Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Thich Nhat Hanh - Hide and Seek

source: The Pocket Thich Nhat Hanh

Hide and Seek

One day while practicing walking meditation in the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village, I looked down and saw that I was about to step on a golden yellow leaf. It was in the autumn, when the golden leaves are very beautiful. When I saw that beautiful golden leaf, I did not want to step on it and so I hesitated briefly. But then I smiled and thought, "This leaf is only pretending to be gold, pretending to fall from the tree."

In terms of the historical dimension, that leaf was born on a branch as a new green bud in the spring, had clung to that branch for many months, changed color in autumn, and one day when a cold wind blew, it fell to the ground. But looking deeply into its ultimate dimension, we can see that the leaf is only pretending to be born, to exist for a while, and to grow old and die. The teachings of interdependence and no-self reveal to us the true unborn and undying nature of all phenomena. One day that leaf will pretend to be born again on the branch of another tree, but she is really just playing a game of hide and seek with us.

We are also playing a game of hide and seek with one another. It is not only the Buddha who pretends to be born and to enter nirvana; we also pretend to be born, to live for a while, and to pass away. You may think that your mother has passed away and is no longer here with you. But her passing away was just a pretense, and one day, when the causes and conditions are sufficient, she will reappear in one form or another. If you have enough insight you will be able to recognize your mother in her other forms. We need to look deeply into all those we love and recognize their true nature. We love our teacher, our father and mother, our children, our brothers and sisters, and when someone we love passes away, we feel great sorrow and believe we have lost that person. But ultimately nothing is lost. The true nature of those we love is unborn and undying. If we can be in touch with the ultimate dimension, we shall smile with the yellow leaf, just as we can smile at all the other changes that take place in our lives.

illustration: Thich Nhat Hanh wall calendar; Nicholas Kirsten-Honshin's artwork

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