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Lions Roar : September 2007
it emits, the heat is another, and the fragrance is a third kind of energy it can offer us in the here and the now. If we are truly alive, we can see that we aren’t very different from the candle. We are offering our insight, our breath, our views right now. Every moment you have a view, whether about yourself, the world, or how to be happy, and you emit that view. You produce thought and your thought carries your views. You are continued by your views and your thinking. Those are the children you give birth to every moment. And that is your true continuation. So it is crucial to look deeply at your thoughts and your views. What are you holding on to? Whether you are an artist or a busi- nessperson, a parent or a teacher, you have your views about how to live your life, how to help other people, how to make your country prosperous, and so on. When you are attached to these views, to the idea of right and wrong, then you may get caught. When your thinking is caught in these views, then you create misunderstanding, anger, and violence. That is what you are be- coming in this very moment. When you are mindful of this and can look deeply, you can produce thoughts that are full of love and understanding. You can make yourself and the world around you suffer less. You are not static. You are the life that you are becoming. Be- cause “to be” means to be something: happy or unhappy, light or heavy, sky or earth. We have to learn to see being as becoming. The quality of your being depends on the object of your being. That is why when you hear Rene Descartes’ famous statement, “I think, therefore I am,” you have to ask, “You are what?” Of course you are your own thinking—and your happiness or your sorrow depends very much on the quality of your thinking. So you are your view, you are your thinking, you are your speech, you are your action, and these things are your continuation. You are becoming now; you are being reborn now in every second. You don’t need to come to death in order to be reborn. You are reborn in every moment; you have to see your continuation in the here and the now. I don’t care at all what happens to me when I die. That’s why I have a lot of time to care about what is happening to me in the here and the now. When I walk, I want to enjoy every step I take. I want freedom and peace and joy in every step. So joy and peace and lightness are what I produce in that moment. I have inherit- ed it and I pass it on to other people. If someone sees me walking this way and decides to walk mindfully for him- or herself, then I am reborn in him or in her right away—that’s my continuation. That’s what is happening to me in the here and the now. And if I know what is happening to me in the here and the now, I don’t need to ask the question, “What will happen to me after this body disintegrates?” There is no “before” and “after,” just as there is no birth and death. We can be free of these notions in this very mo- ment, filled with the great joyful silence of all that is. ♦ © Unified Buddhist Church. Used with permission of Parallax Press. SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2007 61 We have the inherent capacity to recognize what is good, what is beautiful, and what is true, says Thich Nhat Hanh. IN THE ZEN TRADITION, we often speak of the beginner’s mind. The beginner’s mind is something very beautiful. It is like our first love. It should be protected and nourished. I was ordained as a novice at the age of six- teen. I loved living in the monastery. There wasn’t much thinking, only a feeling that something there was very good and true. In the mind of the young person, something beautiful must be true at the same time, and something true must also be beautiful. You don’t analyze; you just sense if something is beautiful and try following in that direction. You are falling in love with what is good. That kind of love is the beginner’s mind. The beginner’s mind is like a young plant, and it needs good conditions in order to grow strong. If the conditions aren’t supportive, then you lose your beginner’s mind. That is a pity. To have sup- portive conditions doesn’t mean that everything must go well on the path of practice. You don’t have to have everyone’s encouragement. In fact, on every path of practice there are many obsta- cles to discourage you. Every time you overcome an obstacle, your beginner’s mind gets stronger. So these obstacles are not really obstacles; they are there to help you get stronger. Every one of us has a beginner’s mind. In each of us, there is that capacity to recognize what is good, what is beautiful, what is true. We should find any means, every kind of occasion, every kind of opportunity, and every kind of factor that can help nourish our beginner’s mind. Our per- son is like a garden, filled with many flowering plants. But in the garden there are things other than flowers and plants. If we neglect the garden, it will be overrun with weeds, and our flowers will wither and die. continued next page ➢ SEPT 58-65.indd 61 SEPT 58-65.indd 61 6/25/07 5:04:56 PM 6/25/07 5:04:56 PM