Think Less, Smile More, Be the Peace

"If we just act with awareness and integrity, our art will flower, and we don't have to talk about it at all. When we know how to be peace, we find that art is a wonderful way to share our peacefulness. Artistic expression will take place in one way or another, but the being is essential. So we must get back to ourselves, and when we have joy and peace in ourselves, our creations of art will be quite natural, and they will serve the world in a positive way."

Initially, I wanted to pull the first sentence to begin this thought on Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh's book about making positive use of the situations that pressure and upset us, Peace Is Every Step.

But I didn't want to stop once I started typing. A pleasure of transcription is being in the original words of the writer or speaker. Following an individual's syntax, punctuation, and usage to physically recreate it puts the typist very close to the thought process itself. Being in Hanh's thoughts was like being with a wise and kind teacher.

"The being" that is essential is the condition of being a seamless part of the world you're in in every moment. To be in the here and now is to not be in the past with its burdens or in the future with its unknowns. To look at a flower is to see a flower, not the raw material of a poem or painting. To be with a friend is to see him or her as an individual, not as a producer of some sort who can yield you some benefit. As Whitman said, the world is too much with us. It's with us in our thoughts all the time as we imagine new ways to exploit and manipulate it and manage it for our well-being. Forget about all that and see it for what it is and you find yourself in a simpler, more peaceful place. Do that, and you are the peace itself.

Hanh's book has a wonderful set of meditations on dealing with fear, anger, other people. Essentially, he explains, negative feelings are the result of dualistic thinking, of seeing ourselves as opposite and outside all other things. Western thinking would have us believe that the ultimate existential truth is that we are alone in the world; Eastern thinking teaches that we are in the world and that is enough.

"If you can refrain from hoping, you can bring yourself entirely into the present moment and discover joy that is already here," Hanh says on this subject. Indeed, "we don't need the future. We can smile and relax. Everything we want is right here in the present moment."


  1. Anonymous3:26 PM

    This was really a great read - thanks for sharing your thoughts in a very reflecting way!

    It reminds me of a saying: What your focused on, you'll get more of.

    Wishing you a wonderful weekend, all the way from Norway:-)

  2. Thanks, Renny! You summed the book up nicely.

  3. a good reminder to leave in the present moment always

    will try to hold that thought with me for the week ahead :)

  4. " joy that's already here.." Profound words!


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