Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Thich Nhat Hanh and Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh and Mindfulness

"The Miracle of Mindfulness"

Thich Nhat Hanh

In the 1960s Thich Nhat Hanh had founded the School of Youth for Social Service in Vietnam; calling it "engaged Buddhism." Young students were trained by the monks to help peasants rebuild their villages, teach their children, set up medical facilities and set up farming cooperatives.

The school refuses to take aside in the war and the students were kidnapped and murdered by the Viet Kong, the army of the Communist North Vietnam. Thich Nhat Hanh was not allowed to move back home , so he wrote letters to encourage the students who he had left behind to be brave; this book is the compilation of those letters.

Thich Nhat Hanh says that when breathing our deep breath in we should be aware or mindful of it; the same mindfulness should be present when we are breathing out. He said that monks use their breath to build up their powers of concentration. He said that feelings and thoughts will arise when we are meditating and we are to acknowledge them. He used this as an example:"Let's say a feeling of sadness arises. say to yourself: "A feeling of sadness has come up in me." Likewise he said when there are no thoughts present, say to yourself:"There are no thoughts present right now.' In mindfulness , he said, we are both the observer of the mind and the mind.

there is a beautiful saying or Koan of this by the Zen masters:"what is the sound of one hand clapping?"It seems to Hanh that the mind experiences itself from within.

Buddha wrote once a "Sutra" of mindfulness. This Sutra describes the mind as being "like a monkey, swinging from the trees of the forest."The monkey mind exists because the mind is not aware of itself. The mind is like a man trying to gain control of the monkey as it travels from tree to tree.

"If the Buddha got Stuck"

by Charlotte Kasl, Ph.D.

In her book Dr. Kasl tells an old Buddhist tale.

A university professor goes to see an old Zen master for advice. The profesor sits down to have tea with the master. The Zen master pours the tea into his cup until it overflows into his lap. Dismayed, the professor looks over at him. He say"A mind that is already full cannot take in anything new."


psychfun said...

Love that last quote!

lisbnjvi said...

Perfect end quote!!!  I do the deep breathing thing ALL the time, so much so that when I do it the kids run because they know Mommy is trying to keep herself in control.  LOL!
Hugs and love,

sazzylilsmartazz said...

I have the utmost admiration for anyone who refuses to take up arms.
Great quote.

bgilmore725 said...

I have read Thich Nhat Hanh's book, Living Buddha, Living Christ, several years ago. I was very impressed with the connections he made between Christ's teachings and Buddha's. It's about awareness, isn't it? Being mindful of the moment, of where you are and what you are doing. You spoke about meditation in an earlier entry, and I meant to respond then. I have meditated for the emptiness. Only when I have emptied my mind of all desires, fears, anxieties, plans, etc. do I feel still. And in stillness, well, I can't even put the words on paper. It's very profound, and it's Holy, and it's a true Sanctuary, unlike the other sanctuaries we make for ourselves in our homes. You know what I'm talking about. Thanks for reminding us,Natalie. Bea

shermeen0621 said...

I love that, of course my mind isn't anywhere near full. i think i should like to read more about this way of life and deeper understanding.

Sherms xx

sunnyside46 said...

you are so very interesting, Natalie