Thich Nhat Hanh – “Contemplation” – Poem and Music


A Poem by Thich Nhat Hanh

Since the moon is full tonight,
let us call upon the stars in prayer.
The power of concentration,
seen through the bright, one-pointed mind,
is shaking the universe.

All living beings are present tonight
to witness the ocean of fear
flooding the Earth.

Upon the sound of the midnight bell,
everyone in the ten directions joins hands
and enters the meditation on Mahakaruna.

Compassion springs from the heart,
as pure, refreshing water,
healing the wounds of life.

From the highest peak of the Mind Mountain,
the blessed water streams down,
penetrating rice fields and orange groves.

The poisonous snake drinks
a drop of this nectar
from the tip of a blade of grass,
and the poison on its tongue vanishes.

Mara‘s arrow’s
are transformed
into fragrant flowers.

The wondrous action of the healing water–
a mysterious transformation!
A child now holds the snake in her innocent arms.

Leaves are still green in the ancient garden.
The shimmering sunlight smiles on the snow,
and the sacred spring still flows toward the East.

On Avalokita‘s willow branch,
or in my heart,
the healing water is the same.

Tonight all weapons
fall at our feet
and turn to dust.

One flower,
two flowers,
millions of little flowers
appear in the green fields.

The gate of deliverance opens
with a smile on the lips
of my innocent child.


The gorgeous “Elegy for Cello and Orchestra” as played by Yo-Yo Ma seemed like a perfect accompaniment for this poem.  Click the arrow to listen:

You can purchase it from iTunes by clikcing here: “Elegy for Cello and Orchestra”

Notes on the poem:

Mahakaruna means great (maha) compassion (karuna.)

In Buddhist cosmology, Mara personifies unskillfulness, the “death” of the spiritual life. He is a tempter, distracting humans from practicing the spiritual life by making the mundane alluring or the negative seem positive.

Avalokita is a short name for the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, also known as Kwan-Yin. In Chinese, Kwan-Yin literally means “she who observes sound.” In Vietnamese, she is Quan The Am, which means “the one who listens and hears the cries of the world”—the one who listens and hears in order to come and help. The love of this bodhisattva is like the limitless love of a mother for her own children, like an ocean of mercy without end.



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About Steven Goodheart

"I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them." Spinoza

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