Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk,
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Our walk is a peace walk.
Our walk is a happiness walk.
– Thich Nhat Hanh, Linji School, Thiền Buddhism.
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I see myself as a flower.
I am the freshness
of a dewdrop.
my eyes have become flowers.
Please look at me.
I am looking with the eyes of love
I am a mountain,
I feel solid.
The waves of emotion can never carry me away.
– Thich Nhat Hanh, Linji School, Thiền Buddhism
‘Love is the capacity to take care, to protect, to nourish. If you are not capable of generating that kind of energy toward yourself- if you are not capable of taking care of yourself, of nourishing yourself, of protecting yourself- it is very difficult to take care of another person. In the Buddhist teaching, it’s clear that to love oneself is the foundation of the love of other people. Love is a practice. Love is truly a practice.’
– Thich Nhat Hanh, Linji School, Thiền Buddhism
If you enjoyed this post you might find others you like in the Bite-Size Dharma archive!
Thich Nhat Hanh was asked “Why vegan rather than just vegetarian?”
“We don’t want to eat eggs, and drink cow’s milk, and eat cheese anymore because raising cows and raising chickens creates a lot of suffering.
If you have seen the suffering of the chicken, the suffering of the cows, you would not like to eat chicken, eat eggs, drink milk, or eat cheese anymore. It seems the system has been contaminated.
So to be vegan is not perfect but it helps to reduce the suffering of animals.
There are films made about the suffering of animals. If you have watched these films you will see. We should eat and drink in such a way that preserves compassion in our heat. We should consume in a way that helps to reduce the suffering of living beings and that way we can preserve compassion in our heart.
A person who does not have much compassion in his heart cannot be a happy person anymore. And that is why I think everyone has to learn how to reduce the eating of meat and the drinking of alcohol. “
Interviewer: What would you say to someone who finds sitting meditation painful and difficult and they struggle to do it?
Thich Nhat Hanh: Don’t do it anymore.
Thich Nhat Hanh: Yes, yes. If you don’t find it pleasant to sit, don’t sit. You have to learn the correct spirit of sitting. If you make a lot of effort when you sit, you become tense and that creates pain all over your body. Sitting should be pleasant. When you turn on the television in your living room, you can sit for hours without suffering. Yet when you sit for meditation, you suffer. Why? Because you struggle. You want to succeed in your meditation, and so you fight. When you are watching television you don’t fight. You have to learn how to sit without fighting. If you know how to sit like that, sitting is very pleasant.
When Nelson Mandela visited France once, a journalist asked him what he liked to do the most. He said that because he was so busy, what he liked to do the most was just to sit and do nothing. Because to sit and to do nothing is a pleasure—you restore yourself. That’s why the Buddha described it as like sitting on a lotus flower. When you’re sitting, you feel light, you feel fresh, you feel free. And if you don’t feel that when you sit, then sitting has become a kind of hard labor.
Sometimes if you don’t have enough sleep or you have a cold or something, maybe sitting is not as pleasant as you’d wish. But if you are feeling normal, experiencing the pleasure of sitting is always possible. The problem isn’t to sit or not to sit, but how to sit. How to sit so that you can make the most of it — otherwise you’re wasting your time.
There are good books and movies that you can enjoy. That’s okay—it’s good to enjoy them. But sometimes the quality of the film or book is not good at all, yet you don’t turn it off because if you do, you will have to go back and experience the suffering inside you. That is the practice of many people in our society. Many people cannot be with themselves. They have pain, sorrow, or worries inside, and they read or watch or listen to cover this up, to run away from themselves.
Consuming media like that is just running away and it doesn’t have a lasting effect. You can forget your suffering for some time, but eventually you have to go back to yourself. The Buddha recommended that we should not try to run away from ourselves, but learn to take good care of ourselves and transform our suffering.
– Thich Nhat Hanh.
There is a Boddhisattva, whose name is Avalokitesvara, in Vietnamise we call her Quan The Âm, in Chinese, Quan Yin. It means: ‘Listening deeply to the sound of the cries of the world’. And listening deeply is the practice of mindfullness. But if you are full of pain, full of anxiety, full of projections, and especially full of prejudices, full of ideas and notions, it may be very difficult for you to practice deep listening. You are too full. And that is why to practice in order for you to have space, to have freedom within, to have some joy within is very important for deep listening. Avalokitesvara, Quan Yin, she practices deep listening to herself, and to the world, outside. She practices touching with her ears.
– Thich Nhat Hanh, Linji School, Thien (Zen).