Saturday, July 31, 2010

Peace Is Every Step

This book, written by Thich Naht Hanh is a collection of short essays and meditation practices.
He also includes stories of interest from the early Vietaman war, his travels and how it pertains to the real peace movement of Buddism.

It focuses the reader on breathing mindfully and in doing so, restoring a since of peace to one's life.

Amazingly, this man was born in Vietnam in 1926 and became a Zen monk. He has a long list of accomplishments, including writing 75 books in English, French, and Vietnamese. Exiled in 1966 and living in France, he was in his native country during the early part of our war involvement.
He traveled to the United States working for peace, held retreats for Vietnam Veterans, and shows a deep understanding of the human condition. There is no anger shown here towards the U.S. which is remarkable because of the war we waged there so long.

The first section is about living mindfully. Taking each daily task, from washing dishes, to answering the phone in a simple, appreciative Zen way we are taught to breath slowly, mindfully in and out.

The second part is about transformation and healing. He acknowledges the anger many feel in our society, in families and communities.
Providing ways to admit and own our anger allows us to deal with and dispel it.

The third part teaches the interconnection of all things. Learning to look differently at paper, garbage, and sunshine so that we can see how all are interconnected will show us how to respect our earth, and preserve it for our children.

I find the short essays useful for daily reading. Zen teachings can help in survival techniques. It instructs us to feel the moment, to breathe and to calm oneself.
Panic is a destroyer, the forerunner of bad choices and bad outcomes.

The final essay is a story of The River. It starts as a fairy tale : Once upon a time.
The river began by being joyful, until it noticed the clouds above. Falling in love with them, she decided to chase them to posses them. Of course she couldn't, so constantly felt frustration. The tale progresses until, finally, after much discouragement, she realizes that what she had been looking for was already in herself; the clouds are nothing but water.
She achieved peace with this revelation.

The Zen teaching that Nhat Hanh concludes with is "There is nothing to chase after. We can go back to ourselves, enjoy our breathing, our smiling, ourselves, and our beautiful environment."

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