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The Art of Living

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Master the art of living from one of the world’s most revered spiritual leaders. Thich Nhat Hanh, the world’s most renowned Zen master, turns his mindful attention to the most important subject of all – the art of living. The bestselling author of The Miracle of Mindfulness presents, for the first time, seven transformative meditations that open up new perspectives on our li Master the art of living from one of the world’s most revered spiritual leaders. Thich Nhat Hanh, the world’s most renowned Zen master, turns his mindful attention to the most important subject of all – the art of living. The bestselling author of The Miracle of Mindfulness presents, for the first time, seven transformative meditations that open up new perspectives on our lives, our relationships and our interconnectedness with the world around us. He reveals an art of living in mindfulness that helps us answer life's deepest questions, experience the happiness and freedom we desire and face ageing and dying with curiosity and joy instead of fear. Stimulating and inspiring, this book teaches us the importance of looking inside ourselves and developing compassion, before we can turn to our relationships at home and in the wider world. Full of remarkable stories from Thich Nhat Hanh’s own experiences and mindful practices for engaging with life, this will be a book that will help us generate happiness, understanding and love so we can live deeply in each moment of our life, right where we are.


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Master the art of living from one of the world’s most revered spiritual leaders. Thich Nhat Hanh, the world’s most renowned Zen master, turns his mindful attention to the most important subject of all – the art of living. The bestselling author of The Miracle of Mindfulness presents, for the first time, seven transformative meditations that open up new perspectives on our li Master the art of living from one of the world’s most revered spiritual leaders. Thich Nhat Hanh, the world’s most renowned Zen master, turns his mindful attention to the most important subject of all – the art of living. The bestselling author of The Miracle of Mindfulness presents, for the first time, seven transformative meditations that open up new perspectives on our lives, our relationships and our interconnectedness with the world around us. He reveals an art of living in mindfulness that helps us answer life's deepest questions, experience the happiness and freedom we desire and face ageing and dying with curiosity and joy instead of fear. Stimulating and inspiring, this book teaches us the importance of looking inside ourselves and developing compassion, before we can turn to our relationships at home and in the wider world. Full of remarkable stories from Thich Nhat Hanh’s own experiences and mindful practices for engaging with life, this will be a book that will help us generate happiness, understanding and love so we can live deeply in each moment of our life, right where we are.

30 review for The Art of Living

  1. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    According to Thich Nhat Hanh, the key to the art of living can be summarized in one word: Mindfulness. Or to use his words:Happiness is not something that arrives in a package in the mail. Happiness does not fall out of the sky. Happiness is something we generate with mindfulness.I am inclined to agree with him. For over a year, I have been attending weekly guided meditations on Thursdays at the Los Angeles Central Library conducted by the Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) at UCLA. I was According to Thich Nhat Hanh, the key to the art of living can be summarized in one word: Mindfulness. Or to use his words:Happiness is not something that arrives in a package in the mail. Happiness does not fall out of the sky. Happiness is something we generate with mindfulness.I am inclined to agree with him. For over a year, I have been attending weekly guided meditations on Thursdays at the Los Angeles Central Library conducted by the Mindful Awareness Research Center (MARC) at UCLA. I was able to do this because my job was reduced from a full-time job to a part-time job. Curiously, I have been feeling better as a result, and my overall health has improved. On the other hand, two of my co-workers have died during the same period, and the remaining ones, incuding my boss, are incredibly stressed. There's a lot to this practice. Although Thich Nhat Hanh was a Buddhist monk, his advice in The Art of Living is non-denominational. In every way, this a a highly useful book.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    from page 70: "When I was eighty years old, a journalist asked me if I ever planned to retire as a spiritual teacher. I smiled and explained that teaching is given not by talking alone but by the way we live our life. Our life is the teaching. Our life is the message. And so I explained that as long as I continue to practice mindful sitting, walking, eating, and interacting with my community and those around me, I will continue to teach. I told her that I had already started encouraging my senior from page 70: "When I was eighty years old, a journalist asked me if I ever planned to retire as a spiritual teacher. I smiled and explained that teaching is given not by talking alone but by the way we live our life. Our life is the teaching. Our life is the message. And so I explained that as long as I continue to practice mindful sitting, walking, eating, and interacting with my community and those around me, I will continue to teach. I told her that I had already started encouraging my senior students to begin to replace me by giving their own Dharma talks. Many of them have given wonderful Dharma talks, and some have been better than mine! When they teach, I see myself continued in them.” I find nourishing and healing food-for-thought in the writings of Zen master Thich That Hanh (b. 1926). The edition I read was from the library, and I was moved to copy out a number of passages - which indicates that I probably need a personal copy!

  3. 5 out of 5

    Yesenia Cash

    Common message, mindfulness....sounds easy but few achieve.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    The Art of Living by Thich Nhat Hanh Does Zen master, global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh need any further introduction? For me it is the first of his books I have read and it wont be the last. I enjoyed his clear and simple way of writing and explaining. (Is that because he writes his insights after -walking- meditation and with a brush in short calligraphy phrases?) It helped me to understand the Buddha’s teachings and the basics of mindfulness a little better. I gl The Art of Living by Thich Nhat Hanh Does Zen master, global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh need any further introduction? For me it is the first of his books I have read and it wont be the last. I enjoyed his clear and simple way of writing and explaining. (Is that because he writes his insights after -walking- meditation and with a brush in short calligraphy phrases?) It helped me to understand the Buddha’s teachings and the basics of mindfulness a little better. I gladly share some of Thich Nhat Hanh’s insights with you: Time is life and life is love. Love is a long-term commitment made know to my family and friends. The four basic elements of true love are loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness. When you start a relation with someone you should also need to find out what their dreams are and also need to help them understand your dream. My happiness depends on my mental attitude not on external conditions. Seven concentrations (and the seven chapters of this book) 1. Emptiness, means to be full of everything but empty of a separate existence. 2. Signlessness ‘a cloud never dies’ death is essential to making life possible, death is transformation, death is continuation. We should take time to understand living and dying and free our self from anxiety, fear and sorrow. 3. Aimlessness ‘you already are what you want to become’ ‘the way out is in’ It is the quality of our life that is important, not how long we live. Spiritual practise is the art of knowing how to create happiness and handle suffering. Your dream is now. What can I do today to realize my dreams? Realize your dreams with joy, ease and freedom. Our dream gives us vitality, it gives meaning to our lives. 4. Impermanence, thanks to impermanence everything is possible. When we agree with the truth of impermanence we have to behave according to that truth. You do everything you can and you do it now. Make the person you love happy, live the kind of life you would like to live. Make it a living insight that is with us every day. (don’t exercise to get fit or be healthier, do it because you enjoy being alive) Take good care of your garden, so you can help your beloved take care of theirs. Cultivate flowers of peace, compassion, gratitude, understanding and joy, and you can offer, patience acceptance, understanding and compassion, and grow together. Our suffering is impermanent and that is why we can transform it, and because happiness is impermanent that is why we have to nourish it. 5. Non Carving (you have enough) As soon as we realize that in this very moment we already have enough and we already are enough true happiness becomes possible. Mindfulness can only help reduce our stress and tension if it provides us with insight. Our spiritual practice (meditation) has the power to transform the roots of our suffering and transform the way we live our daily life. It is insight that helps us calm our restlessness, stress and craving. True happiness depends on our capacity to cultivate compassion and understanding and bring nourishment and healing to ourselves and our loved ones. It is possible to learn to sit in peace, breath in peace and walk in peace. To be at peace is an art we cultivate with daily mindful practice. As we nourish and heal ourselves, our understanding of the meaning of life will deepen day by day. We can become a victim of our success but never of our happiness. 6. Letting go. Our idea of happiness may be the very obstacle of our happiness. Peace, freedom and happiness can be found right here in this very life, if only we can learn the art of handling our suffering. Happiness and peace are born from transforming suffering and pain. If there was no mud, how could a lotus grow. A meditator is both an artist and a warrior. 7. Nirvana is now Nirvana is a pleasant state of coolness and freshness that we can all touch in this very life. As we learn to handle our suffering we are learning to generate moments of nirvana. Awakening can be found right in the heart of suffering. So it’s okay to suffer, we just need to learn how to handle it. time is life an time is love This is my life and I want to live it deeply. The five Remembrances of the Buddha: I am of the nature to grow old There is no way to escape growing old I am of the nature to have ill health There is no way to escape ill health I am of the nature to die There is no way to escape death All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change There is no way to escape being separated from them My actions are my only true belongings I cannot escape the consequences of my actions They are the ground upon which I stand

  5. 4 out of 5

    Hákon Gunnarsson

    I think The Art of Living is Thich Nhat Hanh’s latest book. It is based on talks he gave in 2014. Later that year he got a severe brain hemorrhage and still hasn’t gained the power of speech again, so this might be his last book too. In most ways a continuation of what he has been writing about in other books I’ve read by him, Buddhism, and how to live well. But he is also writing about dying, and he deals with that in quite an interesting way. He was born in 1926, so one might assume that he is I think The Art of Living is Thich Nhat Hanh’s latest book. It is based on talks he gave in 2014. Later that year he got a severe brain hemorrhage and still hasn’t gained the power of speech again, so this might be his last book too. In most ways a continuation of what he has been writing about in other books I’ve read by him, Buddhism, and how to live well. But he is also writing about dying, and he deals with that in quite an interesting way. He was born in 1926, so one might assume that he is coming to terms with his own mortality. However I look at it, I find it an interesting book, and often beautifully written, like so much of his other writings I’ve read.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Diana

    Book received from Edelweiss Religious Diversity @emojiathon I first heard of this author in my Eastern Religions class, while I'm not Buddhist some of the teachings of the religion really resonated with me. This book was sent to me by the publisher at an interesting time. At the end of the month we'll be coming up on the 1st anniversary of my niece's death and things are starting to get rough as we get closer to her birthday which was also this month. Reading through this book and remembering tha Book received from Edelweiss Religious Diversity @emojiathon I first heard of this author in my Eastern Religions class, while I'm not Buddhist some of the teachings of the religion really resonated with me. This book was sent to me by the publisher at an interesting time. At the end of the month we'll be coming up on the 1st anniversary of my niece's death and things are starting to get rough as we get closer to her birthday which was also this month. Reading through this book and remembering that I need to focus on the present has helped me quite a bit to put things back on an even keel. This is one book that I want to add to my own religious bookshelves for when I need that reminder again.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Christine Quinn

    Excellent book. Everyone should read this who wants to try to live a more mindful existence. Can not put into words the feeling this book has given me. I borrowed the book from the library but just purchased it as i feel it needs to be read many times in order to fully absorb the words to help incorporate into everyday life. Excellent.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Abbey

    "this is my life and i want to live it deeply." i've been listening to this audio book while driving to and from work and it has been so useful as a way of reorienting myself to my body, go slower, and let go of obsession with outcome/result. thay's teachings are so helpful & kind and so very necessary in this current time. "this is my life and i want to live it deeply." i've been listening to this audio book while driving to and from work and it has been so useful as a way of reorienting myself to my body, go slower, and let go of obsession with outcome/result. thay's teachings are so helpful & kind and so very necessary in this current time.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer

    Review to come.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kseniia Georgieva

    „The number of days we have to live is not so important. What matters is how we live them.“ Beautiful book, extremely important in times of not appreciating our own life, pretending to live the life of someone else, of pleasing others. We are forgetting the true values of our life! „As soon as we realize that in this very moment we already have enough, and we already are enough, true happiness becomes possible.“ The book contains simple steps that can bring your life back on track, everyone in the „The number of days we have to live is not so important. What matters is how we live them.“ Beautiful book, extremely important in times of not appreciating our own life, pretending to live the life of someone else, of pleasing others. We are forgetting the true values of our life! „As soon as we realize that in this very moment we already have enough, and we already are enough, true happiness becomes possible.“ The book contains simple steps that can bring your life back on track, everyone in the world knows these steps and pearls of wisdom but, somehow, my book is full of notes and highlights. "Impermanence is just as capable of bringing about happiness as it is of bringing about suffering.“ Live in this very moment and appreciate it no matter whether it is positive or negative because nothing is here forever. „True happiness depends on our capacity to cultivate compassion and understanding and bring nourishment and healing to ourselves and our loved ones.“ I will definitely re-read this book many times in the future just to refresh and to remind myself that life is so precious. "We cannot create happiness in a place where there is no suffering, just as we cannot grow lotuses without mud....Lotuses cannot grow on marble."

  11. 5 out of 5

    Kristen Edge

    I picked this up after having heard so many good things about Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk from Vietnam. While I found the book helpful in a couple ways, much of what he discussed are topics that Sam Harris and other philosophers discuss outside the realm of religion. As a somewhat spiritual but scientific individual, I am less interested in the abstract and belief-based values and reasoning. Hanh doesn't go too far with religion, but he does mention "energies" multiple times, which I find o I picked this up after having heard so many good things about Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk from Vietnam. While I found the book helpful in a couple ways, much of what he discussed are topics that Sam Harris and other philosophers discuss outside the realm of religion. As a somewhat spiritual but scientific individual, I am less interested in the abstract and belief-based values and reasoning. Hanh doesn't go too far with religion, but he does mention "energies" multiple times, which I find off-putting for their new-age, unproven, seemingly innacurate connotations and denotations. Overall, it was okay. He writes as you might imagine a monk would, in short, simple and clear sentences. He uses metaphors often, especially ones connected to nature. And he touches on some important topics like non-attachment that I think are valuable, but I also think others have covered the same topics in a better way.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Chris Dietzel

    4.5 stars. A really good overview of Buddhist philosophy as it relates to every day life. Recommended if you've read similar books and enjoyed them but if you're just starting out I'd give a higher recommendation to Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment and perhaps also to The Art of Happiness. 4.5 stars. A really good overview of Buddhist philosophy as it relates to every day life. Recommended if you've read similar books and enjoyed them but if you're just starting out I'd give a higher recommendation to Awakening the Buddha Within: Eight Steps to Enlightenment and perhaps also to The Art of Happiness.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Liza Nahas

    Thoughtful, thought-provoking advice to help one advance on your spiritual journey through life. You'll need to own your copy because there is so much to highlight & underline! I've already referred back to my marked passages several times. Thoughtful, thought-provoking advice to help one advance on your spiritual journey through life. You'll need to own your copy because there is so much to highlight & underline! I've already referred back to my marked passages several times.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Bibi Larson

    Awesome way to live our lives - being mindful!!

  15. 5 out of 5

    Su Myint Myat Moe

    Listening this book as audio was like someone was talking, comforting and easing the pain.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bremer

    Calm your mind. Open yourself to what is arising and passing. If you stir up the mud at the bottom of a lake, the water will be unclear. But when you let the water be as it is, not trying to flatten the ripples or scoop out all the mud, the lake will settle down. Then you will see not only the still water, but a reflection of the mountains on the surface. When you watch the rain, you are the rain just as much as the rain is you. Rather than feeling that you are a separate observer, passively wat Calm your mind. Open yourself to what is arising and passing. If you stir up the mud at the bottom of a lake, the water will be unclear. But when you let the water be as it is, not trying to flatten the ripples or scoop out all the mud, the lake will settle down. Then you will see not only the still water, but a reflection of the mountains on the surface. When you watch the rain, you are the rain just as much as the rain is you. Rather than feeling that you are a separate observer, passively watching each droplet fall down, there is only the splash, splash, splash. There is a rain beyond your words. Beyond your images and concepts and memories. Yet you often divide yourself from the rain, creating an idea of you, an idea of the rain, an idea of how the rain sounds, an idea of how you should feel when you see the rain, and so on. You forget to smell the rain because you are attached to what you think you know. You often separate your experiences into endlessly finer categories. You discriminate between what you see as good and bad, black and white, ugly and beautiful, life and death, young and old. You organize and measure and judge. Your universe is placed into a mental filing system. Yet as Alan Watts said, “You confuse the menu for the meal.” When you are mindful, when you let go, you can come back to the purity of who you are. You can harmonize with nature. Breathing in, breathing out. You are here. Like a bow sliding across a violin, you are open to the continuous hum. You are not alienated from the rest of life. You inter-are. You are made up of relationships. A flower cannot bloom without being connected to non-flower elements like the soil beneath it or the sun above it. For the petals of a rose to glisten with dew, there first needed to be a Big Bang. Conditions before that flower existed helped that flower to be. When the rose wilts back into the old earth, another plant will take its place. Energy cannot be created nor destroyed, only transformed. Just like a flower, you are made up of non-you parts. You cannot exist without the oxygen you breathe or your ancestors or the gravity of the planet. You cannot exist without the water from the oceans or the clouds drifting above you. There is no you apart from anything else. “You cannot step into the same river twice,” as Heraclitus once said. Your thoughts, feelings, and perceptions are changing. You will not be the same person at five or fifteen or eighty. You may feel the same, and believe that you will remain young forever, but you are a constellation of processes, transforming in every moment. You are dying and being reborn. You are changing with the conditions of the universe. Don’t attach yourself to one view of life and claim that is the best view to have. When you cling to your beliefs and refuse to open yourself up, you will suffer. Your dogmatism will cause other beings to suffer too. You are all the lives you have influenced. You are all the ancestors who survived for you to be born and all the descendants who will grow old after you have decomposed. You are the sun and water and trees and moon. Without them, there is no you. Your interconnection with all living beings will help you to see beyond yourself. With awareness, you don’t have to judge everything outside your flesh as separate from you. You don’t have to look for ways to isolate yourself from other beings. Clinging to rigid beliefs, avoiding alternative perspectives, and not empathizing with the vulnerable, will only cause you to suffer. You are in others as others are in you. It’s up to you to be kind, compassionate, and loving. Every moment is a chance for you to deepen your practice. Talking about philosophy is not enough. Your life is your message. Your teaching. When you are mindful and compassionate, your peaceful presence will influence the people around you. Everyone you meet is a continuation of you. Your practice is a practice not only for you, but for your siblings, parents, children, neighbors, and the rest of your community. When you think you are separate from the rest of the world, you will try to run from the world. You will seek pleasure and avoid pain. You will look for comforting answers to the mystery of your existence. You will hide from unpleasant truths. Rather than hiding from what you don’t like or attaching yourself to abstractions, look within yourself. See yourself in the world just as the world is seen in you. You are not only the blood in your body, but the stars in your blood. You don’t have to climb a mountain to find what is already here. You only need to see. If you walk in a park, do you notice the leaves falling from the trees? Do you feel the breeze brushing against your skin? Do you exhale as you step on the soft soil? Look for lessons in what is already an intimate part of you. There is more wisdom in a crumbling leaf than in a thousand words about impermanence. When you walk, walk. When you sit, sit. When you breathe, breathe. Rather than seeking to become important or achieve something outside of yourself, rather than dwelling on your regrets or rushing off to do the next thing, continue to do what you are doing, but with total freedom. Be present with what you are doing. When you nourish yourself, you will nourish other sentient beings. You will care for those who are suffering, who need someone to be there for them. You are not only working toward an end goal of compassion, peace, and kindness. You are those things. Every step can be a step of peace. When you live in the present, you will begin to see the impermanence in all things. A flower blooming in spring and withering in the autumn sun, a lover with age spots on her hands, a flash of lightning in the clouds. Without impermanence, a child can never mature into an adult and an acorn can never grow into a tree. For there to be birth, there has to be death. When you are aware of your impermanence, every moment is precious, a fleeting miracle. You can care for all things in your life, while knowing that nothing ever lasts. Pain and anger will fade away just like joy and happiness. Seemingly unstoppable empires will collapse as civilizations develop. Everyone you know will die and break down into the dust of bones. Plants will grow over your forgotten tomb. When you know the truth of your impermanence, you will be grateful for what you have while knowing that it won’t be yours forever. There is no you that remains the same. Your perceptions, thoughts, feelings, moods, and behaviors all change over time. From the cells in your fingers to the bacteria in your gut, from the wrinkles on your skin to the hormones in your glands, from the neurons in your brain to the oxygen that you inhale, you are transforming. You are not alone. You are not an unchanging entity, apart from the rest of the universe. You are the same, but also different. Life is like a garden that you can cultivate. You can water the seeds of hatred and ignorance and greed or you can water the seeds of peace and joy and compassion. You have the freedom to choose. It is entirely up to you. When you tend to yourself, you tend to others. When you tend to others, you tend to yourself. You must be wise enough to select the most wholesome seeds to water. Sometimes in relationships, you may fall into negative habits. You may forget to be grateful and engaged. As the weeds grow in your garden and theirs, both of you will suffer. But it is never too late to cut away the weeds, to plant new seeds again. Rather than chasing after abstract notions of success, pleasure, power, and reputation, see these cravings for what they are. When you desire to taste the bait, biting down with all your force, you will get hooked. Only when you can let go, mindful of your suffering, will you be free. Be aware of your fear, your need for intimacy, your sorrow, and your compulsion to survive. You are connected with this earth. You can show compassion to your suffering while nourishing your love. Smile because you are alive on this beautiful earth. You are here for only a short time.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Eric T. Voigt

    Ugh, I feel like I have a long long way to go to get to the peace espoused in this text.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Not my kind of book I guess. Saw the 5 star rating and thought it would be good. It seemed that he repeated himself over and over again in the book.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Anabel Olivo

    A book that everyone should read regardless of their religion.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Chetan

    In 2014 Thich Nhat Hanh suffered a stroke leaving him unable to speak. Whoever ghostwrote this book, published in 2017, did so without proper knowledge in Dhamma and it clearly shows. The author starts by doing a fantastic job of mixing religions and getting the reader to see the bigger picture. Finding happiness, love, and a better life while diluting the teaching to easily digestible portions. What this isn't is the art of living, not in its entirety. Just the parts that would make sense to so In 2014 Thich Nhat Hanh suffered a stroke leaving him unable to speak. Whoever ghostwrote this book, published in 2017, did so without proper knowledge in Dhamma and it clearly shows. The author starts by doing a fantastic job of mixing religions and getting the reader to see the bigger picture. Finding happiness, love, and a better life while diluting the teaching to easily digestible portions. What this isn't is the art of living, not in its entirety. Just the parts that would make sense to someone who lives in the west. The meditation taught here is very much in the shallow end of the pool that is meditation. It's very misleading, like suggesting that being in a state of mind without physical or mental pain is Nirvana. I feel it is irresponsible. This book is decent, it has many good parts but it's nothing original to plum village Buddhism. If you want to read something similar but better I'd suggest Sharon Salzberg's Real Love or The Art of Happiness by the Dalai Lama.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Smitha Murthy

    My last non-fiction read of November was a book by a much-loved monk - the master of mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh. Having only read his collection of folk tales, it was my first introduction to the words of a man who is considered one of the foremost apostles of peace. ‘The Art Of Living’ is his latest book, and since I haven’t read any of his other books, I came back feeling slightly underwhelmed. ‘Be mindful’ he says. That’s about the entire gist of the book. While useful, it’s not really reco My last non-fiction read of November was a book by a much-loved monk - the master of mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh. Having only read his collection of folk tales, it was my first introduction to the words of a man who is considered one of the foremost apostles of peace. ‘The Art Of Living’ is his latest book, and since I haven’t read any of his other books, I came back feeling slightly underwhelmed. ‘Be mindful’ he says. That’s about the entire gist of the book. While useful, it’s not really recommended for lay practitioners of Buddhism or meditation. While I will forever treasure some of the concepts - how beautiful is ‘the rain is cloud transformed from the sky!’ - I wish I could have obtained more practical insights from the meditation master. Or perhaps, some more personal anecdotes. That’s what I feel was missing.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    I will start with some lyrics from a favorite song, and try to connect them to the art of living. Greg Brown, Rexroth’s Daughter: Coldest night of the winter working up my farewell In the middle of everything under no particular spell I am dreaming of the mountains where the children learn the stars Clouds roll in from nebraska dark chords on a big guitar My restlessness is long gone I would stand here like an old jack pine But I'm looking for rexroth's daughter the friend of a friend of mine I heard I will start with some lyrics from a favorite song, and try to connect them to the art of living. Greg Brown, Rexroth’s Daughter: Coldest night of the winter working up my farewell In the middle of everything under no particular spell I am dreaming of the mountains where the children learn the stars Clouds roll in from nebraska dark chords on a big guitar My restlessness is long gone I would stand here like an old jack pine But I'm looking for rexroth's daughter the friend of a friend of mine I heard a man speak quietly I listened for a while He spoke from his heart to my woe & then he bowed & smiled What is real but compassion as we move from birth to death I am looking for rexroth's daughter & I'm running out of breath It felt like a journey, a drive, traffic, northern California blue sky splendor; I stood waiting in a mass of people, all of us to hear Thich Nhat Hanh speak at Berkeley, all of us with a story, and I felt the crowd’s energy as a balm, a hush. This was one of my first experiences with Buddhism, other than reading it, and trying to meditate, and all the people around me had different stories and goals; some were just there to be in the presence of as many holy Buddhist teachers as possible, some to find answers, some to find enlightenment, some out of intellectual curiosity. I was hoping it wasn’t sold out, and someone came by with a free ticket and gave it to me, karma, my walking in line companions said, and then a few more free tickets, and we all laughed at the supposed windfall. It was so very hard to hear and understand Thich Knat Hanh, with his soft spokenness and accent, we were all leaning forward in silence beyond silence, as he spoke to our woe from his heart, so much so I had a headache afterwards from concentrating so hard, barely breathing. I tell you this, so you understand his words have always been important to me, even though I am not a practicing Buddhist, I just love all religions and love how he loves the divine, however we as human beings perceive it, which is in each of us, in the here and now. Nothing, no words, no phrases, no readings, no sermons, no passages, no psalms, no hymns ever rocked me as much as these words: Looking into a flower, we can see that it is full of life. It contains soil, rain, and sunshine. It is also full of clouds, oceans, and minerals. It is even full of space and time. In fact, the whole cosmos is present in this one little flower. The flower cannot exist by itself alone. We too are full of so many things and yet empty of a separate self. Like the flower, we contain earth, water, air, sunlight, and warmth. We contain space and consciousness. We contain our ancestors, our parents and grandparents, education, food, and culture. The whole cosmos has come together to create the wonderful manifestation that we are. That unlocked it all for me, so I always treasure revisiting his words. I was restless, woebegone, despairing, and the source of my woe was a deep disillusionment for all the sleepwalking people I encountered every day, and that feeling there were more expansive, abundant points of view out there, and his is one of them. Such a beautiful human being. We’re so close to Earth that sometimes we forget how beautiful it is. Seen from space, our blue planet is remarkably alive— a living paradise suspended in a vast and hostile cosmos. On the first trip to the moon, astronauts were stunned to see Earth rise above the moon’s desolate horizon. We know that on the moon there are no trees, rivers, or birds. No other planet has yet been found to have life as we know it. It is reported that astronauts orbiting high up in space stations spend most of their free time contemplating the breathtaking sight of Earth far below. From a distance, it looks like one giant living, breathing organism. Seeing its beauty and wonder, astronauts feel great love for the whole Earth. They know billions of people are living out their lives on this little planet, with all their joy, happiness, and suffering. They see violence, wars, famine, and environmental destruction. At the same time, they see clearly that this wonderful little blue planet, so fragile and precious, is irreplaceable. As one astronaut put it, “We went to the moon as technicians; we returned as humanitarians.” Spirituality is not religion. It is a path for us to generate happiness, understanding, and love, so we can live deeply each moment of our life. Having a spiritual dimension in our lives does not mean escaping life or dwelling in a place of bliss outside this world but discovering ways to handle life’s difficulties and generate peace, joy, and happiness right where we are, on this beautiful planet. To meditate is to look deeply and see the things that others cannot see, including the wrong views that lie at the base of our suffering. When we can break free from these wrong views, we can master the art of living happily in peace and freedom. Emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness. They are known as the Three Doors of Liberation and are available in every school of Buddhism. These three concentrations offer us a deep insight into what it means to be alive and what it means to die. They help us transform feelings of grief, anxiety, loneliness, and alienation. They have the power to liberate us from our wrong views, so we can live deeply and fully, and face dying and death without fear, anger, or despair. In our sangha, we have a porch we call, Listening to the Rain Veranda. We made it specially for that purpose— so we could sit there and listen to the rain and not need to think about anything. Listening to the rain can help the mind come to stillness. Breathing in, you know you are breathing in. You bring all your attention to your in- breath. As you breathe in, there is peace and harmony in the whole body. As you breathe out, you know you are breathing out. As you breathe out, there is calming, relaxation, and letting go. You allow all the muscles in your face and shoulders to relax. Emptiness means to be full of everything but empty of a separate existence. About thirty years ago I was looking for an English word to describe our deep interconnection with everything else. I liked the word “togetherness,” but I finally came up with the word “interbeing.” The verb “to be” can be misleading, because we cannot be by ourselves, alone. We are the continuation of all our ancestors. Thanks to impermanence, we have a chance to transform our inheritance in a beautiful direction. Impermanence means that nothing remains the same thing in two consecutive moments. The Greek philosopher Heraclitus of Ephesus said, “You can never bathe in the same river twice.” The river is always flowing, so as soon as we climb out onto the bank and then return again to bathe, the water has already changed. I think (too much), therefore I am (not there to live my life). “If I am to be found anywhere, it is in your peaceful way of breathing and walking.” That is my continuation. Even though we may never have met in person, if, when you breathe in, you find peace in your breathing, I am there with you. In the light of emptiness and interbeing we know they have not died or disappeared: they continue in their actions and in us. We can still talk to them. We can say something like, “I know you are there. I’m breathing for you. I’m smiling for you. I’m enjoying looking around with your eyes. I am enjoying life with you. I know that you are still there very close to me, and that now you continue in me.” You carry your mother in every cell of your body. You have to look deeply to see that she is in fact always with you. Her hand is still in your hand. If your parents have already passed away and you practice looking deeply like this, you can have an even closer relationship with your parents than that of someone whose parents are still alive but who cannot communicate easily with them. You may like to take a moment now to look at your hand. Can you see your mother’s hand in your hand? Or your father’s? Look deeply into your hand. With this insight, and with all the love and care of your parents, bring your hand up to your forehead and feel the hand of your mother or father touching your forehead. Allow yourself to be cared for by your parents in you. They are always with you. Long before the moment of your conception, the elements you are composed of were already present in the sperm and egg that came together to help you manifest. You also existed in all the conditions that supported and nourished your mother as she was pregnant. And long before that, you were in your grandparents. In fact, you could keep pushing your date of birth back infinitely. There is no moment when you did not exist. This is why in the Zen tradition we ask questions like “What did you look like before your grandmother was born?” The day you call your birthday is really a day to remember your continuation. Every day you are alive is a continuation day. Within your body, birth and death are always taking place. We are coming into existence and going out of existence at every moment of our life. When you scratch or scrub yourself, dry skin is flaked off and new skin cells are born. In the time it takes you to read this paragraph, thousands of cells will have died. But there are so many, you do not have time to organize funerals for them. At the same time, thousands of new cells have been born, but it would be impossible to organize birth celebrations. Every day you transform. Some part of you is being born and some part is dying. There is an intimate connection between birth and death. Without the one, we cannot have the other. As it says in the gospel, unless the seed dies, it could never bear fruit. Our body is a masterpiece of the cosmos. Our body carries within it the stars, the moon, the universe, and the presence of all our ancestors. How many millions of years of evolution has it taken to give rise to these wondrous two eyes, legs, feet, and hands? Countless life-forms are supporting our existence in this moment. Reconnecting with our physical body takes only a few moments of stopping and breathing with awareness. Every human being can become a buddha. This is good news. We all have the seeds of mindfulness, love, understanding, and compassion, and whether these good seeds have a chance to grow depends on our environment and our experiences. Don’t doubt that you have a buddha body. There have been times in the past when you had the capacity to understand, to forgive, and to love. These are the seeds of your buddha body. You have to give the buddha in you a chance. Allowing the buddha in you to grow doesn’t require special effort. If you wake up to the beauties of nature, you are already a buddha. And if you know how to maintain that spirit of being awake all day, you are a full-time buddha. To be a buddha—to wake up—also means to wake up to the suffering in the world and find ways to bring relief and transformation. This requires a tremendous source of energy. Your strong aspiration—your mind of love—is that immense source of energy that helps wake you up to the nourishing and healing beauties of nature and to the suffering of the world. It gives you a lot of energy to help. This is the career of a buddha. And if you have that source of strength in you, if you have the mind of love, you are a buddha in action. Spiritual practice is the art of knowing how to generate happiness and handle suffering, just as a gardener knows how to make good use of mud in order to grow lotus flowers. Spiritual practice is what helps us to overcome challenging and difficult moments. It is the art of stopping and looking deeply to gain deeper insight. It is very concrete. We cultivate our spiritual practice body—which we can also call our “Dharma body”—by cultivating the seeds of awakening and mindfulness in our daily life. It is possible to transform not only our home but also our work, school, corporation, or hospital into a beloved community, into a kind of family, where there is love, understanding, and true communication. Throughout our life we produce energy. We say things and do things, and every thought, every word, and every act carries our signature. What we produce as thoughts, as speech, as action, continues to influence the world, and that is our continuation body. Our actions carry us into the future. We are like stars whose light energy continues to radiate across the cosmos millions of years after they become extinct. Can you see how you are continued in your parents, in your brothers and sisters, in your teachers and friends? Can you see the continuation body of your parents and loved ones? We don’t need to get old or die in order to see our continuation body. We don’t need to wait for the complete disintegration of this body in order to begin to see our continuation body, just as a cloud doesn’t need to have been entirely transformed into rain in order to see her continuation body. Can you see your rain, your river, your ocean? Each one of us should train ourselves to see our continuation body in the present moment. If we can see our continuation body while we’re still alive, we’ll know how to cultivate it to ensure a beautiful continuation in the future. This is the true art of living. Then, when the time comes for the dissolution of our physical body, we will be able to release it easily. Just as it’s impossible for a cloud to die, it’s impossible for me to die. We are children of the Earth, made of all the same elements and minerals. We contain mountains, rivers, stars, and black holes. In every moment of our life the cosmos is going through us, renewing us, and we are returning ourselves to the cosmos. We are breathing the atmosphere, eating the earth’s food, creating new ideas, and experiencing new feelings. And we are emitting energy back into the cosmos, in our thinking, speech, and actions, in our out-breath, in our body’s warmth, and in releasing everything we have consumed and digested. In this very moment many parts of us are returning to the earth. We don’t return to the earth and cosmos only when our body disintegrates. We are already inside the earth, and the earth is inside us. I am the whole of the river of life, of blood ancestors and spiritual ancestors, that has been continuously flowing for thousands of years and flows on for thousands of years into the future. I am one with my ancestors and my descendants. I am life manifesting in countless different forms. I am one with all people and all species, whether they are peaceful and joyful or suffering and afraid. At this very moment I am present everywhere in this world. I have been present in the past and will be there in the future. The disintegration of this body does not touch me, just as when the petals of the plum blossom fall it does not mean the end of the plum tree. I see that I am like a wave on the surface of the ocean. I see myself in all the other waves, and I see all the other waves in me. The manifestation or the disappearance of the wave does not lessen the presence of the ocean. My Dharma body and spiritual life are not subject to birth or death. I am able to see my presence before this body manifested and after this body disintegrates. I am able to see my presence outside this body, even in the present moment. Eighty or ninety years is not my life span. My life span, like that of a leaf or of a buddha, is immeasurable. I am able to go beyond the idea that I am a body separate from all other manifestations of life, in time and in space. GUIDED MEDITATION: BREATHING WITH THE COSMOS Breathing in, I see the element earth in me, the element air in me. I see clouds, snow, rain, and rivers in me. I see the atmosphere, wind, and forests in me, the mountains and oceans in me. I see the earth in me. Breathing out, I smile to the earth in me. I am one with Mother Earth, the most beautiful planet in our solar system. Mother Earth in me. Smiling to the most beautiful planet in our solar system. Breathing in, I see the element of light in me, I am made of light; I am made of the sun. I see our star as an infinite source of life, nourishing us in every moment. Buddha Shakyamuni was a child of Father Sun; so too am I. Breathing out, I smile to the sun in me. I am the sun, a star, one of the most beautiful stars in our entire galaxy. I am a child of the sun. I am a star. Breathing in, I see all my ancestors in me: my mineral ancestors, plant ancestors, mammal ancestors, and human ancestors. My ancestors are always present, alive in every cell of my body, and I play a part in their immortality. Breathing out, I smile to the cloud in my tea. A cloud never dies. A cloud can become snow or rain but never nothing. I also play my part in the immortality of the cloud. I am my ancestors. Playing my part in the immortality of my ancestors. Breathing in, I see the stars and galaxies in me. I am consciousness manifesting as cosmos. I am made of stars and galaxies. Breathing out, I smile to the stars in me. I play my part in the immortality of clouds, rain, stars, and the cosmos. Smiling to the stars and galaxies in me. Playing my part in the immortality of stars and cosmos. Breathing in, I see that nothing is created, nothing is destroyed; everything is in transformation. I see the nature of no birth and no death of matter and energy. I see that birth, death, being, and nonbeing are only ideas. Breathing out, I smile to my true nature of no birth and no death. I am free from being and from nonbeing. There is no death; there is no fear. I touch nirvana, my true nature of no birth and no death. Nothing is created. Nothing is destroyed. I am free from being, free from nonbeing. I remember one morning contemplating a mountain in the early light of dawn. I saw very clearly that not only was I looking at the mountain, but all my ancestors in me were looking at the mountain with me. As dawn broke over the mountain peak we admired its beauty together. There was nowhere to go and nothing to do. We were free. We needed only to sit there and enjoy the sunrise. Our ancestors may never have had a chance to sit quietly, peacefully, and enjoy the sunrise like that. When we can stop the running, all our ancestors can also stop at the same time. With the energy of mindfulness and awakening, we can stop on behalf of all our ancestors. It is not the stopping of a separate self alone, but of a whole lineage

  23. 5 out of 5

    Amanda Setasha Hall

    A quick read, but so many positive messages between these pages. I've been looking for a really good book on meditation and Buddhism for a while now, and this one was almost perfect, I just wish it was longer. I'll definitely be applying daily meditation of some form into my life. I've done it for the couple days I read this book, and it really made a difference. A quick read, but so many positive messages between these pages. I've been looking for a really good book on meditation and Buddhism for a while now, and this one was almost perfect, I just wish it was longer. I'll definitely be applying daily meditation of some form into my life. I've done it for the couple days I read this book, and it really made a difference.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Brent

    “We disregard the wonders of the present moment, thinking that heaven and the ultimate are for later, not for now.”

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sue Lander

    I listened to this book with its calming lessons on mindfulness and perspective right now. I have knowledge of mindful breathing but mindful walking described in the book was new to me. Living in today - can’t change the past - have a chance to influence/change the future - is something I need to do more thoughtfully.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Lena

    Never giving this man nothing less.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Manolis Politis

    It is One of the most insightful and calming book..!

  28. 4 out of 5

    Steve Rice

    A nice foray into a Buddhist philosophy. A lot of good quotes that I’d like to underline, but since I read this as an audiobook, I’ll have to buy a paper copy. He teaches mindfulness; always being present in the activity that one is engaged in as a key to happiness. Something that is very much lost in our always busy, always distracted western world.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Madhusree

    this book was something I needed but I didn't know how much. it offered a new paradigm for living. Life and death, suffering and pleasure cannot exist in isolation. His focus on breathing always needs reiteration in my opinion. I will read and annotate this book and add some more to this skeletal review. this book was something I needed but I didn't know how much. it offered a new paradigm for living. Life and death, suffering and pleasure cannot exist in isolation. His focus on breathing always needs reiteration in my opinion. I will read and annotate this book and add some more to this skeletal review.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Heidi Burkhart

    Words to live by. Beautiful and inspiring.

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