Along with the good news that the registration form for our first in-person Branching Streams Conference is now live, it is with sadness that I share a message from Sergio Stern, the guiding teacher of Montaña Despierta, in Jalapa, Mexico:
“Dear friends of Montaña Despierta,
I have some very sad news to share with you. Montaña Despierta, our temple, our place of practice, has been desecrated. Thieves entered last Thursday night and took all the Buddhas, all the bells, as well as several pieces of art that were an essential part of our center. For years a place built with love for every detail; every stone in that space has had a sacred meaning for us. It is very painful that something like this could happen in our community, in our city, in our country, and although we understand the causes and conditions that give rise to this type of behavior, we can only feel immense anger, helplessness and regret. In my opinion, we should all enjoy the right to feel protected and I think it is inexcusable that there are no structures in our society that guarantee our safety. Montaña Despierta has been for many years a refuge for many people, a place of peace and tranquility, a space dedicated to selfless good in pursuit of harmony among human beings. I hope with all my heart that we can soon regain our sanity.
“I want to thank the entire sangha, all the people who immediately decided to take matters into their own hands to make our home a safer place, putting up fences, carrying out a count of the damages and putting everything back where it belonged. In other words, I want to offer a deep bow to every and all of those who are re-consecrating our temple at this very moment. The sangha and the purity of our intentions are the true temple—and those will always be indestructible. May all beings everywhere live in peace and out of harm’s way and may our hearts remain open and protected.”
Sergio sent a second message, in which he said “In difficult moments like the one our practice group has just experienced, when our space was intruded upon, the teaching of Thich Nhat Hanh, who said that the next Buddha will be a Sangha, becomes even more powerful. Together, we are waking up. Together, we are One.”
I wrote to Sergio and asked him how Branching Streams could support Montaña Despierta at this time. He replied, “I think that what we need the most now is a message of support from Branching Streams to our sangha, which has responded in an amazing way. If you send me such a message, I can translate it into Spanish and I will post it on our mailing list. The artwork cannot be replaced but words of encouragement right now make all the difference.”
I will send a message on behalf of Branching Streams – and if you’d like to send a message from your sangha to the Montaña Despierta sangha, you can write to Sergio Stern at firstname.lastname@example.org.