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Search tags: Thich-Nhat-Hanh
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text 2016-03-09 04:18
To Be Beautiful.


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review 2014-06-07 22:17
108 Zen Poems , by Ko Un
What? 108 Zen Poems - Ko Un,Allen Ginsberg,Thích Nhất Hạnh

In an earlier review




where I provide a bit of the backstory of Korean poet Ko Un (b. 1933), I mention that he was a Son (Zen) monk for a decade but left the church deeply disappointed. His disappointment was directed at the institution and some persons, but he did not renounce the teachings of Son Buddhism, nor did they stop informing his stance towards life and the world.


108 is a significant number in Buddhism, and it is the number of beads in a Buddhist mala, the string of prayer beads used to keep track of the many kinds of repetition involved in various aspects of Buddhist practice. The 108 short poems in Ko's What? 108 Zen Poems are strongly, but certainly not exclusively, Buddhist in topic and expression. Like the more secular collection Flowers of a Moment, the poems range from 15 lines down to haiku-like distillations of 2 or 3 lines. There are even a few poems of one line in this volume. 


Ko is not following the lead of the haiku aesthetes in these poems but instead that of the early "mad" Taoist and Ch'an Buddhist masters, who used contradiction, paradox and (even an occasionally crude) humor to get across their point.


With simple and colloquial language Ko is able to summon much of life's richness onto the pages of his books, and the rhetorical range of these 108 little poems is wide. After reading three collections of his poetry, I see Ko's flexibility of spirit as one of his finest features. Any choice of a few poems from this book will be necessarily unrepresentative.


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text 2014-03-01 18:05
Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life - Arnold Kotler,Thích Nhất Hạnh,Dalai Lama XIV
Open Heart - Elie Wiesel
Reconciliation: The Ubuntu Theology of Desmond Tutu - Michael Battle
Ten Days that Shook the World - John Reed,A.J.P. Taylor,Vladimir Ilyich Lenin
The Autobiography of Eleanor Roosevelt - Eleanor Roosevelt
Strength to Love - Martin Luther King Jr.
St. Francis of Assisi - G.K. Chesterton
The Peacemaker: A Biblical Guide to Resolving Personal Conflict - Ken Sande
The Anatomy of Peace: Resolving the Heart of Conflict - Arbinger Institute
The United Nations and Changing World Politics - Thomas G. Weiss,Kelly-Kate S. Pease

Dear Friends in the Booklikes Universe,


You might be in Turkey, or staying in a Syrian refugee camp, standing in line for bread and water.  Maybe you are afraid to leave your apartment in Kiev.  No matter where you are, we have books in common, and where ever there are books, there is hope.


Can life get any worse for my fellow human beings?  I hope not, as I pace with anxiety, urging you to read, to become inspired, and to care for all life, no matter where or what that life is.


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review 2014-01-17 21:23
Review of Peace is Every Breath by Thich Nhat Hanh
Peace Is Every Breath: A Practice for Our Busy Lives - Thích Nhất Hạnh

This was a nice short book with a focus on making sure that we enjoy every moment. Each short chapter at its basic level asks the reader to stop worrying about the past or future, and take full enjoyment in everything we do. I think I needed to read this book at this time in my life, and while not easy, I will surely make efforts to incorporate its message into my life.

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review 2013-10-12 01:15
The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation
The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation - Thích Nhất Hạnh The subtitle is "an introduction to the practice of meditation." That's a bit misleading. This is a lot more than a value-free manual. The introduction tells us this the main text was originally a long letter from Thich Nhat Hanh to a fellow Buddhist monk in Vietnam in the midst of the war in 1975. Hanh, exiled from Vietnam, worked against the war and was nominated by Martin Luther King for the Nobel Peace Prize. Translated into English under his supervision by a friend, you can't sever this from its Buddhist context. There's a lot about Buddhist philosophy here--even a discussion about such issues at the "naive" depiction of the faith in Hesse's Siddharta. The last chapter consists of a "Selection of Buddhist Sutras" (which I found impenetrable). The writing is lucid, but even though written in deceptively simple language, a lot of the concepts are pretty sophisticated and I think take repeated reading to really understand. Mind you, this isn't an introduction to Buddhism per se. This isn't the place to find an overview of the religion and the focus is on meditation and "mindfulness." Hanh's concept of meditation and mindfulness doesn't necessarily mean what you do in a lotus position while going "ohm." He means by it living in the moment and fully alert even as you drink tea or wash dishes. "Mindfulness frees us of forgetfulness and dispersion and makes it possible to live fully each minute of life." Not that he doesn't see a place for more formal meditation, and he provides several practical exercises, particularly focusing on the breath. "Our breath is the bridge from out body to our mind... it alone is the tool which can bring them both together." My introduction to meditation actually was in the mandatory Religion class in my Catholic high school. I remember feeling silly as we were directed to go "ohm." Later I'd be reintroduced to the practice when I took Yoga classes. I remember feeling frustrated as I was told to clear my mind of all thought--which I thought impossible. So it was interesting and useful that it's not what Hanh directs. He says rather when you have thoughts during meditation, you acknowledge the thought--or feeling. "The essential thing is not to let any feeling or thought arise without recognizing it in mindfulness, like a palace guard who is aware of every face that passes in the front corridor." It's an interesting and useful book if you're curious about meditation and Buddhism, written clearly and succinctly--the main text of the book is only about a hundred pages. Although to get much out of it means reading with mindfulness--repeatedly, slowly, taking notes--and practicing the exercises. And in that regard, I think it does help to do it with others rather than just try to work through the book by yourself.
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