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Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh (don’t fret cuz I don’t know how to feakin’ pronounce his name either) is a man with a remarkable story. This gentle Buddhist monk:

  • was banished from his homeland, Vietnam, for opposing the war,
  • was educated at Princeton and taught at Columbia and Cornell (thus, he’s got “authorized” credentials),
  • was the main influencer of Martin Luther King’s stance against the Vietnam war,
  • was nominated by Martin Luther King for the Nobel peace prize,
  • has written over 100 books (I’ve read “No Death, No Fear“).

In this interview with Oprah, (yes, I’m a girlie-mahn) Oprah Talks to Thich Nhat Hanh, Thich said some Eckhart Tolle-ishly inspiring words:

If you breathe in and are aware that you are alive—that you can touch the miracle of being alive—then that is a kind of enlightenment. Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.

With mindfulness, you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment. It is possible to live happily in the here and the now. So many conditions of happiness are available—more than enough for you to be happy right now. You don’t have to run into the future in order to get more.

If you are fully present, you need only make a step or take a breath in order to enter the kingdom of God. And once you have the kingdom, you don’t need to run after objects of your craving, like power, fame, sensual pleasure, and so on.

People sacrifice the present for the future. But life is available only in the present.

Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person. You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty his heart.

In the present moment, you are producing thought, speech, and action. And they continue in the world. Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.

Wonderful stuff, no? When I read words like those, I temporarily experience a bit of internal calm and realize that all “objects” are divine creations of the universe expressing its love for itself. Before “getting it“, I used to blow off spirituality as new age poo-poo and a collosal waste of time. I’m so grateful for my shift in understanding because before I started my quest for spiritual advancement I rarely experienced personal moments of peace.

Some words that Thich spoke in the Oprah interview hit a bit closer to home:

…we have to be ready to release our knowledge in order to come to a higher understanding of reality.

People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don’t suffer anymore.

I can confidently say that over the years I’ve gotten better and better at releasing old knowledge, views, and opinions to make room for new and refreshing ones. For the most part, I’m less “binary” and I’m not married to my thoughts. Thus, I don’t suffer as much in terms of anger, anxiety, and fear.

How about you? As you age, are you suffering less and less or more and more? Why?

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