In Times of Distress–Some Words Of Advice by Thich Nhat Hanh

Almost everyone I know is on an overload of extreme distress and frustration over the direction our world seems to be taking. In between these almost unbelievable events, we hear news of extreme self-sacrifice and wonderful loving acts, but it is hard to keep them in mind when every week there is a new mass shooting or selfish act of greed as a few of those in power seek to gather all of the world’s resources for themselves while overlooking both the destruction of the environment and the needs of those with less power to gain even a small share of the bounty.

In my estimation, the best words of advice on how to cope with these times have been given by Thich Nhat Hanh.  The crux of what he has to say is contained in this one simple statement which I would like to both start and end with. That simple statement is:

“We need to be aware of the suffering, but retain our clarity, calmness and strength so we can help transform the situation.”

Here are some further thoughts by  Thich Nhat Hanh that if we could keep them in mind and live by them as well, might serve to pull us closer together from the extreme divide we seem to be facing each other over for the past few years. All words in italics are direct quotes by Thich Nhat Hanh.

 “People deal too much with the negative, with what is wrong. Why not try and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?”

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”

“When we come into contact with the other person, our thoughts and actions should express our mind of compassion, even if that person says and does things that are not easy to accept. We practice in this way until we see clearly that our love is not contingent upon the other person being lovable.” (This I find to be the hardest one of all, and therefore the one I need to work hardest on.)

“Our own life has to be our message.” 

 “We have to learn to live our life as a human being deeply. We need to live each breath deeply so that we have peace, joy and freedom as we breathe.”

“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.”

“If we are not happy, if we are not peaceful, we cannot share peace and happiness with others, even those we love, those who live under the same roof. If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.”

“The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy.”

“It is possible to live happily in the here and now. So many conditions of happiness are available—more than enough for you to be happy right now. You don’t have to run into the future in order to get more.”

 “The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.”

“While you are walking, smile and be in the here and now, and you will transform that place into paradise.”

 “Anger is like a storm rising up from the bottom of your consciousness. When you feel it coming, turn your focus to your breath.”

And finally, again, his statement that I find to be the most central to our coping at this time:

 “We need to be aware of the suffering, but retain our clarity, calmness and strength so we can help transform the situation.”

 

5 thoughts on “In Times of Distress–Some Words Of Advice by Thich Nhat Hanh

  1. Lwbut

    We are way too tuned in to the negatives all around us – mostly thanks to our media and their owners.

    Looking within finding the love and peace that resides there and expressing it out to the world is the beginning of our happiness. There is much more to be thankful and joyful for than media would have us believe. 🙂

    I put ‘your’ bougainvillea up! – “Orange” 😉

    Like

    Reply

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