Smile a Lot
--by Thich Nhat Hanh (Mar 20, 2001)
Life is filled with suffering, but it is also filled with many
wonders, like the blue sky, the sunshine, 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, any
time. If we are not happy, if we are not peaceful, we cannot
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. Wherever we are, any
time, we have the capacity to enjoy the sunshine, the presence of
each other, even the sensation of our breathing. We don't need to
go to China to enjoy the blue sky. We don't have to travel into the
future to enjoy our breathing. We can be in touch with these things
right now. It would be a pity if we are only aware of suffering.
We are so busy we hardly have time to look at the people we love, even in our own household, and to look at ourselves. Society is organized in a way that even when we have some leisure time, we don't know how to use it to get back in touch with ourselves. We have millions of ways to lose this precious time we turn on the TV or pick up the telephone, or start the car and go somewhere. We are not being with ourselves, and we act as if we don't like ourselves and are trying to escape from ourselves.
Meditation is to be aware of what is going on-in our bodies, in our feelings, in our minds, and in the world. Each day 40,000 children die of hunger. The superpowers now have more than 50,000 nuclear warheads, enough to destroy our planet many times. Yet the sunrise is beautiful, and the rose that bloomed this morning along the wall is a miracle. Life is both dreadful and wonderful. To practice meditation is to be in touch with both aspects. Please do not think we must be solemn in order to meditate. In fact, to meditate well, we have to smile a lot.
-- Thich Nhat Hanh