04 October 2012

Our True Heritage - a poem by Thich Nhat Hanh

Yesterday I was in a local bookshop when I came across a collection of poems by Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.  His poem "Call me by the True Name" has been a favourite of mine for a while and while flicking through this book of his poetry, I came across another that resonated deep within me.
The following poem, "Our True Heritage" is taken from "Call Me By My True Names" The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh.  I hope you find it as uplifting as I do.

Our True Heritage

The cosmos is filled with precious gems.
I want to offer a handful of them to you this morning.
Each moment you are alive is a gem,
shining through and containing earth and sky,
water and clouds.

It needs you to breathe gently
for the miracles to be displayed.
Suddenly you hear the birds singing,
the pines chanting,
see the flowers blooming,
the blue sky,
the white clouds,
the smile and the marvelous look of your beloved.

You, the richest person on Earth,
who have been going around begging for a living,
stop being the destitute child.
Come back and claim your heritage.
We should enjoy our happiness
and offer it to everyone.
Cherish this very moment.
Let go of the stream of distress
and embrace life fully in your arms.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk. His lifelong efforts toward peace, particularly during the war in Vietnam, inspired Martin Luther King Jr to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967.  He lives in exile in a small community, Plum Village, in France where he teaches, writes, gardens, and works to help refugees worldwide.

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