Don’t try to figure out what behavior or opinion will make you popular with others. It is disrespectful to the grandeur of who you really are. It is selling your soul for the low outcome of manipulating the superficial affections of others—as if you needed their approval. Be what you are. Be indifferent to the judgments of others, not with a thoughtless or angry defiance, but with the firm knowledge that you are a vital expression of something unspeakably intelligent and good.
Forget about what you have been before. Forget what you’ve said before. Be what you are now, even if it “isn’t you”— that is, even if it seems to contradict what you or others have pigeonholed you to be. Be free. Be the creative force on the crest of the mighty wave of this very instant.
It is a healthy attitude to consider conciliatory behavior beneath you. In other words, don’t try to gain goodwill by displaying pleasing behavior. Don’t try to beg for peoples’ approval. That is the attitude of someone who doesn’t feel he has a right to be what he is, to feel the way he feels, to think what he thinks. But you DO have the right.
…Excerpt from Emerson’s Self-Reliance Essay translated into modern English by Adam Khan
Please call me by my true names Thich Nhat Hanh After the Vietnam War, many people wrote to us in Plum Village. We received hundreds of letters each week from the refugee camps in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, and the Philippines, hundreds each week. It was very painful to read them, but we had to be in contact. We tried our best to help, but the suffering was enormous, and sometimes we were discouraged. It is said that half the boat people fleeing Vietnam died in the ocean; only half arrived at the shores of Southeast Asia. There are many young girls, boat people, who were raped by sea pirates. Even though the United Nations and many countries tried to help the government of Thailand prevent that kind of piracy, sea pirates continued to inflict much suffering on the refugees. One day, we received a letter telling us about a young girl on a small boat who was raped by a Thai pirate. She was only twelve, and she jumped into the ocean and drowned herself. When you first learn of something like that, you get angry at the pirate. You naturally take the side of the girl. As you look more deeply you will see it differently. If you take the side of the little girl, then it is easy. You only have to take a gun and shoot the pirate. But we can't do that. In my meditation, I saw that if I had been born in the village of the pirate and raised in the same conditions as he was, I would now be the pirate. There is a great likelihood that I would become a pirate. I can't condemn myself so easily. In my meditation, I saw that many babies are born along the Gulf of Siam, hundreds every day, and if we educators, social workers, politicians, and others do not do something about the situation, in twenty-five years a number of them will become sea pirates. That is certain. If you or I were born today in those fishing villages, we might become sea pirates in twenty-five years. If you take a gun and shoot the pirate, you shoot all of us, because all of us are to some extent responsible for this state of affairs. After a long meditation, I wrote this poem. In it, there are three people: the twelve-year-old girl, the pirate, and me. Can we look at each other and recognize ourselves in each other? The title of the poem is "Please Call Me by My True Names," because I have so many names. When I hear one of the of these names, I have to say, "Yes." Please Call Me by My True Names Do not say that I'll 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 are alive. I am the mayfly metamorphosing on the surface of the river, and I am the bird which, when Spring comes, arrives in time to eat 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 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. Back
let's meet at the confluence where you flow into me and one breath swirls between our lungs for one instant to dwell in the presence of the galaxies for one instant to live in the truth of the heart the poet says this entire traveling cosmos is "the secret One slowly growing a body" two eagles are mating-- clasping each other's claws and turning cartwheels in the sky grasses are blooming grandfathers dying consciousness blinking on and off all of this is happening at once all of this, vibrating into existence out of nothingness every particle foaming into existence transcribing the ineffable arising and passing away arising and passing away 23 trillion times per second-- when Buddha saw that, he smiled 16 million tons of rain are falling every second on the planet an ocean perpetually falling and every drop is your body every motion, every feather, every thought is your body time is your body, and the infinite curled inside like invisible rainbows folded into light every word of every tongue is love telling a story to her own ears every word of every tongue is love telling a story to her own ears
let our lives be incense burning like a hymn to the sacred body of the universe.
my religion is rain my religion is stone my religion reveals itself to me in sweaty epiphanies
every leaf, every river, every animal, your body every creature trapped in the gears of corporate nightmares every species made extinct was once your body
10 million people are dreaming that they’re flying junipers and violets are blossoming stars exploding and being born God is having déjà vu I am one elaborate crush we cry petals as the void is singing
you are the dark that holds the stars in intimate distance that spun the whirling whirling, world into existence
let’s meet at the confluence where you flow into me and one breath swirls between our lungs
Thus should you look upon this changing world. All component things are impermanent. All component things are subject to dissolution. See all of this world As a star at dawn, a bubble in a stream, A flash of lightening in a summer cloud, A flickering lamp, a phantom and a dream