Observations & meditations on the day-to-day

Poem of the month – July ’17.

Because he doesn’t just think it, or know it: because he lives it.

Please call me by my true names by Thich Nhat Hanh 

Do not say that I’ll depart tomorrow
Because even today I still arrive.

Look deeply: I arrive in every second
To be a bud on a spring branch,
To be a tiny bird, with wings still fragile,
Learning to sing in my new nest,
To be a caterpillar in the heart of flower,
To be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
In order to fear and to hope,
The rhythm of my heart is the birth and
Death of all that are alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the
Surface of the river,
And I am the bird which, when spring comes,
Arrives in time to eat the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily in the
Clear water of a pond,
And I am also the grass-snake who,
Approaching in silence,
Feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
My legs as thin as bamboo sticks,
And I am the arms merchant, selling deadly
Weapons to Uganda.

I am the 12-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.

I am a member of a death squad, with
Plenty of power in my hands,
And I am the man who has to pay his
“debt of blood” to my people,
dying slowly in a forced labor camp.

My joy is like spring, so warm it makes
Flowers bloom in all walks of life.
My pain is like a river of tears, so full it
Fills up the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
So I can hear all my cries and my laughs
At once,
So I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
So I can wake up,
And so the door of my heart can be left open,
The door of compassion.

Biography of  Thich Nhat Hanh – extract courtesy of

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and peace activist.

He lives in Plum Village spiritual community in the South of France and travels extensively giving talks on peace and spiritual values. He has been a life long peace-activist dedicated to finding peaceful solutions to conflicts. Thich Nhat Hanh has also written extensively on ways to find inner peace and inner happiness. He is credited with coining the term ‘Engaged Buddhism’ – a series of teachings which seek to bring practical Buddhist wisdom into daily life.

He was born Nguyen Xuan Bao, in the city of Qu’ng Ngai in Central Vietnam in 1926. At the age of 16, he entered into a Zen Buddhist monastery and took the name Thich Nhat Hanh. As well as practising meditation, Thich Nhat Hanh founded the School of Youth for Social Service (SYSS) – this was a voluntary organisation which visited rural areas in Vietnam helping to provide education, health care services and improving local infrastructure.

In 1960, Thich Nhat Hanh moved to the US, where he studied comparative religion at Princeton University. Thich Nhat Hanh became fluent in several languages and well versed in different religious traditions. During the 1960s, Thich Nhat Hanh was active in supporting fellow Buddhists who were supporting non-violent efforts to promote peace in Vietnam – racked by civil war. Despite not taking sides, Buddhists often faced censure from the south Vietnamese government who accused them of favouring Communists. In 1965, Thich Nhat Hanh issued an influential document ‘Call for Peace’. He wrote:

“It is time for North and South Vietnam to find a way to stop the war and help all Vietnamese people live peacefully and with mutual respect.”
Thich Nhat Hanh was also critical of the US involvement in the Vietnam war. In the mid 1960s, he became acquainted with Martin Luther King. Hanh urged King to speak out and denounce the Vietnam war. King was deeply moved by the requests and teachings of Hanh, and in 1967, Luther King made his first statements criticising the war in Vietnam. At the time it was highly controversial, though as the war dragged on, American became increasingly wary of the conflict. Martin Luther King publically nominated Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967,

In 1966, Hanh created the order of Inter-Being. This included a retreat centre in Plum Village, France. Later several centres were established around the world. The centres are open to both monks and lay people, who are able to visit for periods of retreat throughout the year. A diverse range of people have visited the Mindfulness centres, attracted by the opportunity to practise meditation and mindfulness. Hanh’s approach has been to combine different element of Buddhist traditions, such as Zen and Mahayana.

“Many people think excitement is happiness…. But when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Hanh has sought to concentrate on more practical elements of Buddhism and place less emphasis on dogma. His books such as Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, The Miracle of Mindfulness and You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment, have become world-wide best-sellers.

A cornerstone of Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching is the simplicity of being in the present moment.

“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh

“When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love.”
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Because of his criticism of the Vietnamese government, Hanh was exiled from his native Vietnam for many years. His base became France, though he frequently traveled around the world. In 2005, he was finally able to return to his native Vietnam to establish new centres and publish some of his books in Vietnam.

— Shomit


Posted in Blog on Monday, July 10, 2017
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