From Thich Nhat Hanh, “Touching
the Earth, Intimate Conversations with Buddha.”
“Lord Buddha, I
recognize my deep habit energy of forgetfulness. I often allow my mind to think
about the past, so that I drown in sorrow and regret. This has caused me to lose so many opportunities to be in touch
with the wonderful things of life present only in this moment. I know there are many of us whose past
has become our prison. Our time is
spent complaining or regretting what we have lost. This robs us of the opportunity to be in touch with the
refreshing, beautiful, and wonderful things that could nourish and transform us
in the present moment. We are not
able to be in touch with the blue sky, the white clouds, the green willow, the
yellow flowers, the sound of the wind in the pine trees, the sound of the
running brook, the sound of the singing birds, and the sound of the laughing
children in the early morning sunlight.
We are also not able to be in touch with the wonderful things in our own
“The deep habit of
Sometimes mindfulness is translated as remembering. Do I remember the deeper meaning of
life as I go through the day? Do I
remember to observe myself when my greed, anger and ignorance are playing
themselves out? Am I aware enough
to transform them? This
transformation happens is in the small moments of our daily life. There is no other place we can enact
our enlightenment. This requires a
tremendous attention and intention to observe myself throughout the day. Lately, I have been practicing stopping
at least three times a day, to meditate, to notice my feelings and to reconnect
with “enoughness.” When I allow
this practice to happen in the rush of my busy life, I’m amazed at the
satisfaction in life I can find for myself. I am using the visualization of the center knob in the Wheel
of Life and Death. The Center knob
is greed, anger and ignorance in a continuous circle. When one of these arise, all three are present. And if and when we grab onto them, we
turn the whole wheel from the center hub.
When is my hand on that knob?
“I drown in sorrow
Our personality structure is unique and made from many
conditions as we are growing up.
One of these is our ethnicity and culture. Did our culture and our family dwell on the negative or the
positive, each with the corresponding denial. A negative personality can’t see the positive beauty of life
shining through. The positive
personality often denies or is out of touch with suffering. Knowing yourself, you can begin to find
practices that help balance you so that you can bring awareness and wisdom to the
Has our past become a
I find that zazen and in particular longer zazen retreats,
helps me to digest my past. Honest
self-reflection helps me to be at peace with my past. Part of spirituality is digesting the conditions of our childhoods
and past, so we are not held by them or in some cases tortured by them. Sometimes this is called a purification
process or a clearing process. We
are open to be a vehicle for the Buddha-dharma. We are freer to find our role as adults and to be free
enough to serve others.
Because I have always been a “half empty” person, I have
been using the mantra, “Half full.
Half full!” I am now trying
to see my life and current conditions as half full. This allows my mind to be full of gratitude, which really allows
me to be less self-involved and more open to things as they are.
In addition, I have been using a sympathetic joy phrase,
which again helps me not to dwell on suffering and my evaluations of
dissatisfaction, and helps me place my mind on goodness. The phrase I have been using is: “May this success and happiness
continue and grow. “ Even when, in
my judgment, the situation is difficult or “bad”, I try to find the success and
happiness in the same situation and pray that it continues and grows. It’s a very different prayer, kind of
Be in touch with the
refreshing, beautiful and wonderful things that could nourish and transform us
in the present moment.
One of the reasons Thich Nhat Hanh is so deep with such a
beautiful practice is that his practice was born out of the very deep suffering
of the Viet Nam War. He really is
a person whose horrible memories and suffering of the past could have drown
him. Instead, he exemplifies a
practice that is open to beauty and nourishment. He does not deny suffering, but is an example of overcoming
it. He works ceaselessly to teach
us all how to do the same. I
am learning to place my mind on true nourishment - the sweet nectar of the
dharma that is always at hand.
With this true nourishment, I can face my suffering and other’s
suffering with a measure of equanimity and sincere compassion. We must allow ourselves opportunities
to become refreshed by the dharma and that is Buddha’s promise to us, that
suffering, though not denied, can be transformed.
Labels: gratitude, habit energy, mindfulness, spiritual nourishment, the three poisons, transforming sorrow