A Tribute to Mother on Ullambana Day

Written by Venerable Thich Nguyen Tang
English Translation & Adaptation: Tam Lac (Jessica Tran)

10 March 2005



The season of beloved autumn has once again returned to bless the forests, fields and all living creatures great and small with her beautiful presence. Autumn has again brought with her a familiar air of gentle melancholy, calling upon a deep passion within the heart and souls of poetic minds with each of her graceful golden leaves falling gently down during the season. Autumn has brought back the stillness of lovely clear pools, capturing the vastness of a solemn autumn sky, reflecting off a season of peaceful sleeping waters.

 However, to the children of the Buddha, autumn has become a lot more than that, it has become the season of Ullambana[1]; the season of repaying the deep kindness of our parents: filial devotion and virtuosity.

 Thus dearest Mother,

Today as I watch the gentle fragrance of lit incense drift silently amongst this serene Buddha altar, my heart can not help but lead back home to you, the most wonderful person of my life, which I cannot have missing in the world.

 “Oh mother” - such words I have babbled since a baby until today, yet still, I fail to capacitate and understand entirely the great profoundness of its depth.

Mother, you are the very source of life, the very essence of true love, you are the sweetest palatable fragrance that nature could have offered.

Mother, you are a child’s only true wealth upon the long journey of life...and exactly that mother, you are truly everything most precious and sacred in my life:


            Mother’s are the entire beloved sky,

            A heaven on earth, a gift from up high

            Precious warmth is the lullaby of hers

            Which imprinted history, and world cultures...


As a baby, when I was thirsty, your breast milk fed into my heart like the taste of love’s sweet nectar...

Once I knew how to eat, you were the first person who helped me with each and every spoonful of food, you gently held me close in your arms and treasured me like I was a delicate gem that you tendered. All the best of things which you possessed, from the most loveliest to happiest in the world, you entirely saved for me instead of  enjoying them for yourself.


            Oh mother, you sacrificed everything for me,

            From your entire years of youth,

            To your love pure as the sea

            Mother, you are an essential cool breeze

            The branch of weeping willows,

            The shade of celestial trees,

            Mother, you are perfume, you are flowers

            The growing tree from love's roots

            And the source of miracles and powers

You have sung beautifully to me with kind gentle melodies...


            In the evening breeze of Autumn I sleep

            Lulled by your voice throughout the nights keep

             As many hours in which the night contains,

            Are just the many hours your wake remains


Your concerns for me kept you awake at night as you tossed and turned with worries for my wellbeing and happiness throughout the long years.

And with each passing day that the sky became more and more beautiful in my eyes, were days that another white hair grew upon your aging mane.

Oh, your aging back has stiffened and arched with sorrow and hurt throughout time,

 Because of me, matter and worries became natural to you as it showed clearly on the aging lines of your face. Your sacrifices were just as natural as great mother earth giving off life and vitality to trees, plants and all the innumerable living creatures great and small on the face of this earth.

 Mother, even though you have not reached one hundred years of life, you have had the amazing capability of providing your children with all the love and happiness there is in the world.


            Mother, you are like a kind angel guardian,

            Protecting every step of life since  time began

            You gifted me with all the world's treasures,

            Not keeping any sacrifice limits or measures


 Oh mother, your huge heart is a source of light which brightens up my life using your very own sweat, blood and tears. You are just as a cool breeze from above, like the twinkling glow of the moon and stars, like the forever burning torch within the lost darkness of nights.

If life was like an ocean of suffering and pain filled with boundless crushing waves of heartbreak far as the eye could see, then you would definitely be the compassionate boat rescuing me back to the shore of happiness.

Dearest mother, because there is you alive on earth, I feel as though I still have everything in the world, and if life was to be without you, there is nothing left but poverty to a child.

 You have toiled laboriously in your hard life and have never minded the hardship and difficulties that you faced. Even a one hundred year old mother loves her eighty year old child; thus you have sacrificed a period of glamour and blossoming youth to swap for days of work from dawn to dusk just for my future goals and dreams.


            Because of me, your health has declined,

            Because of me you left your beauty behind


As years went by, all of your hopes and dreams lived on to raise me healthy and strong and to walk steadily in life. All that you merely wished for was for your child to become a contribution to society as a good person...


Rather a life of toil to nurture her little ones

            Brushing off hardship, exposed to yearly seasons

            Slowly the sun kissed her cheeks of once a blooming rose

            Pure beauty has faded as the wind of time blows

 Oh! What language, what definition may truly describe the depths of a mother’s kindness?


            “So naive is the mundane language of man,

            So incompetent to capacitate the simple word "mother””


Mother, how could I describe the shape of your heart? How could I possibly calculate the entity of your tender loving care?

Oh mother, I have now finally understood, as I now awaken to my duty as a human being, the vastness of your love, equal to the depths of the ocean and vast as the heaven skies. I have realised that the sweetest fragrance which runs evermore from the streams of your heart has touched me since the very moment I came into being, entering this world crying.

And so alas, I have wondered why there are people out there who refuse to uphold the conduct of filiation, or have never yearned to repay the deep kindness of their parents.

As clearly written in the Buddha scriptural sutras: "Without our parents there would not be our form, our mother and father has gifted us the precious body that we have today"


Only with my ancestors that I exist,

            My grandparents the roots, my parents the branches

            My form is as the delicate green shoots

            My Life with thanks to the fertilizing of the roots

            My being with help from the protection of the branches


 Over the years,  there have been times when I have made you sad, and dearest mother, today I have finally realised that upon your frail shoulders, which have carried heavy burden throughout life, there have also been weights that came down to you from my rebellious mischief and misbehaviors as a kid. I never knew that slowly with time, those cruel burdens were in the process and will eventually steal away the most precious and valuable treasure of my life. Oh sweet kind mother! Such sadness would be the days when....


            Searching through hazy nights in darkness,

            Craving to recover the sweet image of a mother

            The heavy sky of longing has accumulated merely so:

            Depressed clouds overhead the shadow of a grave

            The song of spring season birds so blurry afar

            A new blooming rose now sit watching me weep


 Oh mother, at this very moment I long so desperately to return back by your side and to look into your eyes. I will look deeply, lengthily and I will see each detail of your kind eyes... to know that you are alive at that very second, to know that you are sitting there by my side.  I will kiss gently upon your creased cheek and slowly rest my face into your frail loving hands, the hands that have collected love and happiness for me all through my life. I want to return to you, to once again feel your warmth and protection around me, I want to show my appreciation with all my heart and to know the feeling of what true undying love really is again as the moments go by sitting there by you. 

 If a mother’s love is like an endless stream, then without doubt a fathers care and hard work raising his child is greater, stronger, and more everlasting than the Himalayans Mountains.



As the ancient proverb of gratitude remains evermore:


             A fathers care as equal to great Himalayan Mountains

            A mothers love as equal to sweet undying streams

            A life devoted to ones mother and pious to ones father,

            Fulfilling the meaning of filial piety and virtuosity,

            Only as so is the genuine meaning of being a child.


 Today, we are fortunate enough to be in reach of the Buddha Dharma. The wonderful example of The Great Filiation Maha Maudgalayana Bodhisattva[2] has proven correct the golden teachings of the Buddhas of the 10 directions. Thus I vow to keep and uphold this in heart: “Being born into a time without Buddha, devotion to ones mother and reverence to ones father is equal to devotion and reverence to the Buddha Himself”


            Similar to the oceans and heavens is the kindness of a parent,

            Oh my friend, what amount of repay may possibly content?

            If you have not repaid your debt, refrain from unfiliality,

            A life of misery and pain is caused by ones foolish impiety!


Oh my beloved parents,

My gratitude and appreciation will forever endure time and the acknowledgment of filial piety shall forever remain within the hearts of human kind. If tomorrow, I am to grow up to fend for myself away from your loving arms, you will always remain in my heart as cool trees shading my life.

How blissful it would be once we set aside all our matters of worry, renounce such mundane worldly pleasures and simply return back by our mother’s side; to be with her, to listen to her gentle loving words and have her comforting hand soothing and reassuring us? I will close my eyes overjoyed and contented as I’ll rest my head into her arms, to find that familiar warmth of yesteryear and suddenly remember the joy of a little kid playing around his mummy’s feet so happy and carefree.

 Oh dearest father, mother,                                           

This is our sincerest dedication to you, our written tribute to you as a fresh red rose on this day of filiation. We sincerely offer this gift of homage up to you father and mother, with our entire hearts on the season of Ullambana.

Namo Great Filiation Maudgalyayana Bodhisattva


 Written by Venerable Thich Nguyen Tang
English Translation & Adaptation: Tam Lac (Jessica Tran)


[1]"Ullambana" is a Sanskrit term which means "hanging upside down" also known as Ullampana which means "merciful disposition" Chin.:, Yu lan Pen Jie or Xiao Zi Jie (Filial Son Festival). Vn: Le Vu Lan, Vu Lan Bon Jap.: Urabon, Urabon-e, Obon,

[2] Skt.: Moginlin,  Pali: MoggallanaVn: Muc Kien Lien, Chin.: Mu Lian, Jap: 目建連, Mokkenren,




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