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A Response to:

"Living Buddha, Living Christ"
by Thich Nhat Hanh

Copyright 1999-2002 by John WorldPeace

All  rights reserved


A.. The seed of the Holy Spirit  112999

A year ago in Florence, a Catholic priest told me that he was interested in learning more about Buddhism.  I asked him to share with me his understanding of the Holy Spirit and her replied, "The Holy Spirit is the energy sent by God."

First, the Holy Spirit is not some literal separate entity.  The Holy Spirit is a metaphor to help Christians understand that aside from the literal physical Jesus and the personal super being God, there is an intangible energy that permeates things.  I would define the Holy Spirit as the spiritual energy that links all human beings (and all living things) together.  If one was to compare the Holy Spirit with the air that all humans breathe, the air which enters our physical bodies, the air which is necessary for survival on this planet, the air which each and everyone of us share on this physical plane, the air that one cannot see, then one can better conceive of the Holy Spirit which permeates all human beings on the spiritual plane.  

Lastly, I do not see the Holy Spirit as the energy sent by God, but the energy that is God.  

His statement made me happy.  It confirmed my feeling that the safest way to approach the Trinity is through the door of the Holy Spirit.

The Trinity is a Christian metaphor which separates God into three parts, Father (God), son (Jesus), and the Holy Spirit.  Early in the church history there was a long and heated debate among the Christian bureaucrats and scholars about whether there was a Trinity or not.  Many could not see God in three persons.  To them God was One.  But in the end, the doctrine of the Trinity got the stamp of validity from the majority of the Christian bureaucracy and then was taught to the lay Christians as fact.  Conflict over Trinitarism is part of the reason that the Eastern Orthodox and Catholic churches split and some Protestant sects still do not acknowledge the Trinity.

The metaphor of the Trinity is just another tool used by the Christian bureaucracy to explain a God who is beyond explanation.  The God that can be conceived is not the everlasting God and the God that can be described is not the perpetual God.  Therefore, metaphors are used as a tool to describe a God who is beyond definition.  The problem comes when the lay Christians begin to believe that the metaphor is a fact, that the Holy Spirit is a real tangible entity.

So what Brother Hanh is really saying is that because Buddhism does not acknowledge a personal God like Jehovah, Allah or Yahweh, he must make comparisons between Christianity and Buddhism using the indefinable concept of God which is most closely identified with the Holy Spirit of Christianity.

In Buddhism, our effort is to practice mindfulness in each moment - to know what is going on within and all around us.  When the Buddha was asked, "Sir, what do you and your monks practice?" he replied, "We sit, we walk, and we eat."  The questioner continued, "But sir, everyone sits, walks, and eats," and the Buddha told him, "When we sit, we know we are sitting. When we walk, we know we are walking.  When we eat, we know we are eating."

I  relate to mindfulness as a way of not becoming confused in the manifestations of this reality.  Of not being confused into believing that this temporary plane of existence is the everlasting reality.  In other words, when we forget that we are infinite, immortal beings who are only temporarily residing in this reality, we lose sight of our immortal nature and become confused in believing that this reality is more than a temporary illusion.  When we become confused in the manifestations of this reality, we begin to over value money, we tend to think that because we have a high level of status in society that we are somehow more than the poorest and most ignorant human being.  The truth is that we are all infinite, immortal beings of equal birth and the roles that we have chosen in our present life have little to do with the infinite, endless being of our souls.

So mindfulness is a knowing that walking is walking in this reality and this reality is supported by the spiritual reality which is the REAL reality.  Mindfulness is never forgetting that what we are experiencing at any moment is only a temporary dream from which we will awaken at the time of our death.  And at the time of that awakening we will consider our life as a human being.  When one loses his or her mindfulness, he or she becomes more and more like the primal nature of this planet in which the strongest  dominate the weak.  When one loses one's mindfulness, one loses sight of the fact at the end of each life, death awaits.

 Most of the time, we are lost in the past or carried away by future projects and concerns.  When we are mindful, touching deeply the present moment, we can see and listen deeply, and the fruits are always understanding, acceptance, love, and the desire to relieve suffering and bring joy.

I would agree that the fruits are always understanding, or a remembering that one is only temporarily residing in this reality, but I do not agree that acceptance, love, and the desire to relieve suffering and bring joy also follow.  As a unique individual with a certain set of values, some of which are due to the infinite, immortal spirit that resides within the body (another metaphor) and some which have been imposed by one's family and society, peace will never come in accepting certain things like murder, stealing, and other devious and hurtful acts.  One cannot love others who intentionally create pain and suffering for others.  These humans can be accepted on a spiritual level but not necessarily on this physical plane.  I accept a thief as and infinite, immortal being but I do not accept his stealing and I have no problems locking him up in a cage until such time as he determines that he will live within the laws of human society.

No amount of mindfulness is going to bring anyone to love everyone.  Again, I believe that it will bring acceptance but not love.  There are those who intentionally inflict pain and suffering on others and I cannot love those individuals.  In fact, in my practice of law, I aggressive pursue these people for the negative acts which they have foisted on my clients.  And yet I know that even if I get some justice for my client, that other individual will most likely not change one bit and if given the same choices in the future would probably repeat his negative acts.  The nature of any particular human being is very difficult to change.

There is unquestionably a large number of individuals who are mindful of their place in this reality but these individuals use their mindfulness not to relieve suffering or to to bring joy but just the opposite:  They use their mindfulness to manipulate and control others who are not mindful and who are viewed by these dark souls as little more than prey, as the lion views an antelope.

In the Tao te Ching, it says that the Way (What I call the Infinite Potential) can be used for any purpose.  So mindfulness awakens one to the true state of his or her being in this reality but then a choice is present in which the mindful individual chooses to uplift humanity through his or her positive acts of peace and love or to negatively manipulate society for his or her personal gain or pleasure.  Yes, there are those who when given the choice of doing good or bad, and there being no extra effort attached to either, will chose to do the negative act.  Such is the nature of this reality.

When our beautiful child comes up to us and smiles, we are completely there for her.

If we are mindful of our responsibilities to our children or if we love our children we become mindful of the fact that they will not remain children long and that our opportunities to love them in their capacity as children is fleeting.  And if it is our desire to nourish our children with love and attention, then our mindfulness allows us to understand the moment and act with intent to achieve our desires with regards to that child.

To me, mindfulness is very much like the Holy Spirit.  Both are agents of healing.  When you have mindfulness, you have love and understanding, you see more deeply, and you can heal the wounds in your own mind.  The Buddha was called the King of Healers.  In the Bible, when someone touches Christ, he or she is healed.  It is not just touching a cloth that brings about a miracle.  When you touch deep understanding and love, you are healed.

I believe that healing comes more from within that without.  Jesus said it many times to those he healed, "It is your faith (or belief) that has healed you."  I think that there are those who do not want to be healed or have created their own illness.  All suffering is not bad.  In fact, suffering sometimes makes us stop and contemplate or mediate on what is happening to us.  In other words, the suffering brings on a state of mindfulness.  I believe that there are many dynamic factors which cause suffering and sickness and that these factors many times have caused the sickness in order to bring the one suffering to a state of mindfulness.  Mindfulness for me is a reconnecting with the spiritual reality and I believe that we must all do this in order to maintain our mental health and well being.

So everyone that is sick does not need or want to be healed.  So healing has some dynamics associated with it that are much more complicated than just physical suffering.  Those who have to come the point where they are ready to be healed, accept the healing from someone who does not heal them but reminds them (in a soul to soul communication) that they have manifested their own suffering.  When one is ready to be healed, one heals.  It is wrong for a healer to force healing upon anyone.  If one is healed before it is time, they will just get sick again.

The Holy Spirit descended on Jesus like a dove, penetrated Him deeply, and He revealed the manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

There is a question of whether Jesus was already awakened to the Infinite Potential at the time of the allegory of the descending dove or whether the dove was the beginning of Jesus' awakening in the same way that the Buddha awakened under the Bo tree.  The dove and the Holy Spirit are metaphors for the all inclusive oneness of God.  And it was this oneness that both Jesus and Buddha came to understand in their awakening.

 Jesus healed whatever He touched.

I do not believe this.  In fact, there is a story in the Bible where Jesus cursed a fig tree and it withered.  And further the entire story of Jesus is one of a rebel challenging the authority of the Jewish religious bureaucracy.  Jesus did not choose loving open communication but chose to directly assault the religious hierarchy.  The Buddha did the same thing with the Hindu religious hierarchy.  It is just that the story of Buddha has not been written the same way the story of Jesus has come down to us.

In fact, one has to consider the violence with which Christianity has imposed itself on human society for the last two thousand years.  One has to consider that Jesus set the example of unyielding confrontation with the reigning Jewish authority.  So Christianity in a very real sense has continued this tradition of confrontation which Jesus started.  All this is justified by Christians because of their belief that Jesus was the son of God himself.  And the acts of Christians everywhere, by the power of their belief in Jesus as the Christ, the son of God, have committed some of the most horrific acts ever foisted on mankind.

 With the Holy Spirit in Him, His power as a healer transformed many people.

There is no question that many lives have been transformed by Jesus.  There is no question that billions of human beings have been awakened to their spiritual nature through the power of Jesus.  But there is also no doubt that the legacy of Jesus has also been to commit unbelievable acts of cruelty, injustice, hatred, prejudice, murder and war within the world society.  And those Christian soldiers continue to zealously march to this day.

 All schools of Christianity agree on this.

History has proven that Jesus was the catalyst for much change within the world society and within the individuals who make up that society.

 I told the priest that I felt that all of us also have the seed of the Holy Spirit in us, the capacity of healing, transforming, and loving.  When we touch that seed, we are able to touch God the Father and God the Son.

We all have more than just a seed.  We are a manifestation of the Infinite Potential, the oneness of all things, the all-inclusive presence which permeates everything and no-things.  We all are at one with God and we have the power to heal, transform and love but we also have the power to use that same energy for negative acts against our brothers and sisters.

B. Present moment 120199

Touching deeply is an important practice.  We touch with our hands, our eyes, our ears, and also with our mindfulness. The first practice I learned as a novice monk was to breathe in and out consciously, to touch each breath with my mindfulness, identifying the in-breath as in-breath and the out-breath as the out-breath.  When you practice this way, your mind and body come into alignment, your wandering thoughts come to a stop, and you are at your best.  Mindfulness is the substance of a Buddha.

I came to this practice of breathing late in life after reading about it in almost every book on Eastern Religion.  I do not use it as a regularly scheduled discipline but only as needed or desired.  When I am in a high stress mode in my job as an attorney, I will sit up straight and begin to concentrate on my breathing.  I have also had a near fatal heart attack in which 20% of my heart died and so I cannot allow my emotions to escalate unchecked.  When I am confronted with someone lying under oath or another attorney yelling that black is white, I want to fight.  Concentrating on deep breathing even for a few moments relaxes me and allows me to regain control of my emotions.

There are other times when I am feeling peaceful, like on a beautiful day, and I will stop and sit comfortably and begin to breath deeply in order to increase the level of peace.  In these situations, I will kneel and then sit back on my heels and straighten my back with my hands together in my lap.  It is a position that feels very comfortable to me.  It is not necessary to sit in the lotus position to achieve the benefits of deep breathing.  By deep breathing I mean slowly inhaling to the max and then slowly exhaling to the max.  Deep breathing calms the body, mind and soul.

When you enter deeply into this moment, you see the nature of reality, and this insight liberates you from suffering and confusion.

When I focus on breathing deeply, I begin to relax and begin to increase my level of peace.  This does not liberate me from suffering but it does reconnect me with my inner being, my connection with the infinite reality, and consequently I emerge to some degree from my confusion in the manifestations of this reality.

 Peace is already there to some extent: the problem is whether we know how to touch it.

Peace is already there to an infinite degree: the problem is whether we chose to take a moment to experience it.

 Conscious breathing is the most basic Buddhist practice for touching peace.

Conscious breathing is a universal practice which is generally associated with Buddhism (and consequently and unfortunately considered suspect by fundamental Christians).

 I would like to offer you this short exercise:

Breathing in, I calm my body.
Breathing out, I smile.
Dwelling in the present moment,
I know this is a wonderful moment.

I would like to offer this exercise:

Slowly breathe completely in, slowly breathe completely out: Repeat

"Breathing in, I calm my body."  This is like drinking a glass of cool water.  You feel the freshness permeate your body.  When I breathe in and recite this line,

For me, reciting complicates the exercise.

I actually experience my breathing calming my body and my mind.  In Buddhist meditation, body and mind become one.

Body and mind  (and soul) are already one.  Breathing deeply and consciously increases one's awareness of this connection and manifests an experience that increases the peace within one's body, mind and soul.

"Breathing out, I smile."  One smile can relax hundreds of muscles in your face and make you master of yourself.

Smiling complicates the exercise.

 Whenever you see an image of the Buddha, he is always smiling.  When you smile with mindfulness, you realize the wonder of a smile.


"Dwelling in the present moment."  We recite this line as we breathe in again, and we don't think of anything else.

This is another complication to deep breathing.  Peace is an experience and not an intellectual exercise.  Reciting lines and working the mind during deep breathing makes deep breathing more intellectual and less experiential.

 We know exactly where we are.  Usually we say, "Wait until I finish school and get my Ph.D. degree, and then I will be really alive." But when we obtain it, we say, "I have to wait until I have a job in order to be really alive."  After the job, we need a car, and after the car, a house.  We are not capable of being alive in the present moment.  We always postpone being alive to the future, we don't know exactly when.  It is possible we will never be truly alive in our entire life.  The technique, if we must speak of a technique, is to be in the present moment, to be aware that we are here and now, that the only moment to be alive is the present moment.  When we breathe out, we say, "I know this is a wonderful moment."  To be truly here, now and to enjoy the present moment is our most important task.

Mindfulness and peace are a journey and not a destination.  The objective is to maintain a level of peace even in the most difficult of situations. The objective is to rise above being confused within the manifestations of this reality.  Mindfulness is a method of remaining serene even in the most combative of situations.

We can even shorten the verse to six words.  As we breathe in, we say to ourselves, "Calming," and as we breathe out, we say, "Smiling."  As we breathe in again, we say, "Present moment," and as we breathe out, "Wonderful moment."  Practicing this way can help us touch peace right away.  We don't have to wait for any other conditions to be present.

As I said above, it can be shorten to consciously slowly breathing in as deep as we can and then consciously slowly breathing completely out.

Here is another exercise to help us touch peace and serenity:

Breathing in, I am aware of my heart.
Breathing out, I smile to my heart.
I vow to eat, drink, and work in ways
that preserve my health and well-being.

As I said above, it can be shorten to consciously slowly breathing in as deep as we can and then consciously slowly breathing completely out.

The moment we become truly aware of our heart, we feel comfort and release right away.  Our heart has been working day and night, pumping thousands of gallons of blood to nourish all the cells in our body and preserve our peace, and we know that if our hearts stop beating, we will die.  But still, we do not take good care of our heart.  We eat, drink, and work in ways that bring about tension and stress.  When we touch our heart with mindfulness, we see clearly that a heart in good condition is an element of real peace and happiness, and we vow to live in a way that keeps our heart in good condition.

Being conscious of one's heart beat takes a more concentrated level of calming one's self than does breathing.  Breathing needs to be reduced to a minimum in order for one to experience the heart pumping.  The noise of deep breathing and the mindfulness of breathing distracts one from mindfulness regarding the heart.  The heart takes much more mindfulness to control  whereas breathing is easy to regulate and the effects of deep breathing, feelings of relaxation and peace, are experienced immediately.

I do not know why Brother Hanh ended this section which was devoted to mindful breathing with an unexpected on the heart.  I have a heart problem that must be controlled by medicines to prevent the buildup of cholesterol in my arteries.  And after my heart attack two years ago, through mindfulness, I refused all intrusive surgical procedures from angiograms to by-pass surgery.  I consciously changed by diet to a dozen grams of fat per day and absolutely no cholesterol.  This dietary change along with the medicines have kept me alive for the last two years.

So I agree with Brother Hanh, to maintain a healthy heart one needs to monitor one's diet.  This is not to say that what works for me in this area works for everyone.  The human body is a complex biological machine and each one is unique.  The point is that one needs to be mindful of not only one's heart but mindful of one's entire body.  There is no question that it is easier to find peace in a healthy body than in an unhealthy one.

C. Making peace 120199

We can practice in the same way with our eyes.  Our eyes are wonderful, but we usually  take them for granted.  Every time  we open our eyes, we see thousands of marvelous forms and colors.

In order to create peace within one's self, it is necessary to eliminate as much distraction as possible.  For me, the eyes are the most distracting sense that human beings have.  When my eyes are open, I am flooded with the sight of the infinite miracles that exist in this reality; the almost infinite manifestations of diversity in this reality among plants and animals not to mention the infinite variety of inanimate objects that comprise the landscape.  And there are the infinite colors that clothe everything and add to the beauty of even the most desolate places on the planet.

In one sense, we can deeply see if we consider, as we consciously view the world about us, that we are viewing  one of the the most magnificent miracles in the universe.  This planet is a jewel among the infinite heavens.  But if we increase our mindfulness we begin to understand that this beautiful miraculous place is less than a speck of dusk floating within the Infinite Potential of beauty and indescribable magnificence of which we can not even begin to imagine.  When one becomes mindful at this level of consciousness, then one should begin to understand and then acknowledge that he or she is an infinite, immortal part of  this inconceivable Infinite whole.  And it is in this state of mindfulness that one will begin to find true peace.

On the other hand, the eyes when they are mindfully, deeply viewing the visual dimension of reality, are distracting one from seeing even deeper into the oneness of the Infinite Potential.  To experience true peace one must withdraw from feeling, seeing, hearing, smelling and tasting the manifestations of this reality.  And it is the concentration on breathing, with ones eyes closed, in a quiet place, that helps one reach the deepest levels of mindfulness and peace.  The true nature of the Infinite Potential (God) cannot be experienced with the conscious mind.  It cannot be described in any conscious way.  It can only be experienced.  And even the experience can only be understood in one way:  If one emerges from deep conscious breathing with not just a sense of peace, but some level of euphoria, then one knows that one has touched the intangible essence of God which permeates everything and no-things.

 Those who are blind may feel that if they could recover their sight they would be dwelling in paradise, but we who have good eyes rarely take the time to appreciate that we are already in paradise.  If we just take a moment to touch our eyes deeply, we will feel real peace and joy.

Those who are blind have their own path to peace and the experiencing of the Infinite Potential that is God.  The world of the blind is not the same as the world of the seeing.  In fact, studies have shown that those you were blind from birth and then are given sight have a hard time seeing in the same way that those who were born sighted see.  Their brains have been programed to experience this reality through their other senses and so when they open their eyes they observe but do not really see.  There is a place in meditation where I go with my eyes closed and where the impact on my other senses are minimal.  It is in this place that I reach a level of peace and euphoria that I can never reach with my eyes open.  So sight is something which distracts us and confuses us in the manifestations of this reality.  Sight tends to bind us to this reality whereas closing one's eyes reduces the confusion and allows one to better understand that at its foundation the Infinite Potential is One even though it manifests infinite diversity.  The highest level of peace in this reality is within the deepest levels of meditation.

Touching each part of our body in mindfulness, we make peace with our body, and we can do the same with our feelings.

When we understand that each of our senses allows us to survive within this reality, and we consciously understand and are mindful of how each of our senses tends to at the same time confuse us in the manifestations of this reality, we begin to reach a level of wakefulness that gives us peace; as any understanding vanquishes confusion and gives us peace.

There are many conflicting feelings and ideas within us, and it is important for us to look deeply and know what is going on.

It is important not to become confused in the manifestations of this reality such that one believes that this reality is THE REALITY.  It is important in the seeking of peace that one understands one's true nature as an infinite, immortal spirit only temporarily residing in this magnificent reality.

When there are wars within us, it will  not be long before we are at war with others, even those we love.

War within, or as I call it, confusion within the manifestations of this reality, does tend to increase the level of confusion in our environment.  If we are confused, we confuse those about us.  If we are at peace, we tend to transfer that peace to others.  Peace within our environment, and WorldPeace in society at large, is a result of the level of peace in the six billion individuals human beings who presently reside on this planet.  There will never be a perfect peace within one's body and mind and so there will never be a perfect peace in society.  In fact, peace on any level is difficult to attain in this reality where the primal nature is such that the strong tend to victimize the weak.  All that we can achieve is to increase the level of WorldPeace in society by decreasing our own individual confusion and thereby increase our personal level of peace.

The violence, hatred, discrimination, and fear in society water the seeds of the violence, hatred, discrimination, and fear in us.  If we go back to ourselves and touch our feelings, we will see the way that we furnish fuel for the wars going on inside.

Yes, this is the unfortunate truth of this reality.  We are each like lighted mirrors.  We give off our light which is reflected in the mirrors of others who reflect back our own light as well as add to it their own light and pass it on to others.  So when the level of peace increases just a bit within the individual, the repercussions are magnified almost infinitely in society.  So a little peace within will always translate into a lot of peace without.

 Meditation is, first of all, a tool for surveying our own territory so we can know what is going on.

Meditation is a tool for withdrawing from our confusion within the manifestations of this reality.

With the energy of mindfulness, we can calm things down, understand them, and bring harmony back to the conflicting elements inside us.  If we can learn ways to touch the peace, joy, and happiness that are already there, we will become healthy and strong, and a resource for others.

If we will take the time to meditate for just a few minutes when we find ourselves stressed, we will remember that our stress, or lack of peace, is due to the fact that we have become confused in the manifestations that have appeared in our environment; both internal and external environment.  If we become mindful of our place in this reality and how it relates to the Infinite Potential (or God's entire realm) we will find peace in this awakened state of understanding and that peace will permeate all that we are and we will increase our health and strength but more importantly we will become a beacon of  peaceful light within the confusion of the human society.

D. I am there for you.

The most precious gift that we can offer others is our presence.

Not necessarily.  There are some who would say the most precious gift would be to allow them the peace of being alone, of being out of the presence of other human beings, of focusing on being at one with the Infinite Potential, of returning to the womb.

When our mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.

There is no doubt that the level of love increases as we embrace others with it.  But we do not have to be physically present to do this.  All we have to do is to think of someone and send them love.  They will feel it.  It will uplift them even though they may not become consciously aware of it.  We are all connected.  We are one with each other.  And when we become mindful of loving another, the the level of love increases within the whole of humanity.

 If you love someone but rarely make yourself available to him or her, that is not true love.

Life is limited by time.  We cannot make ourselves available without giving up time spent on something else.  And just because we are ready to love someone, it does not mean that they are in a position to receive it.  There are times that even love can become irritating.  So sending thoughts of peace and harmony and love to be available when another is ready to embrace it seems to me to be the better practice.  If I am in a peaceful place, I may not want to become grounded with the imposition of love.  Because there are some places in the mind that transcend love itself and to which love cannot begin to be compared.

 When your beloved is suffering, you need to recognize her suffering, anxiety, and worries, and jsut by doing that, you already offer some relief.

This is true.  But suffering is the result of the body or mind trying to shed some disharmony.  And unless the body or mind goes through a certain process, the disharmony cannot be vanquished.  Sometimes it is necessary to embrace the pain to vanquish the pain.  Sometimes it is necessary to embrace the darkness in order to overcome it.  At these times, when one is embracing the darkness, one does not want to be disturbed by the light.  A simple metaphor would be: If you are fixing a flat tire on your car in heavy traffic, you do not want someone to come up and tell you how wonderful it is to have a car.

Mindfulness relieves suffering because it is filled with understanding and compassion.

I think it is good to always be mindful of increasing the peace and harmony on the planet.  And I believe that mindfulness does manifest peace, understanding and compassion.  But I sometimes think that it is better to add ones energy to a situation which already is manifesting peace and harmony as opposed to injecting that kind of energy into a black hole.

When you are really there, showing your loving-kindness and understanding, the energy of the Holy Spirit is in you.

The energy of the Holy Spirit is always in you.  It is impossible to separate one's self from it.  What is more correct is that when you allow yourself to become mindful, you bring to consciousness the oneness (Holy Spirit) in which you reside.

 That is why I told the priest in Florence that mindfulness is very much like the Holy Spirit.  Both of them help us touch the ultimate dimension of reality.

I would say that mindfulness reminds us  ofour oneness, of the Infinite Potential, of the Holy Spirit.  Mindfulness is the act of bringing to consciousness the true reality from which all things manifest, to which all things are connected and interrelated.  Mindfulness is the door to increasing the peace and harmony in our lives and consequently in the world.

 Mindfulness helps us touch nirvana, and the Holy Spirit offers us a door to the Trinity.

Mindfulness helps us touch nirvana, of which the Holy Spirit is a manifestation.  The Trinity is a mechanical construction of the mind.  So is the Holy Spirit and Nirvana but these two concepts are more abstract as is the true reality.  The Trinity is just Christian doctrine.  It is cold logic.

E. The light that reveals

When John the Baptist helped Jesus touch the Holy Spirit, the Heavens opened and the Holy Spirit descended like a dove and entered the person of Jesus.

Actually Jesus was already in touch with the Holy Spirit (Infinite Potential) and was mindful of it.  What was actually happening was that John was able to recognize it due to his own mindfulness.

He went to the wilderness and practiced for forty days to strengthen the Spirit in Himself.

Actually he went to the wilderness to prepare himself for his new life.  Jesus had left his old life behind when he was baptisted by John and was now entering a new life.  Having made the commitment, the baptism being a symbolic ritual confirming his metamorphosis, it was time to reorient, to get away from everyone and everything in order to clearly see and contemplate his future.  And this new clarity of vision was in part due to increasing his mindfulness or his consciousness of the ever presence of the Holy Spirit as well as learning how to get into harmony with it and to better flow with his new life's work.

When mindfulness is born in us, we need to continue to practice if we want it to become real solid.  

When we awaken to the reality of the Holy Spirit (Infinite Potential), we realize that we are at one with all things.  We are at one with the absolute essence that permeates all things and from which all things manifest and back into which all things eventually disintegrate.  We also understand the power of this energy.  The power to create our own destiny and to bend the future to some extent.  And most importantly to be aware that we are at one with the Infinite Potential.  However, we must also be mindful that we cannot constantly reside in this energy because we must get on with living our physical lives.  Had we wanted to bask completely in the Infinite Oneness we would have never incarnated into our present lives but would have remained in spirit.  It is important to realize that we live in two world simultaneously.  We live in the transient physical world but our real essense resides within the Infinite Potential.  Mindfulness is realizing this moment to moment and therefore not becoming confused in the manifestations of this reality such that we begin to think this transient physical reality is the ultimate reality.

When we lose our mindfulness we become lost in this reality.  But there is nothing to fear in becoming lost.  We are infinite beings and at the end of this life, no matter how confused we have become, we die; and when we die we are reawakened to the true reality.  Some reawaken quicker than others but within an infinite universe, it does not matter whether we awaken in an hour or an eon.

Really hearing a bird sing or really seeing a blue sky, we touch the seed of the Holy Spirit within us.

When we quiet the mind and consider the song bird and the song we begin to transcend this physical reality and begin to see the oneness of all things.  We see past the physical bird and listen past the physical song to that essence that underlies all things; the Infinite Potential.  When we take a few minutes a day or twenty minutes a week to go to that wonderous place where all is peace and harmony compared to the aggression of this reality, we create peace and harmony in our physical and mental lives and more importantly we do not become confused in the manifestations of this reality where we seldom find peace and harmony.

Children have little difficulty recognizing the presence of the the Holy Spirit.

This is true because the longer one lives in this reality the more one is conditioned by this reality.  The longer one lives the more rules and regulations, the more reality that one becomes subordinated to.  At birth we are in a state of true freedom.  We have just come from that spiritual reality and we are more stongly connected to it.  But awakening into this world at birth one feels the heaviness of this world.  In time, we gain control of our body and then our thoughts but the social order of things begins to confine and imprison us in conventional thought.  We are taught to live in this reality and to ignore the spiritual reality as unimportant; if we are even allowed to acknowledge its existence.  And then, if we are fortunate, and many of us are, we awaken to the truth that this reality is just a place where we temporarily reside.  We come to understand that this is just a dream from which we will one day awaken.  And we can experience, if we try, a glimpse of the essence from which we came and we can see the oneness of all things within that infinite reality. Children experience that reality but they are not conscious of it.  One must age into adulthood before one can become conscious of the true nature of all things.  Children experience, adults, if they are mindful, contemplate and in contemplation avoid becoming confused in the manifestations of this reality.

Jesus said that in order to enter the Kingdom of God, we must become like a child.

This means that children live life on a much simpler level. The further we go back into our childhood the more basic our reality.  And if we continue to go back to the moment of birth and then back a bit farther we see ourselves move from confusion in all the manifestation of this reality with its rules and self imposed restrictions to a reality where it is not even necessary to maintain our physcial bodies.  And if we continue on we begin to merge ourselves back into the womb of the the Infinite Potential from which we all manifest.  We become one will all things and yet we maintain our separate identity.  This is another of the great mysteries that our minds can never solve because it is a reality to which nothing on this plane of existence can be compared.

When the Holy Spirit is in us, we are truly alive, capable of unserstanding the suffering of others and motivated by the desire to help transform the situation.

The Holy Spirit is always with us.  It it impossible to separate ourselves from it because we have manifested from it.  The Holy Spirit is not something separate; but the womb within which all things exist.  The Holy Spirit is the same as the Infinite Potential.  We have used many names to describe the same reality.

I would not say that we become truly alive but I would say that we become more conscious.  More awake.  We expand our reality to include more than the tangible manifestation with which we occupy so much of our time.  We begin to see the spiritual reality that supports and nurtures and manifests the physical reality.  And if we continue farther into this reality we begin to experience it without knowing it.  We reach a place where we feel better even though we cannot know why.

In this place, we begin to see the true nature of suffering and we also realize that suffering is a relative matter.  What some would consider suffering others do not.  Some people suffer if they do not have expensive clothing.  But there are some things such as cancer and other serious illnesses that the majority of humans consider real suffering.  And we do become motivated to ease the suffering of others.  And yet we must be careful in imposing our reality on others.  It is just possible that others are suffering because they are in the process of a new awakening through their suffering and if we intervene we may prevent them from finding the path they are looking for.  Sometimes it is only through suffering that we can awaken.  I do not think that I could eat if someone next to me were starving.  And in that sense, I would give that person what I had to ease their suffering.  But many times I should limit my involvement to simply allowing someone to know that I am available to help them if they ask.  This is much different than trying to impose my help on them.  These questions have to be answered by each of us as we are confronted with these specific situations.  All I am saying is that imposing our reality on others is not always in the sufferer's best interest and we need to be mindful of that.

When the energy of the Holy Spirit is present, God the Father and God the Son are there.  That is why I told the priest that touching the Holy Spirit seems to be a safer way to approach the Trinity.

The Trinity is just a Christian metaphor that religious scholars came up with in order to explain the nature of God.  It is a burden which Christian have to wrestle with.  There is no literal father or literal Holy Ghost but there was a physical son in the person of Jesus.  The idea of fatherhood is a term used in a patriarchial society.  Had those scholars of old lived in a matriarchial society they would have said Mother, Son and Holy Ghost.  And if they had lived in an egalitarian society they would have said Father, Mother, Son and Holy Ghost.  It only takes a moment to see that rigid Christian doctrine, as with most religion doctrine, tends to confuse those who are seeking to understand the nature of God, the Infinite Potential.  It fact the concept of Father God tends to subordinate women in a society because they are given the impression that behind this reality, the masculine force prevails.  Of couse the Infinite Potential is neither masculine or femine unless we define it as that.  The Infinite Potential is an indivisible oneness which is hard for us to conceive because we define the physical reality in terms of duality; light and dark, big and small, high and low, mother and father.

Discussing God is not the best use of our energy.

This statement needs to be qualified.  Discussing God is not the best use of our energy at every single moment.  There are times when we need to be focused on other things and our contemplation of God needs to be subordinated to some other task.

If we touch the Holy Spirit, we touch God not as a concept but as a living reality.

We are the Holy Spirit and we are God  and we are the Infinite Potential in the sense that these are all-encompassing concepts.  These are just different words which try to communicate the same idea.  That idea being that there is some underlying essence of all things.  And in the sense that we have manifested from it, we are at one with it and therefore we are it.

In Buddhism, we never talk about nirvana, because nirvana means the extinction of all notions, concepts, and speech.

I think that Buddhist talk a lot about nirvana.  If they did not, then there would be no such concept.  How could Buddhist have ever defined nirvana without discussing it?  The truth is that the Buddha was focused on this reality and for the most part refused to discuss the spiritual reality.  This is the real reason that Buddhist do not dwell on nirvana or what Christians may call Heaven.

We practice by touch minfulness in ourselves through sitting meditation, walking meditation, mindful eating, and so on.  We observe and learn to handle our body, breathing, feelings, mental states, and consciousness.Living mindfully, shining the light of our awareness on everything we do, we touch the Buddha, and our minfulness grows.

If one goes to the exteme of mindfulness in this reality one become immobile.  One becomes paralysed in meditation whether it be sitting, standing or walking.  And then mindfulness disconnects one from this reality to such a degree that one cannot perform even the most basic of functions without drifting into meditation.

We live in a physical reality and I believe we are here because we choose to be.  At some point in the future, we will leave this reality in death and then we will begin to truly experience the spiritual reality.  As long as we are a part of this reality, we need to live in this reality.  We need to be mindful that this reality is not the true reality or the ultimate reality but as long as we are existing in this reality we need to give up the thought of truly experiencing the spiritual reality.  We cannot truly experience that reality without discarding our body.  

We are only temporarily residing in this reality and we only need to become mindful of the spiritual reality to the extent that this physical reality is not the true reality but just a temporary dream which we are experiencing.   When we are not mindful of this, we begin to think this reality is THE REALITY and then become confused in it such that we begin to believe that we are separate from others and then we are in truth better or worse than others.  We try to possess things which are all in a state of deterioration.  Nothing lasts in this reality.  It is all about change.  Everthing is in the process of manifesting or disintegrating.  So how can this be the ultimate reality.  The ultimate reality does not change.  The ultimate reality manifests out of its essence and disintegrates all things back into its oneness.  This is the way it is.  There was no beginning and there will be no end.  And we are part of this, we are a manifestation of it.  And for a time, within this reality we are able to gain a perspective of the Infinite Potential but it is only a perspective from this reality and could never be an all encompassing view.  In death, where we are free of a physical body, we gain a broader perspective but we are still, even in spirit, viewing the Infinite Potential through a pinhole that is limited by our consciousness.   And each reality has its own limits of consciousness.

F. Our true home 100600

The word "Buddha" comes from the root buddh, which means to wake up.  

Awake means a conscious awareness of the fact that this physical reality is only temporary and it is manifested from the intangible Infinite Potential.  Awake means an understanding and acknowledgment that there is an intangible reality which supports and impacts on this physical reality.  In its simplist definition, to wake up means to acknowledge a spiritual reality.

A Buddha is someone who is awake.

Almost everyone is consciously awake to some degree.  Some are more awake than others.  This is no different than any other human trait where some have a natural ability to create art, or do math, or play sports, etc.

When Buddhists greet one another, we hold our palms together like a lotus flower, breathe in  and out mindfully, bow, and say silently, "A lotus for you, a Buddha to me."

The question has to be asked why Buddhists do not greet everyone, including non Buddhist, in the same manner.

This kind of greeting produces two Buddhas at the same time.

Everyone is a Buddha.  Some are just more awake at any given moment than others.

We acknowledge the seeds of awakening.  Buddhahood, that are within the other person, whatever his or her age or status.

Truly this mindset should not be reserved only for fellow Buddhists.

And we practice mindful breathing to touch the seed of Buddhahood within ourselves.

Mindfulness leads to greater awakening.  No matter if you are painting a room or fishing or simply walking down a quiet road.  Any moronic task which relieves the physical body of having to concentrate on what it is doing generally shifts one into a mindful state.  The only difference with Buddhist is that they realize what is happening.  They realize they have shifted into a meditative state.  Most people just feel they are relaxing and do not associate any real religious/spiritual overtones to it.

Sometimes we can touch the Holy Spirit or Buddhahood when we are alone, but it is easiest to practice in a community.

I agree with this.  It is my experience that when I am meditating with a group, I am able to go deeper into mindfulness than when I am alone. There is something powerful associated with many minds focusing on mindfulness at the same time and in the same place.  I cannot speak for others in this regards, but I suspect that it is true.  I do not have this experience in a religious exercise other than meditation or group prayer.  But for Christians in general the time devoted to silent prayer is usually no more than a few minutes; which is about the same as meditation, except that prayer to me is associated with trying to  manifest something and mediation is just a relaxing into the womb of oneness from which all things have manifested.

That night in Florence I gave a lecture at the priest's church, and more than one thousand people came.  There was a real feeling of mutual understanding and community.

There is always some level of uplifting or increased mindfulness when human are gathered for a common purpose.

A few months later, after attending a retreat in Plum Village, the community o f practice (Dangha) where I live in France, a Catholic priest from North America aske me, " Thay, I see the value of minfulnes practice.  I have tasted the joy, peace, and happiness of it.  I have enjoyed the bell, the walking, the tea meditation, and the silent meals.  But how can I contue to practice when I get back to my church?"

I asked, bhim, "Is ther a bell in your church?"

He said, "Yes."

"Do you ring the bell?"


"Then please use your bell as a bell of mindfulness, calling you back to your home."

 When I was a young monk in Vietnam, each village temple had a big bell, like those in Christian churches in Europe and America.  Whenever the bell was invited to sound (in Buddhist circles, we neve say "hit" or "strike" a bell), all the villagers would stop what they were doing and pause for a few moments to breathe in and out in mindfulness.  At Plum Village, every time we hear the bell, we do the same.  We go back to ourselves and enjoy our breathing.  Breathing in, we say, silently, "Listen, listen," and breathing in, we say, silently, "This wonderful sound brings me back to my true home."

One can use any number of things to remind oneself to be mindful for a moment.  It can become a habit when we wake up each morning.  It can become a habit each time we sit down to eat, when we buckle our seat belts, when we brush our teeth, when we greet someone.  The more times that we add to the list of times to be mindful, the closer we will become to being mindful all the time and consequently live mindfully in the present in everything we do.  Christian do this when the constantly remind themselves of Jesus' presence.

 Our true home is in the present moment.  The miracle is not to walk on water.  The miracle (goal) is to walk on the green earth in the present moment.  Peace is all around us - in the world and in nature-and within us-in our bodies and our spirits.

The best way for me to remember this is to constantly remind my self that I am one with the earth, one with God, one with everyone.  When we consider that we are one with the earth and expand our minds to embrace this thought, we cannot help but feel the peace when we take a deep breath of air which we all share.  When we look at the stars at night, we cannot help but remember our oneness with God.  When we attend church ,we should be mindful of the peace that everyone present is seeking and hopefully experiencing.

 Once we learn to touch this peace, we will be healed and transformed.

Once we learn to be mindful of our oneness at every moment, inner peace will be easier to achieve and maintain in our daily lives.

 It is not a matter of faith; it is a matter of practice.

It is a matter of practicing faith which really means practicing being consciously aware of even the mundane things in our life like the sky and the earth, a breeze, the warmth of the sun and the smell of the rain as we move through our daily tasks.

 We need only to bring our body and mind into the present moment, and we will touch what is refreshing, healing, and wondrous.

The more things that we can keep in our conscious, the more awake we are.  If we can smell the air while we are talking to someone, or experience the temperature of the room while we are working, or see the infinite immortal soul in everyone we meet regardless of the nature of our encounter with them, then we have expanded our mindfulness.

I asked the priest, "In you church, do you sometimes share a meal? Do you have tea and cookies?"


"Please do it in mindfulness.  If you do, there will be no problem at all.  When mindfulness is in you, the Holy Spriit is in you, and your firends will see it, not just by what you say, but through your whole being."

When you are mindful, you are living in harmony with all that is about you.  And when you are in harmony your presence will give off an aura of peace which others cannot help but experience.  A remembering of your oneness with others has a tendency to send out a non verbal message of acceptance which is experienced by others.  And your peace increases the peace within them.  It is just the opposite of putting on an angry face and experiencing the tension of others.  Peace comes in being moment to moment mindful of our oneness with each other, with God and with the earth.

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How can we manifest peace on earth if we do not include everyone (all races, all nations, all religions, both sexes) in our vision of Peace?


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