Happiest of birthdays to Thich Nhat Hanh who is 90 today. In many ways I consider Thay my root teacher and certainly my introduction to the Buddhist path. His approach to meditation, his teachings on mindfulness, interconnection, and loving kindness have been a cornerstone to my practice. Favorite selected readings include: Living Buddha Living Christ, Calming The Fearful Mind: A Zen Response To Terrorism, Peace Is Every Step, Answers From The Heart, For A Future To Be Possible, Love Letter To The Earth, and his book of poetry Call Me By My True Names.
May his teachings and wisdom continue to be of benefit to a world in need for generations to come.
Bows of gratitude, dear Thay!
#PeaceIsEveryStep #ThichNhatHanh #calligraphy
the end does not justify the means. the means create and are their own end. if we plant seeds of harm and suffering, then we will have harm and suffering ~j
#peace #harm #suffering
as I grow in this practice, I’m beginning to become aware that “reverence” begins even at the cellular level and is born out of gratitude.
am I grateful for the cells in my body? that I may see? that I may walk and write? that I may eat and digest? that I may think and speak?
in my gratitude, do I honor these cells? do I smile to them, breathing in and out, as Thich Nhat Hanh says? do I watch what I feed them, including the thoughts and emotions I cling to?
do I see them as the life that they are and honor that life within them? a life they are living, making it so that I may live?
this passing body is more them, than it is “me.” have we thought about that?
and we can ask ourselves, how am I honoring this gift? how am I embodying this gratitude I feel swelling in my chest? how am I living with reverence in the short time I am here? and how can I extend this to others in this delicate, beautiful, passing life?
breathe…one of my favorite Thich Nhat Hanh calligraphies.
the breath is life, to reconnect with the breath is to reconnect with life. to be present as one breathes is to be present in this moment, to be present with life. we cannot be lost in thought, in worry, in anger, if we are with our breath – paying attention to it as we breathe in. does it feel cold, is it warm? does it tingle at the nose? does the chest rise, does the belly expand as the breath fills our bodies? when we breathe out, do we feel the belly sink in, the chest fall, the body relax?
this is meditation. to find a comfortable sitting position, settling our bodies, back straight, eyes softened or closed, finding and releasing tension, and then observing our breath. thoughts can come and go. we let them. we allow them to come and go without judging or correcting ourselves for having them, and without running away with them. when we do run with our thoughts and we become aware that we have, we simply return to observing our breath. practice. this is what we practice. we do this each day so we grow a capacity to “be” with life, no matter what has manifest. we practice so we can learn to pause before our reactions, so we can make a thoughtful choice of action.
when we breathe in we are giving our body oxygen, life. a body provided for is a calm body. when we breathe out we are letting go, we are surrendering – quite literally – our life, our breath, along with all of our fears, worries, or anger. a mind provided for is a calm mind.
I know this, just as I know life is filled with impermanence and change (and there has been plenty of that both professionally and personally this year). and although we more often than not have an aversion to change, which causes us suffering, it is important to remember that without change there’d be no possibility of something better, no opportunity for our growth as precious human beings in this life to find a new home, a new place to continue our learning and growth.
yet when change comes heavy and fast, it can be jarring, unsettling and painful. the ground is removed from under our feet and we feel insecure. it is discomforting and heart aching to witness this happening to those we care about and not have a way to fix it or make it better. as was the case today.
so I remind myself as I remind them and all of us, breathe…
for those who are new to my blog, Thich Nhath Hanh, the Zen Master, poet and peace activist whom i consider my root teacher suffered a severe brain hemorrhage in November. for much of the time since then, although showing some response and being wakeful a bit of the day, he slept most hours and was considered in a comatose state. Plum Village the main monastery in his tradition publishes updates every so often. this latest bit of news was a significant step forward and i am grateful for it. please keep the good and healing energy, meditations, and prayers flowing toward Thay as he continues the path of recovery.
thank you for your love and generosity of heart!
I hold my face in my two hands. No, I am not crying. I hold my face in my two hands to keep the loneliness warm – two hands protecting, two hands nourishing, two hands preventing my soul from leaving me in anger.
~Thich Nhat Hanh
(written after the bombing of Ben Tre, during the Vietnam War)