Thich Nhat Hanh, familiarly called "Thay," or teacher, is in fragile health now, approaching 90.
Back in residence at Plum Village, the monastery and zen center he founded in the south of France following exile from Vietnam in 1973, he continues to live with the after effects of a major stroke suffered in 2014.
For some reason I started thinking about the teacher while picking beans (mindfully) in the museum vegetable garden Saturday morning, early enough to dodge the oppressive blanket of heat and humidity that settled down later in the day.
So here are a few Thich Nhat Hanh quotes, plucked from various online sources, and interspersed with snapshots of what was growing and blooming in the garden on Saturday morning.
“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child -- our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don't blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change”
"You carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment. In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer."
"If you truly get in touch with a piece of carrot, you get in touch with the soil, the rain, the sunshine. You get in touch with Mother Earth and eating in such a way, you feel in touch with true life, your roots, and that is meditation. If we chew every morsel of our food in that way we become grateful and when you are grateful, you are happy."
"Fear, separation, hate and anger come from the wrong view that you and the Earth are two separate entities, the Earth is only the environment. You are in the centre and you want to do something for the Earth in order for you to survive. That is a dualistic way of seeing."
"True self is non-self, the awareness that the self is made only of non-self elements. There's no separation between self and other, and everything is interconnected. Once you are aware of that you are no longer caught in the idea that you are a separate entity."
"If you can feel that Mother Earth is in you, and you are Mother Earth, then you are not any longer afraid to die because the earth is not dying. Like a wave appears and disappears and appears again."
"You are a child of the sun, you come from the sun, and that is something true with the Earth also... your relationship with the Earth is so deep, and the Earth is in you and this is something not very difficult, much less difficult then philosophy."
“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”