Thich Nhat Hanh, a “friend” of the staff of the Prama Institute and Wellness Center, has died at age 95 at his home in Viet Nam. His teachings of mindfulness that included mindfulness meditation, walking and eating exercises that we practiced with our attendees at our retreats remain with us. He asks us to slow down and center on our breath as we walk life’s path of simple daily chores or standing up to oppose some social injustice.
In his own words “Buddhism means to be awake — mindful of what is happening in one’s body, feelings, mind and in the world. If you are awake, you cannot do otherwise than act compassionately to help relieve suffering you see around you. So Buddhism must be engaged in the world. If it is not engaged, it is not Buddhism.”
His saying, “No Mud No Lotus” implies that we must be willing to endure and transform obstacles and conflicts if we want to attain the sublime within the society and ourselves. His primary tool of accomplishing this transformation was “mindfulness” meditation. Mindfulness meditation is a foundational pillar of contemplative practices. At the Prama Institute we combine the mindfulness practice of watching the breath with concentration on a mantra to keep us focused on our personal and service goals to attain inner peace and social justice.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s peaceful and courageous presence in attaining inner peace and social justice will remain with us always.