Last Thursday morning, after our walking meditation in the park, we talked about Gathas. Attached and below are some Gathas from the Thich Nhat Hanh tradition, with its emphasis on brnging mindfulness into our daily lives. Also attached and below is a Gatha I wrote about walking with my dog, Abby, in Walnut Creek Park, which was appropriate to what we did on our thursday walking meditation.
from Thich Nhat Hanh
Gathas are short verses that help us practice mindfulness in our daily activities. A gatha can open and deepen our experience of simple acts which we often take for granted. When we focus our mind on a gatha, we return to ourselves and become more aware of each action. When the gatha ends, we continue our activity with heightened awareness.
As we turn on the water faucet we can look deeply and see how precious the water is. We remember not to waste a single drop because there are so many people in the world who don’t even have enough to drink. While brushing our teeth we can make a vow to use loving speech. Before turning on the engine of our car, we can prepare for a safe journey by reciting the gatha for starting the car:
Before starting the car
I know where I am going.
The car and I are one,
if the car goes fast, I go fast.
The gatha brings our mind and body together. With a calm and clear mind, fully aware of the activities of our body, we are less likely to get into a car accident. Gathas are nourishment for our mind, giving us peace, calmness and joy which we can share with others. They help us to bring the uninterrupted practice of meditation into every part of our day.
Waking up this morning, I smile.
Twenty-four brand new hours are before me.
I vow to live fully in each moment
and to look at beings with eyes of compassion.
Washing Your Hands
Water flows over these hands.
May I use them skillfully
to preserve our precious planet.
Brushing Your Teeth
Brushing my teeth and rinsing my mouth,
I vow to speak purely and lovingly.
When my mouth is fragrant with right speech,
a flower blooms in the garden of my heart.
Looking in the Mirror
Awareness is a mirror
reflecting the four elements.
Beauty is a heart that generates love
and a mind that is open.
Entering the Meditation Hall
Entering the meditation hall,
I see my true self.
As I sit down,
I vow to cut off all disturbances.
Calming the Breath
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment!
Feelings come and go
like clouds in a windy sky.
is my anchor.
A lotus for you
a Buddha to be.
In this food,
I see clearly
the entire universe
supporting my existence.
Beings all over the Earth
are struggling to live.
I aspire to practice deeply
so all may have enough to eat.
Inviting the Bell to Sound
Body, speech, and mind held in perfect oneness,
I send my heart along with the sound of the bell.
May the heavens awaken from forgetfulness
and transcend all anxiety and sorrow.
Listening to the Bell
this wonderful sound
brings me back
to my true home.
The day is now ended. Our lives are shorter.
Now we look carefully. What have we done?
Noble Sangha, with all our heart,
let us be diligent, engaging in the practice.
Let us live deeply, free from our afflictions,
aware of impermanence,
so that life does not drift away without meaning.
Driving the Car
Before starting the car
I know where I'm going.
The car and I are one.
If the car goes fast, I go fast.
Looking at My Hand
Whose hand is this
that has never died?
Has anyone been born?
Will anyone die?
Using the Telephone
Words can travel thousands of miles.
May my words create mutual understanding and love.
May they be as beautiful as gems,
as lovely as flowers.
Turning on the Light
Forgetfulness is the darkness,
mindfulness is the light.
I bring awareness
to shine upon all life.
In these vegetables
I see a green sun.
All dharmas join together
to make life possible.
Earth brings us to life and nourishes us.
Earth takes us back again.
We are born and we die with every breath.
As I carefully sweep
the ground of enlightenment,
a tree of understanding
springs up from the Earth.
Cleaning the Kitchen
As I clean
this fresh, calm room,
and energy arise!
Throwing Out the Garbage
In the garbage, I see a rose.
In the rose, I see compost.
Everything is in transformation.
Impermanence is life.
Lighting a Candle
Lighting this candle,
Offering the light to countless Buddhas,
the peace and the joy I feel
brighten the face of the Earth.
A Park Gatha
Dog Off Leash In The Wilds of Walnut Creek Park
As Abby runs, scampers, and bounds
Before me, behind me, and all around me,
On the prowl for a squirrel amidst the brambles --
While now and then stopping to chew on some greenery --
I feel our interconnectedness with the trees, the flowers,
The dragon flies, the geckos, the sun shine,
And whatever she is rolling on top of right now!