Offered by David Mushin Keeber:
This evening, our teacher Eisho offered a lovely Dharma Reflection as we sat zazen. Given that Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Naht Hanh has taken seriously ill recently, she brought to us a gatha he often sits with.
Breathing in, I calm my body
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment
I know this is a wonderful moment.
He has offered these reflections on the gatha.
Breathing in, I calm my body. This line is like drinking a glass of ice water on a warm day. You feel the freshness permeate your body. When I breathe in and recite this line, I actually feel the breathing calming my body, calming my mind.
Breathing out, I smile. A smile can relax hundreds of muscles in your face and relax your nervous system. Smiling means that we are ourselves, that we have sovereignty over ourselves, that we are not just drowned in forgetfulness. This kind of smile can be seen on the faces of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
Dwelling in the present moment. While I sit here, I don’t think of somewhere else, of the future or the past. I sit here and know where I am. The only moment to be alive is the present moment.
I know this is a wonderful moment. This is the only moment that is real. To be here and now, and enjoy the present moment is our most wonderful task.
As we sit, we can easily remember this gatha by thinking of these words on each breath, one by one: Calming, Smiling, Present, Wonderful