Monday, June 8, 2009

Becoming Peace with Thich Nhat Hahn

Thay arriving in Vietnam (he'd been waiting a very long-time to go home.)

Reading from The Miracle of Mindfulness (The following extended version of the passage read by Krista during the program appears in The Miracle of Mindfulness):

Sitting in mindfulness, both our bodies and minds can be at peace and totally relaxed. But this state of peace and relaxation differs fundamentally from the lazy, semi-conscious state of mind that one gets while resting and dozing. Sitting in such lazy semi-consciousness, far from being mindfulness, is like sitting in a dark cave. In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake.

Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.

The person who practices mindfulness should be no less awake than the driver of a car; if the practitioner isn't awake he will be possessed by dispersion and forgetfulness, just as the drowsy driver is likely to cause a grave accident. Be as awake as a person walking on high stilts—any misstep could cause the walker to fall. Be like a medieval knight walking weaponless in a forest of swords. Be like a lion, going forward with slow, gentle, and firm steps. Only with this kind of vigilance can you realize total awakening.
At a meditation retreat - child's perception of nun and monk embracing

Reading From Fragrant Palm Leaves
The following extended passage was excerpted from a collection of Thich Nhat Hanh's journal entries, Fragrant Palm Leaves: Journals 1962–1966:

Being able to see just once in a lifetime is no small accomplishment. If you've seen once, you can see forever. The question is whether you have the determination and diligence. Many young people today feel trapped in prisons of discouragement and self-hatred. They regard reality as meaningless, and they treat themselves as despicable beings. My heart opens to them. Caught in despair, they seek liberation through destructive means. It would be wonderful if we could identify and dissolve the sources of such a dark view of life.

If you tarnish your perceptions by holding on to suffering that isn't really there, you create even greater misunderstanding. Reality is neither pleasant nor unpleasant in and of itself. It is only pleasant or unpleasant as experienced by us, through our perceptions. This is not to deny that earthquakes, plagues, wars, old age, sickness, and death exist. But their nature is not suffering. We can limit the impact of these tragedies but never do away with them completely. That would be like wanting to have light without darkness, tallness without shortness, birth without death, one without many.

One-sided perceptions like these create our world of suffering. We are like an artist who is frightened by his own drawing of a ghost. Our creations become real to us and even haunt us.

Thay may well have influenced Martin Luther King's decision to speak out against the Vietnam War - which King did in his famous (often ignored) speech at Riverside Church in New York City.

My ending note:

There is so much more here - please avail yourself of this unique gift:
Music, More Poetry and the Interview. This is just not the right day for me to go into any details except to say that the interview moved me deeply and although my faith is based on some different beliefs - there is such a completely profound comprehension of the reality of life in it's duality of suffering and enlightenment - that taking these teachings seriously can do nothing if not prepare anyone for each present moment, no matter the challenges.

on your contemplative listening!
Connie, One Heart Blogger

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Next week's program is exploring what torture does to people and their cultures. Be with you then.

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