Core Practice

Sangha Reflections and Insight


Saturday, January 13th: “We accept this food so that we may nurture our brotherhood and sisterhood, build our sangha, and nourish our ideal of serving all living beings”

On Saturday 13th January, we gathered in the Library at the Quaker Meeting House in Leicester to enjoy our shared practice.

After guided, walking and silent meditation, we shared our reflections on the Fifth Mindfulness Training, published on the website last week. These included an awareness that we eat as we do to benefit all beings.

One sangha member told us how, watching the BBC programme ‘Big Cats’ she had turned away from a lion hunting a giraffe but had not minded so much when a caiman was caught and eaten.

Each time we share what we notice in this way, something new opens up; in this case, we reflected on how the mind rapidly makes this kind of distinction, on how all of the practice addresses our preferences and asks us to examine them.

Do we mind less if the animal suffering isn’t ‘cute’ or ‘majestic’ or has scales rather than fur? What if we are encountering the suffering of a person who, we admit, we see as ‘in the wrong’ or just plain ‘different’? Can we see all the suffering, not taking sides?

Someone quoted Thay’s poem, ‘Call Me By My True Names’.

So, though our morning began with eating, sangha reflections led us to examine non-discrimination, non dual mind – Interbeing!

Here is the poem:

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 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.

By Thich Nhat Hanh.

The link takes you to a recording of Thay reading the poem.



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