The entire community gathered in the forest hall to pay their respects and remember a very special person. The evening began with a meditation and poem by Thich Nhat Thanh, The Contemplation On No Coming and No Going:
This body is not me.
I am not limited by this body.
I am life without boundaries.
I have never been born,
and I have never died.
Look at the ocean and the sky filled with stars,
manifestations from my wondrous true mind.
Since before time, I have been free.
Birth and death are only doors through which we pass,
sacred thresholds on our journey.
Birth and death are a game of hide-and-seek.
So laugh with me,
hold my hand,
let us say good-bye,
to meet again soon.
We meet today.
We will meet again tomorrow.
We will meet at the source every moment.
We meet each other in all forms of life.
Community members then shared their memories of Johan. ‘Inspiring’, ‘warm’, ‘energetic’, ‘compassionate’, ‘generous’, ‘humble’, and ‘visionary’ were just some of the ways that he was described by those who had spent time with him. Numerous people recollected that meeting him changed their lives, and indeed, with the founding of the New Life recovery community, he has touched thousands of lives in the five short years since the foundation was established.
After the session of sharing, we sang a Plum Village song together, sending our energy and compassion to Johan and his family. The lyrics were as follows:
No coming, no going. No after, no before. I hold you close to me. I release you to be so free. Because I am in you and you are in me. Because I am in you and you are in me.
The song was followed by a meditation during which we reflected on the following prayers:
May you be held in compassion.
May you be free from pain and sorrow.
May you be at peace.
Bringing our attention to ourselves.
May I be open to the pain of grief.
May I be open to the sorrow and the pain of grief.
May I find the inner resources to be really present for my sorrow.
May I forgive myself for mistakes made and things left undone.
May I be open to receive the kindness of others and the community as they support me through this journey of grief.
May I and all beings learn from and transform sorrow.
The ceremony finished with the lighting of traditional northern Thai lanterns, which we floated into the night sky. As a community, we send our deepest condolences to Johan’s family. As a community, we mourn the loss of someone who truly made the world a better place.