Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Crow 31 Days: Impermanent Continuings

For this year's Asian American Pacific Islander Month, May, I entered a study of Asia in my world: the blessings of friendships, spaces, experiences and the sacred realm. 

On this last night of May in the year of two thousand and seventeen, I watched the sun set over the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village. This post is not about the Asia I find in Dallas, but rather the Asia I have come to look for in the south of France: the one grounded in contemplation. 

Dear reader, you find me in Brigitte's home just across the road from Plum Village. I am in a shared room with my dear friend Nancy listening to the crickets signing French lullabies. Night falls on the vineyards and hills around this utopia of fruit tree and farm. And we are in Noble Silence until tomorrow after the breakfast dishes are clean. We are in Noble Silence-except for the little clicks of my keyboard. 

Zen master, Buddhist teacher and writer Thich Nhat Hanh created Plum Village after the French Government granted him asylum after the Vietnam war. You can read more about him here. Tonight I want to tell you about the sounds of silence. 

I am here with my colleagues to learn about what is created in the space of quiet: as a person, as a leader, as a museum director. We arrived just after 3 this afternoon. In the precious words of Thich Nhat Hanh: 

I have arrived. I am home. I am listening. 

There is space in silence. 

Voluminous, endless sunset over the poplar grove. 

The tinking of the tea cups as they are hand washed in the kitchen. 

The music of rain drops hitting the stone gutters. 

The rhythm of leaves meeting and separating in the bamboo grove. 

The murmur of three women who snuck off to the Farm to giggle and chat. 

The patter of my housemate's (the one I haven't met yet) feet as she prepares for bed. 

Of all the things I have written about this month: from exhibitions to temples, perhaps the greatest offering of a study of Asia is the one inside each of us: the quiet within. Contemplative practice is derived from Buddhist practice --this truly is the wisdom of Asia: the secret we are just beginning to hear. But contemplation is not limited to Buddhism: any prayer of any religion, any mantra, any inhale and exhale of breath is contemplation. Being awake to being alive is contemplation. 

I am here to learn with over 100 other executives and managers closing our eyes and opening our hearts for Mindful and Compassionate Leadership: A Business Retreat. I learned today that this is the first retreat in Plum Village's 35-year history offered for the business world. 

This secret, this wisdom of the ages, is being shared in a new frontier: the culture of work. For the Crow Collection of Asian Art, a practice of sharing mindfulness is flourishing in a medium of employee development, art and culture. 

I am inspired to share this beautiful secret: the one that holds a space for well being, for being well, and for being more compassionate: at home and at work. 

I will share the quiet inside. As a beginning, I am hear to listen, and I am hear to learn. It may be the ending of May, but it is also the continuing: the continuing of the blessing of pursuing joy and the wonder of being alive. 

And I wonder, will the cricket sleep when I turn out the light? 

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