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What IS Your TRUE Name??

Ven. Dr. Am Koe Beighley Su April 11, 2022

As Winter passes into Spring, that which was born is now reborn in this new season. The changing of the seasons is reminiscent of a poem by our beloved Teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, who passed from this realm several months ago, and is yet still with us...always. I would like to record his poem below, taking some poetic license and adding to it with some words relevant to today. Whatever I have added will be in italics.

Please listen deeply and mindfully with your eyes and heart.

Call Me By My True Names

Do not say I will soon depart

because even today I am still arriving.

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 will 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 in 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.

I am the Ukranian mother, weeping over the lifeless body of her sons and daughters,

killed by indiscriminate shelling by Russian soldiers.

I am the Russian soldier, only following orders, who bombs the maternity hospital.

I am the Ukranian leader, pleading for help as bombs decimate my cities and people.

I am the Russian leader, trying to believe that I am operating

under the principles of a "just" cause.

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 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.


I find my own tears flowing every time I read this poem. I am not certain if they are tears of joy or of pain. I do know they are tears of compassion. In the world in which we now live, what is the cause for all the judgment? What is the cause for the three poisons: ignorance, greed, and anger? Of what use are these things when the world around us is burning, the climate changing exponentially, billions facing food insecurity, financial instability, divided family, illness, and the losses of loved ones?

Not one of us can do everything to cure these ills. Every one of us can do something, especially if we know the ways of kindness and compassion. If we can quell the energy of ignorance, greed, and anger we can simultaneously harness the energy of kindness and compassion. We can lend a helping hand to a person in need. We can smile at the checkout person, call them by their name, ask how their day is going. We can exercise patience on the roads, in stores, when we come into contact with someone who has caused harm to us previously. We can make amends to those we have harmed. There is SO MUCH we can do by harnessing the energy of LOVE. Regardless of race, creed, spiritual preference, sexual preference, political persuasion...we can be mindful and compassionate in each and every moment that presents itself to us, starting right now up until the moment we leave this realm. And then...we can take that mindfulness into the next realm.

May you all be safe, may you all be well, and may you all be at peace.

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