Thich Nhat Hanh, Or Be Happy with Zen

Our first reading of the semester is by Thich Nhat Hanh. He is the most famous Zen Master living and lives in Tailand, for those who cannot guess by the name. We read two chapters from his book, ‘Being Peace.’ I was moved abit by them but they didn’t do it for many people, seeming too childish. As Colbert might say, it lacks gravitas. But I don’t mind. I don’t think that you need gravitas for Zen. Gravitas, to me, implies greater appeal to intellectuals. in other words, density. Makes sense I guess because, well gravitas literally means weight, heftness, that sort of thing.

Maybe we all just have too much knowledge. Knowledge is an obstacle to understanding you know. Of course, it can also be the basis of understanding too. That is one of the quandries or paradoxes of Zen. It makes sense because how do you come to false conclusions–prior knowledge.

To connect it to fencing–my favorite sport–a true beginner is extraordinarily dangerous, even to a seasoned fighter because a beginner has no expectations and no patterned behaviour. That makes them more unpredictable–until they start to train. When you learn a new move, you want to try it out, makes you more begin to fall into predictable patterns of behavior.

This applies in many cases. In Physics for instance, there is centripetal force-force that seeks the center. centerfugal-force that goes away from the center does not really exist, but from experience it seems to; afterall, when a merry-go-round spins too fast, the kids fly off it. But in truth they are just traveling in the trajectory they were already moving.

Anyway, the reading was very optimistic about life. Very.

Know much about Buddhism?

The principle idea of Buddhism is that life is suffering, so everyone, not liking suffering, must obviously want to escape it. You do this by becoming enlightened and choosing not to be reborn(that reincarnation thing). To help you do this, you must become disgusted with everything that you think might bring you happiness, because happiness is, you guessed it, suffering.

Go be happy vs Everything you know is really suffering

Zen Buddhism is a contradiction. It takes some of the paradox in Buddhism and expands them into a whole philosophy of contradiction. Gateless gates, stateless states, no-mind and many of the Zen stories and koans provide examples.

Maybe that is how the two work together. The world is simulatiously made up of both suffering and fufilling things. At this point I don’t really know.

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