No Mud, No Lotus: Thich Nhat Hanh on the Problem of Pain

“Happiness is possible right now, today – but happiness cannot be without suffering. Some people think that in order to be happy they must avoid all suffering, and so they are constantly vigilant, constantly worrying. They end up sacrificing all their spontaneity, freedom, and joy. This isn’t correct. If you can recognize and accept your pain without running away from it, you will discover that although pain is there, joy can also be there at the same time.

Some say that suffering is only an illusion or that to live wisely we have to transcend both suffering and joy. I say the opposite. The way to suffer well and be happy is to stay in touch what is actually going on. Doing so, you will gain liberating insights into the true nature of suffering and joy.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh, quoted from his book, No Mud, No Lotus, Parallax Press, 2005.

Brief Biography of Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh (1926-2022) – pronounced tik nyaht han – was a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who was one of the world’s most influential Zen masters, spreading messages of mindfulness, compassion, and nonviolence. A prolific author, poet, teacher, and peace activist, he was exiled from Vietnam after opposing the war in the 1960s and became a leading voice in a movement he called “engaged Buddhism,” the application of Buddhist principles to political and social reform. Traveling widely on speaking tours in the United States and Europe Thich became a major influence on Western practices of Buddhism, urging the embrace of mindfulness, which his website describes as “the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment.”.

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