I have come to realize that I have an abiding love and reverence for Zen Master, Thích Nhât Hanh. It’s only been a year or so that I’ve known about this incredible teacher. But he has been gently walking on this earth creating evolutionary and revolutionary transformations in the hearts and minds of millions of people around the world, since the 1960s. He is the man Martin Luther King called “An Apostle of peace and nonviolence.”
Some might naturally ask if I’m a Buddhist. No, I have not made such a declaration, studying and practicing the teachings of the Buddha does not require that one become a Buddhist. But what I desire most in my life right now is to master these teachings. Even as a novice, these teachings have enriched my life so greatly by offering simple techniques on how to manage and overcome the inevitable pain that comes with life. Thich Nhat Hanh, also know as Thày (teacher) refers to this pain as suffering.
Thày informs us if we know how to suffer, we suffer less. This was a novel concept for me to wrap my brain around. Who wants to suffer at all, skillfully or otherwise? But suffering is part of life, you may as well learn how to do it right. I recall a video I saw of the great writer, poet and social critic, James Baldwin in which he pronounced quite emphatically “We live, we suffer, we die”. I though oh my, isn’t there some joy, some happiness in between there somewhere? And if you’ve ever seen James Baldwin smile, you know there is joy in life.
Thày teaches us that there are a millions reasons to be happy in spite of the suffering we may be experiencing. Then he sets about offering sublime instructions on how to follow the breath as a means of controlling our minds and our emotions. This practice is called mindfulness. In the yogic tradition, the mind is referred to as a drunken monkey, swinging from one thought to the next, without much supervision. The unsupervised wanderings of the mind can take us on a roller coaster ride that just won’t quit, full of regrets of the past and anxieties regarding the future. Never does the mind want to be in the present where one can more readily access the portal to peace, happiness and true love.
Gaining control over our minds and therefore our emotions allows us the ability to skillfully navigate the inevitable pain that comes with life. These teachings have been a most incredible gift. I will be forever grateful for my friend Lisa Renee who introduced me to the Teaching of the Buddha via Thich Nhat Hanh. Thày’s books and videos on gaining peace and accessing happiness are widely available. If you’re seeking peace, happiness and joy in area in your life, you might consider the teachings of the Buddha as taught by master teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh. Check out this video by Thày entitled “Awakening The Heart ~ The Practice of Inner Transformation“.