11 Sep 2023

By Kasia Stepien

30th Anniversary of Cambridge Sangha

The Cambridge Sangha just celebrated its 30th anniversary with a special Day of Mindfulness together. Long-standing Sangha Members Joy, Roshni and Rachel have offered below poems in appreciation and celebration for the Sangha’s journey:

30 years of Thay’s Sangha 
Blossoming, here in Cambridge 
Me in for a 26 
Supporting my practice 

Practising together
In Phung‘s living room/temple
Collective energy resonating
Building awareness

Vietnamese desserts
Leading to cookbook
Cooking, sharing food 
So tasty eating mindfully

Mindfulness sustenance
In toughest times of life
Held by the Sangha
As tears flowed, being safe

Safe enough to see
Such difficult feelings
Embracing, loving them
As we sit, walk together

Together, like Plum Village
Here in each other’s homes
Sharing lunch, laughing
In endless Days of Mindfulness

Mindfulness flowing
Thirty years of awakening
Slowly, up-and-down
Sharing, hearing experiences

Experiencing  one another
Rough edges, sometimes hurt
Rubbing up against each other
Smooths them off a bit

What remains the most
Is this feeling of love
How we want to live, be
In a world with such turmoil

Turmoil of climate crisis
Injustices all round
Yet Sangha breeds compassion
Hearts open in community

 Community winter retreats
Time to soften, ease into
Deeper listening, caring, being
With our group focus

Focus of walking
As stream across grass
Feeling Earth beneath us
Breathing in fresh being

Being as one
With Thay and each other
Such gratitude to you, dear friends
For our sacred sangha

by Joy (True Wonderful Commitment)
1 September 2023

My family is not a tree

It is a spider’s web

That pulls itself taught

On stems and leaf

Left to us by our teacher.

We weave and wander

Into each others lives

On the week’s third evening

Hearing, breathing

With one another.

We enwrap ourselves in 

Silent steps off screen

On grass and concrete

Until our feet fall as one.

We bow in gratitude

And in our joined palms

We know we belong 


by Roshni Parmar-Hill

Surrounded by the booming voices of strong opinions 

And amidst the persistent noise of inner chatter, 

Can I hear the call of silence?

Perhaps it comes in the form of a gentle whisper, a hint towards the sweet stillness that lies within,

Or perhaps it announces itself with a firmer, louder tone; even manifesting in a word, such as ‘stop!’,

Whatever the sound, can I attune my ears to this intuitive guide?

The one that hears each crashing wave in the drama of life,

And yet retains its serene melody, born from a wellspring of compassion,

So too, as the colourful impressions of the day flash through my mind;

Thoughts and memories vying for my attention,

Can I see a world of fragile beauty?

Perhaps the moment a blackbird appeared as if from nowhere on my neighbour’s fence;

Its focused eyes meeting my own in a humbling encounter, 

A reminder of the vastness and uniqueness of life all around,

Whatever the sight, can I attune my eyes to acknowledge this world as teacher?

To allow the fragility and the beauty to co-exist,

To shape and sharpen a vision of quietly urgent gratitude,

And in the darkness of night,

When loneliness threatens to propel my mind towards a frenzied search for comfort,

Can I feel the gift of an unconditional presence?

Perhaps it holds and comforts me, providing the security I seek,

Or perhaps it shakes me still further, dismantling what needs to be dismantled so that I may enter the world anew, 

Whatever the sense, can I place my trust in that which I cannot see or hear?

In that which, nonetheless, allows the unseen to be seen, the unheard to be heard,

To break me apart so that I may know what it is to let go; 

And yet to hold me so close so that I may know the indestructible benevolence of life itself.

~ by Rachel Sackin-Poll 

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