Offering their Presence

offering their presence
Originally uploaded by d nelson.

I sit resting in an internet shop in the busy old quarter of Hanoi after experiencing the second of three days of the Great Requiem Chanting Ceremony to untie the knots of great injustice. Thich Nhat Hanh’s dharma talks have been bold statements of truth; about healing the war within, as well as without. I marvel at his courage to truthfully talk of suffering which is buried in the collective consciousness of this society, as well as the other nations, namely America and France, which were adversaries of war, of which these ceremonies are generating loving healing. The ceremonies in Ho Chi Minh City and Hue were successful. In Hanoi the government and official Buddhist church did not offer as much overt support or make many public announcements about the ceremony, which was moved to the temple Chua Non, about an hour and a half outside of the city; a temple in the mountains with national significance. Still perhaps 5 thousand people attending the opening ceremony and chants yesterday. They arrived by the busloads. It seems that people up here appear more aggressive to me than in previous cities we’ve visited, so we had a very visceral procession and competing for space to listen to the talks and chants. The events have been quite moving to me and appear so to most of those around me.

Yesterday wandering souls were invited to the ceremony, and then was chanting for the deceased. Last night was the offering of lotus lamps so that the lost could find their way to the healing. About a thousand people remained during the evening event which found us carrying the paper lotuses down the half mile steep road to the small lake at the bottom. All the way down was chanting Namo Botat quan the am. I was calmly nervous about being next to and surrounded by a crowd moving with skinny burning candles and paper lotuses. The little video I shot could perhaps be used for a fire safety piece. A moving stream of love, glowing & burning. It was quite beautiful to see the lamps floating and burning on the lake. The talks have used language of non-discrimination for healing; for both north, south, men, woman, communist, anti-communist, everyone. Thay is bold to use images during his talks in Hanoi, of American soldiers who suffer from killing Vietnamese children or from witnessing the death of a communist woman, then carrying a hammock as a reminder of her hate of his being in her country as a warrior. Helping heal the souls and families of boat people is also mentioned. From the facial expressions and words I hear from some people I sense that there are many who still have anger and suffering about the war, especially those over 50 years old. I’m told that people have been told for the past 30 years that the boat people are traitors and should not be forgiven. I’m often in awe to witness this ceremony and offer a few photos. I’ve recorded some of the dharma talks (English translations) to help others hear how powerful they are. It’s late and I need to get up early, and hope to stay up late to attend the final late night chants of untying the knots of injustice.


2 thoughts on “Offering their Presence

  1. Jackie

    Your comments remind me that I once visited a Museum of War Atrocities on one side of a border. When I was telling a friend about this, she said she had visited a museum with the same name on the other side of the border. Such attitudes and names keep the hatred alive. Both sides need to realize that “atrocities” were committed by both sides, and the healing needs to occur for both groups in order for them to move past the hatred toward peace.It is good that Thay is able to address these feelings and ideas and to begin to the process of healing.Thank you for your part in this process and for sharing it with us.

  2. Anonymous

    David-Just wanted to take a momentto let you know that I have kept up with your blog since departingsegment two.Before I arrived, it helped me get a real feeling of how the trip was going and after I left, a sense of how things continued on. I deeply appreciate also your pics ( I’ve actually sent friends and family there todownload better pics than my own!) It was great being with you again and getting to know you AGAIN. I’m sure our paths will cross again and again.Again, I want to say it was swell to spend time with you in Nam! Jim from Chicago.


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