Refuge Prayer

As I sort through papers this morning, I run across the beautiful Refuge Prayer that was given to me long ago. This is a joyous reminder of one of my first Buddhist teachers –Thich Nhat Hanh ( pronunciation: Tik · N’yat · Hawn). By his students he is affectionately known as Thay (pronounced “Tay” or “Tie”) , which is Vietnamese for “teacher.”

Thay holds a very special place in my heart for it is with his writings and poems that I first fully embraced and then embarked upon the path of the bodhisattva. Following his teachings in mindfulness has given a great sense of inner peace. His words and presence continue to engender well being and gratitude.

Refuge Prayer by Thich Nhat Hanh

At the foot of the Bodhi tree, beautifully seated, peaceful and smiling, the living source of understanding and compassion, to the Buddha I go for refuge.

The path of mindful living, leading to healing, joy, and enlightenment, the way of peace, to the Dhamma I go for refuge.

The loving and supportive community of practice, realizing harmony, awareness, and liberation, to the Sangha I go for refuge.

I am aware that the Three Gems are within my heart, I vow to realize them.

I vow to practice mindful breathing and smiling, looking deeply into things.

I vow to understand living beings and their suffering, to cultivate compassion and loving kindness, and to practice joy and equanimity.

I vow to offer joy to one person in the morning and to help relieve the grief of one person in the afternoon.

I vow to live simply and sanely, content with just a few possessions, and to keep my body healthy.

I vow to let go of all worry and anxiety in order to be light and free.

I am aware that I owe so much to my parents, teachers, friends and all beings.

I vow to be worthy of their trust, to practice wholeheartedly, so that understanding and compassion will flower, and I can help living beings be free from their suffering.

May the Buddha, the Dhamma, and the Sangha support my efforts.

Breathe, you are online

One of the best known and most respected Zen masters in the world today, poet, and peace and human rights activist, Thich Nhat Hanh has led an extraordinary life. Born in central Vietnam in 1926 he joined the monkshood at the age of sixteen. The Vietnam War confronted the monasteries with the question of whether to adhere to the contemplative life and remain meditating in the monasteries, or to help the villagers suffering under bombings and other devastation of the war. Nhat Hanh was one of those who chose to do both, helping to found the “engaged Buddhism” movement. His life has since been dedicated to the work of inner transformation for the benefit of individuals and society.

In Saigon in the early 60s, Thich Nhat Hanh founded the School of Youth Social Service, a grass-roots relief organization that rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, resettled homeless families, and organized agricultural cooperatives. Rallying some 10,000 student volunteers, the SYSS based its work on the Buddhist principles of non-violence and compassionate action. Despite government denunciation of his activity, Nhat Hanh also founded a Buddhist University, a publishing house, and an influential peace activist magazine in Vietnam.

After visiting the U.S. and Europe in 1966 on a peace mission, he was banned from returning to Vietnam in 1966. On subsequent travels to the U.S., he made the case for peace to federal and Pentagon officials including Robert McNamara. He may have changed the course of U.S. history when he persuaded Martin Luther King, Jr. to oppose the Vietnam War publicly, and so helped to galvanize the peace movement. The following year, King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Subsequently, Nhat Hanh led the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks.

In 1982 he founded Plum Village, a Buddhist community in exile in France, where he continues his work to alleviate suffering of refugees, boat people, political prisoners, and hungry families in Vietnam and throughout the Third World. He has also received recognition for his work with Vietnam veterans, meditation retreats, and his prolific writings on meditation, mindfulness, and peace. He has published some 85 titles of accessible poems, prose, and prayers, with more than 40 in English, including the best selling Call Me by My True Names, Peace Is Every Step, Being Peace, Touching Peace, Living Buddha Living Christ, Teachings on Love, The Path of Emancipation, and Anger.  Plum Village

May you be happy and with peace.

In celebration of the blessings of the Buddha, the Dhamma, the Sangha and of interdependence on this 4th of July, 2011 from Berkeley, California.

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