Dear Ancestors, der Father, dear Mother, dear Buddha, dear Patriarchs, dear Teacher, dear Friends, I have arrived. I am home. While I am still making steps, I have already arrived, I am already home. I have stopped wandering. This is the teaching and the practice of Plum Village, the Dharma Seal of Plum Village.(1)
I have arrived in the Pure Land, a real home where I can get in touch with both my ancestors and my descendants. I can touch the paradise of my childhood and all the wonders of life. I am no longer concerned with being and nonbeing, coming and going, being born or dying. In my true home I have no fear, no anxiety. I have peace and liberation. My true home is in the here and the now. I have found true happiness.
During so many lifetimes I have been a wanderer, searching for peace and happiness. On my path of seeking I have fallen into the abyss of mistakes, bitterness, and despair. There were so many times that I thought I would die before I would ﬁnd what I was seeking. Dear Buddha, you have helped me, you have saved me. You have shown me that what I was looking for is within myself and can be found in the present moment.
The project of building is the project of ten thousand lifetimes. But looking deeply, we see it has already been realized. The wonderful wheel of transformation is always leading us ahead. Take my hand and you will see that we have been present together for a long time in this wonderful existence.
Our wonderful existence includes both happiness and suffering. How can happiness be possible without suffering? When we are able to see that suffering is the element that can be used to make happiness, we suddenly stop suffering. With this understanding, my happiness becomes immense and is able to embrace all the suffering. I no longer need to search or run after anything. I have stopped.
I am no longer a wanderer because I have a path and I don’t have to worry anymore. My path is the path of stopping, the path of enjoying the present moment. It is a path where every step brings me back to my true home. It is a path that leads nowhere. I am on my way home. I arrive at every step. I am taking my steps with leisure because I don’t have to hurry. That is my life; that is my practice.
The wind is still circulating. Don’t you know that my child? While the faraway rain is approaching the nearby cloud, drops of sunshine from above are falling down helping Earth to see the blue sky.
I am still moving around with ease, freely, not bound by the idea of being and nonbeing. Therefore my child, on your way home, make peaceful and leisurely steps, because there is only one moon, there is no waxing, there is no waning.
The Dharma Seal of Plum Village is “I have arrived, I am home.” It means happiness is possible. Freedom is possible. Right now. Right here.
Reprinted from I Have Arrived, I Am Home (2003) by Thich Nhat Hanh with permission of Parallax Press, Berkeley, California, www.parallax.org.
1. The Buddha taught that there are Three Dharma Seals which are the marks of the authentic Dharma: impermanence, non-self, and nirvana. If we don’t recognize these Three Dharma Seals in a Buddhist teaching, then it is not an authentic teaching of the Buddha.