Nov 29, 2007

the garden of my heart

To listen to the soothing voice of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh leading a guided meditation, transcripted bellow, please click on the following link (and then again on the button at the page that will open):

May the sound of this bell penetrate deep into the cosmos
Even in the darkest spots living beings are able to hear it clearly
So that all suffering in them ceases, understanding comes to their heart
And they transcend the path of sorrow and death.

The universal dharma door is already open
The sound of the rising tide is heard clearly
The miracle happens
A beautiful child appears in the heart of the lotus flower
One single drop of this compassionate water is enough to bring back the refreshing spring to our mountains and rivers.

Listening to the bell I feel the afflictions in me begin to dissolve
My mind calm, my body relaxed
A smile is born on my lips
Following the sound of the bell, my breath brings me back to the safe island of mindfulness
In the garden of my heart, the flowers of peace bloom beautifully.

"The End of Suffering" featuring spoken word from Thich Nhat Hanh, the singing voice of Vietnamese monk Phap Niem, and music by Gary Malkin, is excerpted from the book and CD set, "Graceful Passages: A Companion For Living and Dying," which was produced by Gary Malkin and Michael Stillwater, for Wisdom of the World, published by New World Library.

To learn more about Thich Nhat Hanh, please refer to:

If you'd like to see some more photos of flower fields please refer to:

Nov 27, 2007

love, love

No coming, no going

No after, no before

I hold you close to me

I release you to be so free

Because I am in you

and you are in me

Because I am in you

and you are in me

from the Plum Village Chanting Book. If you'd like to listen to this song please refer to and click on the green button at the bottom right of your screen for No coming, no going.

Nov 23, 2007

water reflecting

Breathing in I see myself as still water. You know still water is not a wave. Sometimes you enjoy being a wave—it’s very wonderful to be a wave, coming up very high, and going down very low. But sometimes you are tired, you don’t want to be a wave anymore. You just want to be still water. To be still water is also a great joy—you feel peaceful, you feel quiet, and you enjoy the peace and the quietness that is in you. I know the young people like to be waves, but they should know that it is also wonderful to be still water. Have you seen a pond that is very still? You look into the water and you see reflected in the water the blue sky, the clouds, the trees. You can even take a picture of the sky and the clouds just by pointing your camera at the water, because still water reflects things perfectly. Still water does not distort things. When you are not still, you distort things. When your mind is not still, you distort everything. The other person did not hate you, but you believe that she hated you. That is a distortion, because your "water," your mind, is not still. Therefore it is very important to practice so that your mind becomes still water. And now you know why I asked you to draw still water. "Breathing in, I see myself as still water; breathing out, I reflect things as they are." This is very important. We should not be victims of our wrong perceptions. In order for our perceptions not to be wrong, our minds should be still, like water. And there are ways to help your mind to become like still water.


The transformation and healing we are looking for is not outside of us, it is in us. It is like the wave: if it wants to be still, the stillness should not be obtained from the outside, it is in the water itself.

We have the capacity to be a wave, but we also have the capacity to be still water. So we look for peace, we look for stability, we look for well being within ourselves, and these things are not something that we can acquire from outside. But maybe there are those of us who are only used to being waves, and we have forgotten how to become still water again. We know that we have the capacity of becoming still water again, but we have forgotten how to do it. That is why we need the practice.

excerpt from Our Appointment with Life, Dharma Talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh on July 16, 1998 in Plum Village, France.

© Thich Nhat Hanh

(photo: a pond that is not still, Bahia, 2003)

Nov 20, 2007

what is true mindfulness?

Meditation isn't really about getting rid of thoughts, it's about changing the pattern of grasping on to things, which in our everyday experience is our thoughts.

The thoughts are fine if they are seen as transparent, but we get so caught up judging thoughts as right or wrong, for and against, yes and no, needing it to be this way and not that way. And even that might be okay except that is accompanied by strong, strong emotions. So we just start ballooning out more and more. With this grasping onto thoughts we just get more caught, more and more hooked. All of us. Every single one of us.

It's as if you had vast, unlimited space —complete openness, total freedom, complete liberation —and the habit of the human race is to always, out of fear, grasp onto little parts of it. And that is called ego and ego is grasping on to the content of our thoughts. That is also the root of suffering, because there is something in narrowing it down which inherently causes us a lot of pain because it is then that we are always in a relationship of wanting or not wanting. We are always in a struggle with other people, with situations, even with our own being. That's what we call stress. That's what we experience as continual, on-going stress. Even in the most healthy, unneurotic of us, there's some kind of slight or very profound anxiety of some kind, some kind of uneasiness or dissatisfaction.

teachings by Pema Chödrön. To read more from her, please refer to:

Nov 12, 2007

a house of love

One of these mornings, I sat in the living room, trying to eat breakfast mindfully... And so not only was I savoring the yoghurt, its delicate flavor and the temperature, but was also listening to the birds and the cars outside, looking at the yoghurt color, the clouded sky... And in this mood I started looking at the things in my living room... All very known to me, because I look at them everyday...

Yet, it was the first time I saw them.

The straw cushions my parents gave me, and so many others things they paid and gave to me... They were full of Love, given with Love, and I could feel the Love in them... The ceramics and a wood vase given to me by Rachel... So full of Love, given with Love... I actually felt the Love there... And the mud flowers I love so much, given to me by Alexs... And the two benches he carried all the way from Bahia, during a flight... There is so much Love in everything they gave me, and I could feel it... The orchid I bought a few weeks ago, and that is now coming to full blossom... Nature is always so full of Love, and I felt it... The painting given by James, who actually painted it... Painted with Love, given with Love, and I could feel it... The leather couch, the sisal carpet from Bahia I bought with Love, really appreciating them... I could feel Love in the stuff they were made of… The chair I was sitting on, given to me by Edith, with so much Love... So I was seated on Love!

I realized I was — I am — surrounded by Love... The Love in my eyes, when I look at these beloved things I cherish and treasure... It is not different from the Love with which these things were given to me... Love from my parents, Love from my friends and relatives... Love -- to be seen, to be felt, to be touched... Objects -- not as they are, and not important for what they are, but as a Thread of Love... I felt fulfilled, and for a moment I thought — is the world made of Love?

Of course it is not, I answered to myself. But perhaps it is... I am not a bodhisattva, so I cannot feel the Love that is there, everywhere... Even in violence, in war... No, I cannot.

But I could feel the Love that was there, before my eyes. Despite a tense relationship in my life at this moment... And that some of the gifts were given to me by former relationships, that might have ended on a sad note... There is Love. All I could see in my house was Love. Made of Love, reflecting Love. Love throughout time: Love from the past, Love in the present, Love from the future... All over the space: Love.

I felt I lived — I feel I live -- in a House of Love.

Quietly, I finished eating the yoghurt. And since then I haven’t eaten anything other than Love. How could I?!

Photo © Matthias Hammerl