The Daffodil Great Ordination Ceremony will begin this Tuesday, Jan. 12! Well I’m into it because our family, the Papaya family, will receive our great precepts this year (on Jan. 14). I just wrote this poem and letter to family and friends, and thought you might enjoy!
Going forth on the path,
I say goodbye to loved ones,
Letting go of illusory bonds,
Tears of release may fall —
I know you have always been there.
Countless rivers of feeling flow in me in every moment —
You are my voice…
I carry thousands of seeds in every cell of my body —
This wondrous body, more vast than space, transmitted again and again.
There are seeds of love, seeds of joy —
You have brought them to me, put them into me time after time.
I promise night and day to care for them,
To plant them everywhere and to help them grow,
To collect them, new and beautiful, everywhere,
To sow them into the Earth with every step, every breath, every smile.
Even in midst of this quiet cold winter stillness,
Flowers of joy, of hope, of peace,
Continue in us to bloom:
May we be fresh and free —
As the new-formed flakes of snow,
Falling gently now, all around.
Dear friends and family,
This coming Thursday, the 14th of January, on the new moon day, many novice brothers and sisters here in Plum Village (including me!) will participate in a great ordination ceremony, receiving our full ordination precepts. Each precept is a kind of precious instrument or tool with which to examine life and to discover and sustain the path of peace, healing and love. To me this is a very big step.
It means making a full commitment to our community, with all of the responsibility and freedom that that entails. It marks the culmination of three years of continuous and joyful practice — an affirmation of my deep commitment to live a life of simplicity, purity, community, peace and service. It is the coming to be of a dream — pursuing the ideal of monastic life — that I have cherished for a long time. It is amazing to see it becoming reality. I have learned so much in three years — real, practical and effective ways for communicating, calming, transforming, and healing.
It has been so rewarding to be able to aid others, even just a tiny bit, on their own spiritual path. I still have so much to learn, and the path has been full of ups and downs — opportunities to learn and grow. Now I feel I am ready to make this step, this commitment. In making this step, I let go of who I have been in the past, becoming, completely new. I ask for your help in this process, to let go of the notions you have held of me in the past.
This step symbolizes going forth from family and friends, cutting off the bonds of craving and attachment, undertaking the path of liberation from fear, despair, anger, hatred and discrimination, dedicating my life to serving all equally. You may feel sad (or have felt sad) that you are losing some one, but you can rejoice to see that someone new can be. Following this spiritual path would not be possible for me without the love and support of family and friends — all of you. I continue you.
In many ways this path begins long ago; I see that I am nurtured by so many spiritual ancestors and teachers, from Moses, Buddha, and Jesus to St. Francis, Gandhi, Martin Luther King, current teachers, especially our beloved teacher, Thay Thich Nhat Hanh, and so many others. I see that my love and gratitude for these ancestors and teachers grows greater every day. In some ways this path began not so long ago when I was baptized in the Pacific Ocean several years ago — a precious point of beginning and renewal.
I also see that your love, the love of my parents and so many wonderful friends and teachers has made this precious opportunity possible. I vow not to waste any of this precious opportunity, but to practice with my whole heart, rejoicing and learning and cultivating peace each day.
I think the thing that supports me most is to know of your own sacred journey; the pursuit of true peace, joy and freedom in this life, whether you are atheist, Jewish, Hindu Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, humanist, or something new or interwoven, whatever your spiritual path, I wish you great strength, courage and joy on the path.
I give you space to be you, to be new and to grow. I let you go, so you may be free, free to soar high, realizing your deepest dreams and aspirations. I vow to be of support to you and all people — all beings — in the best way that I can.
With all my love and respect,
Brother Fulfillment (Brother Aaron)
P.S.: The one week ceremony also includes ordinations for lay and monastic people receiving the 5 and 14 mindfulness trainings, and also over 30 “lamp transmissions” to new lay monastic Dharma teachers!