On the eve of the Lunar New Year of the Tiger 2022, we read this letter to our dear teacher Thay and to our ancestors.
Dear Respected Spiritual Ancestors and Blood Ancestors,
Dear Respected Thay,
In this sacred moment on the eve of the Lunar New Year of the Tiger, 2022, coming home to our mindful breathing, we are aware that you are here with us.
You have brought us to life and have nurtured us on this beautiful planet. Although we may still be unskillful, still cause harm to ourselves and mother Earth, nevertheless we are beginning to see a path of practice to transform. We are aware that love, understanding and the deep aspiration to go together as a river enables us to enrich our lives and protect our beautiful planet.
Dear Respected Thay, you are a beautiful continuation of spiritual and blood ancestors across the ages, like a lotus in a sea of humanity. In your whole life of practice you have made an infinite contribution towards peace in ourselves and peace in the world. You encourage us to come home to ourselves, to be present for one another, to be as one body, to breathe as one body, and to go together as a river. You bridge differences and fill chasms, and always find the most beautiful gems in each culture and in each faith in order to enrich our path of practice, and inspire in us a direction and a course of action to take so that we can contribute to humanity’s collective wisdom, so that Buddha Maitreya—the Buddha of Love—can manifest each day in the form of a sangha.
Dear Thay, as we end the year, and as your physical body may play hide and seek, we give ourselves permission to grieve, to cry and to remember you. At the same time we come home to the present moment, looking deeply to recognize you in each brother and each sister, each flower bud and new leaf, in each passing cloud and beautiful walking path—in the many wonders of life. Some of us have been your life-long students, some have been to retreats, some have read your books, and some may have never met you but have spent moments enjoying a cup of tea in silence or admiring nature’s beauty with clear eyes—in one way or another, we know you, Thay, and we can recognize you in our very own practice.
Look again, you will see me in you and in every leaf and flower bud
If you call my name, you will see me right away
This is how we, both Teacher and student, can enter the country of the present moment. We will breath together mindfully, walk together mindfully so that we can see that Thay is with us in every moment of our daily life. We all have the shared pain of missing Thay. At the same time, we all trust that we will meet Thay in the many different manifestations of life. , and not only in our own hearts of compassion and hands of action, but also in the hearts of compassion and hands of action of people all over the world. And we know that in this moment, we are meeting the spring with Thầy.
Dear Thay, dear Mother Earth, dear ancestors, on the eve of the Lunar New Year, we promise that in the Year of the Tiger, 2022, we will practice to bring harmony and joy into our homes and our sanghas, and to be like bees in a beehive, or cells in one body. We promise to cultivate openness, to practice deep listening and compassionate speech so that we can communicate easily with members of our family, sangha or workplace. We promise to cultivate the insight of interbeing so that there is harmony in the home and peace all around. We promise to see the sangha’s happiness as our own happiness. Living the insight of interbeing, we can ensure a brighter future for our descendants here on Earth.
We promise to practice for you—our spiritual and blood ancestors—and for our descendants, so that joy, peace and love can be possible again on earth. Please protect us and be our witness as we make these aspirations.
We humbly offer incense, flowers, fruit, tea, our love and faithfulness, and touch the earth four times before you.