Parallel Verses – Continuing Thay in the Lunar New Year (Tet)

Plum Village offers these parallel verses for Tet (the Lunar New Year), to usher in the Year of the Tiger in 2022.

Join us in this practice

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 “Harmony at home” as we breathe in, and contemplate “Peace all around” 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.

You may download the pdf of the parallel verses to use at home here.

These parallel verses will be strung on plum tree branches, and placed on the doors and windows of the hamlet to welcome the Lunar New Year.

Commentary on the Parallel Verses

Sr Dieu Ngheim (also known as Sr Jina) shares how she will practice with this year’s parallel verses.

Harmony at home
Peace all around

Harmony at home, means to feel at home in ourself. To bring our body and mind in harmony and to live in such a way that we are fully present for ourself, our loved ones and for life as it is happening in the very here and now.

Harmony has also to do with peace. If we are at peace with ourelves, looking with the eyes of compassion at ourselves, seeing that we are doing our best, then we can live in peace and harmony with ourself and others. We don’t necessarily need to have the same opinion or idea as others, but we can open our heart and listen to and respect them. This is also possible in a larger context, with the world, which is the foundation for having Peace all around.

In both these sentences there is this sense of respect. They are very closely connected. Peace and harmony start with ourselves. We cannot have harmony without peace and we cannot have peace without harmony. We cannot have peace all around if we don’t have harmony at home. These two sentences express the nature of interbeing in a very beautiful way.

Wishing to have harmony at home and peace all around, we practice coming back to ourselves establishing ourselves firmly in the present moment. In order to have peace and for peace to be all around we practice being aware of the nature of our thoughts which are the foundation of our speaking and our acting.

Our thinking, speaking and acting are coloured by what we consume. We may practice being aware of how we nourish ourselves with edible food and also with mental food. Being aware of the food we consume through our thinking, speaking and acting and the effect it has on us. For example, how much negative news can we read, watch or listen to before it starts making us feel negative, before we start expressing that negativity towards the people around us. By becoming aware of how we nourish our mind, we empower ourselves to bring about a change and go in the direction of Harmony at home/Harmony in ourself and Peace all around/Peace in ourself. 

These two sentences bring me back to my childhood and are close to my heart. Already as a child I only wished there would be peace, that there would be no more wars. That there would be Peace all Around.

I wish everybody a very happy practice with these two sentences for this year and may they inspire us to go in the direction of having harmony at home, starting by having harmony within ourselves and to spread peace all around by having peace within ourselves. 

Plum Village wishes one and all a safe, peaceful and harmonious Year of the Tiger. May we all be good continuations of our beloved teacher, Thay.

Tet was one of our teacher’s favourite festivals and a precious continuation of Vietnamese culture. In this photo taken during the memorial ceremonies, Thay receives an offering of his favourite dishes.

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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