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Don’t Miss the Flower – A Short Zen Story from Thich Nhat Hanh

One day the Buddha held up a flower in front of an audience of 1,250 monks and nuns.  He did not say anything for quite a long time.  The audience was perfectly silent.  Everyone seemed to be thinking hard, trying to see the meaning behind the Buddha’s gesture.

Then, suddenly, the Buddha smiled.  He smiled because someone in the audience smiled at him and at the flower.  The name of that monk was Mahakashyapa.  He was the only person who smiled, and the Buddha smiled back and said, “I have a treasure of insight, and I have transmitted it to Mahakashyapa.”

That story has been discussed by many generations of Zen students, and people continue to look for its meaning.  To me the meaning is quite simple.  When someone holds up a flower and shows it to you, he wants you to see it.  If you keep thinking, you miss the flower.  The person who was not thinking, who was just himself, was able to encounter the flower in depth, and he smiled.

That is the problem of life.  If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.  When a child presents himself to you with his smile, if you are not really there—thinking about the future or the past, or preoccupied with other problems—then the child is not really there for you.  The technique of being alive is to go back to yourself in order for the child to appear like a marvelous reality.  Then you can see him smile and you can embrace him in your arms.

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If you enjoyed this story you can find more quotes, resources, and info from the book below:

Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh

By: Thich Nhat Hanh

Book Overview: In the rush of modern life, we tend to lose touch with the peace that is available in each moment. World-renowned Zen master, spiritual leader, and author Thich Nhat Hanh shows us how to make positive use of the very situations that usually pressure and antagonize us. For him a ringing telephone can be a signal to call us back to our true selves. Dirty dishes, red lights, and traffic jams are spiritual friends on the path to “mindfulness”—the process of keeping our consciousness alive to our present experience and reality. The most profound satisfactions, the deepest feelings of joy and completeness lie as close at hand as our next aware breath and the smile we can form right now.

Post(s) Inspired by this Book:  13 Powerful Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes on Happiness, Anger, and Peace  ///  Focus on what’s going RIGHT – The Power of Mindfulness [VIDEO].

Quotes from Book! Buy from Amazon!
 

13 Powerful Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes on Happiness, Anger, and Peace

Thich Nhat Hanh

In the rush of modern life, we tend to lose touch with the peace that is available in each moment. World-renowned Zen master, spiritual leader, and author Thich Nhat Hanh shows us how to make positive use of the very situations that usually pressure and antagonize us.  In his book, Peace is Every Step, Thich Nhat Hanh discusses solutions and action steps to universal challenges and issues that we face as humans.  These challenges and issues include: overcoming anxiety, fear, and depression and how to feel more fulfilled, calm, and happy in the present moment; understanding anger and learning how to live in a more compassionate, blissful state; and bringing peace to both our inner and outer worlds with every step we take in life.

One of the fundamental lessons that Thich Nhat Hanh communicates in his book is that any large scale change – on a community or global level – must (and always) starts with the individual.  Peace work is not a means, Nhat Hanh reminds us, it is the way.  In the forward to the book, the Dalai Lama introduces this point and discusses the importance of becoming a more compassionate, mindful, and peaceful person and the ripples that our actions have on the larger scale.  He says: Continue reading

 

“We can realize peace right in the present moment with our look, our smile, our words, and our actions.  Peace work is not a means.  Each step we make should be peace.  Each step we make should be joy.  Each step we make should be happiness.  If we are determined , we can do it.  We don’t need the future.  We can smile and relax.  Everything we want is right here in the present moment.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step

 

“Hope is important, because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear.  If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.  But that is the most that hope can do for us—to make some hardship lighter.  When I think deeply about the nature of hope, I see something tragic.  Since we cling to our hope in the future, we do not focus our energies and capabilities on the present moment.  We use hope to believe something better will happen in the future, that we will arrive at peace, or the Kingdom of God.  Hope becomes a kind of obstacle.  If you can refrain from hoping, you can bring yourself entirely into the present moment and discover the joy that is already here.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step

 

“The happiest moments in our lives are when we are playing just like children, when we are singing and dancing, when we are exploring and creating just for fun.  It is wonderful when we behave like a child because this is the normal human mind, the normal human tendency.  As children, we are innocent and it is natural for us to express love.  But what has happened to us?  What has happened to the whole world?” ~ Don Miguel Ruiz, The Mastery of Love

 

“Living clearly and presently takes courage.  Don’t live in the haze of the abstract, live with the tangible and real, even if – especially if – it’s uncomfortable.  Be part of what’s going on around you.  Feast on it, adjust for it.  There’s no one to perform for. There is just work to be done and lessons to be learned, in all that is around us.” ~ Ryan Holiday, Ego is the Enemy

 

“Our culture is so focused on progress that we frequently don’t experience our own lives just as they are here and now.  But the world will always be exactly as it is in each moment.  It’s astonishing how much time and energy we expend in trying to deny this simple fact.  This doesn’t imply passivity.  Our visions and ideals are also part of this moment.  Everything changes, no matter how slowly, and we can act to alleviate suffering.  Yet if plans for the future are not balanced with acceptance and joy in this moment, just as it is, our lives go unlived.  The challenge is to work with our lives as they are rather than imagine that things are different.  If we can learn to soften our aversions and desires, our lives might become less frantic and more spacious.” ~ Robert Kull, Solitude

 

“Less and less memories will come as the time moves.  There will be gaps – you would like to relive something but nothing is coming – and those gaps are beautiful.  Then a day will come when you will not be able to move backwards because everything is complete.  When you cannot move backwards, only then do you move forwards.  Be finished with the past.  As you become freer from the past, the mountain starts disappearing.  And then you will attain unison: you will become, by and by, one.” ~ Osho, The Art of Living and Dying

 

You Have 60 Seconds Left To Live. Does That Change The Way You Look At The World?

Take a look at the world around you…

No, seriously.  Look up from the screen and look at the world around you for just a quick minute.

Good.  Now, take a minute to think about how you would look at the same surroundings if I told you you had 60 seconds left to live.

…59 …58 …57

…And you weren’t allowed to do anything but soak in the world through your senses.

No calls.  No actions.  No wishes.

The world would look very different wouldn’t it?

As creatures of habit we spend the majority of our days following generally the same routines which, through their repetitive nature, desaturate the beauty and awe of life that is packed into every moment we’re alive.

If we let it.

…46 …45 …44

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