Dear friends, today is the twenty-eighth of December 1995, and we are in the Upper Hamlet.
Christmas and New Year's are opportunities for us to go home. In Asia, the Lunar New Year is considered a time for people to go back to their home, their roots. If you are Chinese or Vietnamese, you go back to your family home that day. This is an opportunity for people to see each other again after some time of being apart from each other. During the time they are together, they practice connecting with each other and with their ancestors. To practice going home, to practice getting in touch with our ancestors, is what everyone wants to do on New Year's Day.
Our True Home
When you practice the bell of mindfulness, you breathe in, and you listen deeply to the sound of the bell, and you say, "Listen, listen." Then you breathe out and you say, "This wonderful sound brings me back to my true home. Our true home is something we all want to go back to. Some of us feel we don't have a home.
What is the meaning of "true home"? In the last Dharma talk, we talked about a wave. Does a wave have a home? When a wave looks deeply into herself, she will realize the presence of all the other waves. When we are mindful, fully living each moment of our daily lives, we may realize that everyone and everything around us is our home. Isn't it true that the air we breathe is our home, that the blue sky, the rivers, the mountains, the people around us, the trees, and the animals are our home? A wave looking deeply into herself will see that she is made up of all the other waves and will no longer feel she is cut off from everything around her. She will be able to recognize that the other waves are also her home. When you practice walking meditation, walk in such a way that you recognize your home, in the here and the now. See the trees as your home, the air as your home, the blue sky as your home, and the earth that you tread as your home. This can only be done in the here and the now.
Sometimes we have a feeling of alienation. We feel lonely and as if we are cut off from everything. We have been a wanderer and have tried hard but have never been able to reach our true home. However, we all have a home, and this is our practice, the practice of going home.
It's funny. In my country, the husband refers to his wife as "my home". The wife refers to her husband as "my home." Talking with another person he might say, "My home said that" or "My home is not here at the moment". There must be some feeling behind this.
When we say, "Home sweet home," where is it? When we practice looking deeply, we realize that our home is everywhere. We have to be able to see that the trees are our home and the blue sky is our home. It looks like a difficult practice, but it's really easy. You only need to stop being a wanderer in order to be at home. "Listen, listen. This wonderful sound brings me back to my true home." The voice of the Buddha, the sound of the bell, the sunshine, everything is calling us back to our true home. Once you are back in your true home, you'll feel the peace and the joy you deserve.
If you are a Christian, you feel that Jesus Christ is your home. It's very comfortable to think of Jesus as your home. If you are a Buddhist, then it's very nice to think of the Buddha as your home. Your home is available in the here and the now. Christ is there, the Buddha is there. The practice is how to touch them, how to touch your home. You call Christ "the Living Christ," so you cannot believe that Christ is only someone who lived in the past, and is no longer there. He is ever-present. Your practice is how to touch him; he is your home. If you are a Buddhist, you practice very much in the same way. You invoke the name of the Buddha as one of the ways to touch the Buddha, because you know that he is your home. The living Christ, the living Buddha is your home.
Reprinted from Going Home by Thich Nhat Hanh by permission of Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 1999 by Thich Nhat Hanh. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.
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