Tag Archives: thich nhat hahn

Where is Your Voice?

Nakalele Blowhole, Maui

Photo: Kent Buckingham.

Are you brave enough to speak your truth in this world? Are you able to ask for what you need? Defend the rights of others? Be the voice for the voiceless?

At 43, I am still learning how to use this instrument. At times, I can feel the fear gathering in my throat- getting stuck in the muck of self doubt, the fear of being perceived as selfish, or worse- the fear of being judged. This fear silences me and it takes away my freedom, my happiness, and my power.

Thich Nhat Hahn tells us that every answer can be found in nature. By going out into the fresh air, breathing deeply, stepping mindfully, and listening carefully we can receive the wisdom from all of the living beings that surround us- the trees as they sway and creak, the waves as they gather and crash, and the wind as it rages and roars. These voices have spoken for millions of years and exemplify the confidence and courage- steadfastness and simplicity- that I long to manifest.

It is through my practice of observing nature, that I have been able to connect with my deepest truth and my unique voice. Whether I am on the trails of Mt Rainier, at the cliffs of Nakalele in Maui, or in the starlit desert of Chaco Canyon, if I sit still- and listen- I am able experience the interconnectedness of all things and tap into the current of the world. In these moments of quietude, I sense that my body is made from dirt and wood, water and salt, space and air. Sinking into this knowing, I can realize that:

Their voice is My voice. 

And although it may last for just one moment, in that moment, I am a bird set free. With that awareness, I am given permission to be brazen, to open my compassionate heart, and to glide into the universe unapologetically. With that awareness, I am released from fear and able to express myself and flourish.

On this day:

May all beings hear the wisdom of the trees, the ocean, and the wind.

May all beings have the ability to be their true selves.

May all beings be free.

LLM

 

 

 

 

Interbeing- Thich Nhat Hahn

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“Interbeing: If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the prefix “inter-” with the verb “to be,” we have a new verb, inter-be. Without a cloud and the sheet of paper inter-are.

If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, the forest cannot grow. In fact, nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see the wheat. We know the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. And the logger’s father and mother are in it too. When we look in this way, we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist.

Looking even more deeply, we can see we are in it too. This is not difficult to see, because when we look at a sheet of paper, the sheet of paper is part of our perception. Your mind is in here and mine is also. So we can say that everything is in here with this sheet of paper. You cannot point out one thing that is not here-time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat. Everything co-exists with this sheet of paper. That is why I think the word inter-be should be in the dictionary. “To be” is to inter-be. You cannot just be by yourself alone. You have to inter-be with every other thing. This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.

Suppose we try to return one of the elements to its source. Suppose we return the sunshine to the sun. Do you think that this sheet of paper will be possible? No, without sunshine nothing can be. And if we return the logger to his mother, then we have no sheet of paper either. The fact is that this sheet of paper is made up only of “non-paper elements.” And if we return these non-paper elements to their sources, then there can be no paper at all. Without “non-paper elements,” like mind, logger, sunshine and so on, there will be no paper. As thin as this sheet of paper is, it contains everything in the universe in it.”

― Thích Nhất Hạnh

The Five Mindfulness Trainings by Thich Nhat Hahn

buddha:stonesThe Five Mindfulness Trainings

The Five Mindfulness Trainings represent the Buddhist vision for a global spirituality and ethic. They are a concrete expression of the Buddha’s teachings on the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, the path of right understanding and true love, leading to healing, transformation, and happiness for ourselves and for the world. To practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings is to cultivate the insight of interbeing, or Right View, which can remove all discrimination, intolerance, anger, fear, and despair. If we live according to the Five Mindfulness Trainings, we are already on the path of a bodhisattva. Knowing we are on that path, we are not lost in confusion about our life in the present or in fears about the future.

Reverence For Life

Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world.

True Happiness

Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking, and acting. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others; and I will share my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. I will practice looking deeply to see that the happiness and suffering of others are not separate from my own happiness and suffering; that true happiness is not possible without understanding and compassion; and that running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair. I am aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy. I am committed to practicing Right Livelihood so that I can help reduce the suffering of living beings on Earth and stop contributing to climate change.

True Love

Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without true love and a deep, long-term commitment made known to my family and friends. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. Seeing that body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy and cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness – which are the four basic elements of true love – for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others. Practicing true love, we know that we will continue beautifully into the future.

Loving Speech and Deep Listening

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger. I know that the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in myself and in the other person. I will speak and listen in a way that can help myself and the other person to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord. I will practice Right Diligence to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my consciousness.

Nourishment and Healing

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.

-Thich Nhat Hanh, Happiness: Essential Mindfulness Practices (2009)

Looking With Eyes of Compassion

monk-3605316_1280I have been working on a chapbook of essays and poems about all of the beings that I have come into contact with in my life. The dogs, the hens, and the bunnies that I have rescued over the years. The birds at Elephant Belly Sanctuary. My little dogs.

Last Saturday, I was reading some of my new work to a dear friend.

She asked me, is everything that you write so sad?

At first I felt the need to convince her that I have joyful work too. That it’s not all about love and loss, animals rescued from neglect and abuse, and the slipping away of life. I searched through the stories to find one that is happy and beautiful wanting to bring her joy through her tears.

But the truth is, that I wake up most mornings crying for the world. I wake up and the first thing I think about is how much pain and suffering is happening at the exact moment that I open my eyes in my bed- safe and warm.

Thich Nhat Hahn taught me that Every Day Is A Miracle. And I truly believe that. And every day 25 million farm animals are slaughtered in the United States. How I have managed to hold both of those truths in my tender heart is a mystery.

Yes, there is beauty in this world. And I desperately want to write about it and sing sweet songs in the morning sun. And I also want to share with you, in the most gentle and kind way, information about the harm that we cause. The effects of our actions. Because you might not know. And you might want to choose to be a part of the miracle of peace today.

Thich Nhat Hanh says,

“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”

Just today, a new day full of wonder, can you look at all beings with eyes of compassion?

LLM