Freedom In Every Smile – Parallel Verses for the Lunar New Year

Plum Village offers these parallel verses to mark Tết, the Lunar New Year.

What is this tradition all about?

Thich Nhat Hanh has established a tradition, on the eve of the Lunar New Year, of offering the sangha a simple poetic couplet in calligraphy that can inspire and nurture our mindfulness practice throughout the year. Thay’s innovation has been to offer the couplet in English, French and Vietnamese (rather than in Chinese characters). The Plum Village Community is very happy to continue this beautiful tradition.

In Plum Village practice centers all around the world, we print out these calligraphies (keeping the diamond form), paste them onto coloured cards, and pin them up around the dining halls, meditation halls and living quarters in preparation to celebrate the Lunar New Year. We hang them from early-blossoming Japonica and Plum branches that we bring in to brighten our rooms.

While reciting these phrases we can combine each line with our breathing. For example, we can contemplate “Peace in every step” as we breathe in, and contemplate “Freedom in every smile” as we breathe out. These words are not a declaration, but a living aspiration we wish to nurture.

We post the two complementary diamonds as a pair, near each other (above, below, or besides). You can print out and post the couplets on your fridge, doors or near light switches as an auspicious reminder to be mindful of their message, and renew ourselves by applying them in our daily lives. You can get creative with how and where to post and practice the phrases.

Download the Gathas

The gathas attached to traditional earth cakes

Advice on How to Practice with this Year’s Gathas

We are continuing Thay with every step that we make during the New Year. Peace is every step, and there is peace in our hearts as we walk mindfully on beautiful Mother Earth.

Thay has inspired us with his insight “Peace in oneself and peace in the world” So why not have peace in every step that we make as an offering to Thay, to our ancestors and to all beings?

Freedom is available to us in the present moment when we live mindfully with awareness and gratitude that all the wonders of life are still available to us.

We remember Thay’s practice that he shared with us as a way to meet all situations and even difficulties we encounter:

“I smile to life, in me and around me” 

A smile on our lips is freedom, We are free from the past and the future and are fully alive in the present moment. Why not experience smiling as the precious freedom that we offer to ourselves and others this year?

May we all continue practicing together  creating peace and freedom in every step and with every smile

Happy Lunar New Year!

Cooking the earth cakes

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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