I am a computer programmer by day and philosopher by night. I post once or twice a week. I aim to prevent blogging from taking to much time, while allowing time to develop each idea before posting it. Each has some reference to human, universal, or societal truths, while presented in an organized, understandable & consise way -- this is the plan anyway. Results may very as what rings true for one may seem false to another. Also becuase sometimes I get things wrong.

Sunday, September 18, 2005

Thich Nhat Hanh: Buddhist Monk, Author

A lot of people have been asking me about the lecture I went to given by Thich Nhat Hanh. I've given a number of tidbits to a number of people, but to most I haven't given what I would call a full explanation. I expect this message will meet more eyes then one that I would give in person.

The title of the lecture was "Refreshing Our Hearts: Understanding True Love." Love in the human compassion sense not the romantic sense. I think the romans had it right to have three different words for love. The lecture was held at the Boston Opera House. The place is HUGE and it was nearly full! I bought tickets on the way in and I was about half way up the balcony. I would say there was in the area of 2,000 people in attendance.

Most of you will probably know who Thich Nhat Hanh is, but I'll give a 30 second biography for those who have not heard of him:

Born in Vietnam in 1926. He became a Buddhist monk. He traveled to the United States in order to speak out about the war against his country. He was not allowed to return to Vietnam by that country's government and moved to France. He lived in a Buddhist community in France called Plum Village. He is the author of several books including: Living Buddha, Living Christ, Peace is Every Step, Old Path White Clouds & Being Peace.

On to the lecture itself:

It was a pretty neat experience. I would say that it was a recap of the ideas of Buddhism, but connected a lot of unconnected dots. The lecture was given in a very clear, simple & understandable way.

Here are the ideas which he talked about:

- in life there is suffering [1]

- in true love we ease the suffering of others

- in order to accomplish this we must be living in the moment.

- we must understand the (sources of) suffering of the other by first understanding (the sources of) our own suffering

- Some imagine heaven to be a place where there is no suffering - only happiness and love. He does not believe this can be true, because without pain we lack the opportunity to develop understanding and thus love would not be possible. (This is a new idea and I am still considering it a month later!)

- mindful loving listening can be very effective in easing suffering.

- there are 3 complexes w/regard to listening.

complex 1: to feel that you are superior to the speaker.

complex 2: to feel that you are inferior to the speaker.

complex 3: to feel that you are equal to the speaker.

- in true love there is no distinction between the one who speaks and the one who listens. There is no greater, lesser or equal because all distinction melts away.

- there is no room for resentment or guilt - he uses the examples of his left and right hand in order to demonstrate this.

- he provides many reasons why of past, present and future - the present is important and the others much less so.

- by mindfulness he refers to living in the present, which ironically is the Taoist notion of no-mind. So being mindful and mindless is really the same thing! :) [2]

There was singing and meditation before he began to speak and more singing after he had finished. He had a group of men in monk's robes on his left and women in monk's robes with hoods on his right. There were drums and a guitar used as well.

I was trying hard to hear everything he said, but my mind drifted off a few times and I missed some of it. This writing does not do anything like justice to the lecture, but I hope it has given you a sense of what it was about and if it would be something you would consider when he returns to the area.


Event Schedules & Plum Village web site

Event schedules

More information on Buddhism, Thich Nhat Hanh

---------- Foot notes ----------

[1] This is the first of the four Noble Truths of Buddhism. They are in order:
1. Suffering exists in life (true suffering)
2. Suffering has a cause, we are the cause of our own suffering
(true sources of suffering)
3. Suffering can end.
4. There are ways to reduce or eliminate suffering. Since we
are the cause; we can also be the cure.

[2] I was having a hard time coming up with a name for my blog and used this silly, highly inside joke as the name.


At Sun Sep 18, 05:37:00 AM EDT, Blogger stevie.be. said...

wow, what concepts. that is a lot to take in but always worth the effort. thank u for sharing. ;)

At Fri Oct 21, 06:09:00 PM EDT, Blogger Bar Bar A said...

I can tell I am going to enjoy your blog...you have to post more than once a week :)

Would you like me to link you to Ramble On?


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