Buddhist Mayflower Crossing, 1976

A leader of the Chinese Buddhist community in America, C.T. Shen, speaks of a spirit of sympathy between the Buddhist and the American vision. In the prayer that preceded his well-known “Mayflower” speech, given at the Cathedral of the Pines in New Hampshire on July 4th, he likens the imaginative power of the Mayflower crossing the Atlantic to the Buddhist image of crossing the waters of danger and turbulence to the “far shore” of freedom. His use of the word “we,” linking himself to the ancestry of his new “imagined community” is revealing.

May we Americans, in this Bicentennial year, reaffirm the dedication of our ancestors and raise our Mayflower flag to sail across the vast ocean of hatred, discrimination, selfishness, and arrive on the other shore of loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.

May we Americans, in this Bicentennial year, reaffirm our determination to extend our love of brotherhood to all people on earth, and may we be guided by the collective wisdom of all world religions to save ourselves from self-destruction. Today our greatest fear is not of nature. Our greatest fear is of ourselves.

[From C.T. Shen, Mayflower II: On the Buddhist Voyage to Liberation (Taipei: Torch of Wisdom Publishing House, 1983), iii; (New York: Institute for Advance Studies of World Religions), 1987. Reprinted online via the Buddhist Association of the United States (www.baus.org/en). http://chuangyen.fatcow.com/baus/library/MayflowerII.pdf.]