A flower held up speaks wonderfully. Its five petals have a special fragrance. The Dharma Treasure is transmitted from India and continued in the Mind-Seal school in China. May all generations of Ancestral Teachers, residing in the Nirvana of the Wonderful Mind, seated high on the precious Dharma throne, with the Awakened Understanding which transcends the world, please look down on all your descendants. With love please be witness to our aspiration: all generations of Ancestral Teachers have developed widely the path of stability and freedom. They are the example and source for all future generations. We, your descendants, [insert name of sangha and place where you are], today on the Memorial Day of our Ancestral Teacher whose first name is Hạnh and whose second name is Nhất [or name of other teacher being remembered], have gathered as a Fourfold Sangha. We have come into the precious shrine before the ancestral altar to practice meditation, the daily liturgy and reciting the words of the sutra, to praise the actions and virtues of our respected Ancestral Teacher. With whole-hearted respect and aspiration we want to express our deep gratitude. We respectfully prostrate before the Bodhisattvas, our Ancestral Teachers from India and the Far East, the Root Teacher who founded our Root Temple, all the generations of teachers who preceded him and who have opened up the way of practice for us, your descendants. We are determined to practice steadfastly to transform the afflictions, to nourish our bodhicitta, so that the lineage school may always grow and renew itself, the seal of the Ancestral Teacher every day be clearer and brighter, so that the flower of awakening may open everywhere in the forest of meditation, and the rain of the wonderful teachings may penetrate the place of learning. We, your disciples, being mindful of our gratitude to the teachings of our Ancestral Teacher, vow to accept each other, forgive each other, and love each other as children of the same family, so that the Sanghakaya can grow up strong, so that happiness can be assured, and we can be a place of refuge for the ocean of beings in the Ten Directions. May we follow in the footsteps of Mahakashyapa, Ananda, Asangha and Vasubandhu, Masters Lin Chi and Lieu Quan, as well as all the dragons and elephants of the Meditation school, and all those whose mind is directed to Great Action, all the Bodhisattva Mahasattvas, and the Great Transcendental Understanding which takes us to the other shore.
Translated by Thich Nhat Hanh from the Vietnamese, and published in Thich Nhat Hanh, “Chanting From The Heart” (Parallax Press, Rev. Ed., 2006).
This text recited regularly at our “root temple” Từ Hiếu Temple in Vietnam and in Plum Village practice centers around the world, as part of our annual memorial ceremonies for teachers in our Dharma lineage.