I recall in the late 1970s reading the Poem Call Me by My True Names by the beloved Buddhst monk, Venerable Thich Nhat Hahn. The poem has perhaps became the best loved  poem in the Buddhist world in recent generations.

The poem reminds readers that the self of one is the self of all. In one verse, he wrote:

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.

To put it another way.

Je Suis Charlie

Je Suis Cherif and Je Suis Said (the brothers who committed murder in Paris)

Originally from Vietnam, Thich Nhat Hahan (often referred to as Thay – Teacher) wrote the poem in response to pirates in the Sea of Siam who routinely robbed, raped and murdered refugees fleeing from Vietnam in the late 1970s. Thay commented on his poem that touched the hearts of many worldwide.

On his poem, Thay, 88,  who lives in France, wrote:

“There are many young girls, boat people, who are raped by sea pirates. Even though the United Nations and many countries try to help the government of Thailand prevent that kind of piracy, sea pirates continue to inflict much suffering on the refugees. One day we received a letter telling us about a young girl on a small boat who was raped by a Thai pirate. She was only twelve, and she jumped into the ocean and drowned herself.

“When you first learn of something like that, you get angry at the pirate. You naturally take the side of the girl. As you look more deeply you will see it differently. If you take the side of the little girl, then it is easy. You only have to take a gun and shoot the pirate. But we cannot do that. In my meditation, I saw that if I had been born in the village of the pirate and raised in the same conditions as he was, there is a great likelihood that I would become a pirate.”

Call Me by My True Names

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

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.

 

I am a member of the politburo, with plenty of power in my

hands,

and I am the man who has to pay his “debt of blood” to, my

people,

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.

 

Let us remember what Thich Nhat Hanh wrote.

 “In my meditation I saw that if I had been born in the village of the pirate and raised in the same conditions as he was, there is a great likelihood that I would become a pirate.”

 MAY ALL BEINGS KNOW THE SELF OF ONE IS THE SELF OF ALL

MAY ALL BEINGS LIVE WITH COMPASSION

MAY ALL BEINGS LIVE WITH WISDOM

 

We have seen countless numbers of Western citizens in the last week or so proudly hold up a “Je Suis Charlie” sign to express their identity with Charlie Hebdo, the Parisian magazine whose cartoonists and others were mercilessly gunned down this month. (more…)

We would live a worthwhile life if we spent much, much  more time inquiring into the four conditions for what arises.  We would then have the capacity to respond wisely to events, personal, social or global. We would lose all interest  in fueling suffering.

The four conditions have immense significance influence.  They give rise to every ‘thing’ from sub-atomic particles to every event in this world and to the cosmos. Here they are – as taught by Nagarjuna, the 2nd century Buddhist sage.

 The Four Conditions for Whatever Arises, Stays (Endures) and Passes are:

 1. Stronger condition (s)  This refers to  conditions that stand out more

 2. Supportive This refers to surrounding conditions.

 3. Leading up to This refers to what led up to what arises, recent or long past.

 4. Universal.  This refers to all the conditions, major and minor, known and unknown, for what arises

There is no fifth condition!

If, as human beings, we are going to develop, then we must be willing to give a lot of time to looking into all four conditions for any situation.  This includes war or peace,  success or failure, having or losing, happiness or unhappiness, health and sickness and so on.

We will look inwardly and we will look outwardly. Every time we are blaming, angry and violent, our reaction will remind us that we still have some way to go to become civilized human beings.

The conditions themselves also dependently arise. We can treat the four conditions as a conventional view, a costumed truth.

The purpose of looking deeply into causality is to take the suffering out of events or the events that might arise later through wise action.

We may need to seek out the company of the wise.

Identity

We label ‘people,’ ‘places,’ ‘views,’ ‘beliefs,’ ‘experiences’ or ‘things.’

We take note of which of the four conditions we tend to focus on.

Do we tend to focus on one or more?

We ask ourselves if there are any problematic desires, any projections or unwise views in our interpretation of events.

Do we honestly believe that our identity is who we are and somebody else’s identity is who they are?

Are we that naïve to think like that?

These four conditions refer to past, present and future. We see that nothing has any inherent existence – not religion, not secularism, not wealth, not poverty, not birth, not death, not what arises, what stays or what passes. The world is multi-faced.

There is nothing inherent to grasp onto, not yesterday, not now,  not in the future, nor a metaphysic outside of time.

We regularly employ one of these four interpretations when we endevour to explain what caused something to happen.

We often live in the entrapment of simplistic cause and effect views rather than looking deeper.

Are we that naïve to think like that?

Why are we still so primitive after thousands of years of so-called evolution?

We all pay a heavy price for the views we cling to and propogate.

There is one great freedom and that is the freedom to be wise about causes and conditions and not bound  up.

We are at our best as human beings when we go deep into issues without any kind of identity, conscious or unconscious.

From Christopher Blogs. Critiques of Specific Applications of Mindfulness (more…)

The Buddha’s Words on Mindfulness –

plus recent links to essays and critiques on  mindfulness

32 Quotes from the Discourses
(more…)

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