Thich Nhat Hanh´s Gathas
Dwelling in the present moment, We can see so many beauties and wonders right before our eyes–a child’s smile, the sun rising, the autumn leaves. We can be happy just by being aware of what is in front of us. Practicing with a gatha can help us return to ourselves and to what is going on in the present moment. It is helpful to memorize these gathas, a few at first, and more as You go on with the practice. As You silently recite the first line, breathe in; and as You silently recite the second line, breathe out. When the gatha is finished, continue your activity, and You will find that your mindfulness has increased. When We drive, road signs help us find our way. We “see” the last sign until the next one appears. Practicing with gathas is the same. When we practice well, the gathas are with us continuously, and we live our whole day in awareness.
1 Waking Up 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.
2 Taking the First Steps of the Day Walking on the Earth is a miracle! Each mindful step reveals the wondrous Dharmakaya.
3 Stepping out of Bed If today I inadvertently step on a small insect, may it not suffer too much. May it be liberated. Homage to the Bodhisattva of the Land of Great Happiness.
4 Opening the Window Opening the window, I look out onto the Dharmakaya. How wondrous is life! Attentive to each moment, my mind is clear like a calm river.
5 Turning on the Water Water comes from high mountain sources. Water runs deep in the Earth. Miraculously, water comes to us and sustains all life. My gratitude is filled to the brim.
6 Washing Your Hands Water flows over these hands. May I use them skillfully to preserve our precious planet.
7 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.
8 Rinsing Your Mouth Rinsing my mouth, my heart is cleansed. The universe is perfumed by flowers. Actions of body, speech, and mind are calmed. Hand in hand with the Buddha, I walk in the Pure Land.
9 Using the Toilet Defiled or immaculate, increasing or decreasing– these concepts exist only in our mind. The reality of interbeing is unsurpassed.
10 Bathing Unborn and indestructible, beyond time and spaceÑ both transmission and inheritance lie in the wonderful nature of Dharmadhatu.*
11 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.
12 Washing Your Feet The peace and joy of one toe is peace and joy for my whole body.
13 Putting on the Monk’s/Nun’s Robe Putting on this monk’s/nun’s robe, my heart is at ease. I live a life of freedom, bringing joy to the world.
14 Putting on the Sanghati Robe How wonderful is the robe of a nun (monk), a field of precious seeds. I vow to receive it, and wear it lifetime after lifetime.
15 Entering the Meditation Hall Entering the meditation hall, I see my true self. As I sit down, I vow to cut off all disturbances.
16 Sitting Down Sitting here is like sitting under a Bodhi tree. My body is mindfulness itself, free from all distraction.
17 Finding a Stable Posture In the lotus posture, the human flower blooms. The udumbara flower is here, offering its true fragrance.*
18 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!
19 Adjusting Posture Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.
20 Greeting Someone A lotus for you a Buddha to be.
21 Holding the Alms’ Bowl The bowl of the Tathagata is in my two hands. Giver, receiver, and gift held in perfect oneness.
22 Blessing the Offering to the Hungry The ways of the Awakened One are wondrous. His limitless compassion transforms seven grains of rice into food enough for everyone.
23 Offering to the Hungry Great garuda bird, hungry spirits in immense wastelands, mother and child starving in the desert, the balm of compassion satisfies all their hunger.
24 Before Eating The Buddha advises us to be mindful while we eat, to be in touch with the Sangha and the food. Brothers and sisters, when you hear the bell, meditate on the Five Contemplations: This food is the gift of the whole universeÑ the earth, the sky, and much hard work. May we be worthy to receive it. May we transform unskillful states of mind, especially the habit of eating without moderation. May we take only foods that nourish us and prevent illness. We accept this food to realize the path of understanding and love.
25 Holding the Empty Bowl Looking at this bowl, I see how fortunate I am to have enough to eat to continue the practice.
26 Serving Food In this food, I see clearly the entire universe supporting my existence.
27 Before Eating Beings all over the Earth are struggling to live. I aspire to practice deeply so all may have enough to eat.
28 Beginning to Eat With the first taste, I offer joy. With the second, I help relieve the suffering of others. With the third, I see others’ joy as my own. With the fourth, I learn the way of letting go.
29 Looking at Your Plate or Bowl after Eating The meal is finished, and I am satisfied. The four gratitudes are deeply in my mind.
30 Bathing the Buddha Today we bathe the Tathagata. So much happiness comes from awakened understanding. We have drifted a long time in the three realms. Now we see that this world of dust is the Dharmakaya itself.
31 Inviting the Bell to Sound (Version 1) Body, speech, and mind held in perfect oneness, I send my heart along with the sound of the bell. May the hearers awaken from forgetfulness and transcend all anxiety and sorrow.
32 Inviting the Bell (Version 2) May the sound of this bell penetrate deeply into the cosmos. In even the darkest spots, may living beings hear it clearly, so their suffering will cease, understanding arise in their hearts, and they can transcend the path of anxiety and sorrow. Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya.
33 Inviting the Bell (Version 3) May the sound of this bell penetrate deeply into the cosmos so that beings, even those in dark places, may hear it and be free from birth and death. May all beings realize awakening and find their way home. Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya.
34 Listening to the Bell (Version 1) Listen, listen, this wonderful sound brings me back to my true home.
35 Listening to the Bell (Version 2) Listening to the bell, I feel my afflictions begin to dissolve. My mind is calm, my body relaxed, a smile is born on my lips. Following the bell’s sound, my breathing guides me back to the safe island of mindfulness. In the garden of my heart, the flower of peace blooms beautifully. Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya.
36 Listening to the Bell (Version 3) Hearing the bell, I am able to let go of all my afflictions. My heart is calm, my sorrows ended. I am no longer bound to anything. I learn to listen to my suffering and the suffering of the other person. When understanding is born in me, compassion is also born.
37 Morning Meditation The Dharmakaya is bringing morning light. Sitting still, my heart at peace, I smile. This is a new day. I vow to go through it with awareness. The sun of wisdom will soon be shining everywhere. Sisters and brothers, diligently bring your mind into meditation. Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya (three times).
38 Evening Meditation At the foot of the Bodhi tree, I keep my back straight and my posture stable . Body, speech, and mind are calmed. There is no longer any thought of right and wrong. Mindfulness is shining on the five skandhas. The original face will be found, and the shore of illusion will be left behind. Sisters and brothers, diligently bring your mind into meditation. Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya (three times).
39 Impermanence 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.
40 Praising the Buddha The Buddha jewel shines infinitely. He has realized perfect enlightenment for countless lifetimes. The beauty and stability of a Buddha sitting can be seen in the mountains and rivers. How splendid is the Vulture Peak! How beautiful the light that shines forth from Buddha’s third eye illuminating the six dark paths. The Nagapuspa assembly will be our next appointment for the continuation of the true teachings and practices. We take refuge in the Buddha ever-present.
41 Praising the Dharma The Dharma jewel is infinitely lovely. It is the precious words spoken by the Buddha himself, like fragrant flowers floating down from the heavens. The wonderful Dharma is plain to see. It is recorded luminously in three transparent baskets, handed down from generation to generation in the ten directions, so that today we can see our way. We vow to study it with all our heart, and take refuge in the Dharma ever-present.
42 Praising the Sangha The Sangha jewel is infinitely precious, a field of merit where good seeds can be sown. The three robes and the bowl are symbols of freedom. Precepts, concentration, and insight support each other. The Sangha dwells in mindfulness day and night providing the foundation for us to realize the fruit of meditation. With one heart, we come home to the Sangha, and take refuge in the Sangha ever-present.
43 Breathing (Version 1) Going back to the island of self, I see Buddha is my mindfulness shining near, shining far. Dharma is my breathing guarding body and mind. Sangha is my five skandhas working in harmony. Breathing in, breathing out. Flower, fresh. Mountain, solid. Water, reflecting. Space, free.
44 Breathing (Version 2) Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out. As my in-breath grows deep, my out-breath grows slow. Breathing in, I calm my body Breathing out, I feel ease. Breathing in, I smile Breathing out, I release. Dwelling in the present moment, I know this is a wonderful moment.
45 Breathing (Version 3) I have arrived I am home In the here In the now I am solid I am free In the ultimate I dwell. Arrived, arrived At home, at home Dwelling in the here Dwelling in the now Solid as a mountain Free as the white clouds The door to no-birth, no-death has opened Free and unshakable I dwell.
46 Smiling at Your Anger Breathing in, I know that anger makes me not beautiful. Breathing out, I smile. I stay with my breathing so I won’t lose myself.
47 Turning on the Computer Turning on the computer, my mind gets in touch with the store. I vow to transform habit energies to help love and understanding grow.
48 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.
49 Making a Short Journey Safely Two-thirds of accidents take place near home. Knowing this, I am very careful Even on a short trip.
50 Looking at the Buddha Image before Touching the Earth In the realm of suchness, the one who bows and the one who is bowed to are equally empty of a separate self. With deep respect, I bow to Buddha in this spirit, and the communication is perfect. Buddhas manifest in all directions. In the Interbeing Cosmos, as in every jewel of Indra’s net, There are countless me’s bowing to countless Buddhas.
51 Drinking Tea This cup of tea in my two hands, mindfulness held perfectly. My mind and body dwell in the very here and now.
52 Watering the Plants Don’t think you are cut off, dear plant. This water comes to you from the Earth and sky. You and I have been together since beginningless time.
53 Looking at My Hand Whose hand is this that has never died? Has anyone been born? Will anyone die?
54 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.
55 Watering the Garden The sunshine and the water have brought about this luxurious vegetation. The rain of compassion and understanding can transform the dry desert into a vast fertile plain.
56 Walking Meditation The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, a cool wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.
57 Turning on the Light Forgetfulness is the darkness, mindfulness is the light. I bring awareness to shine upon all life.
58 Washing Vegetables In these vegetables I see a green sun. All dharmas join together to make life possible.
59 Gardening Earth brings us to life and nourishes us. Earth takes us back again. We are born and we die with every breath.
60 Planting a Tree I entrust myself to Earth; Earth entrusts herself to me. I entrust myself to Buddha; Buddha entrusts herself to me.
61 Cleaning the Bathroom How wonderful to scrub and clean. Day by day, my heart and mind grow clearer.
62 Sweeping As I carefully sweep the ground of enlightenment, a tree of understanding springs up from the Earth.
63 Cleaning the Meditation Hall As I clean this fresh, calm room, boundless joy and energy arise!
64 Throwing Out the Garbage In the garbage, I see a rose. In the rose, I see compost. Everything is in transformation. Impermanence is life.
65 Cutting a Flower May I cut you, little flower, gift of Earth and sky? Thank you, dear bodhisattva, for making life so beautiful.
66 Arranging Flowers Arranging these flowers in the saha world, the ground of my mind is calm and pure.
67 Changing Water in a Vase Water keeps the flower fresh. The flower and I are one. When the flower breathes, I breathe. When the flower smiles, I smile.
68 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.