Category Archives: “Thich Nhat Hanh”

Mindfulness Sweetens Our World

Rain’s freshness Healing this Dry Earth ~d nelson. Below is a letter sent to friends in my meditation community on Thanksgiving.

How wonderful that it is now raining in Northern California.
From Native Peoples I’ve lived with, especially Hopi, I learned to express
deep gratitude I feel for rains, which sustain all life.
These current rains here are blessing us with clean air to breathe and putting
out the devastating wildfire. Thank you land ancestors for helping me express this thanks.

I’m feeling very grateful for having Thich Nhat Hanh as my spiritual teacher for the past couple decades,
as he has provided compassionate & wise teachings for experiencing well-being,
while continuing to offer a beautiful example of practicing them at 92 years of age.
Furthermore, using skillful means he has spoken honestly to me about impermanence, explicitly climate change,
preserving mother earth, human relations & other issues of concern to us all. Breathing through an air mask for these past couple weeks, when outside, I’ve felt accepting of dry, smoky, unhealthy conditions as they were.

Skies were also smoky here many weeks this past summer. I’m feeling more solid as a mountain than I could have without our practice of stopping, conscious breathing & trainings to not do harm to ourselves & all beings. There is a sadness I feel for descendants who will not have the privilege I’ve had of growing up in a seemingly stable environment.
May they be happy & feel safe in the world they inherit.

I’ve great gratitude for being able to take refuge in a mindfulness community or sangha.
Such a wonderful condition of happiness being a part of a community
that practices living in harmony & awareness;
that we may awaken from the illusion of separateness.

On Thay’s (affectionate Vietnamese term for “teacher”) continuation day last month
some lay friends on retreat at Deer Park Meditation center gathered,
expressing gratitude to him by sharing the benefits of, or fruit, of their meditation practice.
Some were quite new, with real beginners mind. Others were more experienced brothers & sisters. A clip of these heartfelt expressions, including images of Thay enjoying tea at Tue Hieu in 2007 (his root temple, at which he is now spending his last days)
can be viewed here, if interested: “mindfulness sweetens our world.”
Wishing you sweet fruit from the practice you’ve chosen to bring happiness, healing & insight.

fruit of our practice (click to watch happy video)

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Solemnly Remembering Paradise

Ashes of Paradise (foto taken at noon Thursday) ~d nelson

Remembering that time when
my journey landed me upon
a special high forested mountainside,
inhabited, mostly, with friendly older folks,
who called the place Paradise.
Perhaps you can remember
being in such a pleasant place, yourself.

Ashes of Paradise 2 (taken at noon on Thursday)

Hadn’t thought about Paradise
for such a long time (several hour drive there)
until the other day when darkness
suddenly descended at noon
and its ashes rained down on my valley.
A local witness said it was like the gates of hell opened up.

Ashes of Paradise 5 ~usda

Breathing in (with a carbon filtered mask), I taste smoke, again.
Breathing out, clean carbon dioxide.
Sadly reflecting on those lost, newly homeless,
continued windy, bone-dry conditions,
realizing another catastrophic California inferno.
Details are easily found on current news & here.  (my local air quality below)

Ashes of Paradise 6 ~epa

As a veteran, also remembering
those who gave, as Lincoln said
“the last full measure of devotion.”
May all live free, in a paradise;
with gratitude to those
who’ve helped protect us
& mother earth.

No Comments this time,
just solemn, respectful silence.

 If your house is on fire, the most urgent thing to do is to go back and try to put out the fire, not to run after the person you believe to be the arsonist. If you run after the person you suspect has burned your house, your house will burn down while you are chasing him or her. That is not wise. You must go back and put out the fire. So when you are angry, if you continue to interact with or argue with the other person, if you try to punish her, you are acting exactly like someone who runs after the arsonist while everything goes up in flames. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

We Are the Mural

 

together we are the mural ~d nelson

Speaking for myself, for the longest time
youthful buttons pressed,
some even before childhood,
seemingly pushed me, chronically;
to keep on truckin’ passed
supposedly known, or otherwise misperceived,
colorful, ordinary backgrounds.

Many difficulties later, after training to stop,
then, many more times stopping;
to be less busy,
I obtained glimpses of
spaciousness-yielding freedom.
Lots of stopping, conscious breathing.
Inner mud-to-lotus garden, blossoming glimpses.

Shape’s & color’s meanings reveal
when I recognize our relationship.
Moving slow, perhaps like an authentic self,
ancestors show themselves, at times, as creative art.
Whether they’re people, the plants, animals & earth,
all our relations, past, present & future, in-attendance.

With froglessness, a wishless stillness,
that which is going on inside
can be seen with mindfulness’ light shining.
Accumulated knots, once identified,
may be untangled & untied, oh joy!
This potential to remedy anxiety, anger, and more, is wonderful.
Start with aspiring to be free,
then actions expressed
which fuel happiness.

Have newly found expressions of yourself
been revealed on nearby murals?
Such a beautiful phenomenon
of our creative universe.

“Our most beautiful virtue
is the capacity to intentionally
be happy.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Calmly Camped ‘tween Falls & Firestorm

Burney Falls flowing chill~d nelson

Heading north, out on a joyful camping holiday
picturing grandparents motoring west,
seeking refuge & religious freedom
from repression, they experienced back east.

campin’ 1950 ford custom woody ~all images by d nelson

Ahh, to encounter Volcanic Legacy Byway’s
free-flowing, free-falling waters
high in rugged, forested northern California
between tranquil Shasta & Lassen volcanoes.
Experiencing freedom ancestors sought.

Lassen falls heat relief

After wonderfully blissful, but hot forest days
being cooled by lakes, rivers & spray
the sky became increasingly smoky.
Breathing in awareness of unhealthy
air pollution particulates drying throat & eyes.
May those close to the smoke’s source be safe.

the smoked-red sun reflects on upper Sacramento river

Feeling relaxed, though concerned, headed home,
with hours of dark, smoke-blanketed driving conditions.
Heard that deadly Carr fire consumed 130,000 acres, including neighborhoods;
a devastating 143 mph fire tornado, west of our camping locations.
Arriving home to find bomber planes, helicopters,
& an army of firefighters battling blazes on the edge of our town.
Today’s local report: Hot, dry, windy conditions fuel Mendocino complex fire which has scorched 240 square miles (621 square kilometers), destroyed 41 residences and threatened 9,200 homes, only 30% contained.

smoke swirls eastern Cow mtn

Moments of transition are most powerful times for
practicing being aware of whats going on.
Moments where we may not always be paying attention.
Moments where we lose our peace & happiness.
The moments between sitting, standing & walking.
The moment between an in breath & out breath.
For me, walking meditation has been a most valuable practice
to cultivate awareness of in-between times.
I believe this helped me maintain freedom & equanimity
transitioning between nature’s paradise & catastrophe.

feel flow’s spray

Dear friend, we all can arrive at our destination with every step, every breath.
Enjoying the contact of our feet on earth.
Experiencing that we have time, we have enough space.
Being present for the beautiful sunset, the blossoms, or even disasters, along our path.
Living life deeply and wonderfully. Taking steps, being completely ourselves,
with no place to go, nothing to do, no longer in a hurry.
Honoring ancestors dream of touching true peace & freedom,
by arriving home, in the wonderful present moment.

“While you are walking, smile and be in the here and now, and you will transform that place into paradise.” ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Reflective Non-Reactivity

“It’s a little embarrassing that after 45 years of research & study, the best advice I can give people is to be a little kinder to each other.”
~ Aldous Huxley

 

reflecting on past, present & future ~d nelson

Rear view mirror reflects the fast approaching:
parents, teachers, & those
who came before:

whether they behaved with civility,
protected the environment,
and/or cared for all others;

sitting with parents & roots

or alternately, those who
acted without civility
seemingly more concerned for grasping
power, wealth, fame & sensual pleasure
than helping others or the planet.

 

no outrunning past or future ~d nelson

 

Having reflected on the interconnected nature
of all things, across time & space,
may I continue having a sense of balance,
of equanimity; to remaining calm,
& non-reactive, best I can.
Offering peaceful responses
to changing road conditions.
Quickly avoiding road-rage
or getting run over, if/when necessary.

test driving non-reactive, non-getaway cars

May I have the gratitude & patience necessary,
practicing mindful breaths, concentration & insight
before speaking and reacting.
Remembering, as MLK pointed out,
that the arc of history
bends toward justice, and that road is LONG.
May we all aspire traveling towards
the more beautiful continuations into our future.

 

Happiness means feeling you are on the right path every moment. You don’t need to arrive at the end of the path in order to be happy.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Swept Safely

(originally posted Feb 2, 2013)

broken bottle in bike lane

broken bottle in bike lane

This peaceful moment of typing has been preceded by strong angry thoughts and feelings, oh my! After many seconds of stopping to breathe mindfully I’m feeling solid in the present. Breathe, let go of today’s “close call” with danger. I’m remembering a Thich Nhat Hanh designed watch that has the word “now” replacing numbers on the old-school dial. The time is now. A quarter to now, or half past now, is still now. In all my “nows”, I want to feel safe and happy venturing through daily activities among fellow citizens, especially on local roadways. Could anyone truly want to feel differently? I am a most special and precious being; no more and no less than everyone else. Clearly, all have this desire for safety and happiness at their core.

old bike hanging

bike hanging in the Amsterdam museum ~d nelson

Cycling for some exercise earlier, on a most beautiful, blue and warm gift of a winter day, I met a freshly broken beer bottle in the bike lane. Yesterday this slightly downhill route was clear. Instantaneously my relaxed calm breath turned shallow and hard as I quickly swerved to avoid large and small glass shards. Fortunately the Gatorskin tires offered excellent flat protection as glass pieces extended 30 or more feet along the bike lane. Steering, as I did, out into traffic was quite dangerous, and my good fortune that no cars were zooming by at that moment. So who would intentionally produce actions that threaten the safety of others, my mind quickly wondered? Children, parents, commuters could easily have a flat on the spot or shortly afterwards when the glass works its way in. After some calm breaths I realized that someone likely has hurt feelings or thoughts to produce an action that could injure others. This drop of compassion inside helped me send a wish that the suffering that cause people to hurt others be understood, comforted, held and healed, with kindness, in time. I also recognized my uncertainty on how that broken beer bottle really ended up in the bike lane. Perhaps, instead of intentionally thrown, it just bounced out of the back of a pickup. I don’t know how it got there, just that it was there.

bike lane bottle swept

bike lane bottle swept

Looking deeply I see connections between us and our parents, ancestors, the clouds, sun, earth. Strands woven into the web of life. When one suffers, we all suffer. We can all benefit from acts of kindness. Walking down the street with a smile is infectious, has been my experience. Walking with a scowl can generate fear. If there are hazards in the street near our home, such as glass, we can easily clean, thus create safety and happiness. Pedaling home to fetch a broom and dustpan, then returning to sweep up the glass and a nail I felt a positive action has changed a negative action’s karma. I’m grateful that my dogma did not hit your karma. May you feel happy and safe on and off the roadway; cars, bikes pedestrians, & all critters.

joyfully towards the trail ~d nelson

Happiness is…We’re Home!

dwelling happily in the present moment ~ d. nelson

Abiding happily
here, now
with
nowhere to go,
nothing to do,
no longer
in a hurry. (click this link for sweet song)
Hay, let’s smell that beautiful flower!

blooming in dry conditions

May gratitude
for sweet moments
of this precious, short life
linger
until us cows
come home.

i am here for you

Contentedly we cows
chew, chew, chew
getting the most
of mother earth’s nutritious gift,
before stepping out peacefully,
graciously on our earth.

our hillside

A lesson offered
by meek, modest beings
who wish to be safe,
& free from harm
while moooooving slowly,
already home in the present moment.
Happiness dwells following
their slow, non-harming way.

Humankind’s survival depends on our ability to stop rushing.  “Stopping” is not only to stop the negative, but to allow positive healing to take place.  That is the purpose of our practice–not to avoid life, but to experience and demonstrate that happiness in life is possible now, and also in the future. ~Thich Nhat Hanh