About Joy And Sorrow – Part I
Call Me By My True Names
Do not say I shall depart tomorrow
Or that I have never been,
As every day I newly arrive.
When you look deeply you can see
That I do so every moment.
I am the buds on flowers and trees,
The baby bird who with fragile wings,
Learns to sing and fly when leaving the nest.
I am every caterpillar that crawls
And in the jewels that are still hidden in rocks.
I arrive so that I may experience Myself
Through each one of you,
In our laughing and crying,
Fearing and hoping.
And the rhythm of My heart is
The birth and death of all living things.
I am the mayfly that metamorphoses on the river,
The bird who with the arrival of spring
Is nourished by the mayfly.
I am the frog who swims happily in its pond
And the snake in the grass that silently
Approaches the frog and devours it.
I am the starving child who is all skin and bones,
And whose legs are as thin as bamboo sticks.
I am in the arms merchant who distributes
His death bringing wares throughout your world,
And I am in those who are maimed and killed by them.
I am the refugee girl or woman on a small boat who,
After having been raped by sea pirates,
Throws herself into the ocean and drowns.
But I am also the pirate who fails to respect and love others,
Because the Divine spark in his heart has not yet
Woken from its slumbers and so
His inner eyes are still closed.
I am the member of a politburo
Who has more power than is good for him.
And I am the man who redeems himself
For what he did to others in previous lifetimes,
By dying in one of this man’s forced labour camps,
The same as he one day will be doing
At the end of one of his earthly sojourns.
My joy is like spring.
Its warmth makes flowers
Open and bloom in all walks of life.
And My pain is like a river of tears,
So great that it fills all the oceans.
Please call Me by My true names,
So I can hear My laughter and crying at once.
When at last I re-awaken to My true nature
And doors of compassion and love in My heart open,
I recognise that in truth My joy and sorrow are one.
Thich Nhat Hanh
Vietnamese Zen Buddhist Monk and Peace Activist
Edited by Aquarius
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