Image Description: Grass with tracks from a vehicle, exposing dirt. Above, is a blue sky with white, puffy clouds. Public domain image.
Zen Master and teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, says,
Life is filled with suffering, but it is is also filled with many wonders, such as the blue sky, the sunshine, and the eyes of a baby. To suffer is not enough. We must also be in touch with the wonders of life. They are within us and all around us, everywhere, anytime.
This is the very first paragraph in his book, Being Peace.
He continues with these words,
If we are not happy, if we are not peaceful, we can’t share peace and happiness with others, even those we love, those who live under the same roof. If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace. Do we need to make a special effort to enjoy the beauty of the blue sky? Do we have to practice to be able to enjoy it? No, we just enjoy it. Each second, each minute of our lives can be like this.
Do we have to make a special effort to enjoy the blue sky?
Truthfully, yes, sometimes. There are days when it may really be an effort. Perhaps today is a day like that. We may be struggling with ongoing feelings of sadness and anxiety. We may be grieving. We may be longing for a world that is more peaceful and just.
Sometimes, it probably does take a special effort — or at least, a special intention — to enjoy the blue sky. Or the sunshine. Or the eyes of a baby.
But we really can choose the intention to enjoy these too.
Thich Nhat Hanh does not teach people to put their heads in the sand. One of his primary teachings is that love is understanding — that if we want to love others and ourselves, we have to listen and understand one another’s suffering. This is so important.
And alongside that suffering, we can marvel at the joys and the beauty too. “Suffering is not enough,” he says. Joys and beauty can come alongside these pains.
Thich Nhat Hanh says, if we can enjoy and smile at these, we can embody peace — peace that will be made available to the suffering we and others carry.
So today, I put that wonderful intention in the world —
That we might enjoy the sky also.