As human beings, we’re exactly the same. But the many layers of labels prevent other people from seeing you as a human being. Thinking of yourself as or calling yourself a “Buddhist” can be a disadvantage, because if you wear the title “Buddhist” this may be an obstacle that prevents others from discovering the human being in you. The same is true whether you are
Christian, Jewish, or Muslim. This can be an important part of your identity, but it is not the whole of who you are. People are caught in these notions and images, and they cannot recognize each other as human beings. The practice of peeling away all the labels so that the human being can be revealed is truly a practice of peace.
Your True Home the everyday wisdom of Thich Nhat Hanh
An excerpt: Beginning Anew, Ceremony for the Deceased,
Chanting From the Heart, Buddhist Ceremonies and Daily Practices
by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Monks and Nuns of Plum Village
…With all our heart we go for refuge.
Turning to the Buddhas in the 10 directions
and all the Bodhisattvas, noble disciples, and self-achieved Buddhas
very sincerely we recognize our errors
and the mistakes of our wrong judgements.
Please bring the balm of clear water
to pour on the roots of our afflictions.
Please bring the raft of the true teachings
to carry us over the ocean of sorrows.
We vow to live an awakened life,
to practice smiling and conscious breathing
and to study the teachings, authentically transmitted.
Diligently, we shall live in mindfulness.
We come back to live in the wonderful present,
to plant our heart’s garden with good seeds,
and to make strong foundations of understanding and love.
We vow to train ourselves in mindfulness and concentration,
practicing to look and understand deeply
to be able to see the nature of all that is,
and so to be free of the bonds of birth and death.
We learn to speak lovingly, to be affectionate,
to care for others whether it is early morn or late afternoon,
to bring the roots of joy to many places,
helping people to abandon sorrow,
to respond with deep gratitude
to the kindness of parents, teachers, and friends.
With deep faith, we light up the incense of our heart.
We ask the Lord of Compassion to be our protector
On the wonderful path of practice.
We vow to practice diligently,
cultivating the fruits of this path.
Bodhicitta (Sanskrit) is the mind of enlightenment, beginner’s mind. When we’re inspired by the desire to practice and transform our suffering so we can help the many people around us who suffer, the mind of that moment is very beautiful. It’s a mind of a bodhisattva, one who attains his or her own liberation in order to help all beings. Sometimes we call it the “mind of love.” It’s because of love that we practice. We’re not just trying to run away from suffering. We want more than that. We want to transform our own suffering and be free in order to help many other people to transform their suffering.
Thich Nhat Hanh, Your True Home, the everyday wisdom of TNH