Burned-out executives and recovering alcoholics flocked to retreats in the French countryside to listen to Nhat Hanh. An entire mindfulness movement sprang up in the wake of this dharma superstar. Among his students was the American doctor Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course that is now offered at hospitals and medical centers worldwide.
In fact, the situation for all rights in Vietnam is critical. Activists are beaten, tortured and jailed. Rights of association are restricted, as is the press and judiciary. Religious freedom is heavily curtailed, and the official Buddhist Church of Vietnam is controlled by the state. To his critics, the monk should have made greater use of his position to draw attention to these abuses.
Washington obliged Hanoi by removing Vietnam as a CPC in , to the fury of nonconformists forced into exile. But Nhat Hanh was not totally silent. During his visit to Vietnam, he asked then President Nguyen Minh Triet to abolish the Religious Affairs Committee, which monitors religious groups. The Plum Village annual journal of went further and called on Vietnam to abandon communism. His followers paid a heavy price. In September , police and a hired mob violently evicted hundreds of monks and nuns from a monastery that Nhat Hanh had been allowed to build at Bat Nha in southeast Vietnam, which had been attracting thousands of devotees.
Yet if Nhat Hanh courted controversy by engaging with the party, he also won the ability to gain access to the Vietnamese people—and that might have been the goal all along. The impact is still felt by young Vietnamese today. Buddhism teaches that Nhat Hanh needs to offer his presence, and in doing so, he is embracing the roots of his suffering in the Vietnam War. He is surely aware that Hanoi will make political capital out of his homecoming.
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But then the Zen master is evidently playing the long game—the longest game of all, in fact, which is eternity. Contact us at editors time. It asks too little of yourself. What do you give a shit about? Take This Action: To help find your values, question things.
Is That All There Is?
Try stuff out. Do the opposite of what you were told. Step outside of the box. The cool thing about comfort zones is that when we step outta them, they grow! The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear. Your soul is calling to you.
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But to deny that call from your soul is to deny yourself the life that you deserve to live. Take This Action: Science is suggesting that instead of focusing on your weaknesses, cultivate the crap outta your strengths. A characteristic formulation, from St. His notion of religion seems to be northern-European Christian first and foremost; he is quiet about Judaism, whose practices are sensibly grounded in the here and now, and which lacks the intense emphasis on the afterlife characteristic of Islam and Christianity.
And he has very little to say about, for example, Hinduism. This is a difficult truth to learn, because we are naturally fearful of loss, and therefore attached to the idea of eternal restoration. His love of the place is premised on the knowledge that he will not always be able to return; that he, or it, will not be there forever:. When I return to the same landscape every summer, part of what makes it so poignant is that I may never see it again.
Moreover, I care for the preservation of the landscape because I am aware that even the duration of the natural environment is not guaranteed.
Likewise, my devotion to the ones I love is inseparable from the sense that they cannot be taken for granted. Our time together is illuminated by the sense that it will not last forever and we need to take care of one another because our lives are fragile. Once we seriously consider the consequences of existence without end, the prospect is not only horrifying but meaningless as the philosopher Bernard Williams argued years ago.
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To be invulnerable to grief is not to be consummated; it is to be deprived of the capacity to care. And to rest in peace is not to be fulfilled: It is to be dead.
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Eternity is not at the heart of what such people care about; they hardly ever spend time envisaging it. He wants to out religionists as closet secularists. He makes a similar point in relation to Buddhism. Put simply, deconstruction proceeds on the assumption that literary texts, like people, have an unconscious that often betrays them: they may say one thing, but they act as if they believe another thing entirely.
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Their own figures of speech are the slightly bent keys to their unlocking. If the religious believer often behaves like an unconscious secularist, then one can assume that some of the great canonical religious texts will do something similar, revealing their actual procedures to a skeptic who is willing to read them against the grain. Lewis, Augustine, and Kierkegaard with a generous captiousness, fair but firmly forensic. Eternal beatitude has supplanted human connection.
So, instead of being forced into, say, rationalist triumphalism there is no God, and science is His prophet , he can expand the definition of the secular life so that it incorporates many of the elements traditionally thought of as religious.