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Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh

Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh

LUMPENPROLETARIATThầy is the Vietnamese word for teacher or master.  Thiền Sư Nhất Hạnh may be translated from Vietnamese into ‘Zen Master‘ or ‘Dhyana Master‘.  These are the names attributed to the Zen Buddhist monk and teacher Thích Nhất Hạnh at the Plum Village Monastery in the Dordogne region in the South of France by his students.  Thầy, as Thích Nhất Hạnh (b. 1926) is called by his students, founded Plum Village in 1982 with his colleague Sister Bhikkhuni Chân Không (b. 1938).

Today, the Buddhist concept of mindfulness seems to permeate ‘Western’ society, at least superficially.  And much of this influence may be traced to those who have interpreted Buddhism for ‘Western’ audiences, such as Alan Watts (1915-1973), Pema Chödrön (b. 1936), and Thiền Sư Thích Nhất Hạnh.

With Thích Nhất Hạnh recovering from a stroke and being hospitalised in the Fall of 2014 until the Spring of 2015, we reflect and meditate upon a presentation by Thích Nhất Hạnh from 2007 entitled “Being Peace“. [1]  (See below.  Listen to, or download, audio here.)

Messina

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TRANSCRIPT

Being Peace” [c. 2007]

Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh:  (c. 0:01) “Good morning, ladies and gentleman.”

Sangha:  “Good morning.”

Thích Nhất Hạnh:  “This morning is really a wonderful morning.  We just spent one hour practicing walking meditation.  And we did it in a way that each step would be a joy for us.

“And, in the beginning of this retreat, I asked a question as whether a particular effort should be made in order for us to enjoy a beautiful morning.  And that was almost four days ago.  I did not give the answer.

“But it seems that, after four days of practice, my friends here found now that, well, there’s no particular effort that should be made in order for us to enjoy a beautiful morning.

“When you look at a blue sky, you see the beauty of the sky.  And do you have to make a special effort in order to enjoy it?  That is the hard question.  And that is the question of the practice also because:  Is the practice hard?  Do we have to make a lot of effort in order to practice?”  [SNIP]  0220  [SNIP]

[SNIP]

[This is a rush transcript. Full transcription pending.]

[SNIP]

“This morning, during some question-and-answer period, I said something like this:  Life is full of sufferingBut it is also full of wonderful things like the blue sky and the sunshine, the eyes of a babyTo suffer is not enough.

We should be in touch with the wonders of life.  It is all around us anytime and anywhere.  You don’t need to go to China in order to enjoy the blue sky.  You don’t have to travel into the future in order to enjoy the air we are breathing here.  So, please be in touch with the wonderful aspects of life because it would be a pity, if we are in only in touch with the suffering.” (c. 4:04)

[SNIP]

[This is a rush transcript. Full transcription pending.]

[SNIP]  (c. 6:40)

“A person doesn’t have to do a lot in order to save the world.  A person has to be a person.  And, then, that is the base for peace.

If a child smiles, if an adult smiles, that is very important because, if, in our daily lives, we can smile, we can be peaceful, happy.  Not only we profit from that, but the members of the family will profit from it.  Living peacefully, joyfully, smiling is like a blooming flower.  And everyone in the family will profit from it.  The world around us will profit from it.  And that is the basic kind of peace work.”

[SNIP]

[This is a rush transcript. Full transcription pending.]

[SNIP]  (c. 08:03)

“Therefore, to be in touch with the wonderful things of the world, to be able to smile, to be able to enjoy the blue sky, the sunshine, the presence of each other, I think that is the first thing you have to practice.  And that kind of practice does not need a particular effort, just to be aware of the presence of these wonderful things.”  (c. 08:48)

[SNIP]

[This is a rush transcript. Full transcription pending.]

[SNIP]  (c. 11:49)

“So, when I breathe in, I see clearly that the breathing in calms my mind and my body.  And when I breathe out, I smile.  You know the effect of the smile.  The smile can relax hundreds of muscles on your face and relax your nervous system and make you master of your self.  That is why the Buddha and Bodhisattvas are always smiling.  If you smile, then you see the wonder of the smile.

Dwelling in the present momentI sit here.  I don’t think of elsewhere in the future or in the past.  I sit here.  And I am aware that I am sitting here.  This is very important because we tend to be alive in the future, not now.  We sayWait until I finish school and get my i.Ph.D., and then I’ll be really alive.  Then when you got it, and it’s not easy to get, and then you say to yourself: I have to wait until I have a job in order to be really alive.  And, then, after the job, a house, after the house, a car.  And we are not capable of being alive in the present moment.” (c. 13:36)

This. Here and Now. With You” (2008) by The Cure

“And we tend to postpone being alive to the future, to a distant future.  We don’t know when.  Now is not the moment to be alive.  And we may not be alive at all in all of our lives.

“Therefore, the technique, if we have to speak of a technique, is to be in the present moment, to be aware that I am here, and nowAnd the only moment for me to be alive is the present moment.  (c. 14.10)

So, the time you are with me, here, now, is not to listen to a lecture, but to be in the present momentListening to a lecture is not the important thing, but to be here, and now, and enjoy the present moment is the most important thing.  (c. 14:32)

Darling, in the present moment, I know that this is the only moment.

“Well, the present moment is—the only moment, that is real, is the present moment.  And we should now demonstrate to ourselves that we are capable of being alive in the present moment.  (c. 15:01)

[SNIP]

[This is a rush transcript. Full transcription pending.]

[SNIP]

[Transcription by Messina]

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[1]  Cf. Zencast 89, http://www.zencast.org/zencast_89_being_peace

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[Last modified 20:14 PDT  8 JUN 2015]

[En sanctuarium, Monday, June 8, 2015.]

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