A Teacher Looking for his Disciple
I have been looking for you, my child,
Since the time when rivers and mountains still lay in obscurity.
I was looking for you when you were still in a deep sleep
Although the conch had many times echoed in the ten directions.
Without leaving our ancient mountain I looked at distant lands
And recognized your steps on so many different paths.
Where are you going, my child?
There have been times when the mist has come
And enveloped the remote village but you are still
Wandering in far away lands.
I have called your name with each breath,
Confident that even though you have lost your
Way over there you will finally find a way back to me.
Sometimes I manifest myself right on the path
You are treading but you still look at me as if I were a stranger
You cannot see the connection between us in our
Former lives you cannot remember the old vow you made.
You have not recognized me
Because your mind is caught up in images concerning a distant future.
In former lifetimes you have often taken my hand
and we have enjoyed walking together.
We have sat together for a longtime at the foot of old pine trees.
We have stood side by side in silence for hours
Listening to the sound of the wind softly calling us
And looking up at the white clouds floating by.
You have picked up and given to me the first red autumn leaf
And I have taken you through forests deep in snow.
But wherever we go we always return to our
Ancient mountain to be near to the moon and stars
To invite the big bell every morning to sound,
And help living beings to wake up.
We have sat quietly on the An Tu mountain’ with the
Great Bamboo Forest Master
Alongside the frangipani trees in blossom.
We have taken boats out to sea to rescue the boat people as they drift.
We have helped Master Van Hanh design the Thang
Long capital we have built together a thatched hermitage,
And stretched out the net to rescue the nun Trac Tuyen When!
The sound of The rising tide was deafening
On the banks of The Tien Duong river.
Together we have opened the way and stepped
Into the immense space outside of space.
After many years of working to tear asunder the net of time.
We have saved up the light of shooting stars
And made a torch helping those who want to go home
After decades of wandering in distant places.
But still there have been times when the
Seeds of a vagabond in you have come back to life
you have left your teacher, your brothers and sisters
Alone you go…
I look at you with compassion
Although I know that this is not a true separation
(Because I am already in each cell of your body)
And that you may need once more to play the prodigal son.
That is why I promise I shall be there for you
Any time you are in danger.
Sometimes you have lain unconscious on the hot sands of frontier deserts.
I have manifested myself as a cloud to bring you cool shade.
Late at night the cloud became the dew
And the compassionate nectar falls drop by drop for you to drink.
Sometimes you sit in a deep abyss of darkness
Completely alienated from your true home.
I have manifested Myself as a long ladder and
Lightly thrown myself down
So that you can climb up to the area where there is light
To discover again the blue of the sky and the
Sounds of the brook and the birds.
Sometimes I recognised you in Birmingham,
In the Do Linh district or New England.
I have sometimes met you in Hang Chau, Xiamen, or Shanghai
I have sometimes found you in St. Petersburg or East Berlin.
Sometimes, though only five years old, I have
Seen you and recognized you.
Because of the seed of bodhchita, you carry in your tender heart.
Wherever I have seen you, I have always raised
My hand and made a signal to you,
Whether it be in the delta of the North, Saigon or the Thuan An Seaport.
Sometimes you were the golden full moon hanging
Over the summit of The Kim Son Mountain,
Or the little bird flying over the Dai Laoforest during a winter night.
Often I have seen you
But you have not seen me,
Though while walking in the evening mist your clothes have been soaked.
But finally you have always come home.
You have come home and sat at my feet on our ancient mountain
Listening to the birds calling and the monkeys
Screeching and the morning chanting echoing from the Buddha Hall.
You have come back to me determined not to be a vagabond any longer.
This morning the birds of the mountain joyfully welcome the bright sun.
Do you know, my child, that the white clouds
Are still floating in the vault of the sky?
Where are you now?
The ancient mountain is still there in this
Place of the present moment.
Although the white-crested wave still wants to
Go in the other direction,
Look again, you will see me in you and in every leaf and flower bud.
If you call my name, you will see me right away.
Where are you going?
The old frangipani tree offers its fragrant flowers this morning.
You and I have never really been apart. Spring has come.
The pines have put out new shining green needles
And on the edge of the forest, the wild Plum
Trees have burst into flower.
– Thich Naht Hahn