A Love Letter to The Bat Nha Monastics


Wake Up skype cosmos, 25th of September 2010

n594158861_1149794_6533Dear Brothers and Sisters of Bat Nha,

We – the Wake Up Youth Sangha – are sitting together on Skype in the many corners of Europe in order to read, and listen deeply to, the Bat Nha koan. Feeling touched by it, we are compelled to connect to you – our Brothers and Sisters of Bat Nha.

It is easy to sit in our comfy chairs and write some warm sentences and pat our shoulders. But what do we know? We feel a sense of inappropriateness, of literally not finding the words. There would be a kind of dishonesty in claiming that we know what you went through one year ago, that we know what the situation really is. Because we don’t. However, despite our intellect not being able to fully understand, if we really listen inside of ourselves, we become aware that in our heart there is true connection, that there is true understanding and compassion. It is in the language of the heart that cannot be put into words anyway.

At the summer youth retreat in Plum Village last month almost 200 young people from all over the world, with different backgrounds and confessions, came together as one human family to practice together and cultivate the wholesome seeds within us. Throughout this retreat we practiced sitting, breathing, eating and simply being. We see we are not alone, that you are with us, and that through our practice we can be together, despite the hardships. We have everyday difficulties and joys to share. But when we can see the difficulties you endure we can feel tongue-tied: we can realise the sheer joy of the simple chance to practice and share freely.

To cultivate the seeds of joy, happiness, freedom, and peace through mindful breathing, sitting, walking, speaking and playing, is to cultivate ‘the Bat Nha Brothers and Sisters’ within us. We are aware that if we are able to cultivate these wholesome energies in our daily life, we will be able to transform  “the chief of police in Vietnam, the member of the Vietnamese buddhist church, the high ranking member of the government of Vietnam and the head of a state or foreign minister of the countries who are trying to protect their national interest” and to act in a beautiful way when faced with difficulties, anger and despair. Because you are still able to practice, breathe and smile amidst this difficult situation, because you are able to take care of the wound of the person who is hurting you, because you can look compassionately into the eyes of the person who has beaten you, we know that this is possible. We are deeply touched by your great compassion and deeply inspired to cultivate it within us. Your strength shines through your actions and inspires our determination to continue beautifully.

As one of our brothers just shared:

“Seeing the video of the clearing of the Bat Nha community, it’s very natural to take the side of you guys. I want to be there to kick all the ‘bad guys’ out and restore peace. Looking a little bit more deeply, I realize immediately that this would not really restore the peace. Even if it would temporarily, it would not be a wholesome solution to the problem and definitely not a solution to the koan. Those ‘bad guys’ are not simply ‘bad guys’ as Disney might want us to believe. There are no ‘bad guys’, neither do ‘good guys’ exist, we’re all just human beings reacting in our own instinctive way to whatever suffering overcomes us. Like Thây writes in the Koan, some might be afraid to lose their position, or their wealth, or whatever. There’s loads of fear and suffering involved on both sides and it’s impossible to solve the koan by judging either side or even talking about two different ‘sides’. I think in this way, the koan is a koan for my own daily life as well as for everyone’s daily life. The conflict in Vietnam is not any different from my own conflicts. And the way you’ve managed to deal with this conflict – in a non-discriminative way – by chanting and meditating, is such a huge inspiration for my own life!”

Our shared solidity is expressed in this tree planting gatha, we offer to you this dedication:

With Reverence to the Buddha Nature within all Beings,

We, the Wake-Uppers from all ten directions (Belgium, England, France, Germany, Holland, Ireland, Scotland, Switzerland), have gathered at the EIAB from the 1st to the 6th of April in the year 2010 for the “One Buddha Is Not Enough!” Youth Retreat to explore the precious gift of life and our great potential to give to life, in celebration of brotherhood and sisterhood.

Aware of the suffering caused by unskillful actions in the past, we dedicate the wholesome energy of our coming together (in order to water the seeds of loving-kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness within us and around us) to this soil and vow to nourish the seeds planted in us during this Wake Up Retreat.

May we cultivate the capacity to bear fruits of love and understanding. May this Wake Up Tree bear nourishing fruits for our ancestors, and for present and future generations.

We bow to all beings in gratitude.

We sit here joyfully because we can share with you. We want to let you know that on the 27th September we will collect our creative expressions* of our experiences of the freedom and happiness we have derived from the joyful Wake Up community and inspired by your bravery and love so sorely tested one year ago.

Always walking together, hand in hand,

The Wake Up Sangha


* DEAR WAKE-UPPERS, we will collect everything and forward them to the Bat Nha monastics. Please send your creative contributions (in form of poetry, painting, photography, music, etc.) by the end of October to info@wkup.org. Thank you very much!

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