Archive for September, 2012

Please Call Me by My True Names. Thich Nhat Hanh.

Saturday, September 29th, 2012

This Thich Nhat Hanh poem can be a powerful meditation on oneness and compassion. Written after coming out of a long meditation, Thich Nhat Hanh emerged with the question “Can we look at each other and recognize ourselves in each other?”

In our practice can we, as Thich Nhat Hanh has, say yes to each person in the poem? Each of us will probably have a harder time saying yes to some of the images more than others depending on gender, life experience, etc.

Please 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, whose wings are 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 water of a 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 12-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 is like a river of tears,
so full it fills up the four oceans.
Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and my laughs at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are but 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.

Eileen read this to Friday’s Pranayama class while we were in our final relaxation, savasana. As I tried to say that  I was each person in the poem, I was brought to tears at the image of the pirate and the young girl. As my mind resisted any relation of my heart to the heart of a child rapist I started to turn my meditation to the Maitri Sutra, 1.33, in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali. While I am sure I will have many obstacles arising and falling away in my cultivation of compassion, this sutra is a powerful tool to help me through.

maitri-karuna-muditopeksanam sukha-duhkha-punyapunya-visayanam bhavantas citta-prasadanam

By cultivating an attitude of friendship toward those who are happy, compassion toward those in distress; joy toward those who are virtuous, and equanimity toward those who are non-virtuous, lucidity arises in the mind.


“You need not seek anything..”

Saturday, September 8th, 2012

Deepen and broaden your awareness of yourself and all the blessings will flow. You need not seek anything, all will come to you most naturally and effortlessly.

Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj