May 23, 2010

I Am Here

“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
-Thich Nhat Hahn

I just finished reading You Are Here by Thich Nhat Hanh.

~Mindfulness Moment~

Just after I typed that sentence, Dimples said to me, "I like being here with you."  I can learn so much about living in the right now just from my kids.

I wasn't sure what to expect when I started reading, but I really enjoyed it.  I'm not very familiar with any religions, let alone Buddhism.  The way Thich Nhat Hanh describes our connections to every other thing remind me a lot of Carl Sagan, and even Richard Dawkins.

In The Genius of Charles Darwin, Dawkins says:

"Matter flows from place to place and momentarily comes together to be you.  Some people find that thought disturbing. I find the reality thrilling."

In Cosmos, Sagan says:

"The beauty of a living thing is not the atoms that go into it, but the way those atoms are put together.  The cosmos is also within us.  We're made of star stuff.  We are a way for the cosmos to know itself."

And Thich Nhat Hahn says:

"You are a manifestation.  You are impermanent.  Yet you are full of all of the elements of the cosmos.  You are a miracle."

To me, they are all saying the same thing.

I was still skeptical though until I read this passage at the end.

"In popular Buddhism, mention is sometimes made of a soul that outlasts physical death and lives another life.  But that is not really what the Buddha taught.  Does the soul exist according to Buddhism?  If you believe that the soul consists of feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness, then yes, it exists - but impermanently.  All these things are impermanent, just like the body.  The continuation of life after death is possible, yet nothing is permanent.  There is only continuation, only manifestation, because birth and death are just ideas."

I had come to this on my own over the years.  I find it very comforting to know that everything that is me has been here since the beginning, and will still be here even after what I think of as "me" is gone.  It's amazingly simple and beautiful.  Reading that paragraph seemed to bring it all together for me.  Being mindful is definitely the path I want to take.

I'll be checking out some other books by Thich Nhat Hahn over the next several months.  I'm reading his book Anger right now.  No doubt I'll have a post or two on that topic since it's another thing about myself that I would very much like to change.


  1. I love what you've written here, Sarah. And I really needed to read that first Thich Nhat Hahn quote this morning. Thank you.

  2. Dyer makes a similar observation. We all come from "no_where", live our lives "now_here", and then return to "no_where". Where we put the space makes all the difference. Coincidence? Or, does our language subconsciously reflect our reality? - Mo ;)