My Thich Nhat Hanh weekend:
I had been reading bits and pieces of his quotes and his tiny books fitting the size of my small hands. Work came in on Friday night, albeit I had set aside this long weekend for catching up on the reading list, yet I am unwilling to compromise my plans. So I downloaded his audio books to listen as I do my work.
Such irony. His teachings are on living fully in the moment. I guess I am stealing moments. In between my work, some words floated into my consciousness, while at times work stole his moments. What caught my ears this time was about the need for suffering in order to understand happiness.
More irony. Suffering is a negative emotion, and in terms of frequencies, we would not want to be held in this space of a need for it, but rather to search and hold (or cling?) on to the positive polarity of that. So I paused all work and sat myself down to fully absorb and feel his words. So enlightening, so much wisdom. We have to acknowledge suffering (which in inherent in all human existence) in order to transform it (not run away to the other polarity), thereby finding the true joy in life.
Jumping into a totally different tangent of his words altogether, what called to me was also how superficial I had always taken words from my mother language. We had memorised proverbs for our exams, one of them was about the lotus and how it came out from an unclean environment yet still manages to maintain its purity and true character.
水陸草木之花，可愛者甚蕃。晉陶淵明獨愛菊；自李唐來，世人盛愛牡丹；予獨愛蓮之出淤泥而不染，濯清漣而不妖，中通外直，不蔓不枝， 香遠益清 ，亭亭靜植，可遠觀而不可褻玩焉。予謂菊，花之隱逸者也；牡丹，花之富貴者也；蓮，花之君子者也。噫！菊之愛，陶後鮮有聞；蓮之愛，同予者何人；牡丹之愛，宜乎眾矣。
TNH crystallised this saying into “No mud, no lotus”, and I now see so much more depth about what this can be referring to. I am still consumed by his wisdom, and will blog about this when I have integrated his understanding with my own.
On the vainer streak of this note, for the first time, I read this phrase in the context of the complete poem. It is really beautiful, the description of the lotus and the characteristics of it. Never noticed this before. 🙂 I shall continue to learn the literary aspect of my mother language which I thought I had “given up” from two decades ago.