Friday, January 28, 2022

A Play in One Act: "The Path of Return Continues the Journey"

 Thich Nhat Hanh at 16, in Hue, Vietnam


95 years:  A Life Story



A second edition of Love in Action is being released on June 21, 2022.  The book, first published in 1993, begins with a play by Thich Nhat Hanh called "The Path of Return Continues the Journey."  

In writing about his play, Thich Nhat Hanh said:

Love enables us to see things that those who are without love cannot see.

One of the characters in the play is Tuan, a student in Thich Nhat Hanh's School of Youth for Social Service.

Tuan:  ... When I worked hard, it was not because I had any illusion about my ability to change the situation.  That would have been like trying to extinguish a forest fire with a cup of water.  But I did have faith then, and I still have faith now, that our work was of value because it sowed seeds of tolerance and love in people's hearts ...

It is an extraordinary book worth re-visiting again and again. 

Thursday, January 27, 2022

Becoming the wine / More of one thing leading to another

Let This Darkness Be a Belltower

Quiet friend who has come so far,

feel how your breathing makes more space around you.
Let this darkness be a bell tower
and you the bell. As you ring,

what batters you becomes your strength.
Move back and forth into the change.
What is it like, such intensity of pain?
If the drink is bitter, turn yourself to wine.

In this uncontainable night,
be the mystery at the crossroads of your senses,
the meaning discovered there.

And if the world has ceased to hear you,
say to the silent earth: I flow.
To the rushing water, speak: I am.

(Sonnets to Orpheus II, 29, Rainer Maria Rilke, translated by Joanna Macy)


This morning I was looking for insight into what makes a good and lasting committed relationship or marriage, having not experienced that in my life.  I loved a man at what I once thought was a safe distance for 42 years until his death from the results of alcoholism and drug addiction, always hoping that he would be able to return my love.  I may have been physically safe but emotionally I was never in healthy territory.  This morning I'm looking deeply into my lifelong pattern of loving from a distance, stemming from my childhood where it was not safe to love my parents unless I kept my physical and emotional distance and which resulted in being so distant from them that I no longer felt love.  Love was replaced by fear and shame.  

Meeting R when we were 17 years old, I felt that it was finally safe to love another person.  For the only time in my life that I could remember,  I felt fully alive, but it wasn't long before I didn't feel worthy of his love and retreated into unvoiced fear and shame.  During the year he was in Vietnam, I perfected my ability to love from a distance for a sustained period of time.  He returned from Vietnam, broken and unable to love anyone.  At the time I thought that this proved that I was not worthy of love but, unlike my childhood response of ceasing to love, I made what I see now as an unconscious vow to love him no matter what happened in hopes that my love would be returned.  I could not imagine a life without him and, at the same time, I could not imagine a life with him and so I remained alone, waiting for something that could never be.

This brings me to a painful turning point this morning.  Although I now feel able to love and worthy of love, I find myself afraid to ask for emotional and physical closeness.  My childhood fears are still with me.  I learned early that asking for emotional and physical closeness resulted in anger and abandonment.  My relationships with men have been fraught with my fear of anger and abandonment and yet I see that I am drawn to men who want me in their lives but not too close.  The part of this that is apparent to me this morning is that I have to admit that I am comfortable being kept at a distance because I am unable to believe yet that a committed relationship, much less marriage, is possible for me.

Through blogging, I have been given the gift of witnessing long-term loving marriages.  That gives me hope, knowing what is possible.

So, I asked the darkness for help with my own situation and waited for a response.  Help came in the form of a gentle inner prompt to read the weekly newsletter from On Being that appears at the top of this post.  O my goodness!  All is not lost.  In fact, nothing is lost.  Thank you!

Wednesday, January 26, 2022

T. rex / Dream from 2020 revisited / Teachers of the heart / The door of compassion / Morning

Dream from January 2020:  Compassion for the lizard after being told that the lizard had no choice.


Pay no attention to the faults of others, things done or left undone.  Consider what by oneself is done or left undone.

-- Buddha


Please Call Me by My True Names – Thich Nhat Hanh

Don’t say that I will depart tomorrow —
even today I am still arriving.

Look deeply: every second I am arriving
to be a bud on a Spring branch,
to be a tiny bird, with still-fragile wings,
learning to sing in my new nest,
to be a caterpillar in the heart of a flower,
to be a jewel hiding itself in a stone.

I still arrive, in order to laugh and to cry,
to fear and to hope.

The rhythm of my heart is the birth and death
of all that is alive.

I am the mayfly metamorphosing
on the surface of the river.
And I am the bird
that swoops down to swallow the mayfly.

I am the frog swimming happily
in the clear water of a pond.
And I am the grass-snake
that silently feeds itself on the frog.

I am the child in Uganda, all skin and bones,
my legs as thin as bamboo sticks.
And I am the arms merchant,
selling deadly weapons to Uganda.

I am the twelve-year-old girl,
refugee on a small boat,
who throws herself into the ocean
after being raped by a sea pirate.
And I am the pirate,
my heart not yet capable
of seeing and loving.

I am a member of the politburo,
with plenty of power in my hands.
And I am the man who has to pay
his “debt of blood” to my people
dying slowly in a forced-labor camp.

My joy is like Spring, so warm
it makes flowers bloom all over the Earth.
My pain is like a river of tears,
so vast it fills the four oceans.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can hear all my cries and my laughter at once,
so I can see that my joy and pain are one.

Please call me by my true names,
so I can wake up,
and so the door of my heart
can be left open,
the door of compassion.

Monday, January 24, 2022



  1. a counterpart or equal to someone.
    "this person is our brother, our semblable, our very self"


“The moment I die
I will try to come back to you
as quickly as possible.
I promise it will not take long.
Isn’t it true
I am already with you
as I die each moment?
I come back to you
in every moment.
Just look,
feel my presence.
If you want to cry,
please cry,
And Know
that I will cry with you.
The tears you shed
will heal us both.
Your tears and mine.
The earth I tread this morning
transcends history.
Spring and Winter are both present in the moment.
The young leaf and the old leaf are really one.
My feet touch deathlessness,
And my feet are yours.
Walk with me now.
Let us enter the dimension of oneness
and see the cherry tree blossom in Winter.
Why should we talk about death?
I don’t need to die
to be back with you.”

~Thich Nhat Hanh


Thank you to Beth at Alive On All Channels for bringing this poem and so many poems and writings of Thich Nhat Hanh to my attention today on her blog.

Sunday, January 23, 2022

Friday, January 21, 2022

Honoring Thich Nhat Hanh (1926-2022)

Thich Nhat Hanh:

"I am a continuation, like the rain is the continuation of a cloud."


"Wisdom is a living stream, not an icon preserved in a museum. Only when we find the spring of wisdom in our own life can it flow to future generations."


“I am often on the verge of tears or laughter. But beneath all these emotions, what else is there? How can I touch it? If there isn’t anything, why would I be so certain that there is?"


"The moment I met Martin Luther King, Jr., I knew I was in the presence of a holy person. Not just his good work, but his very being was a source of great inspiration for me... On the altar in my hermitage in France are images of Buddha and Jesus, and every time I light incense, I touch both of them as my spiritual ancestors... In Vietnam, we refer to Dr. King as a "Bodhisattva," an enlightened being devoted to serving humanity..."



I hold my face in my two hands

No, I am not crying.

I hold my face in my two hands

to keep the loneliness warm--

two hands protecting

two hands nourishing,

two hands preventing

my soul from leaving me

in anger.


"Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible."
(From Going Home:  Jesus and Buddha as Brothers, by Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk)

Dark sky with patch of blue / Dream from January 21, 2020 revisited

Empty dark place we can reach into.  We find what appear to be bones.  Some of them are small bone fragments carved to look like heads of dragons.  Outside the dark empty place is infinite darkness and emptiness.  We are not afraid.  We are curious.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Remembering Janis Joplin's dream request

Janis Joplin would have been 79 years old today.  As I've written before, I had a dream in 2000 where I heard Janis say, "Please kiss the 21st century for me."  


My favorite photo of Janis Joplin:

And a new favorite that I've never seen before today:

"I'm one of those regular weird people."

-- Janis Joplin

Monday, January 17, 2022

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr Day 2022 / Unarmed truth and unconditional love


(Akedah Fulcher-Eze)


I believe I've found a single episode of Eyes on the Prize, but I can't be sure.  I looked on YouTube for the entire documentary and couldn't find it.


I believe that unarmed truth and unconditional love will have the final word in reality. This is why right temporarily defeated is stronger than evil triumphant. 

Martin Luther King, Jr. (1929-1968)


Nonviolence and truth are inseparable and presuppose one another.  There is no god higher than truth.

Mahatma Gandhi (1869-1948)

Saturday, January 15, 2022

A Story For Right Now: Barbara Earl Thomas / More of one thing leading to another

Barbara Earl Thomas has been an inspiration to me since I first learned about her on the cover of a Real Change newspaper and found that if I traveled south about 100 miles, I could see her art work in person.

A few days ago, a Bellingham friend texted me a photo of art work by Derrick Adams from an exhibit at the Henry Gallery on the University of Washington campus in Seattle. She and her husband had driven a friend 90 miles to the UW Medical Center for a procedure and, while waiting for the procedure to be over, had walked over to the Henry Gallery to see what they could see.

Immediately after receiving the text, I went to the Henry Gallery website and was rewarded with the information that the exhibit featured both Derrick Adams and Barbara Earl Thomas, which led me to the above video and immense gratitude for the many unexpected gifts that come when needed.


I'm going forward into 2022 with the intent of drawing the circle for each new mandala with my right hand using a colored pencil but completing the rest of the mandala with a 6B pencil using my left hand.


Today when I talked again with the friend whose random visit to the Henry Gallery with her husband led me forward to Barbara Earl Thomas, she told me a story about having had a strong desire some years ago to hear Beethoven's Third Symphony in a concert hall, She had taken a class at UC Davis in 1969, taught by John Cage, in which the students were asked to color the musical score of Beethoven's Third Symphony, using a different color for each musical instrument. John Cage knew the symphony by heart and could easily tell if a student had actually listened closely to the entire symphony. My friend said that in doing the assignment, she found that she was able to learn the symphony by heart.

She envisioned that the symphony might be performed in New York City or Boston and was willing to travel that far but found that it was not being performed, within her timeframe, in either place. She searched the internet and found nowhere that it was being performed.

Some time passed. One day she went out to her mailbox and found a flyer for the Bellingham Festival of Music, announcing that Beethoven's Third Symphony was going to be performed at the Western Washington University concert hall right here in Bellingham.

Unexpected gifts.


Wednesday, January 12, 2022

Gratitude to George Harrison and Ravi Shankar (revisited) / A quiet transcendent joy that I can feel to this day

Just days after we graduated from high school in 1967, three of us -- Betts, Doris, and I, drove south from Redwood City to Monterey for the afternoon set of the Sunday portion of the Monterey Pop Festival on June 18.  We knew next to nothing about Ravi Shankar.  Tickets to his concert were the only ones left by the time we tried to buy tickets.  All the other concerts were sold out.  Betts and I and two of her friends had been at the last concert the Beatles gave at Candlestick Park.  The week before we had been to the Magic Mountain Music Festival and Fantasy Fair on Mt. Tamalpais and seen The Doors.  In my mind, I can still hear the drum and guitar opening of "Light My Fire" and remember how it felt to be walking around in the sublime sunshine on Mt. Tamalpais, looking out on the fog bank below.  

But those experiences, as exhilarating as they were, faded in the first moments I heard the sacred music of India in Monterey on that cloudy day when I was filled with a quiet transcendent joy I had never experienced before.  George Harrison attended the Monterey Pop Festival.  He had met Ravi Shankar in 1966 and studied the sitar with him.  They became lifelong friends.  George brought something of India to the Beatles.  Some of George's ashes were scattered in the Ganges River in 2001.


A few mornings ago when I was doing my daily yoga practice, I was moved to find "Chants of India," a CD by Ravi Shankar, produced by George Harrison.  At times I have listened to that CD as the background to my yoga practice but have not done so for some time.  

As I've said before, I'm not a religious person but I've been moved by aspects of all religious and spiritual traditions and the insights of those who remain outside of all traditions.  

There is something about music and chanting in languages that I don't understand that reaches parts of me that are otherwise inaccessible.  


Come to think of it, the first moments of hearing the Beatles on the radio in 1963 brought a certain transcendent joy to a 13-year-old girl who had very little joy in her life up to that point.