Category Archives: “Thich Nhat Hanh”

Gathering at the Table

Originally posted Jan 26, 2013

Four Friends @ the Table -d nelson

Four Friends @ the Table ~d nelson

I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit together at the table of brotherhood. -Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

On our path towards heart’s dream, journey’s value, at least, equals its terminus. These words came to me while sitting quietly the other day, reflecting on a couple of activities attended on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. With a mindful foundation based in joy, non-violence and equanimity, the past, present and future can offer me necessary insight for trying to do the right thing. Simultaneously, I can embrace beauty surrounding and supporting my existence, recognize that I and others have privileges, freedoms and opportunities previously unavailable, and realize that we must stay peacefully diligent to fulfill our highest potential, for liberty and justice for all. Zen multi-tasking.

Lincoln, the currently popular movie, is testament to our continued interest and ties to a troubled past. We’ve come a long way in the USA from legal slavery and overt “Jim Crow”, by recognizing injustice and passing equal rights legislation. African-Americans and other “minorities” are commonly neighbors, doctors, teachers, and professionals which I daily interact with now, and during my public health career. Women have more career opportunities, and not just in housework and child rearing. We even have a bi-racial President, starting his second term. But from a quiet place inside I honestly realize that this society is not close to being “post racial”, and that we all would benefit from restorative justice in our hearts, minds, as well as in our communities.

gathered & remembered on ancestor’s table

At their “Gather at the Table: The Healing Journey of a daughter of Slavery and a Son of the Slave Trade” presentation, Tom DeWolf and Sharon Morgan shared about their personal, and quite emotional journey towards racial reconciliation. For years they researched genealogies, visited public records, civic sites, graves and places where human beings were imprisoned, then bought and sold as property. Uncovering dark truths within our living, collective wounds. Guilt is the glue that holds together the walls and barriers to understanding, forgiveness and freedom. Healing in the knowing. Bringing light to darkness. Looking deeply we can see that people in involuntary servitude and slavery built & are the underpinnings of economies in the Western world. Their website offers further learning tools, http://gatheratthetable.net/ .

Reading other’s inspiring words & blogs gives me hope. This blogosphere accumulates endless outpourings of care for self and each other. Expressions offered without regard to race, gender, age, religion, sexual orientation, or handicap. Our deepest desire for a happy, healthy “now” for all. For a future to be possible. Webster defines empathy: the action of understanding, being aware of, being sensitive to, and vicariously experiencing the feelings, thoughts, and experience of another of either the past or present without having the feelings, thoughts, and experience fully communicated in an objectively explicit manner; also: the capacity for this.

“I have a dream that little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” -Dr ML King. Although I was young, I remember seeing Dr. King and others marching for civil rights on TV. My grade school teacher was in tears telling the class that the 38-year-old Dr. King was shot and killed. Because of his actions and those of so many others we are all more free than before. Yet, with eyes and heart open we know that economic, health, and education disparities based on race live on this day. I see consequences of these disparities in newspapers and professional journal articles. We all suffer with fear, anger, confusion, illiteracy, or hunger in our house, or our neighbor’s. Violent crime rates are rising. Panic buying of assault weapons. Poverty causes crime. Hunger causes crime. The roots of poverty and despair related to past injustices call out for our collective heart’s intervention, using the wisdom of non-discrimination. This is compassionate meditation in action.

gathering before the earth

“You have the courage to do it [speak out] because you have compassion, because compassion is a powerful energy. With compassion you can die for other people, like the mother who can die for her child. You have the courage to say it because you are not afraid of losing anything, because you know that understanding and love is the foundation of happiness. But if you have fear of losing your status, your position, you will not have the courage to do it.” -Thich Nhat Hanh, from his book, “Fear”.

May I continue waking up recognizing the gift of each moment, while looking with the eyes of compassion on all beings. May you be well, and feel happy and safe, alone or with others. Together we make this moment wonderful, and thus create the potential for a wonderful future, free of discrimination.

ps: You’re welcome to enjoy my chant for feeling safe

Advertisements

Our Dozers of Love

mighty dozer of love ~d nelson

When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

dozer vs mountain ~d nelson

If it was left up to me, and you,
everyone would have an equal opportunity
to live a simple, joyful life with equal access
to clean air to breathe, clean water to drink,
food, shelter, education, healthcare,
to go along with life, freedom & pursuing happiness.
If I had my way, nobody would die working,
e.g., reach the end of life while still
needing to work until the very end.

dozer moving earth from under our feet

The common good, which benefits all of us
including above mentioned opportunity, access & assistance
is being bulldozed by those with power, privilege & wrong views.
Funding for our common good will further be eroded by tax cuts
that will likely generate enormous deficits for our children, decimate the currenly impovershed,
leave crumbs for the middle class and gift a huge benefit for the already wealthy.

many new dozers just over the fence

Let us embrace compassionate in & out breaths
to fire up our own heart/mind’s dozer of love
that we better understand the true nature
of greed, hatred & delusion, within & without,
to better care for ourselves & those in need,
to help build a better society & preserve
& protect our precious planet.

dozer awaiting our heart’s desire

In the coming year, we’ll need to continue offering our caring presence,
together supporting needs & aspirations of love & understanding.
Not sitting idly by while decent society gets dismantled one law at time.
Those of us who are actually paying attention can see the direction this is headed.
The forces of ignorance, of greed, of anti-science, of anti-reason, seem to have won.
But, with patience, we have the eternal law of impermanence on our side.

really big wheels keep rolling

Yes, I experience conditions of happiness any time, still
what is rapidly happening outside of me makes me sad, also.
As depression is contagious, let us not be trapped in passing despair.
We can take baby steps of action. We can use our mindful bulldozers
to move mountains of love & hope. There are hopeful signs, such as…
Women & others with ethics are running for office at unprecedented rates. We must vote for them.
Donations to social causes are up. Voices long dormant are being raised.
Many are waking up to what is happening. There’s worldwide support for special prosecutor’s criminal investigation.

dozer clearing obstacles of love

When we begin to emerge from this national nightmare,
we should remember the complacency that brought us all here
and never again take for granted that from those
to whom much is given, much must be expected.
With the new year, may all beings be happy, safe & free.
With our love, may the rights of nature be protected from unwanted dozing.

“The death of democracy is not likely to be an assassination from ambush. It will be a slow extinction from apathy, indifference, and undernourishment.” ~Robert Hutchins

dozer taking trees

 

Natural Ornamentation Display

persimmon ornaments ~d nelson

Touching beauty
even in those darkest places
gives hope of what’s possible.

Long nights & chill factors;
retreating deep inside
touching roots, holding firm.

Expressing beauty already present
patiently revealed on leafless branches
clearly seen even by the blind.
Like trees, let us proudly
parade our ornaments,
especially our calm smile,
for the world to behold.

We are children of the earth.  We rely on the earth, and the earth relies on us.  Whether the earth is beautiful, fresh and green, or arid and parched, depends on our way of walking.  Please touch the earth in mindfulness, with joy and concentration.  The earth will heal you, and you will heal the earth. ~Thich Nhat Hanh (Your True Home)

Listening to the One Note

If you ask the cloud, “How old are you? Can you give me your date of birth?”
You can listen deeply and you may hear a reply. ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

one note, skilled lesson ~d nelson

I’m so happy being able to still
hear sounds, whether beautiful or not!
Bursts of wave energies traveling
from another’s heart to my ears to my heart.

So, so long ago forebearers
picked up hand-made instruments
expressing what they felt
but could not adequately say any other way.

Some played naturally from intuition
while most practiced at least a little
if not diligently for a lifetime
in order to perform adequately.

one note, conducted

Perhaps we’ve heard names
of truly achieved masters,
or infamous composers & imposters.
Many players go un-named & unknown.

Despite all, together we’re hearing each other;
continuations of long ago’s songs!
We may be out of tune or atonal.
Yet, we can also be one beautiful melody.
May we resoundingly choose harmony
in the eternal key of interconnection.

On this weekend of gratitude,
wishing you enjoyment
& offering this accompanying symphony
performed by a kind, pianist friend & orchestra.

 

May You Bloom Happily & Stay Fresh as the Dew

“To live in the world
with your heart undisturbed by the world,
with all sorrows ended, dwelling in peace —
this is the greatest happiness.” ~ from “Discourse on Happiness”

flowerfresh ~d nelson

Being out of the house
breathing pure, fresh air
seeing the beauty before me
helps my bloom, keeps me fresh.

Interesting that, for me, being indoors
staring at the computer
doesn’t make me feel as fresh
as does having the sky above, earth below
& reflecting on the guidance on happiness, below.

Yet I do get on-line to brief
myself on those latest events.
While such laments of suffering
fuel compassion, I can also feel blue,
despite the aspiration to have my heart
undisturbed, like a Buddha.

May you feel fresh, with inner happiness.
Savoring & taking refuge
in other’s freshness and blooms.
And may we all have more wise
than foolish ones to associate with
& offer compassionate guidance.

Discourse on Happiness

I heard these words of the Buddha one time when the Lord was living in the vicinity of Savatthi at the Anathapindika Monastery in the Jeta Grove. Late at night, a deva appeared whose light and beauty made the whole Jeta Grove shine radiantly. After paying respects to the Buddha, the deva asked him a question in the form of a verse:

“Many gods and men are eager to know
what are the greatest blessings
which bring about a peaceful and happy life.
Please, Tathagata (one of the Buddha’s names), will you teach us?”

(This is the Buddha’s answer):
“Not to be associated with the foolish ones,
to live in the company of wise people,
honoring those who are worth honoring —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To live in a good environment,
to have planted good seeds,
and to realize that you are on the right path —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To have a chance to learn and grow,
to be skillful in your profession or craft,
practicing the precepts and loving speech —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To be able to serve and support your parents,
to cherish your own family,
to have a vocation that brings you joy —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To live honestly, generous in giving,
to offer support to relatives and friends,
living a life of blameless conduct —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To avoid unwholesome actions,
not caught by alcoholism or drugs,
and to be diligent in doing good things —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To be humble and polite in manner,
to be grateful and content with a simple life,
not missing the occasion to learn the Dharma —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To persevere and be open to change,
to have regular contact with monks and nuns,
and to fully participate in Dharma discussions —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To live diligently and attentively,
to perceive the Noble Truths,
and to realize Nirvana —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To live in the world
with your heart undisturbed by the world,
with all sorrows ended, dwelling in peace —
this is the greatest happiness.

“For he or she who accomplishes this,
unvanquished wherever she goes,
always he is safe and happy —
happiness lives within oneself.” ~Buddha, Mahamangala Sutta, Sutta Nipata 1; translated by Thich Nhat Hanh, in Plum Village Chanting Book

Equality Without Complex

We have the complex of superiority as human beings and we think we have that kind of intelligence, that kind of consciousness that other living beings do not have. But I’m not very proud of that kind of mind that we are using in daily life: the mind of discrimination caught by many notions, the foundation of all kind of suffering. We discriminate against this and that, and that creates complexes of superiority, inferiority, and equality.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

contemplative dinner mtn hike

While hiking up Deer Park’s sacred mountain
along with many friends on the path,
a koan intrigues my trickster mind,
“what keeps us all apart?”

equality without complex (4 of 9)

Sitting quietly, looking down at a leaf, suddenly
the cloud, the tree, & the logger reveal themselves.
Upon recognizing earth & sky within the leaf, also,
the wind briskly asks, “what side are you on?”

equality without complex (9 of 9)

Humbly mind answers, I’ve been on either side,
I’ve been on both sides,
and now I vow to taking no side
other than understanding, compassion & love.

sitting like Buddhas

Smiling under leaf’s tree to mountain sunset’s revelation
that freedom from the equality complex
is found by transforming an insatiable habit
of mind trying to make things equal.
Discriminating mind fails at:
recognizing its own conditions of happiness;
having sympathetic joy for other’s good fortune;
and cultivating empathy for other’s misfortune.

lotus koi pond ~d nelson

On the surface, me & so-called non-me
may seem as separate splashes & waves,
but underneath, all is water.
All of creation, seen & unseen, uniquely expressed
in the past, present & future cosmic oceans.
Such joy briefly experiencing inter-being
during an outrageous inner sunset among friends.

Seeing Happiness, Again

Dwelling in the present moment, we can see so many beauties and wonders right before our eyes–a child’s smile, the sun rising, the autumn leaves ~Thich Nhat Hanh

flowers often seem nicer on the other side ~d nelson

flowers often seem nicer on the other side ~d nelson

“Are you blind?” I asked the young man sitting next to me in the park. I had offered empathetic listening as he explained at length how there’s nothing to do here and that’s why this town is boring. If only he could get a ride an hour to the nearest city there would be fun things to do so he wouldn’t be bored. He replied that he had two good eyes.

I told him of my moon watching meditation last night.
How the golden hues of sunset were still setting the hills ablaze
with a golden glow as this super full moon rose up behind them
in plain view for all to see.

Oranges, yellows, greens, browns whites,
blacks, blues, magentas, among others
in the shapes of rolling hills, oaks, pines, moon
clouds, lake, waves, rocks, geese, ducks.
Such an amazing display of colors and shapes.
A true miracle to behold
to let touch my heart through
perception & my eye’s consciousness.

Such a miracle to see, at all.
Offering more than enough conditions for me to be happy.

super moon

super moon

I shared with him about diabetic patients I used to care for.
How, over time, many lost their vision
due to the corrosive effects of too much glucose
running through eye’s blood vessels.
And how they became so sad and unhappy
when they could no longer see well, or at all.

I asked if there is anything he really likes to look at
and he told me how pretty his girlfriend is.
After a few more comments to each other
he went off to be with his special friend
where he was going to look at her with new eyes
and tell her how special she is to him.

I am happy that he decided to open his eyes
to beauty present before him
and let go of the idea of being bored.

(originally posted July 12, 2014)