Sister Chân Đào Nghiêm

A rose in my hand, my heart wide open, I walk.
Each step is imprinted in the earth,
sending messages of peace to the whole universe.
Determined, I make the request
to dedicate my life to relieving suffering.
Bowing to you, my teacher, I offer you a rose,
a symbol of love in my being.
I am determined to continue to walk this way,
opening my arms to life,
opening my heart to others,
opening my eyes to truly see,
letting my senses reveal their magnificence.
My mind is calm and serene.
My life is simple and in harmony with the
whole universe.
I cultivate the garden of my heart,
joy, peace, and love
so that I can offer her flowers to all beings.
My mind is open.
Living in the present moment, I have no regrets
or thoughts of the future.
I am filled with enthusiasm and practice with all my heart.
Every day I recognise everything that life gives me
as a wonderful gift and am filled with gratitude.
On the ocean of life I undergo many transformations.
Great serenity and joy are present.
The beauty of nature, the changing color of the clouds,
the smile of a child, the magic of life.
Gratitude in my heart for all my ancestors,
for all they have accomplished,
allowing me to be what I am today.
Gratitude for the beauty of life.

Written in 2003.

A week before we ordain, we have a ceremony formally requesting to receive the ten novice precepts. During this ceremony we offer a rose to Thay and to our spiritual ancestors. This poem expresses how I felt during that ceremony, my deep aspiration and the love in my being.

At the death of my ancestors I shed tears of despair
With mindfulness they have become a source of happiness
where I stop to drink.
In the silence I listen to the soft murmur of her melody
And in letting go I discover, with joy, Life.
In my steps I found my father
A river became my mother
My sister opened my heart and made my fear disappear
My brother welcomed me to his land
And shared his hell
Near him I understood true humility
To touch serenity.

This poem was written as an offering to all my ancestors, spiritual and genetic when I received the lamp transmission to become a Dharma teacher in 2011. Thay’s teachings have helped me to heal the suffering that I carried from seeing the suffering and experiencing the loss of many members of my family.

Handwriting by Sr Dao Nghiem

A hand that protects
A hand that caresses
A hand that loves
A hand that guides us
A hand that shows us the way
The hand of our ancestors
The hand of our teacher
A hand of love
A hand that supports
A hand that inspires
A hand of poetry
A hand that contains the whole cosmos
A hand filled with clouds, stars, cups of tea
A hand that has known despair, hate, discrimination, fear
A hand that prays
A hand that unites
A hand filled with faith
A hand that welcomes
A hand that embraces
A hand that shares
A hand that relieves
A hand passed down through the generations
Thank you Beloved Thay
Recognising your hand
Recognising that there is no separation
You are in me
I am in you
Your hand continues through millions of hands.

This poem was written in December 2016 for Thay.

I was always very moved when I watched Thay’s hands, the way that Thay held his cup of tea, opened a door, placed his hand on our heads and how Thay gave us teachings using the example of his hands.

Snow falling, Autumn!
Embarking on a journey
of silence and joy.

This poem was written in November, 2002 when I was living in upstate New York and dreaming about traveling to Plum Village to meet Thay. I had started reading books written by Thay in 2000 and came for my first retreat in Plum Village in February 2002.

To distant lands I left,
walking step by step on life’s path.
With simple words written on white paper
you called me at a certain time.
I found you in the land of my ancestors
and the day your gaze penetrated my being,
deep in my heart, I recognised you.
Since that magical moment,
time no longer exists
and my life has become millions of lives.
All the flowers sway gently and smile at me.
Your diamond eyes cut and sever
all the ties that keep me tied,
one by one with the greatest tenderness
helping me to reach the place in my heart
that has eternally existed.
Thank you my beloved teacher.

When I made my decision to ordain in May 2003, I wrote this poem. The first time I saw Thay I knew Thay was the teacher I had been searching for, for all my life. I had left France in 1982 to live in a spiritual community in the USA and Canada. I did not return to live in France until 2003 when I was ordained in the Plum Village tradition.