The Way Out Is In / The Meditator, the Artist, and the Warrior (Episode #22)

Br Pháp Hữu, Jo Confino


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Welcome to episode 22 of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, the presenters, Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino, discuss ‘the Meditator, the Artist, and the Warrior’ – the three key ways to engage with the world, which is what Thich Nhat Hanh was all about. 

The episode is inspired by a chapter in Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet, and focuses on how these three elements are present in everyone, explaining what they mean, and ways to nourish and activate them, interspersed with examples from Thay’s own experience, as recalled by Brother Phap Huu.  

They further delve into the first time they experienced meditation; enlightenment; removing perceptions; and the Beginner’s Mind.  

Brother Phap Huu addresses keeping the Meditator in us alive and retaining our freshness in the practice; creating space for reflection in daily life; a special linden tree in Upper Hamlet; and why he dreads formal lunches.

Jo shares his thoughts about interrogating life and being true to ourselves; the importance of ‘taking space’ and the embodiment of presence; offering empathy; and the test of a formal lunch in the monastery.

The episode ends with a short meditation guided by Brother Phap Huu, to help us touch the Meditator, the Artist, and the Warrior within.


Co-produced by the Plum Village App:
https://plumvillage.app/

And Global Optimism:
https://globaloptimism.com/ 

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation:
https://thichnhathanhfoundation.org/ 


List of resources 

Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet
https://plumvillage.org/books/zen-and-the-art-of-saving-the-planet/ 

Koan
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koan 

COP 26
https://ukcop26.org/ 

The Beginner’s Mind (shoshin)
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shoshin 

Bodhicitta
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhicitta 

Futerra
https://www.wearefuterra.com/

‘New Contemplations before Eating’
https://plumvillage.org/articles/news/new-contemplations-before-eating/ 

Thai Plum Village International Practice Center
https://www.thaiplumvillage.org/ 


Quotes 

“The image we have of an enlightened person is someone with freedom and spiritual strength, who is not a victim of their environment. An enlightened person sees themself clearly, knows who they are, and has a clear understanding of reality, both their own nature and the nature of society. This understanding is the most precious gift that Zen can offer.”

“We cannot be present for anything outside of ourselves if we’re not present for ourselves; we need the stability and the strength, the fortitude and the understanding of ourselves before we can reach out in the world.”

“When we practice mindfulness, we practice meditation. We practice zen. It invites us to touch a spiritual dimension in each and every one of us. We may think that a spiritual dimension is going to the monastery or a retreat or a temple. And yes, that is one of the conditions that can help us touch that spiritual dimension inside of us. But, when we practice meditation, coming home to our breaths, becoming aware of our breath, allowing our mind to come home to the body, to touch peace, to touch stability: that is our spiritual dimension that we speak about in our tradition.” 

”Enlightenment is enlightenment of something. So if today we can wake up and see 24 brand new hours as a gift, that is enlightenment of seeing the day has begun; having fresh eyes, knowing how to live this day meaningfully. That’s enlightenment of the day.”

“If we don’t find time to pause, don’t find time to take a moment to be aware of the present moment, we will lose ourselves.” 

“The most important thing in life is to be true to yourself. Because if we’re not true to ourselves, then how can we be true to life?”

“Sometime Thay says, ‘To meditate is to have time.’”

“We need to create space for ourselves; life is very hectic and we are so conditioned to be busy that when we’re not, we feel guilty about it, and feel restless and feel we need to fill our time.”

“If someone comes to you with a problem that you haven’t addressed yourself, or you haven’t looked at that area of your life, you can offer sympathy, but you can’t offer empathy. But when you have worked with that issue, looked into it and found that place of deep pain in yourself, and started to transform it, then when someone comes to you with that problem, you’re present for them.”

“Thay taught me about the embodiment of presence, so I can understand this territory. I don’t feel fearful anymore of going to this dark place, because I have made friends with it. And, therefore, I can sit with you and offer that to you. And that doesn’t involve any words. It just involves a sense of deep connection that creates safety in the world.”

“The Buddha once said that the mind is an artist; whatever the mind creates, that is the world. So the way we create and the way we take care of our mind has a very important connection to how we relate to the world.”

“You can’t bathe in the same river twice.”

“We’re constantly creating the world in ourselves. And then we project it out into the world. I struggled for years with ideas; ‘With our thoughts, we create the world.’ How can that be true? But when we see life differently, the world does change, because actually the world isn’t one thing. The world is just what we choose to make it.”

“The true warrior is about being able to stand firm and in my truth.” 

00:00:00

Welcome, dear friends, to this latest episode of the podcast series The Way Out Is In. I am Jo Confno, working at the intersection of personal transformation and systems change.

00:00:29

And I am Brother Phap Huu, a Zen Buddhist monk in the tradition of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in the Plum Village community in France.

00:00:37

And today, brother, we’re going to be talking about three key ingredients to being active in the world and engaged, which is what Thich Nhat Hanh was all about. And those are the meditator, the artist and the warrior.

00:01:04

The way out is in.

00:01:18

Hello, dear listeners, I am Jo Confino.

00:01:21

And I am Brother Phap Huu.

00:01:23

So today is your topic. So you said to me yesterday, ‘Jo, I want us to talk about the meditator, the artist and the warrior.’ And I thought, ‘Oh, this is the first time I don’t have a clue what we’re going to be talking about.’ So Brother Phap Huu, help us out, why are we picked this topic today?

00:01:43

I have been giving a few workshops with one of my sisters talking about one of Thay’s latest book, ‘Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet’. And we were asked to speak about one of the chapters that relates to us. And for me, when I read this chapter about The Warrior, The Meditator and The Artist, it resonated in me because these are three elements that I see in every person. And in the tradition of Plum Village, we are asked to meditate, but not to just meditate in the meditation hall, but to make it everyday life. So we have to be creative, and by being creative, we can find that meditation belongs in every moment of life, which will help us take care of difficult situation and where we can call up the energy of the warrior in us to look at the difficulty with eyes of understanding and compassion.

00:02:49

Great. And, brother, so one of the key messages of Thich Nhat Hanh was that meditation, mindfulness is not about sitting on a cushion and being up in some mountain monastery, but about what he coined Engage Buddhism. And what he’s saying, essentially, is that if we are going to act in the world. And it can be any action, can’t it? It can be the way we are in our family, it can be the way we are in the community, it could be taking action about climate change or social injustice covers the whole gambit. But for us to really be effective when we reach out into the world, we have to also be able to reach into ourselves and be very, very present and have a strong foundation. So I know that, Phap Huu, in the beginning of the book of this chapter, the Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet, Thich Nhat Hanh, in a sense, brings that down to an essence. I’m just wondering whether we could maybe start by just reading the first paragraph, and then maybe later on we can read aspects of that chapter just to give readers a direct experience of Thich Nhat Hanh’s message.

00:03:58

Of course. ‘The image we have of an enlightened person is someone with freedom and spiritual strength, who is not a victim of their environment. An enlightened person sees themself clearly, knows who they are, and has a clear understanding of reality, both their own nature and the nature of society. This understanding is the most precious gift that Zen can offer.’

00:04:29

Wow. So there’s a lot to unpack there, brother.

00:04:32

Yes.

00:04:33

But, I mean, the heart of that for me is saying, actually, we cannot be present for anything outside of ourselves if we’re not present for ourselves, that we need the stability and the strength, the fortitude and the understanding of ourselves first before we can reach out in the world. And not only do we need to understand ourselves, but we need to understand actually what’s going on in society, how we relate to that. But tell us, what’s your understanding? Because if it’s the most precious jewel of the sort of Zen tradition, maybe we should spend a bit of time on this.

00:05:06

Yes, let’s spend a little time on this. And this touches the first element, the meditator, or we sometimes call it the yogi. And when we practice mindfulness, we practice meditation. We practice zen. It invites us to touch a spiritual dimension in each and every one of us. We may think that a spiritual dimension is going to the monastery or going to a retreat or going to a temple. And yes, that is one of the conditions that can help us touch that spiritual dimension inside of us, but, when we practice meditation, we know that each and every one of us just by coming home to our breaths, becoming aware of our breath, allowing our mind to come home to the body, to touch peace, to touch stability, that is our spiritual dimension that we speak about here in our tradition. And our teacher, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh who we call Thay has shared with us that we have to feed our spiritual dimension every day as a way to take care of our well-being in the mind and in the body. I think each and every one of us, we don’t have to be Buddhist to to talk about our spiritual dimension. I don’t know about you, Jo, but, from time to time, even before coming to Plum Village, if I can even remember as a kid, I would have question of like, ‘What do I really want to do with my life? Why is the tree so beautiful? What happens when I die?’ Or, you know, all of these questions is touching the spiritual dimension in us. I would like to share my first time I experienced meditation. My father was a refugee. He left Vietnam as a boat person, and after he made it to Canada, he went on a spiritual journey for some healing because I can only imagine the difficulty and the suffering that he encounter. And in 1990, Thay and Sister Chan Khong came to Toronto and gave a public talk, and my father joined and he listened to the talk. And after that session, he decided to go to Plum Village and he spent time in Plum Village for around four to five months, and it really changed his way of life, his way of looking at things. And when he came home, I really felt he was a new person and we used to have story time before sleeping, and it was one of my sister and I’s favorite part of the day because my father was a very good storyteller, and he had a lot of stories from the time in Vietnam during the war, as well as the journey as a boat person. So it was very exciting to hear all of this. But every time before we sleep, he would put his hand on my abdomen, on my tummy, and he just did that, and instinctively by his hand on my tummy I felt like I had to be aware of my breath. So every time I felt his hand, I would feel my breathing rising and falling as I breathe in and out. And I think I was already practicing meditation without knowing it. So in each and every one of us, we have a spiritual dimension that can be an energy to help us find clarity, find balance, and find peace even in the most difficult moments in our life. And this is what we call the meditator. To touch enlightenment is not a destination so far away. We think that we have to practice for 50 60 years in order for us to be enlightened. But enlightenment is enlightenment of something. So if today we can wake up and we see 24 brand new hours as a gift that is enlightenment of seeing the day has begun, having fresh eyes, knowing how to live this day meaningfully. That’s enlightenment of the day. And there are many moments in the day that we can be enlightened. But to be enlightened, we need time and we need stillness to see what is happening inside of us and what is happening all around us. And the meditator is someone who knows how to be still even among the storm. But the easier time to practice is when we are happy. We are around an environment that is supportive, around a community, around friends that are supportive. So we have to find the quality in the day to nourish our meditator inside of us. And Jo, I think you are a meditator, you are. I see the way you walk, the way you look at life, the way we talk. Even our podcast is a meditation in itself. So I see that this element is so crucial in today when we live in such a hectic life and our life is so fast-paced. If we don’t find time to pause, we don’t find time to take a moment to be aware of the present moment, we will lose ourselves. So the meditator is the guide, the compass, so that we don’t lose our path in life. Jo, how would you share about your experience when you first touch your spiritual seed in you?

00:11:07

So that’s a great question. In fact, as you were talking, that moment came straight up for me and it’s not, it wasn’t related to Buddhism, in a sense, because I was a young kid and hadn’t even come across Buddhism at that moment. But I remember as an 8 or 9-year-old walking from my house, there was a little park at the top of the hill and I climbed to the top of the hill and I looked up and it was a sort of beautiful, dark night and it was full of stars. And I looked up at the stars and I just thought. ‘Oh, wow’. You know, ‘here am I this little speck on Earth, and yet there’s this extraordinary universe.’ And it was it was a sense of wonder, I think, a sense of this extraordinary, expansive nature of the universe. It’s just, there’s billions of stars out there and a sense of myself in relationship to that. And just realizing the world that that at that time, I was sort of quite lonely and sad and quite sort of sense of not understanding why I was alive or what I was here for. You know, I just had this complete, empty space in me. And then looking up and realizing, actually, but there’s so much out there, so much I don’t understand. And so, so it was it was a sort of connection to the magnificence of life that even though I was here, on my own, feeling very lonely, but that I was connected to something far greater than me.

00:12:48

So we’ve spoken about it, but our teacher has written about it. So let’s read the paragraph that Thay talks about the meditator and then we can share more on it.

00:12:58

Yeah, great.

00:13:00

‘In every one of us there is a meditator, a yogi. That is the wish to meditate, to practice, to become a better person, to bring out the best of ourselves, to get enlightened. Our inner meditator brings us lucidity, calm, and deep insight. That is the buddha-nature in us. We may want to become a better person, and yet there are times we don’t practice, we don’t train, not because we don’t want to but because we haven’t yet created the right conditions.’ Jo, you don’t live in the monastery. How do you condition yourself so that you have this element in your daily life?

00:13:44

So, what came straight to my mind was my father’s dying words to me and my, my mother and siblings, was ‘Strike true’. And he was very, very I mean, he was dying, but he was given this cocktail of drugs, so he wasn’t really… had any awareness. But just before he died, he sort of got this moment, as Thay says, ‘his moment of lucidity’, where he came back into the present moment and he just said, looked at us, and he said, ‘Strike true.’ And I think he said it ‘Try strike true.’ And, for me, that was about saying that the most important thing in life is to be true to yourself. Because if we’re not true to ourselves, then how can we be true to life? So I think my everyday practice in a sense is am I being true to myself? Am I being honest to myself? Am I being open to myself? Am I prepared to challenge myself? Am I prepared to question myself? Am I prepared to be open to when I’m challenged? So, at the moment, I’m going through a situation when someone is challenging me a lot and just saying, ‘Is this true?’ So not being defensive to say, ‘Oh, they’re wrong. They’re this, they’re that.’ Not to make myself a victim. So not to say, ‘Oh, my god, maybe I’m this, maybe I’m that.’ And fall victim to someone else’s feelings, but to really interrogate life. Say, ‘Is this true? Is this fair? Is there an element of this that I haven’t been aware of? Is there a blessing in this approach that actually there’s something I’m being shown that’s actually I wasn’t aware of? Is there part of my unconscious? Is there a shadow aspect to me?’ So, for me, it’s just being able to look at life and whatever comes my way and say, ‘Is this true?’ And if it is true, to respond to it. And if it’s not true, or if it doesn’t feel true after I’ve really looked at it, not to fall victim to someone else’s beliefs. How about you, brother?

00:15:56

How do I meditate? How do I practice and how do I keep my meditator alive in me? Every morning, a cup of tea in mindfulness. I start off with that. That has become my go-to. And throughout the day, just being able to have moments of pause and to see if I am lost in the past, or lost in the future, or lost in my thoughts, or lost in my perceptions, or lost in people’s perceptions about me. And when you were speaking about your difficulties and we had a conversation before we started the podcast, having a check-in moment. Yeah, we’ve been also having some conversations and sometimes it’s a little bit challenging about how we handle situations when somebody’s going through a difficult, difficult tease in their practice, when they have their ups and downs, when they’re not participating in our life as a monk, when they are… You see that they are are struggling and it’s very easy for me to be judgmental and saying, ‘You just need to tell them to straighten up. Go sit on that cushion. Join this community for walking meditation.’ But at that moment, my meditation practice is to touch interbeing, is to touch compassion, to see what is really going on like you have shared. Investigate and see beyond the action. And I always start that with myself also. I ask myself, ‘Why am I being so hard on that person? Is it something that is touching something that I’m uncomfortable with in me?’ Because sometimes what we think is right, we project on other people or what we are going through we also projected on the other person. So I always go back to myself first the way out is in I always come in to see what is manifesting inside of me at that situation. And then having the time and space to be patient also. So this has been really important for me as an abbott and as a mentor. Sometimes I see someone going through a difficulty and I think I know the answer, but that answer may not be appropriate for that person yet. And sometimes having to to create the right conditions around him or her so that he and she has the space to feel that he and she is loved. And, you know, sometimes it’s very simple. It’s just I have to remove my perception of what a monk should be or a nun should be. And I touch the human side of him or her, and I say, ‘Hey, let’s go for a walk. Let’s just enjoy the autumn leaves, or let’s, hey, want a cup of tea with me? No, no. Don’t need to be nervous. You’re not coming in to the principal’s office. You we’re just going to have a cup of tea, ask how we’re doing.’ And that, for me, is also meditation. Sometime Thay says to meditate is to have time. And so sometimes I want to have time for myself, which is very important. And having time for myself is also a way of checking in to see how my heart is, to see if I am unbalanced, if I am too stressed these days. How is my body? My body tells me if I am very stressed, if I’m overreacting, because you have tensions build up. And then I also check, where’s my mind? Like, am I triggered very easily these days? Am I vulnerable? And if I am, am I taking care of it? Or am I solid? Am I fresh and free? If I am, how can I offer that to others? So that has been some meditation koans that I would ask myself in order to see how I am being engaged.

00:20:20

And brother, I just want to pick up a couple of things you said. One is about, you know, we need to create space for ourselves because as you said, life is very hectic and we are so conditioned to be busy and that when we’re not busy, we feel guilty about not being busy, and we feel restless and feel we need to fill our time with something. That, you know, that’s almost space has become a problem for us rather than an opportunity. And I was, a while ago, I ran a workshop for some members of a global NGO that works in the environment. And this was a post the COP26 talks in Glasgow. And they’d come back from these two extremely busy weeks, and a couple of people said, ‘Well, you know, I’m bored, I’m restless. What do we do next?’ And other people were saying, ‘You know, God, I don’t even, you know, I haven’t even had a chance to rest. I’m on to the next thing, and I’m already onto the next thing.’ And we spent quite a lot of time just talking about the importance of taking space and that, you know, that if you’re not busy, then there’s a chance to enjoy being not busy, to appreciate not being busy, to recognize that, actually, most of the time we have new ideas that we’re able to see things in fresh ways is when we stop and look. And I think, you know, there’s an aspect to that which is also the Beginner’s Mind isn’t there, brother? Which is which is one of the core, sort of, in a sense, principles of Zen is that, actually, when we meditate, there’s a chance to come back to the start of the journey, not to not to think, ‘Oh, we have to solve this at the point we all are.’ But maybe you can tell us a bit about how the Beginner’s Mind interrelates with this.

00:22:11

The Beginner’s Mind, wow, we’re becoming very Buddhist here, Jo. No, it’s a wonderful expression. The Beginner’s Mind sometimes our teacher calls it ‘the mind of love’ or ‘the bodhicitta’, the seed of Bodhicitta. Bodhi is awakening, so the seed of awakening in all of us. We all have this quality to be alive, to be present, to have agency of how we want to live our life. And a lot of times we get that seed gets covered up and it is covered up by desire, is covered up by running after a position, running after an idea of happiness, an idea of success. So we go into this rhythm that is non-stop and we lose ourself until we have the condition to come back to the Beginner’s Mind, the mind of love, the seed of awakening in all of us. And that seed of awakening is a very powerful source of energy. It’s an energy that tells us that there is more to life than a car, than a house, than a position. There is something so unique about the present moment. I think you shared about that, about the stars it’s so magnificent. If we can be in nature and see the wonders of the trees, the wonders of the clouds, of how vast this Earth is, you touch this moment of connection. And so for each and every one of us, that was just me sharing an example of a moment that touched my seed of awakening, or seed of Bodhicitta. But for some of us, we may touch the seed of bodhicitta when we have suffered, when we’ve suffered so much. And one day we said, ‘I want to transform this suffering. I know there’s a way out of suffering because I have learned from others.’ The Buddha was a teacher who taught us that because there is suffering, there’s also happiness. Because there’s happiness, there’s also suffering. And the two of of these pairs are partners they balance and they nourish each other. If you have tasted suffering, you know how miserable it is, how it can bring you down. When you see someone now suffering that allows you to touch compassion. And that compassion can be an element of happiness, and joy, and gratitude. And when you are happy, you are fresh, you are a source of love for someone, you want to share that love, you want to share that happiness. And the meditator knows that both sides need food to stay alive. So if we keep nourishing our suffering, we will always suffer. So the meditator says, ‘Ah, I know, suffering, you are there and I will take time to be with you.’ I will see what are… What is the root of my suffering? What is nourishing my suffering? And then if I see the root of it, then I have an answer. I have to stop doing that. And then I find a way out. That is what we call the Four Noble Truth. And it’s the same with happiness. If you have happiness now, if you are someone who is fresh, someone who is love, don’t take it for granted because it can also be replaced by suffering if we don’t know how to nourish it. So we… From time to time the meditator, we have to take a pause. If we are living a life that has peace, love and stability, we have to breathe in and appreciate it. Seeing what we are doing that gives us this quality of life, how to nourish it, how to condition it so that this element becomes stronger in us so that it can be maintained. But the meditator also knows that if one day I suffer, it’s OK, because suffering is a teacher. And because I have tasted happiness, I know happiness is also a seed that is there. So as a practitioner, we create space in our day in order to have time to reflect and to look at these questions inside of us.

00:26:55

And brother, and this isn’t just a nice thing to do, this is actually the heart of being engaged in the world. Because,I mean, there’s this truism that you can only help someone to the extent you’ve helped yourself. So if someone comes to you with a problem that you haven’t addressed yourself or you haven’t looked at that area of your life, you can offer sympathy, but you can’t offer empathy. But when naturally you have worked with that issue and you’ve sort of looked into it and you found that place of deep pain in yourself and you’ve started to transform it, then when someone comes to you with that problem, you’re present for them. And I’ve always felt the sense of, you know, when someone’s in hell, what they need most is someone just to sit in hell with them. You don’t actually, sometimes, have to say anything. And that’s what I think, you know, Thay has taught me is about, you know, the embodiment of presence in a sense, which as I have looked at this, I can understand this territory, I don’t feel fearful anymore of going to this dark place because I have made friends with it. And, therefore, I can sit with you and just offer that to you. And that doesn’t involve any words. It just involves a sense of deep connection that creates safety in the world. And I think that’s, in a sense, in terms of being a sort of agent of change in the world is to be… That’s the sort of talks about our stability, doesn’t it? Our ability to be present, stable, to have looked deeply and to be there for other people.

00:28:37

Exactly.

00:29:06

So, brother, should we go on and look at the artist?

00:29:09

Yes, I like that, I like being creative. The artists, each and every one of us is an artist of our day, how we live our life. When we breathe in and out, that is art itself. But that is art in the body as being a human. I like to reflect on this because when we hear about the word artist, we think they have to… we have to be a painter, we have to be a a musician, an actor, a dancer to be called an artist. But, actually, the Buddha once said that the mind is an artist, whatever the mind creates, that is the world. So the way we create and the way we take care of our mind has a very important connection to how we relate to the world. So that… I’m just going to drop that there, leave that there that’s a meditation in itself. How, what are you drawing each day in your daily life? But this element is more about creativity, finding the balance, finding the joy in life as we… I think when we were young, we knew how to enjoy life really well. I think when we’re hungry, we cry, we asked mommy for food, and because we’re so cute, mommy gives us a piece of cookie or gives us juice. And when we are bored, we find joy and nourishment in a rock, in a park. There’s so much creativity because our mind, we were investigating. We’re always looking at life with wonder, eyes of wonders. But the more we grow up, we put on different masks. We, in order to cope with situations, and a lot of the times we forget to take off that mask and we start to get bored, we start to find a rhythm that we call habits. And these habits can be destructive to our well-being. Or if we are creative, we can find different habits to change the energies in our life. So our teacher has this teaching, he says, ‘When you are doing something and, like, if you are listening to a song and it’s not giving you any joy, any nourishment, why continue to listening to that song? Don’t you have the agency, the power to press pause, or to press stop, and to change the track? So, in a way, the artist, from time to time, we are invited as a meditator to look at our daily life and see, ‘Am I happy? Do I have freshness in my life? Am I just sitting in the room all day? Do I have the freedom to go out for a walk, to sit down in the park, to sit on a swing? Is the swing just for a kid? So in Upper Hamlet, we have the linden tree, right? When you arrive, we have this really great linden tree. And the tradition of it is it’s always had a swing. And now we’ve added another swing. So it has two swings. And I love that tree for many reasons. But one of the reason is I love seeing adults sit on the swing and seeing them touch the childhood inside of them. We all have a cookie of childhood, and I think that’s the saying, right? And so, for some of us, it may be a cookie, a cup of milk. For some of us, it may be sitting on a swing. Or some of us from Vietnam love swinging on the hammock. So we all have these little intsy bintsy pieces of joy in our life that we forget. So the artist is to create our lives so that we don’t burn out, so we don’t lose energy. So, we have this Beginner’s Mind, we have this passion to offer life, our energy, but, at the same time, how are we taking care of our energy so that we still have freshness, we still have moments of the day that you can smile, Jo?

00:33:34

So, brother, I have a question for you because a lot of people who don’t live in the monastery, live ordinary lives, you know, they can… They have constant choices. They can… Tonight, I’m going to go to the cinema. Tomorrow I go to the theater. The next time I go for a walk in nature, then I might go to this cafe. I might go to that restaurant. They have so many choices. So, in a sense, you can say there, there’s so many, there’s so many ways to be fresh in that sense. You, on the other hand, yeah, I know you travel. In normal years you travel a lot, but when you’re in the monastery you’ve been a monk for 17, 20, 20 years and you have a routine. You get up in the morning, you go and sit, you have breakfast, you then might have a class or something, and go for walking meditation, and then have lunch, you know, and then might have afternoon sort of community working. And then there’ll be a sitting meditation in the evening. It’s very, often, very regular. It goes on and on the same thing every day. How do you stay fresh? Because some people would look at that and think it’s like prison. You know, you’re doing the same thing every day. There’s no escape from it. You can’t just say ‘I’m off for a weekend to the Bahamas.’ How do you stay fresh in the practice?

00:34:57

When I see that the practice is not a chore, it’s not a duty and it’s more of a gift of life, then I enjoy it so much more. So, I… oh, man, you know, sometimes Thay says like, when you have insight, don’t share it right away because it’s still very, very…

00:35:18

Tender.

00:35:19

Tender, and you don’t want to expose it yet. But here we are, and your question just brought it up. So, when I come back to my Beginner’s Mind, I remember the first day I was in Plum Village, how happy I was. And what was I happy about? It was… I was in a safe place. And being in Plum Village, I can’t forget that that feeling and to come back and to see that the life in the monastery is not a chore, it’s not labor, that is how I keep my freshness. When I see that by my way of walking, my way of presence which you just shared about, Jo is a gift. I see that that is freshness, that is new, because every day we are someone new. There’s a saying in Zen ‘You can’t bathe in the same river twice’ because the you yesterday is already different today. But a lot of the time we forget that. So this insight, I wish I wanted to share about with you, and now I’m sharing with everyone. I am very fascinated by the life of my teacher, Thay, because I’ve had the chance to be around him for over 15 years as his personal attendant. And Thay was never tired of giving the Dharma, of being present for the community. Jo, you remember he was the one leading the Dharma Talk, sometimes two hours, and then comes out, lead the walking meditation and then leads the formal lunch. And then, sometimes, in the afternoon, he has interviews, or he joins the Dharma sharing. And I ask myself, ‘How does my teacher have so much energy?’ And then there were moments when we would go on tour, we just finished a three-month tour in the US, which is very busy. The schedule is very complex. We’re flying in, Thay has to give a talk in the evening; as his attendant I have to make sure everything is ready. And then we finish the tour and we fly back to France. And let’s say today is Saturday. We arrive Saturday, tomorrow is Sunday. A normal person will say, ‘I just came back, I’m going to… Jet lag, I’m going to take a day off.’ Thay never skips one day of mindfulness. In all of my years of being his assistant, his attendant, his assistant, there has never been one day that Thay has skipped a day of mindfulness. And now I give Dharma talks, I lead walking meditation, and there’s a body of Dharma teachers in our community, which is like his continuation body. If I give a Dharma talk, we would ask another Dharma teacher to lead the walking meditation. But it’s our way of sharing the responsibility, to not feel like it’s on one person’s shoulder, which I think is also the essence of community to rely on one another. But I would ask myself, like, can I do what Thay do? And my first reaction is probably, ‘No.’ I probably can’t. I would burn out. And I really was stuck on this question of how did Thay do it in one day, in formal lunch. Because I have to confess, out of all of the practice in Plum Village, formal lunch was one of the practices that I dread the most. So for those who are listening who don’t know what formal lunch is, it’s a very long session of eating. So the bell is invited. We all gather, but we don’t get our lunch yet. We we wait for the monks and nuns to gather, and then there’s three sounds of the bell, and it’s the only day that we eat in our order of ordination. So, the nuns would line up on one side. The monks will line up on one side in order of ordination, and then we all serve our food and then we would enter into the meditation hall and the rule is we wait until everyone arrives. Now, in the pandemic, we have less people, so our formal lunch is faster. But in retreat modes, even in the summer when we’ve had hundreds of people, sometimes we would sit there for 45 minute waiting for everyone to arrive. But the rule is you wait for everyone to arrive. And then the sound of the bell, and then the contemplations before eating, and then the five contemplations in three different languages. And then you start to eat in 20 minutes of silence.

00:40:14

And with your cold food by then.

00:40:16

By then our food is cold. And after the meal is finish, depending on the Bell Maste. He or she would invite the CTC the Care-Taking Council to announce what is the activity of the afternoon. And then we would read out requests from people to send energy to a loved one who is going through a difficulty either physically or mentally, or someone who has passed away to offer a blessing, and the community would chant. And so… And then we would end our session, and then we don’t even leave yet because we then leave in a procession, in an ordination order. So the whole session can be one hour and a half, or sometimes an hour 45 minutes, sometimes. So that’s just lunch. And I know that this is one of my most difficult practice to find joy and to find ease in. And one day I was sitting at the bell, now that I am the abbot and I help lead these sessions. And I said, ‘How did Thay do it?’ And I found the answer, or my answer, is that in those moments of waiting, Thay is resting. In those moments of waiting, Thay enjoys just sitting, doing nothing with the Sangha. And I just started to see wow, when Thay walks and he leads walking meditation, he is just walking. He is enjoying every step. He doesn’t probably… even have to put on the label that I am leading the walking. Thay is just walking. And Thay has shared with us many times that when he practiced walking, he is very relaxed, and that’s how he’s caring for his body, that is how he is taking care of his meditator seed and his creativity. And then when Thay drinks tea with his students, he doesn’t see ‘Oh, man, as a teacher, I have to spend time with my student. Oh, man, they have more problems. I thought I gave them all the tools already.’ He doesn’t go through this, probably, these kind of thoughts that I go through… Oh, man, when somebody knocks on my door, and they want to see the abbott, I’m like, ‘Is it a problem that I have to solve?’ And I started having sessions with brothers, with lay friends, with you, Jo. What… It’s not like, oh, man, what does Jo want today? Is like, ‘Hi, Jo! You want a cup of tea?’ And then the whole environment changes, the whole spirit of that practice changes. So I will say, every day practicing, I understand my footsteps more. I understand my breath more. I understand sitting and doing nothing more. And that becomes very new for me.

00:43:15

Wow. So, brother, I have to admit that formal lunch is my most difficult one.

00:43:23

Props. Props to that. Props to that. We are the same.

00:43:26

So I am the youngest of six kids, so I have food anxiety issues. So, firstly, it’s sort of ‘Is there going to be enough food for me?’ Because in a formal lunch all the monastics go first, and then the lay practitioners after. So is there any food left? So that’s my first problem. And then the second one is that when I’m sitting there and my food is there, I want to eat it. And I, you know, and the meditation halls all have big windows, so you can see when people are coming. And, as you say, I’m always thinking, because you’re at the bell, you’re in charge. And I’m thinking, Phap Huu, it doesn’t matter if not everyone’s there. They’re just… the people are just sitting out there in the sunshine and they’ll get their food, and we’re all sitting here and it’s not fair. It’s not fair that people are outside taking their time while everyone is sitting here in silence. And I am now starting to try and work on that because I thought, ‘Well, I’ll just close my eyes, and I’ll ignore it.’ But actually, that’s not working because at the base of it is the issue that I feel almost, I don’t know, it’s actually a really good question. What is the feeling? It’s a feeling of lack of fairness, actually, that people are not showing fairness and respect by turning up. That they’re taking longer than they need to and that I’m being forced to wait. So actually is really interesting because, actually, every practice shows us what is there to be healed. What is that we haven’t solved? What is it we are comfortable with? What is it we’re uncomfortable with? It doesn’t matter what it is. And just to come back to the core of what I hear you saying, brother, is that, you know, the Buddha’s great insight was ‘with our thoughts we create the world.’ And, so, actually, every single thought we have has a power, and every single thought we have, we have a choice of to have that thought or even if we don’t have a choice. Even that thought comes out, we have a choice of what to do with it. So, actually, every moment of our life is the life of an artist, because every moment in life we make choices about, do I do this or not do that? Should I… Do I look at this with the eyes of compassion? Or do I let my anger take over for me? So, actually, we’re constantly creating the world in ourselves. And then, as you say, we project it out into the world. So what we see in the world in that sense… I used to struggle for years, brother, with ideas, ‘with our thoughts, we create the world.’ How can that be true? But it is that when we see life differently then the world does change it because actually the world isn’t one thing. The world is just what we choose to make it. So I found actually that’s the deepest form of artistry… Is saying, actually, I could, when we become more conscious, in a moment, I could be very angry with this person. And it touches into my habit, I’ve got justification, but actually, I’m not going to. And those become the moments where we can sort of transform.

00:46:33

And there’s one… Just to answer one of your questions is you asked why we have such a routine life? And so, you know, yes, it is routine because it also helps us with developing our discipline in a way, discipline body and mind, and how we… if we allow myself to just be carried away by our habits. But we also have a lot of fun in the monastery. So from time to time it does get like routine, and we all get bored a little bit. So from time to time, we would change the day, so we would have picnic days when I would say, ‘OK, brothers, sisters, let’s go for a picnic. No, no business talk. No, we’re not going to sit there and look at the lake in stillness for 25 minutes or an hour.’ We can sit there for a few minutes in silence, but then bring out the guitar, bring out the drums, let’s sing a few songs, let’s play a few games, let’s go on these hikes around our monasteries. We live in such a beautiful area, so just to also share that in the monastery, especially in Plum Village, you see monastics, we play soccer, we play football, we play basketball, we play volleyball. We even practice tai chi with Paz, we do yoga. We even do, some of us, we’ve got into into exercising a lot like physically, like even with weights and sometimes we would do this is really fun: this cardio day. There would be like eight of us in the zendo and we all do a cardio track together, and we’re all sweating. So, like, just to let everyone know that also we are humans and we are young and we need to care for our body. So we do try to be creative to make sure that we are balanced also. Because, yes, it is true in our life, we do do a lot of sitting, whether it is sitting meditation, as a practice, or a Dharma talk, which is we are sitting, classes we are sitting. Meetings, we are sitting. This podcast, we are sitting. So we do have to find the right balance. So the creativity comes in to make sure that we don’t get stuck or we feel stuck.

00:48:58

And just, lastly, brother, I mean, the most important thing about creativity is it’s juicy. And, you know, and I sometimes think, you know, when people, you know, going back to this idea of engagement in the world whether you’re an activist or whatever, however you engage in the world that if you turn up juicy and joyous and that you’re creative, it’s an infectious energy. And I have a good friend called Solitaire Townsend, who runs a big sustainability consultancy called Futerra. And she’s always said, ‘Look, if we want to get people to change the world, you’ve got to do it in a joyous way. If you look as though you’re sucking lemons, you know, why would anyone want to change?’ But actually, if we’re vibrant, energetic, we’re showing that the future actually could be much more beautiful, much more dynamic, much more engaging. Then actually, that’s attractive. And if we keep on, you know, you know, having doing the same thing repeatedly, then actually that person will become bored and so will other people.

00:50:07

Yes. So let us hear what our teacher has to say in this chapter.

00:50:11

Much more intelligent and the two of us.

00:50:16

‘In each one of us there is an artist. The artist is very important. To artist can bring freshness, joy and meaning to life. You need to allow the artist in you to be creative so you can always feel and enjoy the nourishment in your practice of mindfulness. Many of us can stand monotony. If we have too much of something, we want to change it, even if we know it’s good. This is only natural. You may ask how can we keep going on a path we want to go on and keep going to the end? Of course you need patience, but you also need something else. The path should be joyful, nourishing and healing. So we have to find a way to create the joy every day. We have to organize our daily life, so it’s not repetitive. And so each moment can be a new moment. We must find creative ways to keep our bodhicitta, our Beginner’s Mind, alive and nourished. Whether you’re eating in mindfulness, driving in mindfulness, or practicing walking meditation or sitting meditation, you have to invent new ways of doing it so that the breathing, walking and sitting always brings you delight, solidity, and peace. On the outside, it may look the same, but you’re walking as a new person. You’re sitting very differently. You are evolving. I can tell you, I never get bored of walking in mindfulness. When I walk, every step is a delight, and not because I am delight or discipline, but because I allow the artist in me to operate, and to make my practice new, interesting, nourishing, and healing. Practicing mindfulness can always be healing and nourishing. If we know how to be creative, we shouldn’t practice like a machine, but as a living being. According to Master Linji, if while walking or eating or going about your day, you can create even just one flash of mindfulness, that’s good enough. Just one percent success is good enough because that one percent can be the ground of many other precents.

00:52:41

And I love that, brother, because it takes away all the need for success in it. You know, this idea that if you’re, that if you’re not able to be fully present for most of the day that you’re failing. He’s saying that even if you get this one moment, that is good enough, and you should, you should relish it and enjoy it. And that’s part of the artistry, isn’t it? That you don’t… That you see it almost a spark, and you say that’s good enough because that spark is likely to kindle a fire at some point.

00:53:40

So, brother, now onto the warrior. Now, I love this bit because it’s, I don’t know if it’s because I’m a bloke, I don’t know if it’s a gender thing, but the idea of taking out the sword of truth and cutting through, cutting through the misunderstandings of the world and taking action, actually, there’s something just about that energy in me, that immediately I feel it coming up. So it’s great to sit and be mindful, and it’s great to be an artist. But this idea of just sort of rising up, it has… It brings a lot of energy for me. But what about you, brother? What’s your take on it?

00:54:21

The warrior…

00:54:22

Yeah.

00:54:22

I see it… I see the mountain in the warrior, the mountain that is a refuge for many people, a refuge for all beings birds, animals, trees. And the mountain can hold its ground even in the greatest storm. And that is to represent the challenges in our life. There’s going to be moments when we meet a very difficult situation, and it’s going to question our action, our thoughts, our speech, and those moments are when we have to invoke the warrior of great understanding inside of us, to take care of that present moment in a skillful way. I have done many, many, many things that I can call shortcomings, by emotions, by anger, and at those moments, I don’t, I can say that I have allowed the habits to take over. So the warrior is also the I that can see the habit of what is manifesting inside. But the warrior is also the energy of aspiration, of determination, like the bodhicitta that we have touched on, the Beginner’s Mind of wanting to change, wanting to put into action our aspiration. Because an idea is great and aspiration is still a view, in a way, and we need the warrior to put it into our daily life. We, as a meditator who has now a vision, we see that by doing that great suffering, do you have the strength to stop doing that? That is the warrior. Do you allow your aspiration to come into fruit for it to bear fruit? Or do you still just like the idea of it? Right? And also the warrior for me is also someone who has the capacity to hold his belief, his truth. And this comes to my teacher who I know and you know, our teacher went through the war and during during the Vietnam War, there was a lot of challenges because if you are surrounded by violence and discrimination and injustice, you ask yourself, ‘What can I do?’ And at that time, when you see that both sides are fighting, it’s easy to pick a side. But our teacher was enlightened enough, and was awakened to say that violence is not the way. Nonviolence is the way. And compassion is also, and we can say, a weapon of the warrior, the compassion. There is fierce compassion. There are moments when we have to say, ‘No, you cannot do that.’ Because that creates more harm, that creates more misunderstanding. And sometimes we have to invoke the gentle compassion, the mother seed in us to care and to love. And I saw by the history of my teacher, by his stories, like when he would go out and help villages that are destroyed. And as that warrior, he’s not fighting, but he’s helped rebuilding. And I think, for me, reimaging and re-creating the image of the war is to bring back life rather than to destroy life. I think a lot of us, when we think of a warrior, even for me, is someone with armor, with a sword, with a spear, with a bow and arrow. I think we can recreate this warrior, this image of this warrior is to protect, to care, to nourish, to help bring life into the world. And I think this was part of the aspiration of our teacher of Engaged Buddhism during that particular time because there was so much life that was taken away. So our teacher was going around with his community of social workers, young monks, young nuns, lay men and lay women who didn’t want to pick up arms, but they wanted to be another force, a force of love and a force of compassion. And for me, that’s a warrior also.

00:59:06

Wow. So, what was coming up in my mind was, when I was young, I used to be another… I used to be the worrior rather than the warrior, so I used to have lots of worries.

00:59:20

A lot of worries.

00:59:21

I was a worrior. And, in a sense, my feelings of sort of my lack of purpose, my sense of meaninglessness in the world, you know, I was a victim of the world. So, because I was unable to truly feel myself or understand my worth, I everything… All my worth and value came from my experiences, the mirror of how other people responded to me. So, so in that place, I had no power. I was feeling a lot of powerlessness, because actually the only way I could feel my place in the world was through other people’s response to me. And because I was craving a positive response, I basically gave up all my power to the world around me. And, in a sense, I emptied out all my own power. And so, so for me, the warrior is… The true warrior is about being able to stand firm and in my truth. So it relates to what I was saying earlier about strike true, which is saying that, actually, I need to look deeply about what is true and what action I can take in that moment. And that is about regardless of what people think of me, and I find that, Brother Phap Huu, the most difficult thing because I have this very strong habitual pattern to be liked. And so normally the way I respond to things is in a very soft way, which is not, which is not the same as… It’s the opposite of fierce compassion, it’s actually actually based on fear, which is that if I challenge that person, then they won’t like me. And so it’s a very, very old pattern to me. And the transformation of that is to say, actually, this is what I believe, this is what I’m going to, how I’m going to act, regardless… It’s not that I’m going to aim to upset people, it’s not that I want to aim to hurt people, but that I cannot determine other people’s response, and that all I can do is be as close to the truth for me is as I can be. And then trust life. And I think that if we’re all hiding away from that warrior energy, actually that creates a life where things get destroyed, where things got devalued, where people abuse each other when there’s inequality. And because power gets skewed, because either people feel powerless or actually they need their power, and they feel very powerful. But actually, there’s a lot of need behind that. So, so for me, a warrior is a person who’s in their true power, who’s able to stand firm. As you say, a bit… Is a very similar image to a mountain, but that ability to stand firm on the ground and whatever comes towards you that you can, or I can, we can hold that place.

01:02:30

Beautiful. And I’ve met many warriors in my life that have supported me. And I also realized that I have to be a warrior, also for myself. So, so there are moments when I fall into this idea that I should be a warrior, a mountain for other people, and I get lost in that. And there was a moment in my monastic path, I was very lost and confused, and I was so, wow, just remembering those days I was so dreadful. Every day waking up was misery. And it was because I wasn’t ready to face the loneliness and the doubt that was inside of me. And during that time, it was my brothers and my sisters in the community that they became the loving warriors that came to me and said, ‘Brother, can we have a cup of tea with you? Can we support you in any way? Can we just listen?’ And they were the ones who helped me share, and by sharing, I was able to reflect myself to see what is it that I am afraid of? What is it that is making me so miserable? And now that I can talk about it more comfortably, I can say that it was thanks to their stability that I was able to see myself with my own two eyes with not hiding under anything, whether it is fear or whether it is a perception that has been created and I’ve been carrying, and by what other people perceive of me or what I perceive of myself. And by looking at my fear and my doubt, I was able, again, to touch the question. But is this fear and doubt really worth to bring me down every single day? And then I start to see I am more than this. There are these seed of aspiration in me, the seed of mountain, the seed of wanting to offer, the seed of wanting to be a better person. And so, sometimes, the warrior is also just to help the other touch those seeds in them.

01:05:24

And in that sense, you know, you talked about the warrior, the image of someone wearing an armor. For me, the warrior is actually someone who’s taken off their armor and allows their heart to be seen and to allow their vulnerability, because I think the ultimate strength is to show up wounds and all, and to show your vulnerability, because that gives everyone permission to show up as they are. And that takes enormous courage to actually say, ‘I’m… This is who I am, warts and all, with all my problems. This is who I am.’ Because that allows everyone to do that. And, brother, what’s so interesting as we’re talking is, of course, and, of course, it would be like this, but the interrelationship between those three. Because if for someone who’s able to take time to come back to yourself and then have creativity is the ground on which you can then be a warrior. And if you’re a warrior, that is… also feeds into the creativity and into their mindfulness, because you act with mindfulness. So, actually, those three are all actually completely interrelated. But should we see what Thay has to say? Because the problem with all these, brother, is that every time we jump, wobble on, and then we listen to Thay… ‘Oh, God, that sounds much better.’.

01:06:52

Yes.

01:06:52

But, anyway, let’s give Thay his time.

01:06:57

In every one of us, there is a warrior. The warrior brings a determination to go ahead. You refuse to give up, you want to win. And, as a practitioner, you have to allow this fighter in you to be active. You don’t become a victim of anything. You fight in order to renew your meditation practice. You fight in order to allow things to become boring. And so the meditator goes together with the warrior. We should not be afraid of obstacles on our path. In fact, there are many things that can discourage you. But, if your energy of bodhicitta is strong, if your warrior is strong, you can overcome these obstacles. And every time you overcome them, your bodhicitta will get stronger. In this way, obstacles are not really obstacles, they are an accelerator of wisdom of aspiration. The Meditator, the Artist, and the warrior are not three separate people, they are three aspect of your person, and you should allow all three aspects to be active at the same time in order to have balance. We have to mobilize them all and never let one of them die or become too weak. If you are an activist, a political leader, or a leader in your community, you have to know how to cultivate these three aspects within yourself so you can offer balance steadiness, strength, and freshness for those around you.

01:09:08

And, Brother Phap Huu, before we finish, is there any other stories you have about Thay in regard to his warrior spirit, because he went through all sorts of challenges through his life. And I’m just wondering if there’s, if there’s anything that comes to mind about when Thay sort of, in a sense, brought those three together and was able to be sort of fully present in that sense.

01:09:37

There’s a moment that that comes up right now for me. There was a moment when we started our centers in Vietnam and we built these monasteries. And within two years, our community grew so fast. We had 400 monastics. That’s, wow, even when I think about that, I get goosebumps, like, how did that happen? Wow, what an era! But then, suddenly, our presence in Vietnam as a monastery, as an organization, sparked some fear in the country, in the government. So we had to disband. And that moment of being disbanded was a really tough time in the Sangha. This was 2008, and I remember our community mobilizing together to find ways of understanding the situation, recognizing that it’s a very difficult moment, our brothers, our sisters, who I have not met yet because they’re in Vietnam, but they are part of my family. And hearing that they cannot live peacefully, it hurt to think of that. And that’s me, as a brother. And Thay, as a teacher, who all of these monks and nuns took refuge under, and who became his students, his disciples. I’m sure, as a teacher, Thay had to activate the meditator to see clearly what is happening, and then not to be a victim of that moment, to have clarity. And in those moments, I remember Thay would activate his practice of walking meditation. We would do a lot of walks with Thay. Some days, after sitting meditation in the morning, and then breakfast, and Thay would go for hours of walking, and just to make sure that he is not overwhelmed by, maybe… this is me thinking out loud by maybe despair, a feeling of what can I do as a teacher? But to have to embrace that energy, to embrace those emotions that are manifesting. Because if I am having those feelings, I’m sure my teacher is having those feelings, and then Thay would be an artist in finding a way to not drown in the difficulty. So in the days of mindfulness that we had together, Thay would share to Sangha how we can practice together to support all of our brothers and sisters who are going through a difficult time. And we would chant more during that time because collective chanting is a very powerful energy. And we were sometimes, we say we send our energy of peace and love to places of difficulty. So the artist, the warrior came together. So we channeled our collective energy to our place, by singing, by chanting, by practicing together. And Thay would also need nourishment. So I remember he would spend more time with the community. He’d love… One of Thay’s joy was to see the brothers and sisters and lay friends play together, either is soccer, is football, is volleyball, a bonfire, or even working together. I remember when we were building the meditation hall, Thay would like to just come and watch the community work together. So he would find nourishments here and there just to be balanced. And then the word clarity came out and Thay said, ‘We have to make sure that the safety of our brothers and sisters is they are protected as a priority.’ So we would mobilize, we would reach out to different places to find a new refuge, in which now is the Plum Village Thailand International Sangha Community Practice Center in Pakchong, in Thailand. Now most of our brothers and sisters moved there, and many of them have come over to Plum Village, have come over to the US centers, have come over to the practice center in Australia, in Hong Kong, in Germany. So, in that moment, not giving up and not being caught also by ‘No, but we need a center in Vietnam’ but which it is still a very deep aspiration is to have a center in Vietnam, which is like our root tradition where it’s from but not to be caught in that view. And Thay said, ‘If it can’t be manifested now because of condition, let us find and create different conditions and which is now all of these centers with all of these brothers and sisters that are here now.’ So that was a very precious moment that I was able to be beside Thay and to see his human side. Yeah.

01:14:53

Thank you, brother. So, dear listeners, we hope you’ve enjoyed this episode and also, you know, just that, you know, and it’s for all of us that when we go out into the world and we want to create change or even to be there for other people, first of all, let us always remember to bring our Meditator, our Artist, and our warrior along with us, because those will give us the confidence, the ability, and the courage to act. If you would like to listen to other episodes from the series the Way Out Is In, then you can find us on Spotify, on Apple Podcasts, on other platforms that carry podcast series, and also on our very own Plum Village App.

01:15:44

And this podcast was brought to you by the generous donors of the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation. If you would like to support future episodes of the podcast and the work of the international Plum Village community, please visit www.tnhf.org/donate.

01:16:04

Thank you, brother. So we started out this podcast with me being a bit worried because I thought, what are we going to talk about? But, as usual, as soon as we start, the whole universe opens up for us. So, thank you, brother. And as is the custom now, not the habit, but the custom, and to bring your creativity in, brother, your artistry into our guided meditation that you do for us every week. So, take us away, brother, or bring us home.

01:16:36

Hello, listener, I would invite you all to have a moment of stillness if we are sitting on the bus, sitting on a car, on a plane, on a train, going for a walk, going for a jog, or at home. If we can allow ourselves to just be still for a few moments of mindful breathing, and allow me to guide you to touch the meditator in you, the artist, and the warrior. Breathing in, I bring my awareness to my breath. How wonderful it is to breathe in. And breathing out, I bring my awareness to my outbreath. How wonderful it is to breathe out. Aware of inbreath, aware of outbreath. As I breathe in, I allow myself to fully dwell in my inbreath from the beginning to the end. And as I breathe out, I allow myself to fully enjoy the outbreath from the beginning to the end. Full inbreath, and full outbreath. Breathing in, I am in touch with the seed of love inside of me, my Beginner’s Mind, the mind of wanting to be kinder, more beautiful. That love is a source of energy, of compassion in me. Breathing out, I allow myself to nourish that seed inside of me. Bodhicitta, seed of love, energy of compassion. Breathing in, I touch freshness inside of me. Freshness in life, freshness in this breath. This is a new moment. Breathing out, I allow this moment to manifest as it is. The wonders of life are all around me, and I am a wonder of life, a flower in the garden of humanity. Freshness, flower. Breathing in, I see the mountain inside of me, the clarity, the stability, in this very moment. Breathing out, I allowed this mountain to be present, not carried away by the past, or carried away by a perception, an idea, a thought. Breathing out, I enjoy this stability. Mountain, solid. Breathing in, I touch space inside of me. Openness. Always wanting to grow, to have more understanding, to have more love. With this openness, I touch freedom. Breathing out, freedom in the here and now. Breathing in, space. Breathing out, freedom. Breathing in, I am the meditator, the artist, and the warrior. Breathing out, I allow these three elements to be alive in this very moment and the next moment. In, elements of the meditator, the artist, and the warrior. Breathing out, these elements nourish and care for my well-being. Breathing in, I enjoyed this breath. How wonderful! Breathing out, I am in touch with life inside of me and life all around me.

01:22:47

Hank you, listeners, we wish you a wonderful day and see you again next time on our podcasts. And.

01:23:52

The way out is in.


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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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