It’s you, but it’s also me!

Returning home corner

How could it be that Huong Sen was predestined to such a fate as this? From the time that she was aware of life, she had carried a mortal wound that she could not find anyone to share it with. Huong Sen had been sexually abused by the person whom she loved and respected the most. She suffered so much. Initially, it may have been just the love a father would have for his daughter. That was what she had thought, but growing older she felt disgust and fear. Everytime she saw the perpetrator she wanted to take revenge, “kill him”? Impossible, he is also someone she loves. What else can she do except to silently suffer in deep despair? Huong Sen thought of suicide, surely that would be the best solution for herself. But she could not bring herself to do it because she still had her Mother – the one person dearest and closest to her. She did not want to leave her mother, much less make her suffer if she suicided. Huong Sen did not tell her Mother about the hidden pain, because what can she do when he is also someone her Mother loves?

Months and years passed as Huong Sen lived in pain and humiliation. She felt terrified that every day she had to try and cover up her defiled body with clean beautiful clothing. Surely, no one else knew about it except Huong Sen and the perpetrator. Outwardly, she was just like any of her sisters, but the only difference being that she was loved and pampered a bit more that’s all. Huong Sen had to live up to that act of presence.

She tried her best to live for her Mother – her only source of happiness. She made an effort to accept that it was a fate predestined by God – to love her Mother in this way! Huong Sen struggled to find a way out of her situation, but faced with her deep wounds she only felt despair. Her heart was full of hatred and resentment toward those who had brought her into this life so that her tiny fragile body had to bear such self-pity and bitterness. Huong Sen decided to commit suicide to end all the suffering. She had had enough after enduring it for 18 years. Luckily for her, while facing the prospect of death, her plight was not ignored when she met a monk. He must have been beside her all along.

For a future to be possible” – for Huong Sen, the future was just as totally dark and painful as the past, and it prevented her from getting in touch with the wonderful things in the present moment. But following the monk’s advice to attend a retreat, Huong Sen still made an attempt to find a new possibility for her future. An extraordinary thing happened when she just allowed herself tojoin the retreat schedule and mingled with the other young people. There was over a thousand young people at the retreat along with many young monastics. It made her wonder what was so special here that attracted so many young people? During Dharma talk and Dharma discussion sessions she was taught how to breath, smile, walk, stand, lie down and to sit … all of being near to wholesome friends, Huong Sen became more joyful and happy. A smile appeared more often on her lips. With permission from Thầy and the Sangha, Huong Sen quickly became a nun, and she was so very happy to be able to flow together with the Sangha as a river. Receiving love, support, and guidance everyday from Thầy, her elder and younger brothers and sister, she was able to gradually transform her deep wound. She saw that the person who had made her suffer was also a victim – of delusion and ignorance. which were previously so plain and obvious but yet she had never really connected with them before. Throughout the whole retreat Huong Sen just kept quiet so that she could receive all that those people in brown robes shared.

In one of the Dharma talk, the monk taught about our continuation and the transmission from our ancestors. He said, “looking into our hands, we can see our parents, our grandparents and ancestors”. These words stirred up the deep pain inside her, and tears flowed. How can she accept that the perpetrator is inside her? But thanks to the collective energy of everyone at the talk she was able to stop the emotions from overwhelming her, and it helped her to return to her breathing. She was reminded of the teaching, “breathing in, I know you are there. Breathing out, I say hello to my suffering and block of pain. I am here for you!” The miracle of the breath helped her to be able to smile to her body and the suffering within. The subsequent days Huong Sen relied on the Sangha to help her practice recognizing the wounded little girl inside herself. Sitting and walking meditation were opportunities that allowed her to look deeply into the causes and conditions of her suffering. During these sessions, she invited her Mother’s presence (inside herself) to support her practice, then after that she invited the person who had made her suffer.

At the end of the retreat, Huong Sen felt as if a door of hope had been opened. She had found for herself a direction in life – she decided to become a monastic even though she knew it would not be easy. She would have to overcome the obstacles from her family because they still have very outdated perceptions about monastic life. Why did she decide to become a nun? Huong Sen could not explain to everyone all that had happened to her. She could not bring herself to say how much she had suffered from the sexual abuse. That she wanted to overcome this suffering, and the only way to help her find true happiness was to get ordained.

Huong Sen ran away from home in order to become a nun. She would do whatever it took to be with the Sangha, a place where she knew surely would help her transform the hatred and resentment inside. It is only by this path of practice that would bring her happiness, which she would then offer as a gift to her Mother, to those whom she felt grateful toward, and even to that person. Living in a good environment, Perhaps, he did not get transmitted good and beautiful qualities from his ancestors, maybe he did not know how to love truly, and the environment he lived in was not wholesome… She was able to smile with forgiveness when she saw the causes and conditions. She recognized how lucky and happy she is to have a beautiful and wholesome path in life. She felt compassion for the person who made her suffer because he does not know about this wonderful path. Huong Sen began to wonder about other young people living in society, and how she can help them to know about this path that can lead to true happiness, freedom and love. She is reminded of Thầy’s words, “No mud, no lotus”. It is due to the dirty mud of the past that had helped the lotus to bloom inside herself. She saw how clearly she had been able to “transform the rubbish into flowers” with the support of Thầy and the Sangha. She saw that she did not have to do anything more than just practice so that she could have happiness and peace. To be able to transform oneself is to help others overcome their suffering. After all, we are taught that “Peace in oneself is peace in the world”.

The end of autumn…

My dear friends!

Sharing with you what is most deep within myself, I do not hope to receive your love, nor from anyone else, because love has always been present since I became a nun. I feel strangely peaceful as I put into words this sharing to you. I have been able to call my pain and suffering by its true name, and how about you? I hope that even if your path is filled with thorns and thistles but that you will be able to see the little flowers by the roadside smiling with you. Thầy, the Sangha and I am here for you, and with you. Hand in hand, we can walk together on this path of understanding and love.