Beyond environment: falling back in love with Mother Earth – Thich Nhat Hahn in the Guardian

The front page of the Guardian today featured a lovely, full length article about Thich Nhat Hahn’s approach to mindfulness and nature. It’s great to see a respectful treatment of a genuine spiritual approach in a paper more typically associated with a sceptical point of view.


8 thoughts on “Beyond environment: falling back in love with Mother Earth – Thich Nhat Hahn in the Guardian

  1. I find these view on nature terribly romantic. They lead ro reconciliation with life and that has never been the teaching of Gotama Buddha. Seriously the world (nature) is essentially very horrific. Everything consumes eachother, it is ugly and vulgar.

  2. I want to add that even some Theravada teachers fall into this trap. When i listen to some of Ajahn Brahm’s talks i can’t escape the feeling that some of the sentimental language he uses on death and rebirth is not in accord with right view. The suttas present a very serious severe view on existence.

  3. I would like to add another thing. That the first noble truth should not be drowned in jokes and laughter. Could this be an influence of rinzai zen creeping in? I say rinzai because everyone that knows the works of Dogen would never accuse him of taking things lightly. It is also a trend in western buddhism to try to fit the first noble truth in an obvious addiction to existence by claiming that dukkha should retranslated to unrest or stress. Sure these are aspects of dukkha but they all fall under a term that collects these aspects namely SUFFERING! Yeah, the buddha talked about oceans of tears, blood and mountains of bones. Oh my, how much unrest is presented there. No he talked about severe SUFFERING.

    On a more positive note, book three of the dutch Samyutta Nikaya is being released soon! I’m deeply grateful for this.

    with metta

    • Dear Gotamist,
      Joy is essential to attaining deeper states of meditation required for the work of cessation. Thich Nhat Hanh encourages us to seriously cultivate joy at every appropriate opportunity. It serves not only as a fuel for the Brahmaviharas but for the Jhanas as well. In the Theravada I have also heard it referred to as the centre of the wheel of practice. In the conventional sense, it’s not a bad thing to have access to in suffering world and when practice gets difficult. Why do you think the Buddha smiles? Could it be because he knows there is an end to Dukkha?
      I am deeply grateful for this article and Thay’s way of teaching that encourages us to integrate these abstract teachings in very practical ways, in every step.
      A deep bow _/\_

    • Dear Karuna

      Hi! 🙂

      Nice to ‘see’ you again…it’s been a while since my online travels brought me hither…hope you’ve been well…

      I just want to add that this teaching on joy/happiness is integral to how Ajahn Brahm teaches too…particularly on retreat.

      From what I’ve read and heard, it seems to be straight from the suttas too.

      I wonder if one has to experience utter bliss, then, withdraw from it, then, notice that’s it’s absence is not bliss, then begin to understand the nature of bliss and suffering from that point…? And I wonder if the entire 8 fold path somehow slots into this sort of framework…? And then of course, there’s that very interesting teaching of the ‘gradual training’… Really, this Practice is quite often full of interesting and fun stuff!

      Wishing you joy and fun in your Practice…and with thanks for your lovely, inspiring, uplifting comment.


  4. @Gotamist: I’d not call his love for the environment “a trap”. Even in Theravada, we still have metta meditation. It can be used as a power overcome anger and even to achieve jhana. The ultimate purpose of his meditation style (Thich Nhat Hanh’s) is also to achieve wisdom that realize impermanence and impersonality.

    Ajahn Brahm also states that we cannot see “suffering” just by reading or accepting that fact. If you enter jhana, you will finally understand dukkha in its truest meaning.


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