Jul 31 2015
My True Names

Our teacher at the Mindfulness Project read us this beautiful poem during one of our nightly teachings. It was written by Thích Nhất Hạnh, the well-known Vietnamese Buddhist monk, poet, and peace activist.

Please Call Me By My True Names

Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving to be a bud on a Spring branch, to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings, 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, to fear and to hope.

The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death of all that is alive.

I am a mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river.

And I am the bird that swoops down to swallow the mayfly. I am a frog swimming happily in the clear water of a pond.

And I am the grass-snake that silently feeds itself on the frog. I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones, my legs as thin a bamboo sticks.

And I am the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to Uganda. I am the twelve-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.

My joy is like Spring, so warm it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth. My pain is like a river of tears, so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names, so I can hear all my cries and laughter 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 the door of my heart could be left open, the door of compassion.

— Thích Nhất Hạnh

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