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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

In 2016, Toward a Calmer, More Peaceful New Year

The venerable Thich Nhat Hanh. Photo courtesy of wkuplondon.wordpress.com

Hi friends, I wish you a blessed New Year in 2016, and so it will be if Thich Nhah Hanh touches your life.

I just now enjoyed reviewing previous New Years posts here at Katalusis.  The photo and mention of Thich Nhat Hanh touched my heart today as he recovers from a serious stroke. Plum Village, Thay's retreat center, posted this update on his health recently:

Thay continues to enjoy peaceful and happy moments gazing at the Golden Gate Bridge and making outings to the botanical gardens and other beautiful scenic spots in San Francisco. With the support of a brace on his right leg, Thay has begun to put more weight through the right side of his body and is training to become gradually more independent in terms of balance and standing. He continues to practice walking every day, for several hours per day, with the support of his physiotherapist and monastic attendants, who are receiving expert guidance and training.

Read more at Plum Village:

Please find below my earlier post quoting Thay:

Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, has long been a powerful advocate for self-compassion. 

TNH advises us to embrace powerful emotions such as anger, jealousy, and addictive cravings instead of igniting a war within ourselves between what we perceive as our positive and negative feelings. 

Through this integrative process, we are better able to center ourselves and respond calmly to whatever arises in our daily lives.

As facilitator of my mindfulness meditation group today, I selected for our reading excerpts from TNH’s article in the Shambala Sun: “Thich Nhat Hanh on Loosening the Knots of Anger:”

To be happy, to me, is to suffer less. If we were not capable of transforming the pain within ourselves, happiness would not be possible.

Many people look for happiness outside themselves, but true happiness must come from inside of us. Our culture tells us that happiness comes from having a lot of money, a lot of power and a high position in society. But if you observe carefully, you will see that many rich and famous people are not happy. Many of them commit suicide.

The Buddha and the monks and nuns of his time did not own anything except their three robes and one bowl. But they were very happy, because they had something extremely precious: freedom.

According to the Buddha's teachings, the most basic condition for happiness is freedom. Here we do not mean political freedom, but freedom from the mental formations of anger, despair, jealousy and delusion. These mental formations are described by the Buddha as poisons. As long as these poisons are still in our heart, happiness can not be possible.

In order to be free from anger, we have to practice, whether we are Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, Hindu or Jewish. We cannot ask the Buddha, Jesus, God or Mohammed to take anger out of our hearts for us. There are concrete instructions on how to transform the craving, anger and confusion within us. If we follow these instructions and learn to take good care of our suffering, we can help others do the same.


The Knots of Anger

In our consciousness there are blocks of pain, anger and frustration called internal formations. They are also called knots because they tie us up and obstruct our freedom.

When someone insults us or does something unkind to us, an internal formation is created in our consciousness. If you don't know how to undo the internal knot and transform it, the knot will stay there for a long time. And the next time someone says something or does something to you of the same nature, that internal formation will grow stronger. As knots or blocks of pain in us, our internal formations have the power to push us, to dictate our behavior.

After a while, it becomes very difficult for us to transform, to undo the knots, and we cannot ease the constriction of this crystallized formation. The Sanskrit word for internal formation is samyojana. It means "to crystallize." Every one of us has internal formations that we need to take care of. With the practice of meditation we can undo these knots and experience transformation and healing.


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