Aug 29, 2007

a practice infused with love

By the middle of the trip, I am in love. I can barely contain myself during the mindful walking meditations – it feels like mindful skipping. Fortunately, being with the Plum Village sangha is a safe place for a lover. No one thinks I’m crazy if I smile a little too widely. It feels like everything is in sync. To me, every chirp of a bird is a love song right now.

When I watch Thay as he leads the morning walking meditations, I sense that his heart is blown wide open. His brand of Zen Buddhism is far removed from the stick-thwacking, koan-churning stereotype of Zen. His is a practice infused with love, in all its dimensions. You can see it running through his students. The sangha beams with love and smiles. Even when Thay is not around, I am still imbibing his teachings, transmitted with authenticity by his students. This is not a grim, repressed bunch of monks and nuns, fearers of life hiding out in the security of the monastery. These people are engaged; they’re living fully, in this moment, freely sharing their findings with the rest of us.

Phap An, one of Thay’s senior monks, says that before he met Thay he spent years meditating on a deceptively simple koan: Who am I? It became an obsession: Who am I lifting this arm? Who am I taking this step? Who am I moving through space? Then he met Thay and discovered meditation in action. He dropped the philosophy and started living, being fully alive. There is some formal meditation at Plum Village, but not a lot. More important is how you live life. How you fully show up. It’s not about analyzing yourself into enlightenment. It’s about being, now. Now. Now. Now.

Excerpt from I Am Home by Velcrow Ripper, who reports on Thich Nhat Hanh’s historic second trip home to Vietnam, in 2007. To read the entire text please refer to:

Photos: top, Thay and the sangha just before the walking meditation at Tu Hieu, Vietnam, March 29 2007 © David Nelson; bottom, walking meditation towards Son Ha Monastery, Plum Village, France, June 2006 © Richard & Joanne Friday

To see more pictures from Thay's 2007 Vietnam pilgrimage, please refer to:

Aug 25, 2007

mirror mind

The perfect man uses his mind

as a mirror.

It grasps nothing.

It regrets nothing.

It receives but does not keep.

Chuang Tzu

if you would like to read more on Chuang Tzu please refer to

photo: Oslo, Norway, 2006 © zentobe

Aug 24, 2007

to solve the world's problems

Some people feel that the world's problems are so pressing that social and political action should take precedence over individual development. They may feel that they should sacrifice their own needs completely in order to work for a larger cause. In its extreme form, this kind of thinking justifies individual neurosis and aggression as purely a product of a troubled society [...]. If we try to solve society's problems without overcoming the confusion and aggression in our own state of mind, then our efforts will only contribute to the basic problems, instead of solving them.


If you want to solve the world's problems, you have to put your own household, your own individual life, in order first.


Slowing down any impulse is said to be the best way to begin [the warrior's path].

Chögyam Trungpa, Shambhala, the Sacred Path of the Warrior

to learn more about this book, please refer to:

photo: homeless, São Paulo, Brazil © Ennio Brauns

Aug 19, 2007

a dharma eternal is this

Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Hatreds never cease through hatred;
Through love alone they cease;
A Dharma eternal is this

The Dharmapada

Photo: Vesak 2551 Celebration at Son Ha temple on May 31st, 2007, Plum Village, France

To see more photos from this set of the Sangha Activities at Plum Village, please refer to:

Aug 16, 2007

what would you like done with me?

For you I live and come to be --
What would you like done with me?

Sovereign, awful majesty,
Knowing till eternity --
Goodness, gracious to my soul,
Highness, godhead, one and whole,
Look at this nonentity
Singing of her love for thee --
What would you like done with me?

I am yours, because you made me,
Yours, because you then redeemed me,
Yours, because you suffered for me,
Yours, because you clamored for me,
Yours, because you did not lose me,
What would you like done with me?

What commands then, good my lord,
By such a creature should be done?
Or what office have I won,
Being but a slave abhorred?
Can't you see me, my sweet one?
Me, my sweet one, can't you see
What would you like done with me?

Right here is my heart, you see,
Lo, I put it in your hand,
My body, soul, all I command,
My entrails and my loving thee.
Redeemer sweet who married me,
Since I gave my all for thee,
What would you like done with me?

Saint Teresa of Avila (1515 - 1582)

If you would like to read more, please refer to:

Aug 13, 2007

holy habits

Ritual is routine infused with mindfulness.
It is habit made holy.

Kent Nerburn, Small Graces

Aug 11, 2007

sitting quietly

Sitting quietly
Doing nothing
Spring comes
And the grass grows all by itself

(this is a quotation from the zen tradition, author unknown to me)

Photo: sitting quietly at the beautiful site of the Elgin Cathedral, Scotland, May 2006

Aug 4, 2007

I am drinking cloud

Death is a very necessary condition of birth. With no death, there is no birth. They inter-are and happen in every moment to the experienced meditator. For instance, a cloud may have died many times, into rain, streams, water. The cloud may want to wave to itself on earth! Rain is a continuation of the cloud. With a meditation practitioner nothing can hide itself. When I drink tea, it’s very pleasant to be aware I am drinking cloud.


The cloud was water in an ocean, lake, river and heat from the sun gave it birth – the moment of continuation. For instance, birth – before you were born you were in your mother’s womb. The moment of birth is a moment of continuation. Is the moment of conception the start? You are half from your dad and half from your mum already, this is also a moment of continuation. When you practice meditation you can see things like that.

It is impossible for a cloud to die. It can become water, snow – it cannot become nothing. It is also impossible for us to die. Speech, action and thought continue in the future. The person who dies still continues because we are not capable of using meditators’ eyes. They continue in us and around us. All our ancestors are alive in us. Our ancestors are in our chromosomes.


Nirvana is the absence of all notions, birth and death, coming and going, sameness and otherness. According to Buddhism, ‘to be or not to be’ is not a real question.

Meditation takes us beyond to a place of fearlessness. We’re too busy, so we become victims of anger, fear. If we have really touched our nature of no birth/death, we know to die is one of the root conditions to realize oneself.


I treasure the time I have left, more for me to practice. I want to generate energy of love, compassion and understanding so I can continue beautifully. I would like you to do the same. Use your time wisely. Every moment produce beautiful thoughts, loving, kindness, forgiveness. Say beautiful things, inspire, forgive, act physically to protect and help. We know we are capable of producing beautiful karma for good continuations and the happiness of other people.

When the time comes for dissolution of this body you may like to release it easily. You aren’t to grasp – releasing body and perception. Remember the image of a cloud in the sky seeing continuation in rice and ice-cream waving to itself. You can already see your continuation. The art of living is continuation. For myself and the other beings.

excerpts from the Dharma talk What happens when you die? given by Thich Nhat Hanh during a retreat in Hong Kong on 15 May 2007

To read the complete transcription of this Dharma talk please refer to:

Image: cloud, ferryboat from Stockholm to Helsinki, August 2006 ©zentobe

Aug 3, 2007

the roof

Ever since my house
burned down
I see the moon more clearly.

(zen quotation)