This week’s focus is to think of someone who inspires you to be more kind.
When I saw this instruction for week #6 of the Kindness Challenge, I didn’t have to think any further than Thich Nhat Hanh (for pronunciation click here.)
This Zen Master was introduced to me by a friend and I was immediately drawn to his gentle, quiet wisdom. While I have no great knowledge of Buddhism, he certainly inspires me to learn more.
Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese monk, a renowned Zen master, a poet, and a peace activist. He was born in 1926 in central Vietnam and became a monk at the age of 16. He has devoted his life to spreading the message of mindful living. Nominated for the Nobel Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr., in 1967, he is the author of many books, including the best-selling The Miracle of Mindfulness.
Thich’s approach has been to combine a variety of traditional Zen teachings with insights from other Mahayana Buddhist traditions, methods from Theravada Buddhism, and ideas from Western psychology to offer a modern light on meditation practice.
He has also been a leader in the Engaged Buddhism movement (he coined the term), promoting the individual’s active role in creating change.
On November 11, 2014, a month after his 89th birthday, and following several months of rapidly declining health, Thich suffered a severe stroke. Although he is unable to speak and is paralyzed on the right side, he continues to offer his peaceful, serene presence to his community. As much as his health allows, he participates in meditations, celebrations, and ceremonies.
For further biographical information click here.
While some of Thich’s pronunciations can be a bit hard to understand, just listening to him has a calming effect. He uses simple stories from his own life to illustrate the concepts of mindfulness and kindness. I found him to be a wonderful example of what it means to be compassionate to yourself and others. As I’ve said in recent posts, in order to show kindness to others you must be able to show it to yourself.
He explains how easily we get caught up in our busy lives and how this leads us to lives of distraction. He talks about living in the past and hanging on to regret, as well as worrying about the future. Both of these practices cause us to miss out on the present and the beauty of living.
His teachings on mindful living illustrate how important the mind-body connection is to better living and better health.
The Art of Mindful Living is a great example of Thich’s skill as a story teller and a reassuring friend. If you need to escape the business of life and quiet your mind for a bit, give him a listen!