These words of wisdom today come from Thomas Merton, an American Catholic writer, mystic, and friend of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. I have heard Thich Nhat Hanh, known as Thay by his followers, speak about Thomas Merton many times in recent years.

The subject of worthiness comes up everyday in the life of followers of Thay when we think about or recite the 5 contemplations prior to eating meals, especially when we are eating within a community of practitioners. The second contemplation states, “May we eat with mindfulness and gratitude so as to be worthy to receive this food.”

When this new version was recently released by Plum Village, some members of the community discussed the concept of worthiness. I pointed out that at the Buddha Gate Monastery in Lafayette, California used a simpler form of the second contemplation: “Reflecting on my conduct, “Am I worthy of a share.””

Thomas Merton “Our job is to love others without

stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy.

That is not our business and, in fact, it is nobody’s business.

What we are asked to do is to love,

and this love itself will render both ourselves

and our neighbors worthy.”

Finally, a venerable dharma teacher in Thay’s tradition, Joanne Friday shared this poem of Thomas Merton’s. I think this quote has to power to resolve any conflicts of being worthy to receive food.

The poem, itself, is an exemplification of Thay’s teaching on inclusiveness. It is natural to want to embrace others in our community and treat them with equality.

Since “Our job is to love others without stopping to inquire whether or not they are worthy,” how will you apply this in your daily life? Please share.

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