Monday, September 5, 2011

Thich Nhat Hanh

"Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy."
Thich Nhat Hanh

Tomorrow I will embark on a 5-day journey of mindfulness on a retreat with one of my heroes and mentors, one of the greatest living leaders for peace, Thich Nhat Hanh. The retreat is at his monastery, Deer Park, located in Escondido, CA. I will be taking my address book and stationery with me (as a side note, "monastery", like stationery, is a word that I always have trouble spelling!).

In the spirit of the retreat, I'd like to share one of Thay's poems, Please Call Me By My True Names, which so beautifully conveys the oneness of all things:

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 a 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 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

I am the twelve-year-old girl, refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean after being raped by a sea
and I am the pirate, my heart not yet capable of seeing and

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my
and I am the man who has to pay his "debt of blood" to, my
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 if like a river of tears, so full it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and 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.

Thich Nhat Hanh

(Retrieved from


  1. Wow, what a wonderful opportunity! I just started reading Peace is Every Step yesterday. I got it from the library, but I want to buy it because it's one of those books that could be reread over and over again. Have a peaceful time!

  2. That's great Angela! That is one of my favorite books of all time. I've definitely reread it many times - it's a keeper! Thanks for reading my blog - and if you'd like a letter, send me your address! :-)