There is a living Buddha in our midst, and his name is Thich Nhat Hanh.
Nearly three decades ago, when I was in my late 20s, I had the good fortune to attend several retreats with Thich Nhat Hanh and later to spend time with him at his monastery, Plum Village, in the south of France. He was one of the first people I met who transmitted what it feels like to live in the present moment, and I was mesmerized by him and his teaching.
I was rapt by how he walked with an awareness of each step … how he took off his hat and carefully placed it next to the meditation cushion … how he sat in silence until speech was ready to emerge, as if of its own accord … how he invited the sound of the bell and reminded us that with the sound we were being invited to return to our true self. Each of his actions communicated total in-the-moment-ness.
Thich Nhat Hanh describes living in such a way as “the art of mindful living,” and the key is to experience what he calls “body and mind as one.”
You probably know in your own experience what it is like for your mind and body to feel like two. I sure do. To me, it feels like there is a voice in my head that is going round and round about something I am not even sure I care about while not feeling much connection to anything else. Body? What body? Just a floating head commenting on life.
Living with “body and mind as one” is what Thich Nhat Hanh models and what he teaches—a way to be so fully present that our mind and body are harmoniously in sync, graceful flowerings of the present moment.
Thich Nhat Hanh has devoted his life to teaching the practices and skills that enable each of us to live with such immediacy and joy, contributing exactly what is needed in the moment. Any chance to study with him is your chance to connect with a living Buddha. I am so grateful this series is available, both as a gift to you and to future generations.
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