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The Wonderful World of Gathas

By David Percival

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A Gatha to Cool the Flames

How often anger creeps into my mind! What a pernicious little seed it is, suddenly sprouting at the slightest provocation. We need to recognize and embrace our anger. When anger arises, stop — do nothing. Let the flames cool. Use a gatha to come back to yourself. Smile at your anger.

Angry in the ultimate dimension

I close my eyes and look deeply.

Three hundred years from now

where will you be and where will I be?

Finally, we can take existing gathas and adapt them to our individual situations –change some words, add your own lines. And, as Thay instructs us, write your own gathas. Encourage your children to write gathas. Ask your sangha to write and share gathas.

Sitting by the Garlic

For example, gardening is a major part of my life, a true meditation, a place to dwell happily in the present moment, a practice of non-self, impermanence, and interbeing:

Walking in my garden

I touch the present moment.

I am the flower.

I am the cloud.

I am the butterfly.

I hold some compost in my hand

And touch the essence of the Buddha.

 

Sitting by the garlic

the turtle moves under the mulch.

The beauty of life surrounds me.

Breathing in, I sit with impermanence.

Breathing out, I smile at the flowers.

Breathing in, I enjoy this moment.

Breathing out, there is no place to go.

The bits and pieces of our lives may seem routine and mundane – getting up, bathing, going to the bathroom, cooking, eating, washing dishes, cleaning, taking care of children and grandchildren, being with friends, gardening, working, driving, etc. The joy of the practice is doing everything in mindfulness, no matter how routine, because all these little things when put together equal our lives. This is what we do. The practice is now or never, with what we do and where we are. We can experience the joy of moving through our days in freedom and with equanimity, walking with peaceful steps and looking at all beings with our eyes of compassion.

The day is ending and our life is one day shorter.

Let us look carefully at what we have done.

Let us practice diligently, putting our whole heart into the path of meditation.

Let us live deeply each moment and in freedom,

so the time doesn’t slip away meaninglessly.

 

David Percival, True Wonderful Roots,

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