Category: Zen

Eating by Thích Nhất Hạnh

 

When you sit down for breakfast.

Breakfast is an opportunity to practice.

 

When you pick up a piece of bread, look at it for one second with mindfulness.

In order to realize that, “this is a piece of bread.”

 

If we are thinking, if we are absorbed into our thinking, we will not know that this is a piece of bread.

We do it automatically.

But with mindfulness, you realize that this is a piece of bread.

 

And in this piece of bread is the sunshine, the cloud, the earth.

Is really an ambassador sent to us by the cosmos.

 

Is before we put it into our mouth.

And mindfully we chew this piece of bread.

 

We are in touch with the cosmos.

We are real — and the piece of bread is real.

In that moment there is true light.

 

But if we are thinking all that time, we are not real, and the piece of bread is not real either,

That is why mindfulness helps us to be truly be present and help light to be truly present for us.

 

Wen we drink our soy milk, we are aware that we are drinking.

Mindfulness of drinking.

And that is a miracle.

There is a contact between you and milk.

 

And every mouthful of the breakfast should be eaten that way.

It is a miracle that I’m here.

And that piece of bread comes to me to nourish me.

 

And in our breakfast we do not think of anything.

We just focus our attention on the food and on the brothers and sisters sitting with us.

 

And we eat our breakfast in such a way that we remain a free person.

We should eat our breakfast in such a way that we make our freedom and we enjoy possible during the whole time of breakfast, eating.

 

Freedom means we are not pulled away by the past.

Freedom means we are not pulled away by the future.

You are not pulled away by your projects, your worries.

 

You are truly there with your friends enjoying your breakfast.

You invest entirely in your breakfast.

In your breakfast eating.

 

And that is why you’re free.

And that is a joy.

And eating breakfast like that way is nourishing, not only to the body, but also for the mind.

 

Eating is a true practice.

A deep practice.

We can take the time in order to eat.

 

It’s ok to to take double time in order to enjoy our breakfast or our lunch.

Because really there is nothing to do except life to be lived deeply.

And that is our training.

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Walking by Thích Nhất Hạnh

 

 

Practicing walking meditation is to practice meditation while you walk.

And, you can be peaceful and happy during the practice.

You walk and you do it as if you are the happiest person in the world.

And if you can do that you succeed in walking meditation.

 

Because we do not set ourselves a goal — or a particular destination.

So we don’t have to worry, or to hurry.

Because there is nothing there for us o get.

Therefore walking is not a means — but an end-by-itself.

 

So each step you make, must make you happy, peaceful, and serene.

 

And each step brings you back to the present moment — which is the only moment in which you can be alive.

 

Make steps as if you print your foot on the ground.

And you do not print your anxiety and sorry on the ground.

Instead you print peace, serenity, and happiness on the ground.

 

And it is possible to do that.

Provided that you want very much.

 

Well if we do not make happy and peaceful steps.

And with the eyes of the Bodhisattva you can look into the first step of someone and see the sorrow, anxiety, the fear, that the person has left in his footsteps.

So you must be able to make steps in which no trace of sorrow and anxiety can be found.

Only peace and joy.

 

Suppose I have a miraculous power.

 

I would like to bring you to the Pureland of Amitābuddha.

If you are Christians, to the Kingdom of God.

But once we are there how shall we walk?

 

Shall we print our sorrows and anxieties on the land of Amitābuddha?

That way we will pollute the Pureland and the Pureland will become impure.

Therefore its very important that we can make peaceful, happy steps right here on Earth.

And as you can make peaceful, happy steps on the Earth, the Earth becomes the Pureland.

And that is something I do not invent.

 

That is said by the Buddha himself.

The Pureland is in our mind.

 

It depends our way of making steps.

 

That this land is a Pureland.
The Samsaric land.

 

Many years ago I visited the place where the Buddha stayed.

I climbed up the mountain where he stayed.

And I sat down on the rock that I believe on which he sat down several times.

And I contemplated the sunset that I believe that he had contemplated hundreds of times.

Maybe thousands of times..

 

I had the feeling that if I cannot walk like the Buddha.
Sit like the Buddha.
Look at things the way the Buddha look.

 

And then you cannot continue the work of the Buddha.

 

To afford this world with awareness.
With understanding.
And with love.

 

Happily, serenely.

 

Mindfulness Of Sound by Alan Watts

 

The easiest way to get into the meditative state is to begin by listening.

 

If you simply close your eyes and allow yourself to hear all of the sounds that are going on around you.

Just listen to the general hum and buzz of the world as if you were listening to music.

 

Don’t try to identify the sounds you are hearing.

Don’t put names on them.

Simply allow them to play with your ear drums.

And let them go.

 

In other words you can put it,

“Let your ears hear whatever they want to hear.”

Don’t judge the sounds.

There are no, as it were, proper sounds or improper sounds.

And it doesn’t matter if someone coughs or sneezes or drops something.

It’s all just sound.

 

And if I am talking to you right now and you are doing this.

I want you to listen to the sound of my voice just as if it were noise.

Don’t try to make any sense out of what I’m saying.

Because your brain will take care out of that automatically.

You don’t have to try to understand anything.

Just listen to the sound.

 

As you pursue that experiment.

You will very naturally find that you can’t help naming sounds..

 

Identifying them.

That you will go on thinking.

That is to say, talking to yourself inside your head, automatically.

 

But it’s important that you don’t try to repress those thoughts by forcing them out of your mind.

 

Because that will have precisely the same effect as if you were trying to smooth rough water with a flat iron.

You’re just going to disturb it all the more.

What you do is this.

As you hear sounds coming up in your head — thoughts — you simply listen to them as part of the general noise going on.

Just as you would be listening to the sound of my voice.

Or just as you would be listening to cars going by or birds chattering out the window.

So look at your own thoughts as just noises.

And soon you will find, that the so-called outside world and the so-called inside world come together.

They are a happening.

Your thoughts are a happening.

Just like the sounds going on outside.

And everything is simply a happening.

And all you are doing is watching it.

 

Now in this process, another thing that is happening that is very important…

Is that you’re breathing.

And as you start meditation, you allow your breath to run — just as it wills.

In other words, don’t do, at first, any breathing exercise.

But just watch your breath breathe the way it wants to breathe.

 

And then notice a curious thing about this.

You say in the ordinary way, “I breathe.”

Because you feel that breathing is something that you are doing voluntarily.

Just in the same way as you might be walking or taking.

 

But you will also notice that when you are not thinking about breathing, your breathing goes on just the same.

So the curious thing about breath is that it can be looked at both as a voluntary and an involuntary action.

You can feel on the one hand, “I am doing it” and on the other hand, “It is happening to me.”

And that is why breathing is a most important part of meditation.

Because it is going to show you, as you become aware of your breath, that the hard and fast division that we make between what we do, on the one hand, and what happens to us on the other, is arbitrary.

 

So that as you watch your breathing, you will become aware, that both the voluntary and the involuntary aspects of your experience are all one happening.

Now that may, at first, seem a little scary.

Because you may think, am I just the puppet of a happening?

The mere passive witness of something that’s going on completely beyond my control?

Or on the other hand, am I really doing everything that’s going along?

Well if I were, I should be God.

And that would be very embarrassing because I would be in charge of everything.

 

That would be a terribly responsible position.

 

The truth of the matter, as you will see it, is that both things are true.

 

You can see that everything is happening to you.

And on the other hand you are doing everything.

 

For example, it’s your eyes that are turning the sun into light.

It’s the nerve ends in your skin that are turning electric vibrations in the air into heat and temperature.

It’s your ear drums that are turning vibrations in the air into sound.

And in that way you are creating the world.

 

But — when we’re not talking about it, when we’re not philosophizing about it.

Then there is just this happening, this…

And we won’t give it a name.

 

Now then, when you breathe for a while, just letting it happen.

And not forcing it in any way.

You will discover a curious thing.

That without making any effort, you can breathe more and more deeply.

 

In other words, suppose you are simply breathing out.

And breathing out is important because it’s the breath of relaxation.

That’s when we say, “Sheeeeeww” and heave a sigh of relief.

 

So when you are breathing out, you get the sensation that your breath is falling out.

Dropping, dropping, dropping out.

 

With the same sort of feeling you have as if you were settling down into an extremely comfortable bed.

 

And you just get as heavy as possible and let yourself go.

And you let your breath go out in just that way.

And when it’s thoroughly, comfortably out

And it feels like coming back again.

 

You don’t pull it back in, you let it fall back in.

Letting your lungs expand, expand, expand.

Until they feel very comfortably full.

And you wait a moment and let it stay there.

And then, once again, you let it fall out.

 

And so in this way you will discover that your breath gets quite naturally easier and easier.

And slower and slower.

And more, and more powerful.

 

So that, with these various aides, listening to sound, listening to your own interior feelings and thoughts.

Just as if they were something going on.

Not something you’re doing but just “happenings”.

And watching your breath as a happening that is neither voluntary nor involuntary.

You are simply aware of these basic sensations.

Then — you will begin to be in a state of meditation.

 

But don’t hurry anything.

Don’t worry about the future.

Don’t worry about what progress you’re making.

Just be entirely content to being aware of what is.