“The Art of Living” written by Thich Nhat Hanh needs no introduction.
If you have ever read one of Thich Nhat’s books or heard him speak, then you know he has such a beautiful way with words.
This book has introduced me to this beauty.
To begin, I want to point out, as mentioned in the book, spirituality is not religion. There is no list of rules, but instead a path for us to follow to live more deeply in every moment of our life. We cannot avoid suffering, so, to improve our quality of life we need to find acceptance and love.
When you look at a flower, what do you see? Do you see that it contains soil, rain, sun light and minerals?
Think about that for a second…
This one little flower contains all the elements of the universe and is manifest in what you see with your eyes. This is the lesson of “emptiness.“
Many of us see ourselves as separate from the rest of the world. But when we view things from a different perspective, we see that we are actually “empty” of a self and full of everything in the universe. Energy, light, air…everything.
I don’t know about you, but this makes me feel so connected to everyone and everything.
What a sense of purpose this brings!
To build on that concept, Thich Nhat then explores death…but more accurately, transformation.
Remember from physics class in high school that energy cannot be created or destroyed, only transferred or transformed.
We are all transforming everyday.
Even the day we are born, we are just continuing on from a previous form. So, it would make sense that when we die, we are continuing on to the next form.
There is no death really, just transformation.
“Signlessness” is the path to letting go of the belief that if we don’t see something or someone, it doesn’t exist. Stop looking for a sign.
Which brings us to the principle of “aimlessness.” And it isn’t what it sounds like. It doesn’t mean to sit and do nothing all day, everyday. But it does mean to avoid chasing after things so diligently that it takes you away from the present moment and the fact that you already have (and already are) everything you hope to achieve. You are enough.
These three doors of liberation are meant to free us from the limiting and fearful thoughts that a lot of us have. They are also meant to help us lead fuller lives, even when there is suffering.
Thich Nhat Hanh also goes on to describe impermanence, non-craving, and letting go.
I learned so much about myself by reading “The Art of Living.” For example, I now realize that by carrying around my emotional baggage and scarring from things that have ended or loved ones I have lost, I prevented myself from realizing how things have been transformed. Everything is on an energetic cycle and is as it should be.
I would love to hear your thoughts or experiences on the subject…hit the comments!
And thanks for reading my thoughts!
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