I recently read a book with some wonderful messages, some of which I would like to share with you. All of these messages have been gathered from 'The Heart of Buddha's Teaching' by Thich Nhat Hanh; I have simply compiled and condensed it for your armchair pleasure.
Without suffering, there is no growth, no peace, no joy. Suffering is the means by which the Buddha used to liberate himself. Because there is pain in your heart, you may approach the Buddha for help, for he too had pain in his heart. If you have experienced hunger, you know the miracle of food. If you have suffered the cold, you know the preciousness of warmth. Embrace your suffering and let it reveal to you the way of peace.
FOUR NOBLE TRUTHS
Dukkha. Suffering. We all have some malaise in body and mind.
Samudaya. Cause. Look deeply to identify the spiritual and material food you ingest that causes your suffering.
Nirodha. Cessation. Refrain from consuming the nutrients that cause your suffering.
Marga. Path. Mindfulness and the Noble 8-Fold* path leads to refraining.
Nutrients we ingest that cause us to suffer
What we consume: food/ smoke/ drinks/ etc.
Sense impressions: toxins from the external world, such as media, events happening to us that make us feel anxious, sad, craving, and fearful, rather than light and at peace.
Intentions or desires: we may believe we need x, y, z to be happy, but this belief itself is what confounds our happiness, what we really need is mindfulness to enjoy life in the present moment.
Consciousness: thoughts – disempowering or negative thoughts cause us to suffer, we must train our minds to think only of love, compassion, joy and equanimity, we must be mindful and present.
NOBLE EIGHTFOLD PATH
Right view, Right thinking, Right speech, Right action, Right livelihood, Right diligence, Right mindfulness, Right concentration, Mindfulness
Practice mindful walking and deep listening. Be open. Open mind, open heart. We need the energy of mindfulness to recognise and be present with our habit energy (vashana) to stop this course of destruction. We need to stop the horse of our habit energy from galloping on and reclaim our liberty. Be mindful to be free.
* Buddha is mindful all the time, not part of the time. There is no part-time Buddha.
*Anxiety is the inability to dwell in the present moment.
*Letting go gives us freedom and freedom is the only condition for happiness.
*To arrive at liberation from narrow views and fears, practice contemplating on interdependence, impermanence and compassion.
*Gift – Give your full attention, your true presence to someone, your stability, your freedom, your freshness. Especially your children!
*If you listen deeply with calmness and compassion to someone, you can relieve their suffering.
*Recognise, identify, accept your emotions, both good and bad, with love, as a mother does a child.
*Five remembrances – it is in our nature to grow old, get sick, die, lose everyone we love. Our actions are our only true belongings.
*There are two truths. The relative and the absolute.
*You cannot run away from home, you carry your family within you.
*The third door of liberation is aimlessness. You do not have to do anything, just BE. There is nothing to attain.
A body scan is a meditative practice in which you breathe into different parts of your body. Breathing in, observe a part of your body. Breathing out, smile at that part of your body. Start at the toes and work your way up. The love and care of this meditation is healing.
Here are some other combinations you can contemplate when breathing in and out for meditation. Breath in. Breath out. / Breath in deep. Breath out slow. / Breath in calm. Breath out ease. / Breath in present moment. Breath out wonderful moment.
When we are trying to meditate, we may be interrupted by two types of thoughts -
Vitarka – an initial thought
Vichara – a developing thought
When you look at a flower, see how it is interconnected and interdependent on everything. A flower is a composite of sunshine, clouds, time, space, earth, minerals. When you wear a shirt, see that you are interdependent on everything. The shirt was made by someone in a factory, using cloth someone grew in a farm that was then transported by a ship full of sailors, etc. When someone serves you a coffee, think of that person's effort in making the beverage, the milk that was milked from a cow, the beans that were collected from a farm, etc.