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Sunday, December 24, 2006

Thich Nhat Hanh on Aimlessness

Does the rose have to do something? No, the purpose of a rose is to be a rose. Your purpose is to be yourself. You don't have to run anywhere to become someone else. You are wonderful just the way you are. This teaching of the Buddha allows us to enjoy ourselves, the blue sky, and everything that is refreshing and healing in the present moment. We already have everything we are looking for, everything we want to become. We are already a Buddha so why not just take the hand of another Buddha and practice walking meditation? Just be. Just being in the moment in this place is the deepest practice of meditation. The Heart Sutra says that there is "nothing to attain." We meditate not to attain enlightenment, because enlightenment is already in us. We don't need to search anywhere. We don't need to practice to obtain some high position. We can enjoy every moment. People talk about entering nirvana, but we are already there. Aimlessness and nirvana are one. We have everything we need to make the present moment the happiest in our life, even if we have a cold or a headache. We don't have to wait until we get over our cold to be happy. Having a cold is part of life. I am happy in the present moment. I do not ask for anything else. I do not expect any additional happiness. Aimlessness is stopping and realizing the happiness that is already available.

Thich Nhat Hanh, The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy and Liberation, p.152-154.

James: These are such beautiful reminders. His words and way of explaining the Dharma is like a breath of fresh air, a gentle touch of reminder and reassurance or a deep refreshing breath. They are like a cooling wash cloth placed on our warm fore head by our mother after a long, exhausting cry. Or a cup of milk and some chocolate chip cookies after a tough day at a school.

I hope you enjoy these words as much as I have.

~Peace to all beings~

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awouldbehipster said...

Reading that book always puts things in to perspective for me. For me, knowing that I don't have to "try", and that there is nothing to "attain", is like finally being able to drop the heavy boulder that I've been carrying my whole life.

"James" said...


Dropping the heavy boulder is a good way of describing it. It is so relieving to find a path that helps me drop my boulder. And helps me break it up into smaller pieces so that when I forget and pick it up again that it won't be so heavy.

trinitystar said...

Merry Christmas to you ... may the light of Buddha always shine on you and light the path for others.
Thank you for sharing your posts with all.
warm hugs for you and your family.
keep well.

Jerry said...

Awesome words James. Thank you for posting them. I hope you don't mind but I am sending them around to some friends and family as a little Christmas bonus today.- Jerry

Greenwoman said...

There is something so essentially calming and comforting about Hanh's writing. It is like a mindfulness meditation in and of itself...the power and truth of his daily practice shines in his every word.

Thank you for sharing this quote James.

"James" said...


Thank-you for the kind words. I am more then happy to share my words with all that come around. I am grateful for our little sangha that we have built online.


Feel free to send them along to your family. They sure are beautiful words.


He is one of the most peaceful and kind people alive today. He is a great person and teacher. You're right that he is pure mindfulness.

Epath said...

Todd Epp said...

Indeed. Thich rocks! Or is a rock. Or is the great uncarved block. Thanks for the mindfulness reminder.

"James" said...


Yes, his words are a refuge.

isaiah said...


Thanks for this post.

"But, I cannot allow myself to believe this...because...", "It cannot be this simple...", "You don't know what I've done, feel, how I've acted in the past...", "Then why do I feel so's a fucked up world..."...

These are some of the thoughts we experience when faced with words meant to bring comfort and peace to our being. The message of "nothing to attain" has little chance of competing with the opposite messages our society bombards us with hourly. But, this too correlates with “nothing to attain”; we “get it” when we get it and cannot “force bloom from its flowering in time.”

Instead, we must be “nothing to attain” and let this way of being go before us and speak for us. Those who will see, will see and perhaps be intrigued as to this manner of being so that their way, too, will become “nothing to attain.”

Before I understood this I only complicated matters for myself and everyone I crossed by my explaining. Now that I understand there is nothing to explain, only to share by our being. We are relieved our any further duty other than simply being.

Everything is perfect as it is.

Thank you again for this reminder.

Here and Now said...

goalless goal
pathless path
here and now!!

thanx & good wishes!!

"James" said...


Those three little words, "nothing to attain" are very powerful and full of a lot of enlightenment.

"Everything is perfect as it is." I very much agree with this statement. When we realize this thought we feel more peace.

Here and Now:

Good wishes to you and thanks for the beautiful comment.

John Wood said...

Yes those are wonderful words. I was discussing that very section with my wife last week too. There are many connections between taoism and buddhism, and the venerable thich nhat hanh always illuminates that path with such beautifully poetic and healing words. We carry this notion that we need more all of our lives. Chipping away at that simple notion can be the difference between life long suffering or bliss. We have everything we need, we have arrived... what a mind blowing concept. All the best,

"James" said...


It is a mind blowing concept and is exactly what we need. A good mind blowing experience to blow those cobwebs out.

Taoism is beautiful and plays a huge role in my life. It's just as important as Buddhism for me. It's very rational, progressive, fair and fluid. I like that it advises to go with the flow of nature and not to resist change.

John Wood said...

From your interest in taoism can I assume that, like Thich Nhat Hanh, you are a Zen Buddhist? It seems that many of the wonderful teachings and ideas in the Tao Te Ching were absorbed into Zen Buddhism, and personally I find that Buddhism complements Taoism by offering a practical path to living in harmony with the Tao (a term you will even see in some zen buddhism texts). Have you ever read the book the Tao of Zen? You may find it of interest. All the best - John.

"James" said...


I am indeed a Zen Buddhist.

I have not read that book but it sounds very interesting. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll add that to my list. The Tao is a beautiful way to balance out our religious and outward lives.

"James" said...


I am indeed a Zen Buddhist.

I have not read that book but it sounds very interesting. Thanks for the recommendation. I'll add that to my list. The Tao is a beautiful way to balance out our religious and outward lives.

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