The Art of Living Book Talk

The Art of Living Book Talk–by Thich Nhat Hanh, is an essential, practical addition to your holistic well-being library.

In The Art of Living, we read the story of someone who truly embodies his teachings and offers a supportive guide for us to do so as well.

Also fondly referred to as “Thay,” the Vietnamese term for ‘teacher,’ Hanh, emphasizes authentic living– that is to just be ourselves. By this, I believe Thay means, to live our lives as deeply and mindfully as we can.

Thay is a master of the art of living. He cherishes life. Despite all the adverse conditions he has encountered over the years–including war, exile, betrayal, and ill health–he has never given up. He has taken refuge in his breathing and in the wonders of the present moment.

Where science meets spirituality.

Science is the pursuit of understanding, of helping us to understand distant starts and galaxies, our physical place in the cosmos, as well as the intimate fabric of matter, living cells, and our own bodies. Science, like philosophy, is concerned with understanding the nature of existence and the meaning of life.

Spirituality is also a field of research and study. We want to understand ourselves, the world around us, and what it means to be alive on Earth. We want to discover who we really are. And, to do so, we need understand our suffering as well as the gifts of joy and harmony.

Spirituality is not religion. The spirit of practicing mindfulness, concentration, and insight in Buddhism is very close to the spirit of science. It doesn’t require expensive instruments. Rather, we bring our clear mind and our stillness to look deeply and investigate reality for ourselves, with openness and non-discrimination.

Understanding suffering.

Understanding our suffering gives rise to acceptance and love, and this is what determine our quality of life. We all need to be understood and to be loved. And we all want to understand and to love.

Spirituality is not about faith or belief. Rather, it involves looking deeply through meditation to liberate ourselves from wrong views.

In Buddhism their are three wrong views that hold us back from living happily in peace and freedom.

Wrong views which create suffering.

  1. the idea that we are selves cut off from the rest of the world
  2. that we are only this body, and when we die we cease to exist
  3. the future rather than the ‘now’ is the only place that holds what we need to have purpose and joy

Seven fundamental practices to help liberate ourselves from these wrong views are concentrations on:

  1. emptiness
  2. signlessness
  3. aimlessness
  4. impermanence
  5. non-craving
  6. letting go
  7. nirvana

The first three concentrations are available in every school of Buddhism. The last four practices are found in the Buddhist text, Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing.

Meditation and mindfulness essential in the art of living.

When we meditate we are taking the time to concentrate, mindfully. Each of the concentrations listed above are important additions to our meditation practices. They offer us deep insights into reality, shining light on our situations, including our suffering.

Being mindful includes accepting that living includes pain and suffering. When we find ourselves in unfamiliar or uncomfortable terrain, Thay reminds us to breathe. The book is a journey we make together–like a walk through the forest, enjoying the breathtaking wonders of our precious planet.

Occasionally there is a tree with beautiful bark, a striking rock formation, or some vibrant moss growing just off the path, and we want our companion to also enjoy the same beauty. Sometimes, along the path, we’ll sit and have lunch together, or further on the journey drink from a clear spring. This book is a bit like that. Occasionally we will stop and rest, and have a little drink, or to simply sit there, the stillness between us already complete.

The Art of Lving

We want to live.

The teachings of the Buddha is very clear, effective, and simple to understand. It opens up a path of living, not just for our personal benefit but for the whole species. We have the power to decide the destiny of our planet.

Buddhism offers us the clearest expression of humanism we have ever had, writes, Hanh. It is our insights and our actions that will save us.

If we awaken to our true situation, there will be collective change in our consciousness. Then hope is possible.

The art of living, holistically, purposefully, authentically …

Thay has survived thanks to the love of his students and his community. He is nourished through meditation, mindful breathing, and relaxing moments of walking and resting in nature.

With regular practice and an intentional mindset, we can bring wise ways into our lives whether in times of war and hardship or peace and harmony. We learn to embrace life’s joys and pains with fearlessness, compassion, faith, and hope.

Here is the link to buy and read more from the book, The Art of Living. I truly hope you find it to be, as do I, enduringly inspiring and empowering.

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