Out of the dark,
Into a dark path
I must now enter:
Shine on me from afar
Moon of the mountain fringe.
~Izumi Shikibu (cited: Diaries of Court Ladies of Old Japan)
…Just as we are made of non-human elements and the flower is full of non-flower elements, the Earth is made of non-Earth elements. Like us, the Earth contains air, fire, and water, as well as the sun and particles from distant stars in faraway galaxies. In fact, we can se that the Earth is made exclusively of non-Earth elements. The whole cosmos has come together to produce the wonder that is this planet…
~Thich Nhát Hanh (Love Letter to the Earth)
Suddenly, from behind the rim of the moon, in long, slow-motion moments of immense majesty, there emerges a sparkling blue and white jewel, a light, delicate sky-blue sphere laced with slowly swirling veils of white, rising gradually like a small pearl in a thick sea of black mystery. It takes more than a moment to fully realize this is earth…home.
~Edgar Mitchell, Apollo 14 Astronaut (cited: Thich Nhát Hanh, Love Letter to the Earth)
“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
Protecting oneself, one protects others; protecting others, one protects oneself . . . And how does one, in protecting oneself, protect others? By the repeated and frequent practice of meditation.
And how does one, in protecting others, protect oneself? By patience and forbearance, by a non-violent and harmless life, by loving kindness and compassion. But self-protection is not selfish protection. It is self-control, ethical and spiritual self-development.
~ The Buddha
Please Call Me By My True Names
Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow-
even today I am still arriving.
Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.
I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that is alive.
I am a mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river.
And I am the bird
that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.
I am a frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond.
And I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.
I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin a bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.
I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.
My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.
Please call me by my true names,
and the door of my heart
could be left open,
the door of compassion. ~Thich Nhat Hanh
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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.
amid his grave’s
blossoms I bow…
missing him ~Issa*
warbles leave –
blossoms gone, too
Haiku before Haiku
Trans: S Carter