We are very happy to announce the new practice phrases that Thay has just composed, as an offering to the worldwide Plum Village Community for the New Year 2014 and the Lunar New Year of Horse:
The practice phrases are a traditional parallel verse (also known as a “couplet“) for the Lunar New Year. They are a poetic gift and reminder to practice mindfulness.
As with other Plum Village practice verses, the couplet can be combined with our breathing. For example, we breathe in as we contemplate “Joy within”, and breathe out as we offer “Joy all around“. It is not just a declaration, it is a realisation. We take the opportunity to touch off the seed of joy that is already there within us, and to share it with all around.
In Plum Village practice centers all around the world we print out these calligraphies (keeping the diamond form), paste them onto coloured card, and pin them up around the dining halls, meditation halls and living quarters. During the Lunar New Year we hang them (with the help of a little cotton thread) from early-blossoming Japonica and Plum branches that we bring in to brighten our rooms.
Poetic couplets for New Year are an ancient tradition in the East, especially in Vietnam and China. Often on red paper, they are pasted on door-frames, lintels, and even farm tools to bring good luck for the year to come. The traditional couplet written in Chinese characters is a masterful art – a kind of profound and concise “written form of counterpoint”.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s couplets are unusual in that they are written in English, French and Vietnamese (rather than in Chinese characters) and they contain within them insight born of decades of meditation, and a mindfulness practice that anyone can apply right away.
Join us in this practice
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 into our life. You can get creative with how and where to post and practice the phrases. You could post them on the doorframe as you step out to face your day, or even on the bathroom mirror.
In Plum Village, we always post the two complementary diamonds as a pair, near each other (above, below, beside – it doesn’t matter which) – typically on doors, windows or walls.
We hope this brand new couplet will bring you and your loved ones joy, freshness and peace in the New Year to come. Enjoy!
Here we offer you the image composed in Thay’s legendary calligraphy: