Right where you stand is the valley of endless spring. --Dogen
I left home at a very young age, determined to see the world and live a life of my own. My parents were heartbroken, yet nothing could stop me from setting out to explore the world. Like a little river on the mountaintop, I wanted to see and swim in the vast ocean! For as long as I could remember, I had incessantly searched for a paradise outside of myself, believing that it was somewhere on the other side of the horizon. Yet, even after traveling to so many stunning lands, I never arrived, nor was I ever content where I was for long, until one day I arrived at the refuge of Thay’s teachings.
I came to learn that I really had no need to run or to search. All I needed to do was simply be present with what was right in front of me, here and now, with my breath and my whole being. I learned to breathe. I learned to walk. I learned to be with the natural environment. I learned to be with myself.
Mindfulness has taught me to live life deeply—whenever I am able to—and helped me touch the wonders of life all around me and within me, something I had dreamed of being able to do since a young teenager. I feel so blessed to finally have a tiny taste of living that dream, a dream that does not require much wealth or great success, but the freedom of being able to simply live life deeply and beautifully.
Smiles often bloom on my face as I discover the wonders of life around me. Thanks to the practice, the world has once again been revealed beautifully to me. The practice has helped me see, hear, touch, and just be with life. As I began to see miracles every day and everywhere, I began to touch the child inside me and to create the way I did when I was a kid. I delight in the childlike freedom of expressing my experiences and feelings without worrying about being perfect or being judged. I try to remember always that I am a child of Mother Earth and how I love her and wish to protect her in every way that I can.
I have happily arrived home, here on Earth. I have touched and painted endless spring.
I love walking in the rain, my steps in sync with the droplets. One rainy night, as I enjoyed the refreshing air cleansed by the rain, I noticed a little snail. He was crawling slowly toward the grass on a sidewalk littered with the remains of his companions, all crushed to death by passers-by.
I picked up a leaf and prodded him to move a bit faster. I found myself talking to him— “If you don’t move faster, you will surely be stomped to death like your friends!”—and saw that he was slowly crawling back into his shell for protection.
Looking closely at him, so fragile, struggling for survival, I felt a deep sense of love for him. His desire to live and to breathe was just as grand as mine. In our shared worlds, his existence is just as important as mine. Yet for humans like me, it is so easy to carelessly kill him with our steps.
With our irresponsible ways of living and consuming, we humans are extinguishing the rights of many species to live on this beautiful planet, and those of our own future generations. We act as if we were the only species on this planet, superior to all.
Without the sun, we cannot exist. Without the water, we cannot exist. Without the minerals, we cannot exist. Without the trees, we cannot exist.
When we have the awareness of interconnectedness, we will naturally want to live in such a way that we cause less harm to our beloved planet. We will respect the rights of all other species as brothers and sisters of one big family. Together we can transform the suffering of our planet by living mindfully and gently as individuals, societies, and as a global community.
Ocean Waves The fragrance of winter sands of winter grasses Entered me Entered me As I listened to ocean waves blossom overnight As I watched the soul of Mother Earth rose in flight
Tasha Chuang, Peaceful Calling of the Heart, practices with the Morning Star Sangha, Rock Blossom Sangha, and Blue Cliff Monastery, and works as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator in New York City. She considers Sangha building as her greatest teacher and aspiration.