Peaceful Spring

The Peaceful Spring
(The Year of Mouse – 2008)
(By Ven. Thich Trung Sy)

Yearly, every time the spring comes, it informs us of old-gone year and new-arriving year, we each have a new spring, new vitality, new peacefulness, and the new-going direction for life. 

The spring brings us much source of unutterable joy,
The jubilant spring is full of feast and amusement,
All long year, we comfort only spring,
The spring and Lunar New Year arrive, my life adds lively source.[1]

According to Buddhist view of insight, when the spring comes, we have one more year of life, that is to say, we cut down on one year of life. Human life, we stipulate temporarily, has about eighty years of life. For example, at the present time, we are twenty years of age, that is, we reduce twenty years old, we only remain sixty years of age.    

This morning everyone says one more year old,
I tell them this day cuts down on one year.”[2]

In the past twenty springs and in the forthcoming and coming sixty springs, the things that we did, we are doing, and we shall do, do not go beyond the main purposes, that is, bring the benefits for us, bring them for others, and bring them for all, we are happy to do them. Conversely, the things that we say, think, and do, do not bring the benefits for all, we are determined not to do them.[3] We know human life dies and lives in every breath, we try to make an effort to cultivate, to learn, and to practice the Buddha’s teachings to steady on the way of life, to advance on the way of the dharma to bring peacefulness and happiness for others and for ourselves.    

Today passed,
Our life shortens,
Look at it carefully,
What did we do?
The great assembly, make an effort together,
Practice the Buddha’s teachings wholeheartedly,
Live deeply and leisurely,
Remember impermanence,
Do not let months and days
Elapse uselessly.”[4] 

As the Buddha’s disciples, we cultivate the Buddha’s dharma, we know human body that is formed by four great elements and five aggregates[5] dies and lives in every moment, we have our firm heart to learn the dharma, to understand it, to practice it, to protect it, and to propagate it.  

The body is like a flash of lightning at sunset,
In the spring, grass and trees are verdant, in the autumn they fade and wither,
 Despite the vicissitudes of life, I fear nothing, 
The vicissitudes are like drops of dew on a blade of grass.”[6]

Spending the springs, we say what the Buddha has said, think what he has thought, and do what he has done, we understand and have right confidence. We take steady refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha, and we are aware to protect the precept of no killing, no stealing, no adultery, no telling a lie, and the precept of no taking alcohol, beer, drugs, and smoke. Aware of practicing so, our life is joyful and happy, we actually bring the peaceful spring for all living things and living beings. Now, let us read out a verse of the Maitreya Spring together:

The spring has already arrived; thousand flowers are everywhere gorgeous,
Lotuses open slightly, young baby’s laughter resounds,
In the spring, going to Pagoda, we pervades our sincere heart,
In the Maitreya Spring, the heart with the heart loves together. 

The spring has already come; celebrating the cool singing sentence,
Paying homage to the Buddha, picking flowers I offer to him.
The spring loves life in the warm sunlight of native land, 
The Maitrya Spring is the heart spring of tens of thousands of the directions.

The spring that comes is happy, yellow apricots are all over the way,
Oh, you, do not forget to cultivate the good things,
Giving alms, mercifulness, patience, sympathy,
 Tens of thousands of the hearts are connected; everyone takes refuge in the Precepts.

The spring comes the spring goes, and the spring exists forever,
People who come go, bring a feeling of peacefulness,
Vigour and smile cherish compassion,
Quickly illuminate Buddhism - the practical and valuable path in our native country together.”[7]  

We know when the spring comes; hundreds of flowers display the bloom, all things in the universe change and move, but there are the everlasting things unchanging, viz. the sincere heart, the dharma path, the devout heart, and brotherhood, etc.  

Several tens of years before, one would not have been born yet,
Several tens of years after, one was born and will die.
One's life only exists on earth in a limited time,
But one's compassionate heart is kept forever in everyone's minds

Virtuous fragrance pervades near and far,
Flower-garden of the dharma path blossoms all year round.[9]  

Although we walk ten thousand the worldly ways,
Our devout heart does not leave a part of consumption.[10]    

Or:    Despite ten thousand -mile-long roads 
Brother-hood that is far from the ten thousand directions is near as well.”[11]  

Indeed, the sincere heart, the dharma path, the devout heart, and brother-hood we have enough, all things we can do, if short of those things, certainly we do not easily succeed in all the fields of our life. On the route to enlightenment and freedom of the spirit, we each know how to cultivate and water the fresh seeds, the peaceful spring in your heart and in our heart flourishes in all the directions, and we hold our hands together to go for a stroll in life-and-death, death-and-life.        

“When our heart has the spring, everything in the universe has the spring,
When our heart is peaceful, every place in the world is also peaceful.”[12]  

The spring day the spring in the mountain,
All the spring matters are the spring,
 In the spring lake the spring light radiates,
The spring air is full of the spring cloud,
The spring visitor the spring heart touches,
The spring verse the spring is the fresher,
Only the spring knows the spring,
All kalpa a spring.[13]  

Lunar New Year - Tết of the Vietnamese people that comes back is to remind us of Ancestors, Grandparents, Parents, fatherland, and ancestral land, where we were born and grow up. Directing our sincere heart towards our native country, we respectfully wish the Honoured Monks, Nuns, and near-far Buddhists full enjoyment of the Maitreya Spring – peacefulness and happiness. 

The spring that comes already goes, but the heart spring is immortal,
Flowers that bloom already fade, but devout flowers keep all fresh,
Wish for everyone and wish for me as well,
The Maitreya Spring is the eternally happy spring.[14]

May you all be peaceful and happy all the time!

[1] The meanings of the Spring Festival - The Most Ven. Dr. Thich Duc Niem
[2] Zen Master Thiên Tung.
[3] M. I. 115-6; MLD. I. 207-9.
[4] Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Daily Chanting Book of Meditative Method Year 2000. Ha Noi: Religious Publishing House, 2004, p. 223.
[5] Four elements consist of earth element – solid, water element – liquid, fire element – heat, and wind element – motion. Five aggregates consist of form aggregate, sensation aggregate, perception aggregate, mental formation, and consciousness aggregate. 
[6] Zen Master Van Hanh in the Ly dynasty (1010-1225) in Vietnam. See Cuong Tu Nguyen. Zen in Medieval Vietnam A Study and Translation of the Thiền Uyển Tập Anh. USA: University of Hawai‘i Press, 1947, p.60.
[7] Celebration of the Spring of Maitreya Buddha, Songwriter Tue Kien’s verse.
[8] The Old.
[9] Ibid.
[10] Ibid.
[11] Ibid.
[12] The thought of Vimalakīrtinirdeśa Sūtra.
[13] Zen Master Thanh Vien Phat Nhan 倩遠佛眼in the Song dynasty (960-1279) in China
[14] The Most Ven. Dr. Thich Tri Quang, a weekly Giac Ngo newspaper 156.