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Excerpt from “Looking Deeply” by Thich Nhat Hanh
Beloved Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh offers teachings on mindfulness in a series of lectures titled “Looking Deeply.” The following transcribed lecture from this program gives us a taste of how Thay—Thich Nhat Hanh’s nickname—approaches the sometimes overwhelming subject of realization with simplicity, making it accessible to all of us.
Ladies and gentlemen, during this retreat we will learn to do together some of the things like smiling, breathing, sitting, walking, looking, eating, and so this is not difficult, but I think we can learn from each other a lot. We talk about realization. Realization is a difficult word but it is not really so difficult. For instance when we smile, that’s realization. We realize a smile. You are smiling and you realize something very important. So realizing is what we are going to realize. Breathing, sitting, smiling, eating, looking, all of things are realizations, and we do not need a lot of time on order to do so.
This is not the kind of realization that we talk about every day, like realizing a project. Because realizing a project—we need time. But this kind of realization we are going to realize—these don’t need time. Like you don’t need much time to smile; you just smile and then you have realized some very important thing. When we see a flower, when we look at a flower and if we really see the flower, that means we have realized something very important because many times we look at the flower but we do not see the flower so we miss it. We don’t realize to see, so we are going to learn to practice realization in order to see things—to see things in ourselves and to see things around us.
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