A practice with teachings from Thich Nhat Hanh

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Coming into a posture that's open and relaxed, and bringing awareness into this moment. Sitting or lying down. Eyes open or closed. With the simple intention to be present, to be here....

'The present moment is the only moment that is real. Your most important task is to be here and now and enjoy the present moment.'

Coming into the body with awareness of the breath ... of the air around the nostrils or mouth ... in the rising and falling of the chest ... in the rising and falling of the belly. Simply bringing awareness to the breath within the body ... this breath ... this moment ... this now....

This in-breath ..... this out-breath ...

'Breathing in, my whole body is harmonised with the breath.

Breathing out, my whole body is calmed with the out-breath.'

Simply breathing ... Coming home...

'Breathing in , I know that I am alive.     Breathing out, I smile to my aliveness.'

Being home ..... this breath .... 

'Every time we come back to our body with mindful breathing, we put an end to out feelings of isolation and alienation, and we have a chance to heal ourselves completely.'

Thich Nhat Hanh taught there is a deep connection between the way one breathes and the way one responds to the world around us.  Mindful breathing practice helps teach us this....

'When we sit down peacefully, breathing and smiling with awareness, we have sovereignty over ourselves.'

Now opening up to awareness of the heart area ... breathing gently into the heat-space ... breathing in warmth and openness ... breathing with the heart ... breathing warmth and compassion ...

For ourselves ...              'May I live with ease

                                       May I live with peace

                                       May I live with hope.'

 

And widening to all ...    'May we all live with ease

                                      May we all live with peace

                                      May we all live with hope.'

 

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(Extracts in italics from 'Thich Nhat Hanh @ 2018 Unified Buddhist Church, Inc)                                

                                      

           

 

 

                                                                                  

 

 

 

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Engaged Action - Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet

 

'When you wake up and you see that the Earth is not just the environment, the Earth is us, you touch the nature of interbeing. And at that moment you can have real communication with the Earth ...'

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'Thay teaches that to practice meditation is "to look deeply into the heart of reality, to see things that others can't see." And, as he says, "Once there is seeing, there must be acting. Otherwise, what's the use of seeing?"

A monk for nearly eighty years, Thay has found remarkable ways to combine his practice of meditation and mindfulness with extraordinary actions for peace and social justice, investing his life energy in training the next generation of engaged Buddhists, and building healthy communities of mindful living that can continue to be catalysts for change in the world.

In the 1960s, Thay created a movement of thousands of young social workers in Vietnam before leaving for the West to call for peace. A leading voice for nonviolent social change, he collaborated with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., with whom he shared a vision for building a "beloved community" that could transcend division, discrimination, and hatred - a community in which true reconciliation can be possible, among all people and among all nations. In the 1970s, together with friends and colleagues, Thay rescued boat people from the high seas off Singapore and  initiated one of the very first environmental conferences in Europe. Over the following decades, Thay created a way of teaching and applying mindfulness in everyday life that could be accessible to millions. He has shared his vision for compassionate leadership with politicians, business people, teachers, activists, and more recently, Silicon Valley CEOs. And from his direct - and often painful - personal experience of unstable and polarised times, he has developed a simple yet powerful code of global ethics that offers a bright compass to guide our way forward.'

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From:  Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet (2021) - Thich Nhat Hanh (11/10/26 - 22/1/22).

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Individual or Collective?

'If you want to produce a society that is peaceful, happy, and compassionate, you have to visualise the universal community. You learn to go as a river. If you can do that, you will change the world.

There's a tendency to resist the idea of a community as an organism, because we still want to hold on to our person, our self. We're not yet ready to live the life of a cell in the body of the community. This takes quite a turn, quite a transformation. In my own life, the more I reflected and looked deeply into the Buddha's wisdom, and the way he organised his community, the more clearly I saw the path of practice. 

The moment I got that insight, I received new eyes. I looked at my friends and students in a very different way. I saw that I am them, and they are me. And I saw that everything I do, think, and say is for nourishing and transmitting insight to them. In the future, whether I am there or not, it is no longer a problem because I have penetrated the insight of no-self. There is no longer any discrimination between myself and others, no longer any resistance. You accept others as you accept yourself. And, in that kind of relationship, you can have a lot of happiness. 

We want to have a young community that is able to  transform the world and to protect Mother Earth; able to bring the practice into schools, corporations, and even the army. It is possible for us to bring mindfulness everywhere, not as a religion but as a practice that can bring relief to everyone in society.'

(from 'Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet' - Thich Nhat Hanh - p 293)

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This is water

 

'There are these two young fish swimming along and they happen to meet an older fish swimming the other way, who nods at them and says, "Morning, boys. How's the water?" (p.3)

And the two young fish swim on for a bit, and then eventually one of them looks over at the other and goes, "What the hell is water?" (p. 4)

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'Everything in my own immediate experience supports my deep belief that I am the absolute centre of the universe, the realest, most vivid and important person in existence.' (p.36) 

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'The really important kind of freedom involves attention, and awareness, and discipline, and effort, and being able truly to care about other people and to sacrifice for them, over and over, in myriad petty little unsexy ways, every day. (p.120) 

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'It is about the real value of a real education, which has nothing to do with grades or degrees and everything to do with simple awareness - awareness of what is so real and essential, so hidden in plain sight all around us, that we have to keep reminding ourselves over and over: 

"This is water."

"This is water." ' (p. 131 - 133)

From 'This is Water  - Some Thoughts, Delivered on a Significant Occasion, about Living a Compassionate Life', by David Foster Wallace, talking to college graduates about the 'real value of a real education'.

 

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Aversion - and Allowing

 

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'Remembering that the quality of openness to the way things are is the key ... not wanting them otherwise, not resisting how things are - the reverse. In this space of meditation, letting things be as they are turns out to be the path of growth, of ease, of a kind of deeper love of our life.

(from 'Aversion', one of Henry Shukman's 'Original Love' practices on Sam Harris's 'Waking Up' App)                              

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