Monday, June 07, 2010

Wounded Waters: Prayer for the Gulf of Mexico

Full disclosure --

I spent a portion of my life on the Gulf. We used to go camping at a place called Longboat Key, which in those days, circa 1964, was completely unspoiled. The pines came all the way down to the white beach. You could camp anywhere, at the edge of the pines, and hear the wind sighing all night long. This was Longchenpa's "edges of the wildwood of inner calm, together with the cool moonlight of compassion."
We had an exchange student with us, a young man from Thailand named Tharanong Buatong, who we just called "Do." He had already been a monk for two years -- I think at Wat Plai Doi, I am not sure -- which was more or less compulsory for young people in those days. Do had a natural, effortless, reverence for life that expressed itself many ways.

"Bua Tong" is a Thai sunflower.

The fishermen at Longboat Key used to plant their reels in the sand, and leave their lines cast out into the surf. The waterbirds would come skimming across the water at dusk, and get entangled in the lines. Do and me used to sneak along the beach and cut the lines, so the fish would not be tempted, and the birds would not drown.
Now, quite naturally, everything has changed. Longboat Key is one big real estate development. If there are any pine trees left, I'll wager they were trucked in from elsewhere. The young Thai monk and the widow's crazy son are gone. I heard that Do became a general, and I of course became a deliberate failure. Nevertheless, it would be fair to say that Do and me have probably always carried a little bit of the Gulf along with us, like grains of sand in the bottom of a pocket.
How sad my old friend must feel, when he hears what we have done to the Gulf.
Because we have divided all that we seem to experience
into polar opposites founded on mistaken notions of "them" and "us"
We trade ever-present satisfaction
For temporary dreams
believing in the illusion of happiness and gain.

When, from the lust for independence
in this world of interdependence,
we selfishly cut open the earth's veins
I pray we remember the planet's wounded waters
and how, from ignorance, we injured all beings in and around them

The shores that map our aspiration for water and earth
do not delimit primordial perfection
which is spacious and profound:
by resting in one place
radiant blessings reach beyond the idea of boundaries

It is not for the inhabited waters alone we pray
but for the wild places we do not always remember to see
this great ocean of misery that seems to come and go
when we close our eyes, when we open our eyes
Instantly evaporated when we open our hearts
May mistaken notions be tamed,
May always possible perfection be realized
May peace born within us heal the damage we have done
May life be comfortably sustained for all sentient beings who suffer
By the merit of our clear awakening
By the power of truth, 
May there spontaneously come an end to the disharmony of the elements
in the Gulf of Mexico.

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4 reader comments:

Teresa said...

That is so beautiful, Rinpoche. Thank you so much.

Anonymous said...


Anthony said...

Very beautiful prayer and a perfect fit. Thank you.

Cliff said...

Most excellent sir!