In my early 20s, I spent two years in Japan. It was there that I became interested in meditation. I read up on the history of Buddhism, and the practice of Zen. Then I started meditating on my own, sometimes twice a day. And at least once a week, when it was open to the public, I would sit in a Zen temple with other young monks in training. I wasn’t very good at it then, but it clicked with me, and I knew it was something that would continue to shape my life.
I carried my meditation practice back to the US. When I returned, I started working for an environmental firm. When I was out in the fields, I would often listen to audio books by the Zen Master,Thich Nhat Hanh.
He taught me how to breathe, how to calm my anger, how to find peace in the here and now.
Early this morning, Thich Nhat Hanh died peacefully at 95 years old. He was born in Vietnam in 1926, became a Zen monk at age sixteen, taught at Princeton, Cornell, and Columbia, and wrote over 100 books. Martin Luther King Jr. nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. He was a global spiritual leader, who touched millions of people, myself included. To offer a short poem from his book, Being Peace.
Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment
I know this is a wonderful moment.
Goodbye, Thich Nhat Hanh, and thank you. You will always be here.
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