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Lions Roar : September 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2007 107 paper-lotus-flower boats are released on the dark river. Incense offerings are made. The chanting goes well into the night. Thay opens the ceremony in Ho Chi Minh City with a powerful dharma talk. He sits before us, calm, open, and bright- eyed. He asks us to consider where our loved ones who have died have gone. One needs to look deeply, he says, to see that they are present in us. Just as the cloud becomes the rain, and then the rain be- comes tea, so our ancestors continue on in us. If we are well, light, and free in our mind and body, then the ancestors in us will be too. Our loved ones only change shape and form—there is no coming, no going, no birth, no death. All those who died unjustly during the war need the col- lective energy of the country to heal. As we sit through the long hours of the ceremony, the full weight of what hap- pened to this battered land comes rushing in. My tears begin to fall, the rain of ances- tors. I welcome these tears. Since I opened my heart to love, I’ve found that I am no longer afraid of tears. Sister Chan Khong tells me that when they bombed Hanoi, Thay wept because his people were dy- ing. And when they bombed Afghanistan and when they bombed Iraq, he also cried with the same depth of concern. He made no distinction. They all deserved our tears. Thay wrote a letter to George W. Bush, wishing that the president could open his heart enough to feel for the people he was bombing. He said, “I wish that you could cry like me. You would suffer, but then you would make all the best decisions.” There is nothing weak about Thich Nhat Hanh, even though he has such an open heart. He is a living testament to fierce compassion. As our time together draws to a close, he looks at me with a strong, clear gaze and says, “In the Bud- dhist tradition, love is born from under- standing. In order to understand, you have to take the time to look deeply and to listen deeply. If you have that kind of love, every word you say, everything you do, will be nonviolent, not as mere tactics but as an expression of your love. Under- standing the suffering of the other person brings true love.” ♦ Abbot John Daido Loori ZEN MOUNTAIN MONASTERY ONE MONTH RESIDENTIAL PROGRAM For more information