Touching Peace: Practicing the Art of Mindful Living by Thich Nhat Hanh

Posted: May 16, 2014 in Book Notes
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  • Our body is here, but our mind is somewhere else – in the past or the future, possessed by anger, frustration, hopes, or dreams.
  • As we breathe in, we know we are breathing in, and as we breathe out, we know we are breathing out.
  • Breathing in, I am aware of my eyes. Breathing out, I smile to my eyes.
  • When we get in touch with our eyes, our heart, our liver, our breathing, and our non-toothache and really enjoy them, we see that the conditions for peace and happiness are already present.
  • Peace is already with them. We only need to help them cultivate the habit of touching peace in each moment.
  • In the way that a gardener knows how to transform compost into flowers, we can learn the art of transforming anger, depression, and racial discrimination into love and understanding.
  • We live in forgetfulness, looking for happiness somewhere else, ignoring and crushing the precious elements of happiness that are already in us and around us.
  • When mindfulness touches something beautiful, it reveals its beauty. When it touches something painful, it transforms and heals it.
  • We believe that happiness is possible only in the future. That is why the practice “I have arrived” is very important. The realization that we have already arrived, that we don’t have to travel any further, that we are already here, can give us peace and joy. The conditions for our happiness are already sufficient.
    • There is no need for us to struggle to arrive somewhere else. We know that our final destination is the cemetery. Why are we in a hurry to get there? Why not step in the direction of life, which is in the present moment?
  • We have to live in a way that liberates the ancestors and future generations who are inside of us.
  • Everything we do for ourselves is for others, everything we do for others is for us.
  • The happiness of one person
    • We see that the other person, like us, has both flowers and compost inside, and we accept this. Our practice is to water the flowerness in her and not bring her more garbage. We avoid blaming and arguing. When we try to grow flowers, if the flowers do not grow well, we do not blame or argue with them. We blame ourselves for not taking care of them well. Our partner is a flower. If we take care of her well, she will grow beautifully. If we take care of her poorly, she will wither. To help a flower grow well, we must understand her nature. How much water does she need? How much sunshine?
    • Each of us has our own suchness (difficulties, aspirations, suffering, anxiety). If we want to live in peace and happiness with another person, we have to understand his or her suchness and our own.
    • “This is difficult, darling, but I have faith you can do it.”
    • Living together is an art. Even with good will, you can make your partner quite unhappy. Art is the essence of life. We have to be artful in our speech and action. The substance of art is mindfulness.
    • You form a community of two in order to practice of live – taking care of each other , helping your partner blossom, and making happiness something real in that small community.
My friend, do not rely on anything outside of yourselves. Be an island unto yourself, and take refuge in the island of yourself. – Buddha
  • See how
    • I have seed of unkindness and anger as well as the habit energy to make the other person unhappy.
    • I have mistakenly thought that making the other person suffer would relieve my own suffering.
    • By making him or her suffer, I make myself suffer.
  • “I am sorry, I was unmindful. I got angry too easily and without any basis. Please forgive me.”
  • …tax their bodies and minds…
  • We have to teach ourselves and our children how to appreciate the simple joys that are available.
  • We have to make the effort to heal words by using them properly and carefully.
  • … loving speech and deep listening…
  • I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure.
  • The teaching of interbeing
    • Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos.
  • Life is an art. We should all be artists in order to live a happy life.
    • During dinner time we feel grateful that we are together, we have food to eat, and we really enjoy the food and the presence of each other.
  • We have to find ways to rebuild the foundations of our communities and to offer people something to believe in.
  • Mindfulness is something we can believe in.
    • It is our capacity of being aware of what is going on in the present moment.
  • Faith is the first of five powers taught by the Buddha.
    • Energy -> Mindfulness -> Concentration -> Understanding
    • A good friend is someone who can inspire faith.
  • You will never find a perfect sangha.
    • An imperfect sangha is good enough. Rather than complain too much about your sangha, do your best to transform yourself in a good element of the sangha. Accept the sangha and build on it.
  • A sangha is also a community of resistance, resisting the speed, violence, and unwholesome ways of living that are prevalent in our society.
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