A brush with enlightenment

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Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh demonstrates his art of meditation through calligraphy

Thay is writing calligraphy – photo courtesy of bangkok post

Amid an enthusiastic crowd at Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, the subject of attention remained poised and calm, heightening his audience’s attention, concentration and awareness as he prepared to begin his activity.

World-renowned Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh mixed tea with Chinese ink, picked up the brush and demonstrated his art of meditation through calligraphy.

Effortlessly, the 87-year-old master executed slow, steady strokes. His body was still, yet his hand flowed naturally, a conduit of his insights.

This is it. Peace is possible. Breathe and smile.

Short and simple, profound and powerful, phrases such as these have become Thich Nhat Hanh’s signature statements that encompass core Buddhist teachings and remind practitioners of mindful practice.

“Writing calligraphy is a practice of meditation,” said the poet, writer and peace activist who is famous for his teachings on applied Buddhism in everyday life. “The way I do calligraphy, I do it in a certain way that can generate the energy of mindfulness, concentration, insight and compassion during the time of practice.”

Held for the first time in Thailand, the exhibition “Calligraphic Meditation: The Mindful Art of Thich Nhat Hanh” presents the largest collection of the Zen master’s calligraphy to date.

“When I begin to draw a circle, I will breathe in during the time I do the first half of the circle. When I do the second half of the circle, I breathe out,” said the master.

“During the time I draw the circle, I realise too that this hand of mine contains the hands of my father, mother and ancestors. So my father, mother, ancestors and teachers are doing the circle with me. And since we are doing the circle together, there is no self, no separate self. So drawing a circle, you can get an insight of anatta or no-self.”

It is such power of meditation and insights that makes Thich Nhat Hanh’s calligraphic art distinctive and much sought-after across the world.

Read full article in Bangkok Post

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