January 22, 2022

No Mud, No Lotus: The most Precious Lesson I’ve Learned from Thich Nhat Hanh.

One of the guesthouses I stayed in when I was in India had a cozy living room with a huge library.

I loved to chill there after a long day of touring and pick up books that other travelers had randomly left on the table and couches.

One of the books I stumbled upon was written by the renowned Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh—No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering.

I didn’t get to all chapters, as I had to move to another town, but that book and the words of Thich Nhat Hanh about suffering have changed my life forever.

In 2016, when I returned from India, I inked “no mud, no lotus” on my chest as a daily reminder when I stand in front of the mirror that without mud, the lotus flower can never grow.

Today, when I heard of Thich Nhat Hanh’s death, I returned once more to one of the most precious lessons I’ve learned from him:

Suffering is inevitable, but we can always transform it.

It is true that his heart stopped beating, but his words and endless wisdom will always remind me that I should not run away from my pain. I should not escape painful emotions or thoughts. Instead, I should make space for the “lotus” inside me to grow.

“When we know how to suffer, we suffer much, much less.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

As Nhat Hanh believed, in order to create happiness, we must learn how to suffer first. We must learn how to sit with our pain and listen to what it has to tell us.

I know it might be hard for us to believe that our suffering can lead to our happiness, but with the right mindset and the right practice of mindfulness, we can make good use of our worries.

Close your eyes, breathe deeply, and know that whatever you’re feeling right now is transient. Pain doesn’t last—neither does happiness. Learn to smoothly oscillate between the two without getting emotionally attached to any state of mind.

The only constant is our peace of mind. When we’re sad, we’re peaceful. When we’re exhilarated, we’re peaceful. When we’re lost, we’re peaceful.

Beyond pain and tears and confusion there is a great amount of peace.

If you want to feel it, to make it expand, to make it stay, keep reminding yourself:

No mud, no lotus.

No mud, no lotus.

No mud, no lotus.

May the teachings of this extraordinary teacher stay with us and forever touch our hearts.



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