After a positive introduction to the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh through Peace is Every Step, I was keen to explore more of his works and I got a chance to read The Art of Living when I was recently in Italy…what better place to give you a relaxed and open frame of mind?
In the realm of philosophical and spiritual texts, I feel that more important than a review or rating of the book (five stars if you must know) are the lessons that stay with you. These lessons are incredibly personal because your key takeaways will depend on your personal circumstances, situation, and frame of mind all of which are constantly changing.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings are all centered around the importance of mindfulness and breathing. However, in addition to these core messages, the below are thoughts that deeply resonated with me, and hopefully sharing them with you will inspire you to read some of this amazing man’s teachings.
- Happiness is not something that arrives in a package in the mail. Happiness does not fall out of the sky. Happiness is something we generate with mindfulness.
- Spirituality is not religion. It is a path for us to generate happiness, understanding, and love, so we can live deeply each moment of our life. Having a spiritual dimension in our lives does not mean escaping life or dwelling in a place of bliss outside this world but discovering ways to handle life’s difficulties and generate peace, joy, and happiness right where we are, on this beautiful planet.
- Don’t believe anything, not even what I tell you, even if it’s an ancient teaching, even if it’s taught by a highly revered teacher. You should use your intelligence and critical mind to carefully examine everything you see or hear. And then put the teaching into practice to see if it helps liberate you from your suffering and your difficulties. If it does, you can believe in it.
- If we do not allow our beliefs to evolve, if we do not maintain an open mind, we risk waking up one day to discover that we have lost faith in what we once believed.
- Just as a wave does not need to go looking for water, we do not need to go looking for the ultimate. The wave is the water. You already are what you want to become. You are made of the sun, moon and stars. You have everything inside you.
- The Buddha never associated Nirvana with death. Nirvana is associated with life in the here and now.