“Shenpa” by Donna Henderson

He hadn’t done it. But in the seconds she’d thought he had, she
recalled all the times he’d done it, or something like it, and this
refreshed her resentment as blooms in a vase are refreshed by
recutting the stems and replacing the water. And the resentment
thought faster than the realization she’d done it herself
this time, and so had the effect of him having just done it,
again. Inadvertent she said to herself of her own mistake; careless
she thought, of him.


Shenpa is a Tibetan Buddhist term meaning (approximately)
“the ego’s habits of reaction to familiar events and words.”

Donna Hendersonfrom Rattle #36, Winter 2011
Tribute to Buddhist Poets

“If you have a beautiful voice… (Thich Nhat Hanh)

“If you have a beautiful voice, don’t think that you have created that beautiful voice for yourself. It has been transmitted by your ancestors, your parents. If you have the talent of a painter, don’t think that you have invented that talent. It has been transmitted to you as a seed. So everything you have thought that you are has come from the cosmos, from your ancestors. The water in you, the heat in you, the air in you, the soil in you, belong to the water outside, the soil outside.
Without the forest how could you be? Without your father and mother how could you be there this moment? Therefore you say, in wisdom, that you are nothing. Everything that you think, you thought that you are, you have received from the cosmos, from parents – including your body. Suddenly non-self arises as an insight. You belong to the stream of life. If you bear hatred toward your father, you think that your life has been ruined by your father, that you don’t want to have anything to do with your father. It is out of ignorance that you have thought so. Because if you touch the reality of no-self, you see very clearly that you are your father. You are just a continuation of your father, and your father is a continuation of your grandfather.
We are one in a stream of life. To think that you are a separate entity, that you are a self that can be independent from your father, is a very funny thing. Because your father is inside you, you can never get rid of him. There is no alternative except to reconcile with your father. To reconcile with him means to reconcile with yourself. The other person, it might not be your father, he may be your brother or your spouse or anyone. You think that he or she has made you suffer so much, has made your life miserable. There is a tendency in you never to see him again, to hear from him again or from her again. That kind of willingness, that kind of feeling is born from your ignorance of the reality of no-self. Because we are all together. Not only are we together, we are inside each other, we inter-are. So if you surrender your idea of self, suddenly you release a lot of suffering, a lot of anger. You give yourself a chance for compassion and understanding to be born in your heart.”

Thich Nhat Hanh