Your In-breath Must Die for your Out-breath to Live.

October 3, 2018

 

From what I know about Buddhism, there are several traditions that differ slightly on their beliefs and spiritual practices. However they are all largely based on original teachings from the Buddha and share the common goal of overcoming suffering. While staying at Thich Nhat Hanh's (TNH) Buddhist monastery in Thailand for a week, I had the privilege of listening to some dharma teachings given by elder monks. Three of the related teachings from their tradition that were emphasized were what I like to call the 3 I's: (1) impermanence, (2) interconnection/interbeing, and (3) intention. In this post and upcoming posts I'd like to share more about what I learned about these teachings and how I've digested them.

 

Starting with the first teaching, impermanence was described as the idea that who I was a second ago, is no longer who I am now. TNH says that we suffer not because things are impermanent, but because we forget that things are impermanent; and in difficult moments we think the discomfort will never end. However, thanks to impermanence, we can recognize that our suffering is temporary. It ensures that storms will eventually pass and the sunshine will return (a fitting analogy considering we experienced Thailand's rainy season). This means that we can take solace in tough times, knowing that it won't be long for moments of peace and/or joy to return. It also means that I can forgive myself for experiences in my past that I regret, recognizing that these moments helped me to learn and grow; and have created who I am today. That doesn't mean I excuse past transgressions, either my own or others, but that I don't waste my time continuing to suffer over what can't be changed. I can instead use my time and energy reflecting on who I want to be and what good I want to create in the world. In this way, I can completely rebuild in this (and every) moment.

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