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Reading Buddhist Thought by Peter Menkin

by Peter Menkin  
1/19/2009 / Poetry

Some words about Thich Nhat Hanh, a poem

My poem is about a spiritual teacher named Thich Nhat Hanh, the result of reading a book of his writings.

As you may know, I am an Oblate of Camaldoli, a monastic order interested in the meditative and contemplative practices of Buddhism. It is a Christian monastic community, Catholic by denomation. Like my monastic friends, I am a Benedictine. My affiliation is as an Anglican, since I am an Episcopalian and we are Anglicans. It is a charism of friendship. The monks of the Camaldoli order are contemplatives, and have been for hundreds of years. Oblates take a vow of living a monastic life in the world--as their situation allows. At least, we Camaldolese do who are members of the Order of St. Benedict. We endeavor to live our lives by The Rule of St. Benedict.

There is a monastery, informally known as New Camaldoli, in Big Sur, California USA. Its formal name is Immaculate Heart Hermitage. I visit there and go to retreats. So you can guess I share their interests, including their interest in the West-East dialogue, also called Christian-Buddhist. Granted, I am casually interested, whereas the monks are seriously interested. This poem represents some of my reading of Bhuddist thought, but mainly it represents my admiration and respect for a spiritual leader who is a Buddhist.

Reading Buddhist Thought...
by Peter Menkin

The present is a place,
so I read. Buddhist thought
tells me, between the past and the future
is the place present. Be mindful,
keep good thoughts
--not so easy a thing.
Spiritual teachers like
Thich Nhat Hanh offer
"Learn lessons from the cloud."

"Tomorrow I'll be gone..."
he says, so I read.
Me, too.
Between he and I,
through the pages
there is his voice.

We wonder about faith.
Is there something
for the Christian in this Buddhist
In Church, the Priest
washes his hands before
celebrating. The Buddhist
says clean hands to gain
the truth.

A little style of his words,
adapted to life
as I know it. The man in the book
is generous. Peace.

Audio reading of the poem by the poet is here:

Peter Menkin, an aspiring poet, lives in Mill Valley, CA USA where he writes poetry. He is an Oblate of Immaculate Heart Hermitage, Big Sur, CA and that means he is a Camaldoli Benedictine. He is 64 years of age as of 2010.

Copyright Peter Menkin

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