A Path with Pith

With the sangha a few years ago, I read many of the Buddhist sutras as well as Thich Nhat Hanh’s commentaries. It’s good to plunge in and read these classic texts in community. However, the Lotus Sutra was a bit too much for us and we didn’t finish. Perhaps I will resume it next year.

Nhat Hanh’s book The Path of Emancipation (Parallax Press, 2000) is based on talks and answers to questions from a 21-day retreat. While he addresses many themes in depth, what I find most useful are his short teachings, one-liners even, which, if I summon them at the right moment, are conducive to happiness, peace, and appreciation.

Here is a sample…

“The first element of the practice is to stop struggling.”

“Taking refuge in the Sangha is not a declaration of faith. It is a practice.”

“Everywhere is Plum Village.”

“The flower and the sunshine inter-are.”

“‘The here and now’ is the address of your true home, its zip code.”

“A smile is not an individual product; it is a co-product.”

“Mindfulness is the presence of God, is the energy of the Buddha within us, is the element of holiness within us.”

“No one can be perfect as far as the Five Trainings are concerned….we think about the direction we are going.”

“We cannot transform anyone by using reproach.”

“True communication is possible in silence. Silence can be very elegant. It is a method of training.”

“We are only part-time Buddhas, because sometimes we are completely by forgetfulness.”

“The Dharma is not a set of dogmas or a collection of scriptures. It is a living entity.”

“‘Hello, habit energy. I know you are there.’”

“Darling, I am here for you.”

“Just live your life deeply and mindfully, cultivating your compassion and you will be happy in your practice.”

Thomas Merton & Thich Nhat Hanh

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