Alfred Hassler, one of the primary supporters of Thich Nhat Hanh in the American peace movement in the late 1960s and early 1970s, passed away in June. Thay and Sister Phuong were in the area, upstate New York, during his last days, and visited him in the hospital. The following poem was composed by Thich Nhat Hanh in memory of Alfred Hassler, and was read by Thay at his memorial service on June 9th, 1991.
The moment you were shown the lotus
blooming in the sea of fire
you became a companion.
Your torch lighted
the Committee of Conscience
carried by the New York Times; it
brought the message to thousands of friends.
Days and nights, efforts were made
to stop the killing.
Sitting outside the door of Thich Tri Quang
you became the Venerable Thich Alfred Hassler.
As a friendly smile was offered
the message of trust then transmitted.
The Menton Conference
on the beaudful French Riviera
and the retreats at the Royaumont Cloister
brought about Dai Dong.
The bell of awareness began to sound.
Five thousand scientists raised their voices
for Gaia, the Earth Goddess.
One body—suddenly tens of thousands of bodies—
the path to the future was opened.
We began to have more Kloppenburg.
We began to have more De Graaf.
One flag carried the faces of children among flowers.
Who says that today De Graaf is absent
Kloppenburg is absent
Hassler is absent?
You are still with us as strong companions.
The march is as solid and joyful as ever
and also our friendship,
This body is not you;
you are not caught in this body.
You are life without boundaries.
You have never been born; you will never die.
We have always been together and will always be.
We see you now and have your hands in ours.
My body is one with the body of all species.
Alfred! Your true body is seen by us.
We see you smiling your wonderful smile.
Let us look at the magnolia flowers in Shadowcliff