10 January 2016

Metta meditation

 May all beings be peaceful and light in body and mind.

May all beings be safe and free from accidents.

May all beings be free from anger and unwholesome states of mind, including fear and worries.

May all beings know how to look at themselves with eyes of understanding and compassion.

May all beings be able to recognize and touch the seeds of joy and happiness in themselves.

May all beings learn how to nourish themselves with joy each day.

May all beings be able to live fresh, solid and free.

May all beings not fall into the state of indifference or be caught in the extremes of attachment and aversion.

– Thich Nhat Hanh

1 November 2015

Don’t Always Trust Your Perceptions

“Breathing in, I see myself as still water.
Breathing out, I reflect things as they are.”

“Near the mountain, there is a lake with clear, still water reflecting the mountain and the sky with pristine clarity. You can do the same. If you are calm and still enough, you can reflect the mountain, the blue sky, and the moon exactly as they are. You reflect whatever you see exactly as it is, without distorting anything.

We often do not reflect things clearly, and we suffer because of our wrong perceptions. Suppose you are walking in the twilight and see a snake. You scream and run into the house to get your friends, and all of you run outside with a flashlight. But when you shine your light on the snake, you discover that it isn’t a snake at all, just a piece of rope. This is a distorted perception.

When we see things or listen to other people, we often don’t see clearly or really listen. We see and hear our projections and our prejudices. We are not clear enough, and we have a wrong perception. Even if our friend is giving us a compliment, we may argue with him because we distort what he says.

If we are not calm, if we only listen to our hopes or our anger, we will not be able to receive the truth that is trying to reflect itself on our lake. We need to make our water still if we want to receive reality as it is. If you feel agitated, don’t do or say anything. Just breathe in and out until you are calm enough. Then ask your friend to repeat what he has said. This will avoid a lot of damage. Stillness is the foundation of understanding and insight. Stillness is strength.'”

From “Touching Peace: Practicing the Art of Mindful Living,” Thich Nhat Hanh.

17 May 2015

Be yourself

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. When you are born a lotus flower, be a beautiful lotus flower; don’t try to be a magnolia flower. If you crave acceptance and recognition and try to change yourself to fit what other people want you to be, you will suffer all your life. True happiness and true power lie in understanding yourself, accepting yourself, having confidence in yourself.”

Be yourself.
Life is precious as it is.
All the elements for your happiness are already here.
There is no need to run, strive, search or struggle.
Just Be.”

– – Thich Nhat Hanh

12 April 2015

Transforming negative habit energies

“The energy that pushes us to do what we do not want to do and say what we do not want to say is the negative habit energy in us. This energy has been transmitted to us by many generations of ancestors, and we continue to cultivate it. It is very powerful. We are intelligent enough to know that if we do this or say that, we will damage our relation­ship. Yet when the time comes, we say it or we do it anyway. Why? Because our habit energy is stronger than we are. It is pushing us all the time.  

Our joy, our peace and our happiness depend very much on our practice of recognizing and transforming these habit energies.

There are positive habit energies that we have to cultivate, and there are negative habit energies that we have to recognize, embrace, and transform. The energy with which we do this is the practice of mindfulness.

Mindfulness helps us be aware of what is going on. Then, when the habit energy shows itself, we know right away. ‘Hello, my little habit energy, I know you are there. I will take good care of you.’

Every time a negative energy is embraced by the energy of mindfulness, it will lose a little bit of its strength as it returns as a seed to the lower level of consciousness. The same thing is true for your fear, your anguish, your anxiety, and your despair. They exist in us in the form of seeds, and every time one of the seeds is watered, it becomes a zone of energy on the upper level of our consciousness.

Generating the energy of mindfulness: to recognize it, to embrace it, to take care of it, is the practice.”

– – Thich Nhat Hanh

8 March 2015

Stopping, calming, resting, healing

Question: I feel guilty when I’m not occupied. Is it okay to do nothing?

Thich Nhat Hanh: “In our society, we’re inclined to see doing nothing as something negative, even evil. But when we lose ourselves in activities we diminish our quality of being. We do ourselves a disservice. It’s important to preserve ourselves, to maintain our freshness and good humor, our joy and compassion. In Buddhism we cultivate “aimlessness” and in fact in Buddhist tradition the ideal person, an arhat or bodhisattva (enlightened persons), is a businessless person – – someone with nowhere to go and nothing to do. People should learn how to just be there, doing nothing. Try to spend a day doing nothing; we call that a “lazy day”. Although for many of us who are used to running around from this to that, a lazy day is actually very hard work! It’s not easy to just be. If you can be happy, relaxed, and smiling when you’re not doing something, you’re quite strong. Doing nothing brings about quality of being, which is very important. So doing nothing is actually something. Please write that down and display it in your home: ‘Doing nothing is something’.”

14 December 2014

Nourishing ourselves, taking care of the present moment

“To meditate means to go home to yourself. Then you know how to take care of the things that are happening inside and around you. 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. To go home to the present moment, to take care of oneself, to get in touch with the wonders of life that are really available—that is love. Love is to be kind to yourself, to be compassionate to yourself, to generate images of joy, and to look at everyone with eyes of equanimity and nondiscrimination.

All meditation exercises are aimed at bringing you back to your true home, to yourself. Without restoring your peace and calm you cannot go very far in the practice and you cannot help the world to restore peace and calm.”

– – Thich Nhat Hanh