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“Look at the sunflower growing in the garden. The sunflower relies on so many elements in order to manifest itself. There is a cloud inside of the flower because if there were no cloud there would be no rain, and no sunflower could grow. There is the sunshine in the sunflower. We know that without sunshine nothing can grow; there would be no sunflowers. We see the earth, we see the minerals, we see the farmer, we see the gardener, and we see time, space, ideas, the willingness to grow and many other elements. So, sunflowers depend on many conditions in order to manifest, not just once.

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I like to use the word ‘manifestation’ instead of ‘birth,’ and I also like to use it instead of ‘creation.’ In our minds, ‘to create’ also means from nothing something is brought forth. The farmer who grows sunflowers does not create the sunflowers. If you look deeply, you see that the farmer is only one of the conditions that can bring sunflowers into being. There are seeds of sunflowers stored in the barn, there are fields outside where you can plan sunflowers, there are the clouds in the sky to make rain, there are fertilizers, there is sunshine to help the sunflowers to grow. You, the farmer, are not really the creator of the sunflower. You are just one of the conditions. Without you the sunflowers cannot manifest. But the same is true of other conditions. All are equally important to the manifestation of the sunflower.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh (No Death, No Fear, pp 87-88)

“What is the cause of everything? …everything relies on everything else in order to manifest. A flower has to rely on non-flower elements in order to manifest. If you look deeply into the flower, you can recognize non-flower elements.  Looking into the flower, you recognize the element sunshine; that is a non-flower element. Without sunshine, a flower cannot manifest. Looking at the flower, you recognize the element cloud; that is a non-flower element. Without clouds, the flower cannot manifest. Other elements are essential, such as minerals, soil, the farmer and so on; a multitude of non-flower elects has come together in order to help the flower manifest.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh, No Fear, No Death

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springblossoms“Nothing can exist by itself alone. It has to depend on every other thing. That is called inter-being. … Looking deeply into a flower, we see that the flower is made of non-flower elements. We can describe the flower as being full of everything. There is nothing that is not present in the flower. We see sunshine, we see the rain, we see clouds, we see the earth, and we also see time and space in the flower. A flower, like everything else, is made entirely of non-flower elements. The whole cosmos has come together in order to help the flower manifest itself. The flower is full of everything except one thing: a separate self, a separate identity.” (Thich Nhat Hanh, No Death, No Fear, pp 47-48)

wpcearthForest.

Thousands of tree-bodies and mine.

Leaves are waving,

ears hear the stream’s call,

eyes see into the sky of mind,

a half-smile unfolds on every leaf.

There is a forest here

because I am here.

But mind has followed the forest

and clothed itself in green. ~Thich Nhat Hanh*

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May Peace Prevail On Earth

*cited: Thich Nhat Hanh, The Sun My Heart

Angry in the ultimate dimension

I close my eyes and look deeply

Three hundred years from now

Where will you be and where shall I be?

~Thich Nhat Hanh*

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While Thich Nhat Hanh’s words are of anger, I believe they also apply to today’s uncertainty in that “…we are living in the most fear mongering time in human history. And the main reason for this is that there’s a lot of power and money available to individuals and organizations who can perpetrate these fears.”

…where fear is about danger that seems certain; anxiety is…”an experience of uncertainty.”

If there is a crack in human psychology into which demagogues wriggle, it is by offering psychological relief for the anxiety created by uncertainty…this is where a good scapegoat comes in; for example, There’ us — real Americans – then there are…”**

May equanimity fill the minds and hearts of all this holiday season and end this dangerous game of brinkmanship.

*cited: No Death, No Fear, Thich Nhat Hanh

**cited: Why We’re Living in the Age of Fear, Rolling Stone

do you also miss

your mother?

cicada ~Issa*

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In Thich Nhat Hanh”s book, No Death No Fear,  he shares a personal experience associated with the passing away of his mother.

“The day my mother died, I wrote in my journal, ‘A  serious misfortune of my life has arrived.’  I suffered for more than one year after the passing away of my mother. But one night, in the highlands of Vietnam … I dreamed of my mother. …When I woke up…I felt very strongly that I had never lost my mother. The impression that my mother was still with me was very clear. I understood then that the idea of having lost my mother was just an idea. It was obvious in that moment that my mother is always alive in me.

I opened the door and went outside. …Walking slowly in the moonlight through the rows of tea plants, I noticed my mother was still with me. She was the moonlight caressing me as she had done so often, very tender, very sweet…wonderful! Each time my feet touched the earth I knew my mother was there with me. I knew this body was not mine alone but a living continuation of my mother and my father and my grandparents and great-grandparents. Of all my ancestors. These feet that I saw as ‘my’ feet were actually ‘our’ feet. Together my mother and I were leaving footprints in the damp soil.

From that moment on, the idea that I had lost my mother no longer existed. All I had to do was look at the palm of my hand, feel the breeze on my face or the earth under my feet to remember that my mother is always with me, available at any time.

When you lose a loved one, you suffer. But if you know how to look deeply, you have a chance to realize that his or her nature is truly the nature of no birth, no death. There is a manifestation and there is the cessation of manifestation in order to have another manifestation.

…If you can stop and look deeply, you will be able to recognize your beloved one manifesting again and again in many forms. You will again embrace the joy of life.” (pp. 4-5)

In remembrance of my mother’s birthday…who passed away April 19, 2016.

*cited: http://www.haikuguy

Look straight ahead. What’s there?

If you see it as it is

You will never err. ~Bassui Tokusho (cited: Y Hoffmann, Japanese Death Poems)

I would like to share a few words out of Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, No Death, No Fear, that has invited me to contemplate how it feels to be in the present…now…this moment.

“Suppose someone was able to transport you by jet to the [K]ingdom of God or the Pure Land of the Buddha. When you arrive, how would you walk? In such a beautiful place, would you walk under pressure, running and anxious like we do so much of the time? Or would you enjoy every moment of being in paradise? In the [K]ingdom of God, or the Pure Land, people are free and they enjoy every moment. So they do not walk like we do.

I have arrive, I am home
In the here, in the now
I am solid, I am free
In the ultimate, I dwell

The Pure Land is not somewhere else; it is right here, in the present. It is in every cell of our bodies. When we run away from the present, we destroy the [K]ingdom of God. But if we know how to free ourselves from our habit energy of running, then we will have peace and freedom and we will all walk like a Buddha in paradise.

What we carry with us determines in which dimension we dwell. If you carry a lot of sorrow, fear and craving with you, then wherever you go you will always touch the world of suffering and hell. If you carry with you compassion, understanding and freedom, then wherever you go you will touch the ultimate, the [K]ingdom of God.” (pp. 108-109)

As I was reading these words, the above image of a dandelion’s parachutes being within moments of release – of journey’s beginning – came to me as it seems to illustrate how my life has been an series of transitions that required preparation; such as, graduation, marriage, motherhood, retirement, death.  As I read Thich Nhat Hanh’s words, I found an invitation to memorize his “I have arrived, I am home” poem and to practice and recall the feelings it evokes many times a day…even while being within a moment of transition…of release.