Take My Hand, We Will Walk

Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk,
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Walk peacefully.
Walk happily.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.

– Thich Nhat Hanh, Linji School, Thiền Buddhism.

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Ageing Drops On Us Like A Curse

The Buddhist texts include a great number of wonderful teachings from the Buddha. But they also contain other gems.

There is a collection called the Khuddaka Nikaya which contains a number of suttas, fragments of teachings, and poems. In the eighth book of the Khuddaka Nikaya, the Theragatha, there are a number of poems from early Buddhist monks. These poems are wonderful, and I recommend you take a look at them. Here is one of my favourites:

As if sent by a curse,
it drops on us β€”
aging.
The body seems other,
though it’s still the same one.
I’m still here
have never been absent from it,
but I remember myself
as if somebody else’s.

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Content On Vulture’s Peak

Here is a poem from around 250BC, attributed to one of the Buddhist Elders of the Third Council.

He grew up as a Prince, younger brother of one of India’s greatest Emperors; King Ashoka. However, he was inspired one day, by seeing an admirable monk, and decided to abandon his royal duties to become a monk himself. He was given the name Tissa Kumara, which translates to ‘The Elder Who Lives Alone’.

I love the beautiful imagery in this poem, and I think you can really sense the joy he takes in peaceful solitude out there in the forest.

I hope you enjoy it too:

If nobody is to be found,
In front of one or behind one,
That is exceedingly pleasant
For the lonely forest dweller.

So be it! I will go alone
To the forest, praised by Buddha;
For the self-resolute bhikkhu,
Dwelling alone, it is pleasant.

Pleasing, and joyful to sages,
Haunted by rutting elephants,
Seeking my goal alone, quickly
Will I go to the wild forest.

In the well-flowered Cool Garden,
In a soothing mountain grotto,
Having anointed all my limbs,
I will walk back and forth, alone.

When indeed shall I come to dwell
All alone, without companion
In the great forest, so pleasing!
My task accomplished, without taint?

While the gentle breezes flutter,
Soothing and laden with fragrance,
I’ll burst asunder ignorance
While seated on the mountain top.

In a grove covered with flowers,
Or maybe on a cool hillside,
Gladdened by the joy of release,
I’ll be content on Vulture’s Peak

The translation was done by Andrew Olendzki.

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I am a Flower, I am a Mountain

Breathing in,
I see myself as a flower.
I am the freshness 
of a dewdrop.
Breathing out,
my eyes have become flowers.
Please look at me.
I am looking with the eyes of love

Breathing in,
I am a mountain,
imperturbable,
still,
alive,
vigorous.
Breathing out,
I feel solid.
The waves of emotion can never carry me away.

– Thich Nhat Hanh, Linji School, Thiền Buddhism

So Hither And So Hence

The way of which men come we cannot know;
Nor can we see the path by which they go.
Why mourn then for him who came to you,
Lamenting through the tears?…
Weep not, for such is the life of man.
Unasked he came and unbidden he went.
Ask yourself again whence came your child
To live on earth this little time?
By one way come and by another gone,
As human to die, and pass to other births β€” So hither and so hence β€” why should you weep?

– Poem attributed to Bhikkhuni Patacara, taken from a speech given by her to a group of women who were struggling with the loss of children.