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Excerpted from Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers by Thich Nhat Hanh. Copyright 1999 by Thich Nhat Hanh. Excerpted by permission of Penguin Putnam, Inc.  All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. HTML and web pages copyright by SpiritSite.com.

"Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself."

  Thich Nhat Hanh, Going Home, Part 5

Darling, You Are My Home

I practice going home by walking, sitting, and doing things in mindfulness so I do not lose myself. Tinh Thuy, a permanent resident at Plum Village, wrote a song several years ago entitled "I Am Always with Me." The first lines are: "I have been living in myself for a long time. I have never lost myself. I have always been with myself. I have never lost myself."

This is a very important practice. Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you runaway from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself. You have a wonderful vehicle. And you don't have to buy any gasoline. Mindful breathing and mindful walking are wonderful ways to go back to oneself.

When I meet myself, I see a lot of space. When you are there with yourself, taking care of yourself, there is space in you, vast enough for the white clouds to travel in.

Tinh Thuy's song continues: "I still have my future. I still have my past. That is why I feel light and happy today." Where is your future? Where is your past? You can discover your future, and your past, just by going back to yourself. Of course your ancestors are there within you. When you go back to yourself, you touch your ancestors. Your grandpa and grandma, your father and mother are alive in you. Your ancestors have never died. They are still in you. You only need to practice mindful breathing to touch them and smile at them.

In former lives you were a tree, a rock, a cloud, a rabbit, a deer. All these things are still in you and you can touch them. They belong to your home. Go back and touch these elements and you will see that your Dharma body is huge and your home is vast. Your brothers and sisters, your children and their children, your students and their students are there. They are not just around you; they are within you.

Imagine a lemon tree in springtime. There are a lot of beautiful white lemon blossoms. You don't see any lemons on the tree, yet you know that the lemons are already there. Because the lemon blossoms are there, the lemons are there. So even if you are still young, you can touch your children and your grandchildren within you. Your children and your grandchildren also constitute your home.

You have to be able to look at the cypress tree, breathing in, breathing out, smiling, and tell the cypress, "Darling, you are my home." Touch deeply the earth that you tread: "Darling, you are my home." The Earth can be a mother, she can be a sister. Why do you have to run to find your home? Your home is here, your home is now. Recognize it. Everything, everyone is part of your true home. You have a lot of space. You are not isolated. You are us and you can embrace us as your home. "Us" means a cypress tree, a deer, a rabbit, and so on.

Everyone of us needs a home. The world needs a home. There are so many young people who are homeless. They may have a building to live in, but they are homeless in their hearts. That is why the most important practice of our time is to give each person a home. Be a home for them. Each of us has to serve as the home for others. When we look at something or someone, be it a person, a tree, or anything, look at it in such a way that we touch them as part of our home. "Here is the Pure Land, the Pure Land is here." That is the beginning of a song we like to sing in Plum Village. The Pure Land is our true home.

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