The week leading up to a new moon (Saturday’s Sagittarius new moon) has a distinct flavour to it – influenced by the dark moon, we have a tendency to become quieter, more introspective and sensitive. The best thing to do, is as much as possible honour those feelings by clearing your schedule of all but the essentials and include as many self-nourishing activities as possible. On Monday, due to a temporary loss of access to money, my schedule cleared itself. I could have run around, transferring more money here and there so that I could do what I had planned to do…but when I surveyed what was left, I realised that the essentials with which I had been left – work, writing and play – were perfect. Next week though… OMG.
A friend and I had been planning a play day at Bellingen for weeks – and Thursday was the day. We met in town and travelled up together, stopping for a lush breakfast and two big, beautiful coffees. My friend had an appointment, and then we headed out to The Promised Land…which I can only imagine was named because of its close resemblance to Paradise. The Promised Land is a perpetually verdant valley in the shadow of the Dorrigo Plateau, a particularly beautiful part of the Great Dividing range. We were headed to the river, a crystal clear mountain stream of infinite possibilities. Of course, we got lost. Then we found our way again and arrived here:
We had a feeling of being within the womb of the world, part of it, yet protected from it as well. It was stinking hot out in the world, but here, we sat in our watery bubble and watched time dissolve. We swam, we floated and admired our auras, glowing blue and gold under the water, which you only ever see in the clearest and cleanest of mountain streams. We talked and talked…and all the time we just felt grateful that we live lives where we can go to such places. When I arrived home, at dusk, the Bear took one look at me and said smiling, so, you had a good day then?
Ever since, I have carried a piece of that river within me, behind my closed lids, as if gazing for so long has enabled the image to be embedded on my retina. Food, friendship, water and beauty – all of those things feed my soul.
What feeds your soul?
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
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 is 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
The commentary from Thay:
“In Plum Village, where I live in France, we receive many letters from the refugee camps in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, hundreds each week. It is very painful to read them, but we have to do it, we have to be in contact. We try our best to help, but the suffering is enormous, and sometimes we are discouraged. It is said that half the boat people die in the ocean. Only half arrive at the shores in Southeast Asia, and even then they may not be safe.
“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. I saw that many babies are born along the Gulf of Siam, hundreds every day, and if we educators, social workers, politicians, and others do not do something about the situation, in twenty-five years a number of them will become sea pirates.
“That is certain. If you or I were born today in those fishing villages, we may become sea pirates in twenty-five years. If you take a gun and shoot the pirate, all of us are to some extent responsible for this state of affairs.
“After a long meditation, I wrote this poem. In it, there are three people: the twelve-year-old girl, the pirate, and me. Can we look at each other and recognize ourselves in each other? The tide of the poem is “Please Call Me by My True Names,” because I have so many names. When I hear one of the of these names, I have to say, “Yes.” ”
Thich Nhat Hanh ©Plum Village.
This video shows Mooji, a spiritual teacher, in satsang (a public gathering with the highest truth or guru). People come and ask him questions, or they try to – the oddest thing happens to them when they sit in his presence.
That’s it from me, folks…enjoy your weekend, and may you be blessed with joy and laughter!