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Art of Living, The (book review) Thich Nhat Hanh

230417: exceptionally clear, concise, kind. this work is definitely one of the best summaries of buddhism encountered, though it helps to have read and be familiar with certain buddhist assertions. thay- term of affection for teacher- has distilled, has filtered, all the teachings of which i or we might be familiar and offers them in simple not simplified writing. perhaps it only works so well after reading so many Phil-indic-buddhism (94). this could be refresher course. chapters are: emptiness: the wonder of interbeing, signlessness: cloud never dies, aimlessness: resting in god, impermanence: now is the time, non-craving: you have enough, letting go: transformation and healing: nirvana is now...


emptiness is the first door of liberation. what is emptiness? that nothing, no one, ever, is filled with presence or being, that all is part of everything else: the tree is the rain, the soil, the sunshine, the gardener, the hill, the countryside, the planet and so on. it and we are not separate. there are two levels of truth, one of convenient, conventional, designation such as man, woman, boy, girl, baby. there is the ultimate truth of no designation, no symbol, no words, no discrimination. we interbe with so much it is impossible to name or divide ourselves as separate. at this point he finds parallels with Henri Bergson, life-force as equivalent to elan vital...


signlessness is the second door of liberation. what is signlessness? that, for example, cloud is a sign of H2O. So is rain. And snow, and hail, and river water, and the sea... signs are for something we say is or is not. the truth is nothing is lost, only transformed, only the sign is changed. the truth is the reality of signlessness. and so you have no birthday and you have no death day. you only transform from one to the other: as you are continuation of your ancestors, so you will be continued in your descendants, whether in genetics or thought. you are not your body's lifespan...


In fact you have, suggests Thay, eight bodies: 1) the human body- what we in west call physical body, though our body is not ourself, 2) the buddha body- because we are human we can awaken to the world just as it is, as anyone can be a buddha, 3) the spiritual practice body- grows from our buddha body, nurtures, protects, all others on the path, 4) the community body- of others who support each other, 5) the body outside the body- we can be here and amongst the suffering, 6) the continuation body- how we are beyond limits, we are must say, think, act: in the right way, that is compassion, forgiveness, love , 7) the cosmic body- we are stardust, this is buddhist interpretation of [book:Stardust|1384905], 8) the ultimate body- the nature of reality itself, beyond perceptions, forms, signs, ideas. all eight bodies are united, waves within the ocean, interbeing with all other waves, all other water...


aimlessness is the third door of liberation. what is aimlessness? arriving in the present moment, discover you already are what you want to be, not putting cravings before, chasing, reaching for- not doing nothing but doing only as required, eating breakfast and not all your regrets, anticipations, worries, thoughts. learning to stop. present moment is alone real, neither past nor future, so rest in now. past is no more than memory. future is no more than abstraction... to wait for something is to lose the present...


impermanence is the fourth door of liberation. what is impermanence? because of impermanence everything is possible: an acorn becomes an oak, fetus changes to infant, child to adult, these old beings must pass away for the new to live. recite the five remembrances: I am of the nature to grow old, there is no escape of growing old: I am of the nature of having ill health, there is no escape having ill health: I am of the nature to die, there is no escape of death: everyone and everything I love are of the nature of change, there is no way I will not be separated: my actions are my only true belongings, I cannot escape the repercussions of my actions, they are the ground on which I stand...


non-craving is the fifth door of liberation. what is non-craving? non-craving means you always have enough: art of happiness is to live deeply in the moment, happiness is habit, requires training, requires mindfulness, concentration, insight. we know true happiness is not this house or that car, we know the cravings disguise a hook, the cravings are not what we truly want, but there are industries and propaganda that try to seduce us into useless purchases... list what you want...


letting go is the sixth door of liberation. what is letting go? letting go is exactly what it sounds like. living our lives fully and deeply requires courage, and if we are not happy right here, right now, you must discover why, you must disentangle yourself from all these hindrances. to do this perhaps you need to talk to friendly family member. to do this might require notes. letting go is really examining yourself... list what you want to let go...


nirvana is the seventh door of liberation. what is nirvana? nirvana is not negative, not extinction of being, but extinction of suffering. now is mostly summation and incorporation of all the ideas of this book. if you have read and understood this far the only logical response is nodding in agreement, occasionally smiling, pointing out or underlining passages...


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