Thich Nhat Hanh
WALK WITH ME
, the cinematic journey into the world of mindfulness and the Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh. Filmed over three years and with unprecedented access, this visceral film is a meditation on a community who have given up all their possessions for a monastic life in rural France. As the seasons come and go, the monastics’ pursuit for a deeper connection to themselves and the world around them is amplified by insights from Thich Nhat Hanh’s early journals, narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch.
Becoming a buddha
is not so difficult. ==== A buddha is someone who is enlightened, capable of loving and forgiving. You know that at times you’re like that. So enjoy being a buddha. When you sit, allow the buddha in you to sit. When you walk, allow the buddha in you to walk. Enjoy your practice. If you don’t become a buddha, who will? - Thich Nhat Hanh
You only need to sit
is an exhortation of Tao Dong (Soto) meditation. It means that you should sit without waiting for a miracle—and that includes the miracle of enlightenment. If you sit always in expectation you cannot be in contact with or enjoy the present moment, which always contains the whole of life. Sit in this context means to sit in an awakened way, in a relaxed way, with your mind awake, calm, and clear. Only this can be called sitting, and it takes training and practice. - Thich Nhat Hanh
The Buddha said this:
"The object of your practice should first of all be yourself. Your love for the other, your ability to love another person, depends on your ability to love yourself." If you are not able to take care of yourself, if you are not able to accept yourself, how could you accept another person and how could you love him or her?” ― Thich Nhat Hanh, True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart
Call Me By My True Names
In the early years of my exile in France, I learned of an eleven-year-old girl escaping from Vietnam with her family and other boat people. She was raped by a pirate, right there on her boat. Her father tried to intervene, but the pirate threw her father into the sea. After the child was raped she jumped into the ocean to commit suicide. We received the news of this tragedy one day while we were working in our Buddhist Peace Delegation office in Paris. I was so upset I could not sleep. I felt anger, blame, and despair.
That evening in sitting meditation, I visualized myself being born as a baby boy into a very poor fishing family on the coast of Thailand. My father was a fisherman. He couldn’t read; he had never gone to school or to the temple; he had never received any Buddhist teaching or any kind of education. The politicians, educators, and social workers in Thailand had never helped my father. My mother also couldn’t read or write, and she didn’t know how to raise her children. My father’s family had been poor fishermen for many generations—my grandfather and my great-grandfather had been fishermen, too. When I turned thirteen, I also became a fisherman. I had never gone to school, I had never felt loved or understood, and I lived in chronic poverty that persisted from one generation to the next. Then one day another young fisherman says to me: “Let’s go out onto the ocean. There are boatpeople who pass near here and they often carry gold and jewelry, sometimes even money. Just one trip and we can be free from this poverty.” I accept the invitation, thinking, “We only need to take away a little bit of their jewelry; it won’t do any harm, and then we can be free from this poverty.” So I become a pirate. The first time I go out, I’m not even aware that I have become a pirate. Once out on the ocean, I start to see the other pirates raping young women on the boats. I had never touched a young woman; I had never even thought about holding hands or going out with a young woman. But then on one boat there is a very beautiful young woman, and no policeman there to stop me. I had seen other people doing it, and I asked myself: “Why don’t I try it, too? This is my chance to try the body of a young woman.” And so I did. If you were there on the boat and had a gun, you might have shot me. But shooting me wouldn’t help me. Nobody had ever taught me how to love, how to understand, how to see the suffering of others. My father and mother were not taught this either. I didn’t know what was wholesome and what was unwholesome, I didn’t understand cause and effect. I was living in the dark. If you had a gun, you could shoot me, and I would die. But you wouldn’t be able to help me at all. As I continued sitting, I saw hundreds of babies being born that night along the coast of Thailand in similar circumstances, many of them baby boys. If the politicians and cultural ministers could look deeply, they would see that within twenty years those babies would become pirates. When I was able to see that, I understood the actions of the pirate. When I put myself in the situation of being born into a family that was uneducated and poor from one generation to the next, I saw that I would not be able to avoid becoming a pirate. When I saw that, my hatred vanished, and I could feel compassion for that pirate. When I saw those babies being born and growing up with no help, I knew that I had to do something so that they would not become pirates. The energy of a bodhisattva, a compassionate being with limitless love, grew inside me. I didn’t suffer anymore. I could embrace not only the suffering of the eleven-year-old child who was raped, but also the suffering of the pirate. When you address me as “Venerable Nhat Hanh,” I answer, “Yes.” When you call the name of the child who was raped, I also answer, “Yes.” If you call the name of the pirate, I will also say, “Yes.” Depending on where I was born, and under which circumstances I grew up, I might have been the girl or I might have been the pirate. I am the child in Uganda or the Congo, all skin and bones, my two legs as thin as bamboo sticks. And I am also the arms merchant, selling deadly weapons to the Congo. Those poor children in the Congo do not need bombs; they need food to eat. But here in the US, we live by producing bombs and guns. And if we want others to buy guns and bombs, then we have to create wars. If you call the name of the child in the Congo, I answer, “Yes.” If you call the name of those who produce the bombs and guns, I also answer, “Yes.” When I’m able to see that I am all those people, my hatred disappears, and I am determined to live in such a way that I can help the victims, and also help those who create and perpetrate wars and destruction. - Thich Nhat Hanh, in “At Home in the World”.
We all know that understanding and compassion
can relieve suffering. This is not just a platitude; where there is understanding and compassion, there’s relief and help for ourselves and others. Our practice is to keep that understanding and compassion alive. As busy as we are, when we take the time to look a little bit more deeply, we can always find more understanding and compassion to offer. - Thich Nhat Hanh
There is a story in Zen circles about a man and a horse. The horse is galloping quickly, and it appears that the man on the horse is going somewhere important. Another man, standing alongside the road, shouts, "Where are you going?" and the first man replies, "I don't know! Ask the horse!" This is also our story. We are riding a horse, we don't know where we are going, and we can't stop. The horse is our habit energy pulling us along, and we are powerless. We are always running, and it has become a habit. We struggle all the time, even during our sleep. We are at war within ourselves, and we can easily start a war with others. - Thich Nhat Hanh
When you sit alone quietly, it’s something beautiful, even if nobody sees it. When a little flower appears in a crack between two rocks, it’s a beautiful sight. People may never see it, but that’s okay. - Thich Nhat Hanh, in “How to Sit.”
"You are a Buddha, and so is everyone else. I didn't make that up. It was the Buddha himself who said so. He said that all beings had the potential to become awakened. To practice walking meditation is to practice living in mindfulness. Mindfulness and enlightenment are one. Enlightenment leads to mindfulness and mindfulness leads to enlightenment." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
For forty-five years, the Buddha said, over and over again, "I teach only suffering and the transformation of suffering." When we recognize and acknowledge our own suffering, the Buddha — which means the Buddha in us — will look at it, discover what has brought it about, and prescribe a course of action that can transform it into peace, joy, and liberation. Suffering is the means the Buddha used to liberate himself, and it is also the means by which we can become free. - Thich Nhat Hanh
At the moment of his awakening
at the foot of the bodhi tree, the Buddha declared, “How strange—all beings possess the capacity to be awakened, to understand, to love, to be free—yet they allow themselves to be carried away on the ocean of suffering.” He saw that, day and night, we’re seeking what is already there within us. We can call it buddhanature, awakened nature, the true freedom that is the foundation for all peace and happiness. The capacity to be enlightened isn’t something that someone else can offer to you. A teacher can only help you to remove the non-enlightened elements in you so that enlightenment can be revealed. If you have confidence that beauty, goodness, and the true teacher are in you, and if you take refuge in them, you will practice in a way that reveals these qualities more clearly each day. - Thich Nhat Hanh
We can breathe
with the Earth and we can breathe for the Earth. Many of us are so caught up in our plans, fears, agitations, and dreams that we are not living in our bodies any more and we’re not in touch with our real mother, the Earth either. We can’t see all the miraculous beauty and magnificence that Mother Earth ceaselessly offers to us. We live in a world of imagination and we become increasingly alienated. Returning to our breathing brings body and mind back together and reminds us of the miracle of the present moment. Mother Earth is right here at every moment, all around us - so powerful, generous, and supportive; so patient, accepting and compassionate, and with an immense capacity to transform. Once we recognize these qualities in Mother Earth, we can take refuge in her in difficult moments, making it easier for us to embrace our fear and suffering and to transform it. - Thich Nhat Hanh, in ”Love Letter to the Earth”.
Someone asked me,
“Aren’t you worried about the state of the world?” I allowed myself to breathe and then I said, “What is most important is not to allow your anxiety about what happens in the world to fill your heart. If your heart is filled with anxiety, you will get sick, and you will not be able to help.” Yes, there is tremendous suffering all over the world, but knowing this needs not paralyze us. If we practice mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful sitting, and working in mindfulness, we can try our best to help. - Thich Nhat Hanh
If you can accept your body
, then you have a chance to see your body as your home. You can rest in your body, settle in, relax, and feel joy and ease. If you don’t accept your body and your mind, you can’t be at home with yourself. You have to accept yourself as you are. This is a very important practice. As you practice building a home in yourself, you become more and more beautiful.
- Thich Nhat Hanh
When you plant lettuce
, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.
- Thich Nhat Hanh
Many of us are resistant to the idea that one day we will die. ===
At the same time, we want to know what happens when we die.
Some of us believe we will go to heaven and live happily there. For others, it seems life is too short and we want another chance, to do better next time around. This is why the idea of reincarnation seems very appealing. We may hope that the people who have committed acts of violence will be brought to justice in the next life and be made to pay for their crimes. Or perhaps we're afraid of nothingness, of oblivion, of not existing anymore. And so, when our body starts to age and disintegrate, it's tempting to think we might have the opportunity to start again in a young and healthy body, like discarding worn-out clothes.
The idea of reincarnation suggests there is a separate soul, self, or spirit that somehow leaves the body at death, flies away, and then reincarnates in another body. lt's as though the body is some kind of house for the mind, soul, or spirit. This implies that the mind and body can be separated from each other, and that although the body is impermanent, the mind and spirit are somehow permanent. But neither of these ideas is in accord with the deepest teachings of Buddhism.
- Thich Nhat Hanh
Mindfulness is the practice === that quiets the noise inside us. Without mindfulness, we can be pulled away by many things. Sometimes we are pulled away by regret and sorrow concerning the past. We revisit old memories and experiences, only to suffer again and again the pain we’ve already experienced... We may also get pulled away by the future. A person who is anxious and fearful about the future is trapped just as much as one bound by the past. Anxiety, fear, and uncertainty about future events prevent us from hearing the call of happiness.
-- Thich Nhat Hanh
The first four miracles of mindfulness belong to the first aspect of meditation, shamatha - stopping, calming, resting, and healing. Once you have calmed yourself and stopped being dispersed, your mind will be one-pointed and you will be ready to begin looking deeply.
- Thich Nhat Hanh, in "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching".
Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. Every breath we take, every step we take, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
“Ceasing to do evil, Cultivating the good, Purifying the heart: This is the teaching of the Buddhas.”
~ The Buddha
The expression, “I have arrived, I am home,” is the embodiment of my practice... It expresses my understanding of the teaching of the Buddha and is the essence of my practice. Since finding my true home, I no longer suffer. The past is no longer a prison for me. The future is not a prison either. I am able to live in the here and now and to touch my true home. I am able to arrive home with every breath and with every step.
Thich Nhat Hanh, in “At Home in the World”.
“Aimlessness does not mean doing nothing. It means not putting something in front of you to chase after. When we remove the objects of our craving and desires, we discover that happiness and freedom are available to us right here in the present moment.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, The Art of Living: Peace and Freedom in the Here and Now
Can you see yourself being reborn every moment of the past? All your ancestors continue in you, and when you transform the habit energies that they have transmitted to you, you are being reborn in the past. For instance, maybe your ancestors had the habit of always running, needing to be working or doing something to survive. They did not have the time to stop, breathe and be in touch with the wonderful things that life has to offer. You, too, used to be like that, but you have now met the practice. Now you can stop, you can breathe and be in touch with the wonderful things of life for your ancestors. Maybe your genetic or spiritual ancestors had beautiful traits that your parents or the spiritual teachers you met during your life have failed to manifest fully. Now you can rediscover those things in yourself, and you can re-vive what seemed to have been lost. - Thich Nhat Hanh
We are what we consume
We are what we consume. If we look deeply into the items that we consume every day, we will come to know our own nature very well. We have to eat, drink, consume, but if we do it unmindfully, we may destroy our bodies and our consciousness, showing ingratitude toward our ancestors, our parents, and future generations.
- Thich Nhat Hanh
We can’t be grounded in our body if our mind is somewhere else
We can’t be grounded in our body if our mind is somewhere else. === We each have a body that has been given us by the earth. This body is a wonder. In our daily lives, we may spend many hours forgetting the body. We get lost in our computer or in our worries, fear, or busyness. Walking meditation makes us whole again. Only when we are connected with our body are we truly alive. Healing is not possible without that connection. So walk and breathe in such a way that you can connect with your body deeply. - Thich Nhat Hanh
We will be more successful in all our endeavors
if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we'll also have a lot more joy in living. - Thich Nhat Hanh
Effortlessness is the key to success
Effortlessness is the key to success. Don’t fight. Don’t try hard. Just allow yourself to sit. This relaxing way of sitting is also resting. Allow your body to rest.
Thich Nhat Hanh, in "Breathe, You Are Alive: The Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing".
Love is the capacity to take care, to protect, to nourish. If you are not capable of generating that kind of energy toward 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
In the present moment, we can be free from regret concerning the past and from fear concerning the future. Happiness isn’t possible without freedom. Coming back to the present moment, we are released from our worries, our fears, our regrets, our projects, and our busyness. - Thich Nhat Hanh, in “How to Sit.”
“We often think of peace as the absence of war, that if powerful countries would reduce their weapon arsenals, we could have peace. But if we look deeply into the weapons, we see our own minds - our own prejudices, fears and ignorance. Even if we transport all the bombs to the moon, the roots of war and the roots of bombs are still there, in our hearts and minds, and sooner or later we will make new bombs. To work for peace is to uproot war from ourselves and from the hearts of men and women. To prepare for war, to give millions of men and women the opportunity to practice killing day and night in their hearts, is to plant millions of seeds of violence, anger, frustration, and fear that will be passed on for generations to come. ”
Thich Nhat Hanh: Living Buddha, Living Christ.
"The practice and understanding of impermanence is not just another description of reality. It is a tool that helps us in our transformation, healing and emancipation. Impermanence means that everything changes and nothing remains the same in any consecutive moment. And although things change every moment, they still cannot be accurately described as the same or as different from what they were a moment ago." ~ Thich Nhat Hanh
The body benefits from movement. The mind benefits from stillness. ~ Sakyong Mipham
In the present moment,
we can be free from regret concerning the past and from fear concerning the future. Happiness isn’t possible without freedom. Coming back to the present moment, we are released from our worries, our fears, our regrets, our projects, and our busyness. - Thich Nhat Hanh, in “How to Sit.”
Take my hand. We will walk. We will only walk. We will enjoy our walk without thinking of arriving anywhere. Walk peacefully. Walk happily. Our walk is a peace walk. Our walk is a happiness walk. Then we learn that there is no peace walk; that peace is the walk; that there is no happiness walk; that happiness is the walk. We walk for ourselves. We walk for everyone always hand in hand. Walk and touch peace every moment. Walk and touch happiness every moment. Each step brings a fresh breeze. Each step makes a flower bloom under our feet. Kiss the Earth with your feet. Print on Earth your love and happiness. Earth will be safe when we feel in us enough safety. – Thich Nhat Hanh
“It is not impermanence that makes us suffer. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent when they are not. We need to learn to appreciate the value of impermanence. If we are in good health and are aware of impermanence, we will take good care of ourselves. When we know that the person we love is impermanent, we will cherish our beloved all the more. Impermanence teaches us to respect and value every moment and all the precious things around us and inside of us. When we practice mindfulness of impermanence, we become fresher and more loving.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh, The Pocket Thich Nhat Hanh
Walking meditation is practicing meditation while walking.
It can bring you joy and peace while you practice it. Take short steps in complete relaxation; go slowly with a smile on your lips, with your heart open to an experience of peace. You can feel truly at ease with yourself. Your steps can be those of the healthiest, most secure person on earth. All sorrows and worries can drop away while you are walking. To have peace of mind, to attain self-liberation, learn to walk in this way. It is not difficult. You can do it. Anyone can do it who has some degree of mindfulness and a true intention to be happy.
Thich Nhat Hanh