The Plum Village fourfold Sangha offered this New Year Prayer at the midnight ceremony to enter 2018.
Dear Beloved Thầy, Dear Beloved Ancestors, Dear Beloved Mother Earth,
We have gathered as a fourfold sangha in this solemn moment of the New Year to express our gratitude and aspiration as a spiritual family, and to begin anew. We know that you, our ancestors, are present in this very moment, and that you are always there for us to take refuge in. As we touch the earth tonight we feel deeply connected to all of you, and to our dear Mother Earth: our beautiful blue planet, the Great Refreshing Bodhisattva – fragrant and cool, kind and inclusive, accepting us all. Mother Earth, we are all your children and, despite our many mistakes and shortcomings, every time we come home to you, you are ready to open your arms and embrace us.
Beloved Thầy, many times in the past we have allowed uncertainty to water the seeds of insecurity and fear in our hearts. We have hesitated to take refuge in the path and we have doubted our family and community. We have not been wholehearted in our practice. We have let our strong emotions and wrong perceptions overwhelm us, giving rise to feelings of helplessness, separation and despair.
Aware of this, we want to begin anew and to remind ourselves of our commitment to practice wholeheartedly, to take refuge in our Beloved Community, and to be a continuation of Thầy and all our spiritual ancestors. We aspire to live more deeply by cultivating our mindful breathing and walking in our daily activities, which we know are your favorite practices. We also know that you love building Sangha, and we vow to continue your work of building brotherhood and sisterhood with all our heart, even though at times it may seem challenging. We will not withdraw from the practice, or abandon our loved ones or our community; but aspire to listen deeply and to help one another, never forsaking anyone, even those who cause us to suffer.
Mother Earth, as a human family, in our misguided pursuit of happiness, we have allowed greed and consumerism to prevail. We have been running after status, power, material possessions and sensual comforts, forgetting that these things can never bring us true happiness and freedom. We have caused great harm to you and to ourselves, exploiting our mountains and rivers, mistreating our forests and other species, polluting our atmosphere and causing you to lose your beauty and balance.
We are determined to simplify our life, and to remember that in the present moment we already have enough conditions to be happy. We vow to live more deeply and with gratitude, aware that simply to be alive is already a miracle. In the coming year, we are determined to consume less and to make effort to live more sustainably both for ourselves and for you, Mother Earth.
Dear Ancestors, we have allowed fear, fanaticism and intolerance to divide us as a human family. We have caused suffering to one another, discriminating on the basis of religion, ethnicity and nationality. We have closed our hearts and our borders, out of fear and ignorance. We have caused wars, terror and conflicts between each other, and allowed the militarization of our society to escalate. We have forgotten that we are inter-dependent, and that our own happiness and suffering is deeply connected to, and dependent on, the happiness and suffering of others.
We trust that within us, there is the wisdom of non-discrimination and great compassion, transmitted to us by you, all our spiritual teachers, our ancestors, and by Mother Earth. We are determined to stay on the Path, to keep our hearts open, and to let go of our pride, so that understanding and love can prevail.
As we touch the Earth, we express our gratitude to you, our beloved teacher Thầy, to our ancestors, and to Mother Earth. We have found the path of practice and a spiritual family to take refuge in. We have experienced joy, peace and transformation. We have tasted the freedom of letting go of our ideas and notions. We have felt the strength and warmth of brotherhood and sisterhood, and we know that together, we can face our challenges and realize our aspiration. We vow, in this solemn moment, to continue to build our family, our community and to open up the path for ourselves and our descendants.
Dear Thầy, Dear Ancestors, Dear Mother Earth, please accept our offerings of incense, flowers, fruit and tea, as a sign of our deep aspiration, respect, gratitude and love.