Tag Archives: “Thich Nhat Hanh”

Better Way to Fix Flat Tires

super blue blood lunar eclipse ~ d nelson

A friendly visit to young neighbors
socializing brought smiles to us adults.
Eventually, I asked about the teen & pre-teen sitting over there.
Parents said, if heads are down, looking like they are bowing in shame,
noses glued to their cell phones, then they are playing.

I shyly went over and asked what they’re playing.
After some quiet moments, except for sounds leaking from earbuds,
I was told one name or another which I did not recognize.
“What do you guys do to play, outside”, asked I?
They said after being shuttled around, usually, they’re indoors,
“sheltered like plants in a nursery.”

As they continued to poke at their devices
I recalled going out, unsupervised to play.
We’d go out, look up at the sky & wonder.
By the time I was 7, I was out my own,
out seeing if the birdie would
eat the apple core I threw in the garden.
My friends & I would climb over nearby fences
and go play in creeks, in low & high water.

We’d dangle on the old monkey bars & jump on teeter totters.
By 3rd grade we’d be riding our stingrays a mile
to the beach, play on the cliffs & boogie board.
Their curious faces looked up from their phones
and asked how parents let us go out like that
& wasn’t I afraid of getting hurt or being abducted?

Seems it was a different time, back then in the 60’s.
I’m not sure how it’s more dangerous for kids now.
We had no computers, smart phones or 24/7 infotainment.
We got experience & paid attention to our self survival instincts.
I told them that we needed to know how
to do basic stuff like adjust our bikes & fix flat tires,
cause flats happened & still happen to this day.

In this past year I’ve had a half-dozen flats
with each one being caused by staples in the road.
They asked if those staples put in the road make me angry?
Me: “Perhaps they fell off a truck, or maybe they were put
in the bike lane intentionally, I don’t know.
I breathe in and calm my body & unpleasant feelings.
Then I take out the repair kit, patch the tire
and pump it back up.

The flat tire doesn’t make me happy, but
by showing love, caring and understanding for myself
I can show love, caring and understanding for who
or whatever reason that caused the staple to be there.
It’s still fun for me, an old guy, to play outside
& I hope you guys will get out to play more, too!”

Each thought, each action in the sunlight of awareness becomes sacred.
In this light, no boundary exists between the sacred and the profane ~Thich Nhat Hanh

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Animal Survivor’s & Evacuee’s Shelter from Firestorm

Oh, a storm is threat’ning
My very life today
If I don’t get some shelter
Oh yeah, I’m gonna fade away ~Mick Jagger & Keith Richards

gimme shelter: caring for horseys ~d nelson

This week wind’s continually enraged
local fires’ ferocious, insatiable appetites.
Heroically, domestic animals were rescued
and evacuated to the fairgrounds and other shelters.
I smile to your living, scorched fur presence.

gimme shelter: relieve my saddness ~d nelson

Breathing in, through a particulate respirator
I calm my body, that you may feel safe
and cared for and can calm your precious body, too.
I somehow see in your eyes & body language
the sadness of being displaced & relocated.
The trauma of surviving, after witnessing
those who ran for shelter from smoke
& flames, but were consumed by the cataclysm.

Overhead a constant roars of helicopters
& air bombers carry water & fire-retardant,
fighting a real war of survival from above,
while hundreds of firefighters from all over the West
drain their sources to save people, animals & drought-ravaged forest.
Dozens already known dead, hundreds missing.
Over 5700 structures destroyed. It’s all beyond sad.

Humbling to be here whilst hillsides, valleys,
homes just 8 miles away were lost to the inferno.
South a short distance from where I now type,
hotels, business’ and entire neighborhoods, gone.
The local high school & college are shelters for newly homeless people.

Last Sunday I stopped to grocery shop at trader joes in Santa Rosa
after chatting about music while checking out,
headed back to my small Mendocino County town.
Later that evening Coffey Park & Fountaingrove neighborhoods were consumed.
Just a block from where I had stopped to shop.
Looking at news articles I happen to read about a musician
who fortunately heard the sheriff’s evacuation loudspeaker outside.
He & the girlfriend quickly packed up the guitar, the dogs and got in the car.
In the rearview mirror was a rapidly approaching fireball scorching Coffey Park.
Reading that he worked at trader joes, I recognized he was my cashier.

It’s heartbreaking to here, now whilst my hometown of Sonoma
& much of Sonoma County also continues to burn.
Breathing in, I feel mostly calm. Breathing out noticeable emotional overload.
May I live in such a way that honors those who are gone.
Gratitude, expressed in this song, for being offered shelter when needed.
As I sleep lightly & often use earplugs to keep from being awoken,
it could have been me. I likely wouldn’t have heard evacuation orders
as sheriff’s car drove past in the middle of the night.

When a feeling of sadness, despair, or anger arises, we should stop what we are doing in order to go home to ourselves and take care. We can sit or lie down and begin to practice mindful breathing. The daily practice of breathing can be very helpful. A strong emotion is like a storm, and when a storm is about to arrive, we should prepare so we can cope with it. We should not dwell on the level of our head and our thinking but bring all our attention down to the level of our abdomen. We may practice mindful breathing and become aware of the rise and fall of our abdomen. Breathing in, rising; breathing out, falling. Rising, falling. We stop all the thinking because thinking can make the emotion stronger.
We should be aware that an emotion is only an emotion; it arrives, stays for some time, and then passes, just like a storm. We should not die just because of one emotion. We should remind young people about this. We are much more than our emotions, and we can take care of them whether we are feeling anger or despair. We don’t think anymore, we just focus 100 percent of our attention on the rise and fall of the abdomen and in that moment we are safe. Our emotion may last five or ten minutes but if we continue to breathe in and out, we will be safe, because mindfulness is protecting us. Mindfulness is the Buddha in us, helping us practice belly breathing…
We are like a tree during a storm. If you look at the top of a tree, you may have the impression that the tree can be blown away or that the branches can be broken anytime, but if you direct your attention to the trunk of the tree and become aware that the tree is deeply rooted in the soil, then you see the solidity of the tree. The mind is the top of the tree, so don’t dwell there; bring your mind down to the trunk. The abdomen is the trunk, so stick to it, practice mindful, deep breathing, and after that the emotion will pass. When you have survived one emotion, you know that next time a strong emotion arises, you will survive again. But don’t wait for the next strong emotion to practice. It is important that you practice deep, mindful breathing every day.
– Thich Nhat Hanh

Harvest Time in Our Family’s Garden

garden gift box ~d nelson

Everything that slows us down and forces patience, everything that sets us back into the slow circles of nature, is a help. Gardening is an instrument of grace ~ May Sarton

Family garden’s plants
displaying ample abundance
of vegetables & fruits.
I’m overjoyed that annual harvest is in.
Pleased to share with you.

happy tomato row ~d nelson

Inviting, bright colors,
succulent, exquisite flavors
that must be experienced.
Otherwise, I can only describe this
as tasting like the best tomato.

Did I grow this garden, you ask?
My aspiration to do so
was inherited from those who came before.
Planting, cultivating & nurturing took
just a little joyful energy & scheduling.

a fine fig

The real miracle lies with those seeds
which contain cosmic life-replenishing potential.
Offered necessary conditions of water,
sunlight, warm mother earth, time & luck,
the miracle has manifested, again.

Seeds have the power to preserve species, to enhance cultural as well as genetic diversity, to counter economic monopoly and to check the advance of conformity on all its many fronts ~ Michael Pollan

This food is a gift of the whole universe,
the earth, the sky, numerous living beings
& much hard & loving work.
May we eat with mindfulness & gratitude
(5 meal contemplations for saying before eating, Thich Nhat Hanh)

corn touching sky

There are so many people near & far
without adequate food to eat.
They wake up hungry, go to bed, hungry.
Over 30 million people in this world
are on the threshold of famine.
Expressing gratitude for each bite
& helping others as we can
seems proper & natural to me.
We are all brother & sister flowers
in this family garden of humanity.

A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in ~ Greek proverb

Happy Continuation: an epi-blog of VietNam ’07

Staying in the shade @ Trung Hau retreat ~d nelson

I believe it’s possible for a people, for a society to heal from deep-seated injury & trauma. Some of us live in such a time, now, in need of convalescence.  I experienced such a collective, extraordinary healing ten years ago.

Thay introduces abbot

Thay introduces abbot from Dong Dac temple; as Thay came by he told us that many important masters had studied and practiced at this temple.

On this 10 year anniversary of participating for the 3 months on a healing tour to VietNam, accompanying Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh to his home country, from which he had been exiled from nearly 40 years, I witnessed healing of a country which lost over 6 million citizens to war. There are relatively few men still living over 60 years of age, especially in the north. Words below are re-posted from May 12, 2007, without further comment.

Sr. Jewel leaves a smile

Sister Jewel leaves a smile

My Dear Friends, Cheres Amie,

On the way to the Hanoi airport, after nearly 3 months on an amazing pilgrimage which began in Ho Chi Minh City, en route to flying home I read an article in the Vietnam News with the following quote: “President Nguyen Minh Triet hailed high-profile Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh’s visit as a great contribution to Vietnam’s religious activities during their meeting in Hanoi Saturday (May 5th). Triet said he hoped that the “Zen Master” would make more trips to Vietnam and contribute further to national solidarity and development. Hanh has been in Vietnam for a three-month visit since February 20, during which he held three chanting ceremonies, known as Grand Requiems, for those killed in all wars and accidents in the country. Triet told Hanh that Vietnam always respects religious freedom and is determined to make all religions welcomed.” I smiled reading that Thay’s call for the President and/or Prime Minister’s support for the ceremonies to reconcile a nation and other events offered by the sangha had, in part, been realized.

early morning flower market

Hanoi flower market

Today sitting in my dirty car, while slowly being hauled through the Bubble Machine Car Wash’s suds, some questions came to my mind. Like, what will be the karma of the pilgrimage? What does it mean to travel across a country supporting the provision of teachings, practices as well as healing ceremonies to affect deep-seated pains of the past, manifesting in the present, in individuals, families, communities and societies? Seeing so, so many people sincerely taste fruits of mindful living practices and find their joy and happiness by using their breath, steps and actions to arrive in the present moment was unforgettable. When might a country who suffers so much, such as America, be ready for such healing, and who would have the credibility and a big enough heart to do it? Despite a lack of awareness published in Vietnam’s government controlled press about the upcoming events or their intention, tens of thousands came out, and countless other Vietnamese and friends of Vietnamese all over the world set up alters and prayed during the ceremonies to remember the victims of the “American and French wars.” Having had witnessed and participated in one of the greatest acts of love towards Vietnamese people, if not all people, animals, plants and minerals, how should I and the hundreds of other western sangha members who gave so much of there time and money to travel together, continue living out our lives, continuing Thay’s intention? Thich Nhat Hanh could conserve his precious energy by staying in Plum Village, occasionally giving talks and continuing sharing his wisdom through writing books. Where does an eighty year old Zen master derive the physical, mental and spiritual energy, boundless bodhichitta (great heart and mind of compassion), to carry out such an epic intention to heal his nation and the world? All of us westerners had moments of shear mental and physical exhaustion keeping up with the schedule. At times it appeared to me that Thay (Vietnamese for “beloved teacher”) had done nothing short of summoning the Buddha within for strength and direction. Upon finishing the car’s wash I wrote these questions down, then started the engine and drove off, bringing full attention to the Southern California drivers zooming around me.

thousands end walk

Crowd at Huong Son temple welcoming Thich Nhat Hanh

At the final retreats and talks in and near Hanoi Thay continued sharing practical practices from the Lotus sutra, Diamond sutra, and other sutras including the full awareness of breathing, mindfulness and living alone. Attendees at the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and industry were treated to teachings on deriving insight from our experience, rather than just theories or book learning, and tapping into mindfulness of the breath and awareness of what is going on to find happiness. Negative habit energies of continuing to seek happiness in money, power, fame and sex will most likely lead to more suffering, as is experienced in the West. Buddhism is attractive in the West because it is very scientific in its approach to addressing problems within us and in the environment; being viewed more as a philosophy rather than a devotional religion. Thay made it clear over and over that people and the environment share the same fate and continuing to pollute and destroy nature would be our demise. Thay shared how he has counseled many Western government and business leaders that the way out of our shared predicament is by practicing the mindfulness trainings. During his last public talk in Vietnamese at a retreat in Trung Hau temple, a powerful discourse on the teachings of love was given to the people of Vinh Phuc Province. Love is made of understanding, compassion and wisdom. Relationships and love are not individual matters, as is most often practiced in the west. The happiness of the family and community are also at stake in relationships. Parents and children must use loving speech and deep listening so that they can understand each other for what they truly are, continuations of each other. So often each side is caught in up-side down thinking, or having the wrong perceptions and views. In the East there is a tradition of respect, for parents, for our own bodies. This is practiced by dressing modestly, cooperating, being discreet and couples treating each other as guests, even after being married. Thay said that now many young people are in a state of bewilderment with what they see and hear in their environment, on TV’s and hear in music. Many 14 and 15 year old girls are having sex and getting pregnant, without ever knowing what true love is. Their despair ultimately is transmitted to their children who may well go down the same road. Thay concluded by suggesting that this talk on the 4 immeasurable minds should be given over and over to young people so that their happiness can grow in the knowing that true love is an act of friendship towards oneself and others. After this talk the temple’s Venerable monk told Thay that his community must have accumulated much merit from their ancestors to receive such a powerful teaching, and that he does not know how to repay the generosity and compassion.

hello restaurant staff

hello restaurant staff red apple restaurant in Da Nang offered us a nice meal

At the end of each of the 4 segments of this 3 month journey across Vietnam, members of the western lay sangha wrote comments of gratitude, observations of the beauty of Vietnam and it’s loving people and personal transformations, in a journal. After the final dharma talk in Hanoi the book was presented to Thay. I’m told he smiled and gratefully commented that he wished that we all could accompany him and the monastics to Hong Kong and Thailand, where they will continue giving talks and retreats until early June. Thay made it clear in his words and actions during the entire trip how our lay presence was helping support the healing. We have benefited from his wisdom of no coming, no going, realizing that we are in him, and he is in us; insight passed on by a great teacher. It’s astonishing to think that later this year he plans to give retreats in Europe and America. May he and the sangha have both good health and fortune in their continued efforts as bodhisattvas.

alms round flowing

Alms round of Plum Village & Bat Nha monastics in an orderly line before encountering Bao Loc crowds.

During the next month or so I will produce a video of the pilgrimage so that other sangha members around the world, who were either there or not, can see for themselves glimpses of what happened. You’re welcome to let me know if you’d like a copy. In the mean time there are many pictures and accounts available on the web, including mine at http://www.flickr.com/photos/rezdog . Smiles to you and best wishes in your practice of touching the joy and happiness which is you, already,
david, Compassionate Guidance of the Heart, Truly Holding Equanimity

Full of love

Sister Chan Khong visiting rural school her compassion program financially supports

Inner Explorers’ Courageous Acts of Curiosity

The future of all life, including our own, depends on our mindful steps. We have to hear the bells of mindfulness that are sounding all across our planet. We have to start learning how to live in a way so that a future will be possible for our children and our grandchildren. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

mindful steps upon mother earth ~d nelson

Curious meditators diligently
collect, then release data;
cultivating hearts of understanding
& minds of love.
As experienced practitioners
they seek to distinguish
science fact from science fiction.

Space: The final frontier!
These, the voyages of diligent contemplators
on lifelong missions;
To explore strange, ever-changing inner & outer worlds;
To protect all life and live in harmony with all civilizations
To boldly go where no fool has gone before.

Stay authentic to your heart & mind
dear seekers of truth.
All who have come before,
those who are here now,
and descendents still to come,
here on mother earth & beyond
depend on your wise action.

Please support each other
on & off the meditation cushion
with smiles, love & kindness
as our time, in the here
& now, is of the essence
when looking into climate,
ozone, & other darkness’, especially
Earth’s 6th great mass extinction.

Give Us This Day Our Daily Bread

…And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring
us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. ~Matthew 6:11-13, the Bible

bread of life ~d nelson

bread of life ~d nelson

Despite retirement, the public health nutritionist within me
smiles to the Lord’s Prayer’s humble, redemptive words of gratitude.
Everyone needs suitable & stable sources of sustenance
whether it be from wheat, rice, other grains or plant-based foods.
Really try imaging how hard it is to be grateful and love
thy neighbors on an empty stomach.

bread of life 2 ~d nelson

bread of life 2 ~d nelson

For 10,000 years wheat was cultivated, stored, stone-milled and consumed.
The breads of old nourished western civilization.
In the industrial era, new technologies changed things.
Mechanical mills turned wheat into barren white flour.
Chemical and genetic technologies made it pest, drought and blight resistant.
Wheat was modified to be easier to harvest, dramatically increasing yield per acre.
Genetics were also altered to increase gluten for better, fluffier baking properties.
In the past century science speeded bread mixing, kneading, rising and baking
times from 6 or more hours to about an hour.
Unfortunately our bodies have not adapted to the new products’
genetic changes as quickly as they’ve been introduced
and many of us have become intolerant to altered glutens
and breads; sadly, as breads nourished so many of our ancestors.
Breads made in slow-rising, homemade methods, such as sourdough
can be tolerated by some with gluten sensitivity.

sourdough starter ~d nelson

sourdough starter ~d nelson

“The point is that you can’t be too greedy.” ~Donald Trump

Everyone also needs bread, in the form of cash or other currency
to acquire needed shelter, provisions & medicine for themselves & their family.
May we actively cultivate our compassion to help others in these hard times.
If we still have bread to share, perhaps we can kindly offer a slice
to those in real need, regardless of race, gender, religion or ideology.
While national leaders are turning American Democracy into a Plutocracy
to further enrich fortunes of the most wealthy & military,
many of us will soon have no health care benefit, especially women,
many will be removed from affordable public & subsidized housing.
Immigrants & refugees without large sums of cash will be banned.
Retirees will soon find their pension funds looted
and potentially end up on the streets with increased masses
of homeless, refugees, mentally ill and dying.

bread of life 4~d nelson

bread of life 4~d nelson

There’s a rumor that Official State TV announced white is the acceptable preferred color
& male the acceptable preferred gender, just like the administration’s cabinet.
Christianity now seems the official religion of the USA, with Muslims unwelcome.
Dare I say these acts fail to exemplify acceptance, tolerance, or wisdom of non-discrimination.
Curious, I’ve asked church-attending friends to share lessons they live by
& was told of Jesus’ teachings to feed the poor and heal the sick.

bread of life 8~d nelson

bread of life 8~d nelson

Maybe an alternative fact, maybe not, but
it’s said the newly renamed White House Castle spokesperson
quipped, in a poor French accent, when asked
what will happen to the impoverished & elderly
who’ll become unable to acquire adequate bread of life
under these new austerity programs,
Qu’ils mangent de la brioche”—“Let them eat cake.”

bread of life 5 ~d nelson

bread of life 5 ~d nelson

During the last supper, Jesus Christ told his disciples: “This piece of bread is my flesh. Eat it.” That was a radical statement. He must have noticed that his twelve friends were not awake, and when he saw that he wanted to say something strong to wake them up, to help them live fully in the present moment. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Let Mavis Staple’s voice touch your heart with her performance of Stephen Foster’s 1854 song

Death By Peanut Butter

remember running free? ~d nelson

remember running free? ~d nelson

It’s said some stared in disbelief
& others turned away
while a brave few spoke out
from their hearts.

peanut butter jar ~d nelson

peanut butter jar ~d nelson

At one time they’d all
been human beings,
stopping to smell flowers,
moving towards total,
collective awakening.

flower calling out

flower calling out

But slowly the masses consumption,
with all of nature on the menu,
transformed them into mindless rats
racing towards their
just reward awaiting
baited in traps.

creamy illusion

creamy illusion

It tastes so good, he said.
It feels so good, she said.
Creamy, delectable, satisfying
their mind’s need for more comfort
in their increasingly uncomfortable,
polluted, heating-up situation.

trapped

trapped

Fortunately, all species ancestor’s aspiration
for descendant’s resilient survival
blossomed in conscious heart’s & minds
resulting in a change of diet
just before finishing
off the last jar.

scurry towards nature

scurry towards nature

It is exactly because the Buddha was a human being that countless Buddhas are possible ~Thich Nhat Hanh