Thursday, June 25, 2009

Buddha Mind, Buddha Body

Author: Thich Nhat Hanh
Pages: 150
Genre: Spiritualism/Philosophy
Publisher: Parallax Press
Rating: 5/5

Challenge: Orbis Terrarum Challenge, Country: Vietnam

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, poet, teacher, author and peace activist. I was just casually browsing through some articles on the web and found a reference to one of his books and his quotes. I was way too inspired by his quote and that's how I ended up buying this book...

I had never read anything about Buddhism or its philosophy and as I read this book I was completely impressed by it. In this book, Thich Nhat Hanh reveals the richness of "mindfulness" art of being totally aware of the present, in anything that you do - be it brushing your teeth, eating food, drinking tea or just sitting down. It's a way of keeping your mind focussed on your breathing, on the 'present' without any thoughts on past or future. Might sound very simple, but for the kind of lives we lead and how busy our mind is occupied with thoughts and worries, this is difficult to achieve without conscious practice. But just a few mins of practicing "mindfulness" helps clear your thoughts and calm your mind to a great extent!

He also has references to walking meditation throughout the book, something very different from the usual meditation techniques that I had read about. All of us take long, casual walks to relax and de-stress ourselves but through this technique he describes how this walking can be done more mindfully, to achieve that calmness and stability of mind. Totally worth trying it out...

There are a lot of other references on how to train our minds to create the best conditions for happiness. I loved these lines the best -

"How can we help our hearts to grow every day, to be able to embrace everything? The Buddha gave a very beautiful example. Suppose you have a bowl of water and someone put a handful of salt in the bowl of water; it would be too salty for you to drink. But suppose someone threw a handful of salt into a clear mountain river. The river is deep and wide enough that you can still drink the water without tasting the salt. When your heart is small, you suffer a lot. But when your heart becomes bigger, very big, then the same thing does not make you suffer anymore. So the secret is how to help your heart to grow. If your heart is small, you can't accept that person, you can't tolerate him or her with his or her shortcomings. But when your heart is big, you have a lot of understanding and compassion, and then there is no problem, you don't suffer, and you embrace him or her because your heart is so big.
"We suffer because our heart is small. And we demand that the other person should change in order to be accepted by us. But when our heart is large, we don't put forth any conditions, we accept them as they are, and they have a chance to transform. The secret is how to grow our hearts. The practice of understanding helps the energy of compassion to arise. When compassion is there, we don't suffer anymore......."

If your interest lies in this genre then I strongly recommend this book to you...


Veens said...

Sounds really good.. Inspiring.
I will look for this one :)

Senthil.Jayaraman said...

This book has been on my mind for quite some time,probably its time to go for it..