rites

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Climbing the Wall

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Thich Nhat Hanh:

“Suppose there is a towering wall from the top of which one can see vast distances – but there is no apparent means’ to climb it, only a thin piece of thread hanging over the top and coming down both sides. A clever person will tie a thicker string onto one end of the thread, walk over to the other side of the wall, then pull on the thread bringing the string to the other side. Then he will tie the end of the string to a strong rope and pull the rope over. When the rope has reached the bottom of one side and is secured on the other side, the wall can be easily scaled.

“Our breath is such a fragile piece of thread. But once we know how to use it, it can become a wondrous tool to help us surmount situations which would otherwise seem hopeless. Our breath is the bridge from our body to our mind, the element which reconciles our body and mind and which makes possible one-ness of body and mind.

“Breath is aligned to both body and mind and it alone is the tool which can bring them both together, illuminating both and bringing both peace and calm. Many persons and books discuss the immense benefits that result from correct breathing. They report that a person who knows how to breathe is a person who knows how to build up endless vitality: breath builds up the lungs, strengthens the blood, and revitalizes every organ in the body. They say that proper breathing is more important than food. And all of these statements are correct.

“Years ago, I was extremely ill. After several years of taking medicine and undergoing medical treatment, my condition was unimproved. So I turned to the method of breathing and, thanks to that, was able to heal myself. Breath is a tool. Breath itself is mindfulness. The use of breath as a tool may help one obtain immense benefits, but these cannot be considered as ends in themselves. These benefits are only the by products of the realization of mindfulness.

“In my small class in meditation for non-Vietnamese, there are many young people. I’ve told them that if each one can meditate an hour each day that’s good, but it’s nowhere near enough. You’ve got to practice meditation when you walk, stand, lie down, sit, and work, while washing your hands, washing the dishes, sweeping the floor, drinking tea, talking to friends, or whatever you are doing.

“While washing the dishes, you might be thinking about the tea afterwards, and so try to get them out of the way as quickly as possible in order to sit and drink tea. But that means that you are incapable of living during the time you are washing the dishes. When you are washing the dishes, washing the dishes must be the most important thing in your life. Just as when you’re drinking tea, drinking tea must be the most important thing in your life. When you’re using the toilet, let that be the most important thing in your life.

“And so on. Chopping wood is meditation. Carrying water is meditation. Be mindful 24 hours a day, not just during the one hour you may allot for formal meditation or reading scripture and reciting prayers. Each act must be carried out in mindfulness. Each act is a rite, a ceremony.

“Raising your cup of tea to your mouth is a rite. Does the word “rite” seem too solemn? I use that word in order to jolt you into the realization of the life-and-death matter of awareness.”

(source: Thich Nhat Hanh, The Miracle of Mindfulness PDF p.41)

My Comment:

“The life and death matter of awareness”… These words are unusual for us. When do we consider awareness a “life and death matter”? When we realize that all violence that is done among the human population on this planet is because of lack of awareness, then it makes sense. I struggle right now to bring awareness to a situation with a person in our community to whom I have great resistance. This person seems so far away from my perspective that I do not see a bridge. It feels like I would have to force this person to open their reality bubble in order to find common ground. I know that that is not an option as it would only lead to more resistance on both sides. At present I am practicing mindfulness and performing every action as a rite, as a ceremony that I want to perform with great care and awareness. I am at a quandary as to what to do and so I am not taking any action – outwardly, that is – inwardly I am asking what to do so that I can be at peace with this person.

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calming down

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Exercises in Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh:

“Here are a number of exercises and approaches in meditation
which I often have used, adapting them from various
methods to fit my own circumstances and preferences.

“Select the ones you like best and find the most suitable
for your own self. The value of each method will vary
according to each person’s unique needs. Although these
exercises are relatively easy, they form the foundations
on which everything else is built.” Continue reading

the mountain walks

zen-monks-mindful-walking

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Take a step and set your foot down like you are pressing a stamp into the soft wax to make a seal. When that foot is firmly on the ground and your weight is on it, lift the other foot and carry it forward. Then press feel how you set that foot onto the ground like you are pressing a stamp into the soft wax to make a seal. When you lift the foot you breathe in and when you set it down you breathe out. You can also set one foot with the in-breath and then carry the other foot forward and set it with the out-breath. Always keep the back foot on the ground until the front foot takes the weight fully.

Continue reading

the little book – Thay

A delightful and enlightening read on Thich Nhat Hanh’s youth when he first entered the Zen monastery:

I ENTERED THE ZEN MONASTERY when I was seventeen years old. After a week’s adjustment to monastic life, I presented myself before the monk who had been put in charge of me to ask him to teach me the Zen “way.” He gave me a small book printed in Chinese characters and recommended I learn it by heart.

Continue reading

free of excited joy and anxiety

the mysterious principle

 

“The people of old said, ‘The mind changes in accord with ten thousand objects. And what is strange about this change?’ You should allow this change to happen in order to recognize your true nature. Once recognized, you will be free of excited joy and anxiety.

“This wonderful function that is happening in this present moment – who is performing it? Take hold of that and use it, and do not be caught in words. This is called the mysterious principle. Whoever has this insight is no longer obstructed by an obstacle.”

My Comment: When you allow this change to happen, you refrain from engaging with the chimera-realm of illusory forms. Only then does the monkey let go of one branch without grasping for the next. In this way abeyance happens. Allowing the wonderful function to occur without grasping, idea-making, naming or word-speaking is to look deeply at objects of perception. Then it is the openness for “Behold, it is I!” and “Who is performing this wonderful function now?” Continue reading

breathe my dear… Thay

Breathe my dear, everything will be okay. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh:

Breathe my dear, everything will be okay. ~

Thich Nhat Hanh

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Alia, her sister Lois and I are clearing Lois’ house for the painters who will be here Monday to spray the ceilings. Then we will continue painting the rest of the interior. Breathing with mindfulness is the way I stay centered in the midst of all activities. My wife Alia is an excellent organizer and has set us up to complete all phases of this project graciously and with ease. Tomorrow the three of us will be moving to a nearby motel for two days while the painters do their thing.

Thay’s beautiful calligraphy above expresses the trust that will carry us through all travails and turbulence in these times.

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stop the world…

Thich Nhat Hanh calligraphy:

 

“The Way Out Is In~ “

Thich Nhat Hanh

Sounds simple, doesn’t it? We actually enter the Ultimate Dimension of Reality through the mysterious portal of our Inner Effulgence. It does call for looking at and then letting go of our addictions of every kind, addictions to stuff, to ambition, to security, to social, mental and spiritual achievements and to what we have been calling ‘life’ itself. It doesn’t mean death, but rather ‘ending’ without motive – just ‘ENDING’. Then see what happens. The way out is in.

“And again I say to you: It is easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man (someone who has accumulated much t.q.) to enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 19:24

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every day a miracle – Thay

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Elk River Southern Oregon USA

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“Every day we are engaged in a miracle we don’t even realize.”

Thich Nhat Hanh ..*

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Rocks, water, trees, sunlight. Nothing unusual and yet wondrous.
What does it take for me to wake up right now to this most amazing happening?

Can I stop and in this moment recognize the ‘what so’ of my life? What material things surround me that I can give fresh appreciation to? What thoughts and feelings do I have right now? Is each of them precious to me and can I cherish them? What things are given to me as ‘possessions’ according to the social context I am located in right now – about what do I say “I own this”? What other things are given to me in stewardship to interact with and care for, if even just for a moment or longer? What is it that is occupying my field of perception, my mind? Can I see and feel the ‘infinite Being at the roots of our own limited being’, as Thomas Merton calls it? Or am I completely possessed by the things and circumstances of my present physical and emotional location? Have I lost the sense of Mystery of this eternal and infinite Existence within which I find myself embedded?

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