This newsletter is dedicated to the loving memory
of our compassionate Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh!
There is a moment that stayed in my mind from my first retreat with the venerable teacher and Zen master Thich Nhat Hahn who came to the west, exiled from Vietnam. It must have been the year of 1992, a full 30 years ago. We were walking in silent meditation, at a mountain retreat in California… it was a beautiful sunny autumnal day and the stillness, the sweetness of inter-being with hundreds of other people in the presence of Thich Nhat Hahn and sister Chang Khong had already instilled an atmosphere of friendship, love, and deep connection amongst us.
All the children of the camp had found the way to Thay, as he was affectionally called, and all of them were walking by his side, silently holding hands, inching their way close to him; a couple of the younger ones were squeezing each of his hands, and you could tell just how happy they all were in his loving presence. Their faces were beaming with joy, and their joy was so palpable that I still remember being touched by the tenderness of that moment. Especially the parting moment, when our 30 minute silent walking meditation came to an end, and Thich was about to step to his cabin for the break. However, the children did not want to part with him and they were holding on to his hands and clothes, anything they could hold on to, in order to make him stay just a bit longer. The parting was taking a long time and I felt anxious for him, knowing that he was probably tired by all the morning activities and needed some rest, but he was so patient with them as if there was no hurry at all. It was a sweet farewell and it took a while until he could step up to his cabin alone. As he made his way up the few stairs to his wooden cabin, he would stop every couple of steps to wave goodbye to them and to bow; such was his tenderness and love that the children just stayed there speechless, waving back at him, little palms together in front of their chest. He opened the door to his cabin stepping in, and then just a second or two later, he opened the door back up and popped his head through and smiled and bowed at the children, beaming love, joy, and tenderness.
How can one forget such moments? I tasted one of the best oranges of my life, when sister Chang Khong guided us through a silent meditation of holding the orange and mindfully considering the sunlight and the rain, the earth and the tree, and all the effort that brought the orange to our palms. I remember vividly that by the time I placed the first sliver of orange in my tongue, all the juices just exploded tasting like the bursting sunlight in my mouth. Ah, such wondrous delight! Such was the way of interbeing that Thich Nhat Hahn and sister Chang Khong embodied and imbibed to the whole community they created at Plum Village in France, and then shared throughout the world.
I still savor the memories of that unforgettable retreat, moment by precious wonderful moment.
Thich Nhat Hanh was the embodiment of Buddha’s Compassion and Christ’s love, qualities he naturally exuded all his life, and tried to share with us through his book, “Living Buddha, Living Christ,” and actually through all his dozens of books.
Along with my deep sadness in knowing that this extraordinary teacher is no longer on this plane with us, I am also steeped in gratitude for the path Thay shared with us, touching us so deeply.
In the upcoming weeks I vow to try to remind myself of his teachings on mindfulness, and would like you to invite you to do the same…
Here are some verses for living our life with mindfulness, all day long, from the moment we wake up until the moment we go to sleep and beyond…
For more information please connect here: Survival Kits / Mindfulness Verses for Daily Living | Plum Village
Mindfulness Verses for daily living from the Book:
Present Moment Wonderful Moment
Waking up this morning, I smile.
Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment
and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.
Taking the First Step of the Day
Walking on the Earth
is a miracle!
Each mindful step
Reveals the wondrous Dharmakaya.
Looking in the Mirror
Awareness is a mirror
reflecting the four elements,
Beauty is a heart that generates love
and a mind that is open.
Using the Toilet
Defiled or immaculate,
increasing or decreasing-
these concepts exist only in our minds.
The reality of interbeing is unsurpassed.
Washing your Hands
Water flows over these hands.
May I use them skillfully
To preserve our precious planet.
Putting on these clothes,
I am grateful to those who made them
and to the materials from which they were made.
I wish everyone could have enough to wear.
Entering the Meditation Room
Entering the meditation room,
I see my true mind.
I vow that once I sit down,
all disturbances will stop.
Following the Breath
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment!
In this food,
I see clearly the presence
of the entire universe
supporting my existence.
Contemplating Your Food
This plate of food,
so fragrant and appetizing,
also contains much suffering.
This cup of tea in my two hands
Mindfulness is held uprightly!
My mind and body dwell
in the very here and now.
Earth brings us into life
and nourishes us.
Earth takes us back again.
Birth and death are present in every moment