–Thou relationships are sustained in the spirit and mind of an “I” for however long the feeling or idea of relationship is the dominant mode of perception. A person sitting next to a complete stranger on a park bench may enter into an “I–Thou” relationship with the stranger merely by beginning to think positively about people in general. The stranger is a person as well, and gets instantaneously drawn into a mental or spiritual relationship with the person whose positive thoughts necessarily include the stranger as a member of the set of persons about whom positive thoughts are directed. It is not necessary for the stranger to have any idea that he is being drawn into an “I–Thou” relationship for such a relationship to arise. But what is crucial to understand is the word pair “I–Thou” can refer to a relationship with a tree, the sky, or the park bench itself as much as it can refer to the relationship between two individuals. The essential character of “I–Thou” is the abandonment of the world of sensation, the melting of the between, so that the relationship with another “I” is foremost.

INTERBEING: Inter-connection as a Buddhist concept articultaed by Thich Nhat Hanh

… Rather than signifying a lack or a void, [Thich Nhat Hanh] took emptiness to be a state of inextricable and fundamental interconnectedness in which it is impossible to identify a single, separate entity. — thedewdrop.cpm

Below is an excerpt from the chapter on INTERBEING from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, The Art of Living.

Imagine, for a moment, a beautiful flower. That flower might be an orchid or a rose, or even a simple little daisy growing beside a path. Looking into a flower, we can see that it is full of life. It contains soil, rain, and sunshine. It is also full of clouds, oceans, and minerals. It is even full of space and time. In fact, the whole cosmos is present in this one little flower. If we took out just one of these “non-flower” elements, the flower would not be there. Without the soil’s nutrients, the flower could not grow. Without rain and sunshine, the flower would die. And if we removed all the non-flower elements, there would be nothing substantive left that we could call a “flower.” So our observation tells us that the flower is full of the whole cosmos, while at the same time it is empty of a separate self-existence. The flower cannot exist by itself alone.

We too are full of so many things and yet empty of a separate self. Like the flower, we contain earth, water, air, sunlight, and warmth. We contain space and consciousness. We contain our ancestors, our parents and grandparents, education, food, and culture. The whole cosmos has come together to create the wonderful manifestation that we are. If we remove any of these “non-us” elements, we will find there is no “us” left.

Emptiness does not mean nothingness. Saying that we are empty does not mean that we do not exist. No matter if something is full or empty, that thing clearly needs to be there in the first place. When we say a cup is empty, the cup must be there in order to be empty. When we say that we are empty, it means that we must be there in order to be empty of a permanent, separate self.

About thirty years ago I was looking for an English word to describe our deep interconnection with everything else. I liked the word “togetherness,” but I finally came up with the word “interbeing.” The verb “to be” can be misleading, because we cannot be by ourselves, alone. “To be” is always to “inter-be.” If we combine the prefix “inter” with the verb “to be,” we have a new verb, “inter-be.” To inter-be reflects reality more accurately. We inter-are with one another and with all life.

There is a biologist named Lewis Thomas, whose work I appreciate very much. He describes how our human bodies are “shared, rented, and occupied” by countless other tiny organisms, without whom we couldn’t “move a muscle, drum a finger, or think a thought.” Our body is a community, and the trillions of non-human cells in our body are even more numerous than the human cells. Without them, we could not be here in this moment. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to think, to feel, or to speak. There are, he says, no solitary beings. The whole planet is one giant, living, breathing cell, with all its working parts linked in symbiosis.

We can observe emptiness and interbeing everywhere in our daily life. If we look at a child, it’s easy to see the child’s mother and father, grandmother and grandfather, in her. The way she looks, the way she acts, the things she says. Even her skills and talents are the same as her parents’. If at times we cannot understand why the child is acting a certain way, it is helpful to remember that she is not a separate selfentity. She is a continuation. Her parents and ancestors are inside her. When she walks and talks, they walk and talk as well. Looking into the child, we can be in touch with her parents and ancestors, but equally, looking into the parent, we can see the child. We do not exist independently. We inter-are. Everything relies on everything else in the cosmos in order to manifest—whether a star, a cloud, a flower, a tree, or you and me.

I remember one time when I was in London, doing walking meditation along the street, and I saw a book displayed in a bookshop window with the title My Mother, Myself. I didn’t buy the book because I felt I already knew what was inside. It’s true that each one of us is a continuation of our mother; we are our mother. And so whenever we are angry at our mother or father, we are also being angry at ourselves. Whatever we do, our parents are doing it with us. This may be hard to accept, but it’s the truth. We can’t say we don’t want to have anything to do with our parents. They are in us, and we are in them. We are the continuation of all our ancestors. Thanks to impermanence, we have a chance to transform our inheritance in a beautiful direction.

Every time I offer incense or prostrate before the altar in my hermitage, I do not do this as an individual self but as a whole lineage. Whenever I walk, sit, eat, or practice calligraphy, I do so with the awareness that all my ancestors are within me in that moment. I am their continuation. Whatever I am doing, the energy of mindfulness enables me to do it as “us,” not as “me.” When I hold a calligraphy brush, I know I cannot remove my father from my hand. I know I cannot remove my mother or my ancestors from me. They are present in all my cells, in my gestures, in my capacity to draw a beautiful circle. Nor can I remove my spiritual teachers from my hand. They are there in the peace, concentration, and mindfulness I enjoy as I make the circle. We are all drawing the circle together. There is no separate self doing it. While practicing calligraphy, I touch the profound insight of no self. It becomes a deep practice of meditation.

Whether we’re at work or at home, we can practice to see all our ancestors and teachers present in our actions. We can see their presence when we express a talent or skill they have transmitted to us. We can see their hands in ours as we prepare a meal or wash the dishes. We can experience profound connection and free ourselves from the idea that we are a separate self.

  1. Do not think the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice non-attachment from views in order to be open to receive others’ viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.
  2. Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education. However, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness.
  3. Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes before suffering. Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world. Find ways to be with those who are suffering, including personal contact, visits, images, and sounds. By such means, awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world.
  4. Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not take as the aim of your life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure. Live simply and share time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.
  5. Do not maintain anger or hatred. Learn to penetrate and transform them when they are still seeds in your consciousness. As soon as they arise, turn your attention to your breath in order to see and understand the nature of your anger and hatred and the nature of the persons who have caused your anger and hatred.
  6. Do not lose yourself in dispersion and in your surroundings. Practice mindful breathing to come back to what is happening in the present moment. Be in touch with what is wondrous, refreshing, and healing both inside and around you. Plant seeds of joy, peace, and understanding in yourself in order to facilitate the work of transformation in the depths of your consciousness.
  7. Do not utter words that can create discord and cause the community to break. Make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
  8. Do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people. Do not utter words that cause division and hatred. Do not spread news that you do not know to be certain. Do not criticize or condemn things of which you are not sure. Always speak truthfully and constructively. Have the courage to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may threaten your own safety.
  9. Do not use the Buddhist community for personal gain or profit, or transform your community into a political party. A religious community, however, should take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts.
  10. Do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. Do not invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to live. Select a vocation that helps realize your ideal of compassion.
  11. Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect life and prevent war.
  12. Possess nothing that should belong to others. Respect the property of others, but prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.
  13. Do not mistreat your body. Learn to handle it with respect. Do not look on your body only as an instrument. Preserve vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realization of the Way. (For brothers and sisters who are not monks and nuns:) Sexual expression should not take place without love and a long-term commitment. In sexual relationships, be aware of future suffering that may be caused. To preserve the happiness of others, respect the rights and commitments of others. Be fully aware of the responsibility of bringing new lives into the world. Meditate on the world into which you are bringing new beings.

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