Touching Life: Thich Nhat Hanh

- through Sophie Solere

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The teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh have this magic that they go straight to the heart of non-Buddhists, without evading fundamental Buddhist principles. So touch life, work resulting from the transcription of six days of conferences given by the Vietnamese Zen monk during his first French-speaking retreat in Plum Village, in April 1999.

Universal, his words resonate with force in these suspended times. “We are used to running. We must learn to stop, that is to say to touch life at every moment of the day", he says, referring to the practices that bring us back to the here and now: conscious breathing, Buddhist meditation , walking meditation, Mindfulness. But to stop does not mean to seek oblivion by occupying one's mind with “the consumption of magazines, television, conversations, music”, etc. The author tells us that “the practice is not an escape, it consists in entering life with strength, the strength made up of the energy of Mindfulness generated by the energy of concentration. »

Even if his leitmotif is to return to the present moment, Thich Nhat Hanh does not reject the past. “Studying the past, meditating on the past is part of meditation. On the other hand, he warns against the attitude of getting carried away by nostalgia: “We must not lose ourselves in the past”. Likewise, he does not neglect the future. Confident in the teaching of the Buddha and relying on testimonies, he emphasizes that it is always possible to make "a new start". A little advice: “The best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment. »

The themes dear to the Vietnamese monk shed light on this first French-speaking retreat: the practice of deep listening, an essential key to understanding and loving the other; the importance of the Sangha, whose group energy can help practitioners in difficulty, provided they are in full consciousness; the release of loving speech within a couple to avoid misunderstandings, potential sources of tragedy. But saying to the other "I'm here for you" or "I'm suffering, you have to help me" are not simple psychological advice. The Buddhist teacher is there to remind us that right speech and action come from the Eightfold Path, “the Path of eight right practices presented by the Buddha”. And that many of our sufferings arise from our misperceptions.

The practice of dharma in the face of death closes this cycle of teachings. Drawing on his experience, the author gives us some tips for living as if we were going to die soon, and others to help us accompany the dying. As long as it's solid. Because to serve as support, “you have to have non-fear in yourself”. And so, practice.

photo of author

Sophie Solere

Sophie Solère is an economic and social journalist who has been interested for years in the environment and interdependence. She works for Buddhist News, a media platform dedicated to Buddhist spirituality and wisdom. By practicing yoga and meditative dance, Sophie discovered the power of spiritual journeys, which offer so many paths to (re)find yourself. She is dedicated to sharing inspiring stories and valuable advice on spiritual practice and the environment with Buddhist News readers.

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