Spiritual practice has to have some form to it in order to work

There has to be some ‘form’. Spiritual practice has to have some form to it in order to work, because the realm of formations in our own minds is the starting point we have on the road to discovering that we are more than just the formation of a string of thoughts; that we are in part beyond form, and that this beyond-form realm is the realm of Being itself. Hello, world.

It is always tempting for our normal minds to take a formation, in this case Zen, and then describe the form (using more formulations) to say why it’s like this or that. The purpose of Zen is not to be Zen-like, or even to be a perfect form (since there’s no such thing). It is in the end just a tool, a finger pointing at the moon.

It’s not even the only one, and clearly isn’t the only key to heaven.

In the same way you could study Buddhism all your life and still not get it. I even think you could sit in Zazen for many many years and still not wake up to the immediate and awesome beauty of Being. You could just do Zazen like an anally retentive robot, for example. Perfect practice. Who could fault you. Spotless action. Dead as a dodo.


Thay to visit UK in 2012

Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist returns to the UK in 2012.

Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that we already have more than enough conditions to be happy. In this tour he shows how cooling the flames of craving, anger and fear reduce the stress, anxiety and tension of modern living.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s key teaching is that, through mindfulness, we can learn to live in the present moment instead of in the past and in the future. Mindfulness is the energy of being aware and awake to the present moment. It is the continuous practice of touching life deeply in every moment of daily life. To be mindful is to be truly alive, present and at one with those around us and with what we are doing: while we wash the dishes, drive the car or take our morning shower. Dwelling in the present moment is, according to Nhat Hanh, the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world.

Affectionately known as Thây (pronounced ‘tie’), Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the world’s best known Buddhist teachers. Leaving Vietnam in 1966 to call for peace, he was not allowed to return. In 1967, Martin Luther King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize, saying, “this gentle Buddhist monk from Vietnam is a scholar of immense intellectual capacity. His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.”

Accompanied by monks and nuns from the Plum Village community in France which he founded in 1983, Thây will present the following events:

29 March: Public Talk Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall,London

31 March: Peace Walk Mindful Walking Meditation, Central London

30 March to 2 April: Educators’ Retreat TheAmericanSchool,London

5-10 April: Retreat Nottingham University