August 26, 2010
In the current issue of Tricycle, contributing editor Andrew Cooper recounts his travels with Thich Nhat Hanh, the much beloved Vietnamese teacher, poet, peace advocate and environmentalist. Cooper's view is unique; charged with attending Thay, as he is called, on an early visit to the United States, Cooper offers an up-close-and-personal view of a man who changed—in fact, helped to shape—Buddhism in the West. Today's Guardian features a nice piece on Thay on the occasion of his visit to Nottingham, where he led nearly 1,000 people in walking meditation (above). Here are five outtakes:
1. "The situation the Earth is in today has been created by unmindful production and unmindful consumption. We consume to forget our worries and our anxieties. Tranquilizing ourselves with over-consumption is not the way."
2. "We should speak more of spiritual pollution. When we sit together and listen to the sound of the [meditation] bell at this retreat, we calm our body and mind. We produce a very powerful and peaceful energy that can penetrate in every one of us. So, conversely, the same thing is true with the collective energy of fear, anger and despair. We create an atmosphere and environment that is destructive to all of us. We don't think enough about that, we only think about the physical environment."
3. Thay talks about capitalism as a disease that has now spread throughout the world, carried on the winds of globalisation: "We have constructed a system we cannot control. It imposes itself on us, and we become its slaves and victims."
4. "Without collective awakening the catastrophe will come," he warns. "Civilizations have been destroyed many times and this civilization is no different. It can be destroyed. We can think of time in terms of millions of years and life will resume little by little. The cosmos operates for us very urgently, but geological time is different.
5. "One Buddha is not enough, we need to have many Buddhas."
Photograph © Frank Schweitzer