I spoke in Inquiry today about the three bodies — Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Dharmakaya — how all of the manifestations of awakening are evident in these two poems and the connecting vows from Mark and Carrie's wedding. These are intimate expressions of universal truths.

The Third Body

A man and a woman sit near each other, and they do

  not long

At this moment to be older, or younger, or born

In any other nation, or any other time, or any other


They are content to be where they are, talking or not


Their breaths together feed someone whom we do

  not know.

The man sees the way his fingers move;

He sees her hands close around a book she hands to


They obey a third body that they share in common.

They have promised to love that body.

Age may come; parting may come; death will come!

A man and a woman sit near each other;

As they breathe they feed someone we do not know,

Someone we know of, whom we have never seen.

by Robert Bly, from Eating the Honey of Words, 1999

After reading and reflecting on this first poem, I suggested that everyone say these vows together as if they were speaking from the Buddha within to the parts that manifest in our own bodies:

In you (focusing on yourself), I recognize a gift.

I accept this offering

and embrace our coming together.

To you I offer my

presence, respect, love and kindness.

I trust what is, and what is becoming,

in the constant and the transforming.

May we live this mystery with lightness and joy.

After our chanting and reflections, I then offered this Sufi poem as a further teaching on the fullness of the three bodies:

The Unbroken

There is a brokenness

Out of which comes the unbroken,

A shatteredness out of which blooms the unshatterable.

There is a sorrow beyond all grief

Which leads to joy

And a fragility

Out of whose depths emerges strength.

There is a hollow space

Too vast for words

through which we pass with each loss,

out of whose darkness we are sanctioned into being.

There is a cry

Deeper than all sound,

Whose serrated edges cut the heart as we break open

To the place inside, which is unbreakable and whole,

While learning to sing.

~ Rashani (Sufi poet)

This is an image I captured of Mark and Carrie in the recent Lake District retreat just this pat May.

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Appamada is not just the occasional mindful thought or attentive state of mind, it’s actually a commitment to being attentive. It’s more than just a meditative state of mind, it’s more than just being mindful. It has to do with that primary ethical or moral orientation we have in life, with which we bring into being whatever activity we’re engaged in. Whether in formal meditation, in our interactions with other people, in our social concerns, or in our political choices, it’s the energetic cherishing of what we regard as good.

—Stephen Batchelor


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