(from Being Peace, by Thich Nhat Hanh)
Non-duality is the key word for Buddhist meditation. The Buddha said that in order to understand, you have to be one with what you understand. A human being is like a television set with millions of channels. If we turn the Buddha on, we are the Buddha. If we turn sorrow on, we are sorrow. If we turn a smile on, we really are the smile. We cannot let just one channel dominate us. We have the seed of everything in us, and we have to seize the situation in our hand, to recover our own sovereignty.

Being in Touch with Oneself

(from Being Peace, by Thich Nhat Hanh)

Being in touch with oneself is the meaning of meditation, to be aware of what is going on in your body, in your feelings, in your mind. Practicing meditation is to be aware of each feeling. If you practice awareness, you suddenly become very rich, very happy. Practicing happiness is available. Please help yourself to it.

Calming, Smiling, Present Moment

(from Being Peace, by Thich Nhat Hanh)

Smiling is very important. It means that we are ourselves, that we have sovereignty over ourselves, that we are not drowned in forgetfulness. If we are not able to smile, then the world will not have peace. It is with our capacity of smiling, breathing, and being peace that we can make peace.

You can feel very happy while practicing breathing and smiling. The conditions are available. You can do it at home. You can do it in a park, along the riverside, anywhere.

Breathing in, I calm body and mind.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment
I know this is the only moment.

Calming, Smiling,
Present moment, Only moment.

Thich Nhat Hanh's Spiritwalk, Summer 2005

By April 2005, the Canadian Buddhist Community was actively involved in several and far reaching projects, ranging from addressing local economical problems to support an orphanage in Sri Lanka and those affected by the Tsunami.

In their board, however, the Mindfulness Community Retreat scheduled for May 19th-23rd that year took the bold fonts. Why? Because as they wrote: "This retreat will help prepare us for Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh's Canadian visit".

Thay was indeed there in the summer of 2005. La Toan Vinh registered his visit and composed this video, so that we can all enjoy Thay's smile.

Meditation as Peace Work

(from Being Peace, by Thich Nhat Hanh)

Meditation is to be aware of what is going on -- in our bodies, in our feelings, in our minds, and in the world. Practicing meditation is to be aware, to smile, to breathe. In fact, to meditate well, we have to smile a lot. If, in our daily life, we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.

Peace work means, first of all, being peace. Meditation is meditation for all of us. We rely on each other. Our children are relying on us in order for them to have a future.

To Suffer is not Enough

(from Being Peace, by Thich Nhat Hanh)

Life is filled with suffering, but it is also filled with many wonders, like the blue sky, the sunshine, the eyes of a baby. To suffer is not enough. We must also be in touch with the wonders of life. They are within us and all around us. Wherever we are, any time, we have the capacity to enjoy the sunshine, the presence of each other, even the sensation of our breathing.

Starting by Ourselves

(from Being Peace, by Thich Nhat Hanh)
If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can blossom like a flower. And, everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.

Mind and No-Mind in the Arts

When not in a personal, face to face situation, masters try to convey their teachings through words. This is a very natural thing as words are the most common communication channel for human beings.

Even so, words, unless the listener already knows their reference, remain elusive very often.

Pictures might transmit a broader range of symbolical meaning.

A few days ago I was struck by the difference of feelings and sensations two different pictures aroused in me.

The first one, you surely know, is a photography of Le Pénseur by Rodin. The second one, a depiction of the Buddha. I ignore its source and was unable to find it on internet again (may be you know it and can complete this piece of information, though for the purposes of this post it is not essential).

Just a few leading questions you might want to use when looking at these pictures:

Is the person portrayed busy or vacant? Full or empty? In which measure is he aware of his surroundings? What physical sensations each of these images arouses in you? Heaviness? Lightness? Mental noise? Mental calm? Here-now? Elsewhere? Mind? No-mind?

Le Pénseur by Rodin:

A Buddha depiction:

Introduction to the Path of Yoga, Part II - "Yoga is the Cessation of Mind"

(by Osho)

1.2: "Yoga is the cessation of mind."

What is mind? Ordinarily we think that it is something inside the head. Patanjali doesn't agree. Mind is just an activity. You are walking and then you sit down. While you are sitting, no one can ask, "Where have you put your walking? Where has the walking gone?" You will laugh and say, "Walking is not something substantial. It is just activity." Mind is also activity, but because of the word "mind", it appears that something substantial is there. It is better to call it "minding" -- just like walking. Mind means "minding," mind means thinking. It is an activity.

Again and again I have been quoting Bodhidharma . . . . He went to China and saw the emperor. The emperor said, "My mind is very uneasy, very disturbed. You are a great sage. Tell me what I should do to put my mind at peace." Bodhidharma said, "First, bring your mind to me." The emperor said, "What do you mean? You talk nonsense. When I am here my mind is here, and it is not something which can be somewhere else. It is in me." Bodhidharma said, "Okay. So, the mind is within you. Now close your eyes and find out where it is. When you find out where it is, then show me. I will put it at peace." So the emperor closed his eyes and looked and looked. The more he looked, the more he became aware that there is no mind, that mind is an activity. The moment he realized that, the absurdity of his quest became exposed to him: "If it is not something, nothing can be done about it. If it is an activity, then don't do the activity; that's all. If it is like walking, don't walk." He opened his eyes. He bowed down to Bodhidharma and said, "There is no mind to be found." Bodhidharma said, "Then I have put it at peace."

The very looking is anti-mind, because a look is not a thinking. And if you look intensely, your whole energy becomes a look.

Yoga is the cessation of mind. This is Patanjali's definition: when there is no mind, you are in Yoga; when there is mind, you are not in Yoga. So you may do all the postures but if the mind goes on functioning, if you go on thinking, you are not in Yoga. The basic thing to be understood is: when the activity of thinking is not there. . . then you are there. When thoughts have disappeared -- they are just like clouds -- when they have disappeared, your being, just like the sky, is uncovered. It has always been there -- only covered with clouds, covered with thoughts.

Now in the West there is much appeal for Zen -- a Japanese method of Yoga. The whole training of Zen is how to be, simply, without thinking. Try it! When I say try it, it will look contradictory, because if you try, the very trying, the effort, is coming from the mind. You can sit in a posture and you can try some chanting, a mantra, or you can just try to sit silently, not to think. But then "not to think" becomes the thinking. Then you go on saying, "I am not to think, stop thinking". But, this is all thinking.

When Patanjali says no-mind, cessation of mind, he means complete cessation. He will not allow you to make a mantra. He will say, "Simply stop!" But you will ask, "How? How can you simply stop?" The mind continues. Even if you sit, the mind continues. Patanjali says, "Then just look. Let mind do whatever it is doing. You just look. You don't interfere. You just be a witness. You just be an onlooker, not concerned -- as if the mind doesn't belong to you, as if it is not your business, not your concern. Just look and let the mind flow." If you don't cooperate, if you just look, unconcerned -- Buddha's word is upeksha, indifference, equanimity: looking without any concern -- the mind will flow for a while and it will stop by itself. When the momentum is lost, when the energy has flowed, the mind will stop. When the mind stops, you are in Yoga. You have attained the discipline.

Introduction to the Path of Yoga, Part I - "The Discipline of Yoga"

(by Osho)

Yoga is an inward turning. It is a total about-turn. When you are not moving into the future, not moving towards the past, then you start moving within yourself, you are present here and now. This moment is indicated by the first sutra of Patanjali:

1.1: "Now, the discipline of Yoga."

This "now" may not have come for you. Then I may go on talking about Yoga but you will not listen. You can listen only if the moment is present in you. Then you can enter Yoga. And then this entry will not be an entering into a mental, speculative phenomenon. This entry will be an entry into a discipline. The word "discipline" is beautiful. It comes from the same root as the word "disciple." "Discipline" means the capacity to be, to know and to learn.

All the Yoga postures are not really concerned with the body, they are concerned with the capacity to be. Patanjali says if you can sit silently without moving your body for a few hours, you are growing in the capacity to be. Why do you move? You cannot sit without moving even for a few seconds: your body starts moving, somewhere you feel itching, the legs go dead, many things start happening -- these are just excuses for you to move.

If you can remain in one posture, the body will become a slave; it will follow you. And, if the body is not moving, your mind cannot move, because mind and body are not two things. They are two poles of one phenomenon. You are not body and mind, you are bodymind. The mind is the subtlest part of the body. Or you can say the reverse, that body is the grossest part of the mind. So, whatever happens in the body happens in the mind and whatever happens in the mind happens in the body. If the body is non-moving, the mind is non-moving -- you are centered.

When you are centered, when you know what it means to be, then you can learn because then you will be humble. No false ego will cling to you because, once centered, you know all egos are false. Then you can surrender. Then you can bow down. Then a disciple is born. To become a disciple is a great achievement. Only through being centered will you become empty and the guru, the teacher, can come and reach you. Communication becomes possible. The teacher is not going to do anything. He is simply there, available. He flows like a river. If you are empty like a vessel, ready, open, he will flow in you.

Ego and Desires

(by unknown)

The Buddha says there is nothing to be desired, desires are futile. Just imagine, if there is no desire within you, what will you be? If all desires go, you simply disappear. Not that you will not exist -- you will exist, but as an emptiness; no one is there, just a nothingness. Your ego is nothing but desires; there are millions of them, they make you. If you go on pulling out desires one by one, a moment will come when there is no desire left. You have disappeared, just vacant space remains.

Unless you are completely gone, silence cannot descend on you. You cannot be silent because you are the problem; you cannot be peaceful because you are the struggle. When you are not, silence will be there, peace will be there, bliss will be there. The emptiness itself is bliss.

Zen Practice and the Ego

(by unknown)

When people approach Zen practice, they often don't know what it truly is. People come, think they can sit and do meditation and somehow arrive at a state where they can escape their problems and troubles, escape the complications of the world. They are going to become concentrated, wiser, happier, healthier. Almost everyone has something that impels him to seek a way to end suffering, a way to happiness. So people sit on their cushions, come to the meditation hall when it's convenient, and after meditation go home, go back to daily life. But, true Zen is not to follow your own desires, not to follow your own dreams, your thoughts, your ambition, not to look for status, wealth, power, position or career.

Our practice has been here for countless years, countless lives. If you think you're going to improve the practice, change it, if you think you know a better way -- this is the ego speaking, the ego-self. Mushotoku, without desire -- this is the way of true Zen. It is not following your own personal wishes, not following your own agenda (some goal, object or something to gain). Nor is it running away from something you fear or want to lose. When we follow the bodhisattva way, we harmonize with our surroundings. We don't have fixed ideas in our mind about what's good, what's bad, what's godly, what's evil. Forgetting ourselves, we respond to the situation we're in each moment.

This may seem like a strange attitude for many people. "Living a selfless life, that's good for saints, special people. But for me, oh, I'm not a saint. I cannot just be selfless in this world! What's going to happen to me? What about my future? What about my old age? Retirement? How am I going to live?" This is the mind. Always the brain is thinking, calculating, protecting, arguing, always looking for something. Instead of looking right in front of us, we look everywhere else. Instead of living right here and now, we want to plan for some mythical future. But when we practice, truly concentrate on our practice, we can forget ourselves. We can forget our ego, our desires, our fixed ideas of how to live, how to act, how to be, forget all these ideas, thoughts and attachments, and help the other.

"Why should I always help the other? Why can't I be helped?" Try it. Help yourself. And then, come back to the practice. That's why you're practicing in the first place: you've been helping yourself, not understanding the dharma, not understanding what life is. But if we repeat the practice, make the effort over and over again, then bit by bit our lives can blossom, become deep and broad. Give up your fixed ideas and come to true life. Don't run away and don't run after. Remain here and now, where we find our strength, our liberation.

The Ego and the Absolute

(by unknown)

So long as you identify with the ego, you cannot transcend it. It is only when we take the enormous risk of not looking into it, of leaving the ego completely alone, that we will finally be able to see it for what it really is. It takes tremendous courage to do this. You have to leave it completely alone. There's no other way to achieve the liberating result. It's an all-or-nothing game and most people don't want to play because the stakes are just too high. We are speaking about a leap into another dimension that reveals a perspective that is absolute. Within that perspective, the ego just does not exist. If you want to know what that perspective is, you have to be willing to leave this one behind. The ego will never do this; its own survival depends upon clinging to the unquestioned conviction that it is important.

The ego always pleads for time. Its refrain, in the face of the call from the Absolute is, "I'm not ready yet, I need more time". But, the Absolute never hears the ego's pleas. Its ceaseless refrain is: "Every moment that you hesitate, you're keeping yourself from me". Its constant demand is always, "Now!" and the ego insists, yet again, "No, I'm not ready". This is the spiritual drama that has played itself out between man and God for thousands of years -- between the individual sense of self and the call of the Absolute.

Relationships and The Sense of "Me"

(by unknown)

It is in our relationships with one another, that our buttons get pushed most easily and that we come up against the sense of "me" and "my territory" and "my way" being violated or thwarted. Relationships provide tremendous opportunities to look into what is at the root of all this hurt and conflict that human beings experience. What is it we are defending? For me, it seems as if my very life is somehow threatened when someone questions or seems to be defying "my way". When I look into it, I see that it isn't so much the particular opinion or way of doing things that I'm fighting for, it's that sense of "me".

Can we look and see if this "me" is really here? Let us listen to the stories we tell ourselves and each other, and notice how a single thought can generate feelings of depression, elation, anxiety or bliss. This is immense work, to sit with all the feelings, to explore, listen, discover what's here. Not once and for all, but this moment. And this moment. And this moment. This work is to see the awesome power of our habitual reflexive tendencies, and to discover that in this moment, in open listening, they do not have to continue.

Disengaging from the Ego

(by unknown)

In the beginning, just try for a few moments to live without any 'I'. You are digging a hole in the earth in the garden; just dig the hole, just become the digging, and forget that "I" am doing it. Let the doer evaporate. You will perspire in the sun, and there will be no doer, and the digging will continue. And you will be surprised how divine life is if the ego can disappear even for a single moment. Taking a shower, just let the water fall on you, but don't be there as an 'I'. Relax, forget the 'I', and you will be surprised. The shower is not only cooling your body, it cools your innermost core too.

If you search, you will find so many moments in ordinary life every day when the ego can be put aside. And the joy is so great that once you have tasted it you can do it again and again. And slowly, slowly you become capable of putting it aside, unless it is absolutely necessary. And then that day of blessing also comes when you know it is not necessary at all. You say the final goodbye to it. That is your real being. Not to be is to be for the first time.