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Thich Nhat Hanh: “The leaf”

After my sermon Sunday, I had a bunch of requests for the illustration by Thich Nhat Hanh. Thich Nhat Hanh is a wonderful Buddhist priest speaks very simply but also very profoundly. The point in sermon I was trying to make was that the line between life and death is not so clear if we consider the whole of things. I remembered Thich Nhat Hanh’s commentary on the Heart Sutra where he gives a wonderful image of a leaf dying and being reborn.

“I asked the leaf whether it was frightened because it was

autumn and the other leaves were falling. The leaf told me,

“No. During the whole spring and summer I was completely

alive. I worked hard to help nourish the tree, and now much

of me is in the tree. I am not limited by this form. I am also

the whole tree, and when I go back to the soil, I will continue

to nourish the tree. So I don’t worry at all. As I leave this

branch and float to the ground, I will wave to the tree and tell

her, ‘I will see you again very soon.’

Suddenly I saw a kind of wisdom very much like the Wisdom contained in the Heart Sutra. You have to see life. You should not say, life of the leaf, you should only speak of life in the leaf and life in the tree. My life is just Life, and you can see it in me and in the tree. That day there was a wind blowing and, after a while, I saw the leaf leave the branch and float down to the soil, dancing joyfully, because as it floated it saw itself already there in the tree. It was so happy. I bowed my head, knowing that I have a lot to learn from the leaf because it is not afraid-it knew nothing can be born and nothing can die.”

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