with Peace and Presence
by Thich Nhat Hanh
intro and this talk are also available in audio.)
is something we can contemplate every day. Walking
meditation is one of the ways to contemplate peace, and today we are going
to walk together, generating the energy of peace, solidity,
suggest that when you breathe in, you make three steps. Bring
your attention to the soles of your feet, and become aware
of the contact between your foot and the ground. Bring your
attention down from the level of the brain to the soles of
in, we make three steps, and we may tell ourselves with each
step, "I have arrived. I have arrived. I have arrived." And
breathing out, we make another three steps, always mindful
of the contact between our feet and the ground, and we say, "I'm
home. I'm home. I'm home."
where? Where is our home? According to the teaching
and the practice of the Buddha, life is available only in the
moment, in the here and the now. And when you go back to the
present moment, you have a chance to touch life, to encounter
life, to become fully alive and fully present.
is why every step brings us back to the present moment, so
that we can touch the wonders of life that are available. Therefore,
when I say, "I have arrived," I mean I have arrived
in the here and the now -- the only place, the only time where
and when life is available, and that is my true home.
Buddha said that the past is already gone, and the future is
not yet here. There is only one moment for us to live, and
that is the present moment.
have an appointment with life, and that appointment takes place
in the present moment. If we miss the present moment, we miss
our appointment with life, which is serious.
our daily life, we have a tendency to think about the past,
to get caught in the sorrow and regret concerning the past,
and to get caught in the fear and uncertainty about the future,
so our mind is not in the present moment.
is why it is very important to learn how to go back to the
present moment in order to become fully alive, fully present.
Walking meditation helps us do that easily.
I begin, I make two or three steps and I practice arriving. "I
have arrived. I am home." It means, I don't want to run
anymore, because I know that conditions for my happiness are
already here in the present moment.
we believe that happiness is not possible in the here and the
now; we need a few more conditions to be happy. So we run towards
the future to get the conditions we think are missing. But
by doing so we sacrifice the present moment, we sacrifice true
learning how to go home to the present moment is the basic
practice of mindfulness. "I have arrived. I am home." My
home is right here, right now. I don't want to run anymore.
habit of running may have been transmitted to me by my parents,
and I may have been running all my life. Now I don't want to
run anymore, I want to stop. Walking meditation helps us learn
to stop in order to be truly alive, truly present. "I
have arrived. I am home."
you walk like that with every step, the energy of mindfulness
and concentration will be there to support you. And the place
where you walk becomes the pure land of the Buddha or the kingdom
of God. The blue sky, the beautiful vegetation, the face of
a child, the flower blooming -- all these wonders belong to
the kingdom of God, to the pure land of the Buddha.
allow separation between us and those wonders of life because
we allow anger, fear, grieving, and despair to stand in our
way. Going home to our body by mindful breathing will help
us let go of our worries, our regret and our fear, and that
is the basic condition for us to get in touch with the wonders
of life that are truly present in the here and the now.
should walk in such a way that the pure land of the Buddha,
the kingdom of God becomes a reality in the here and the now.
There is not one day when I do not enjoy walking in the kingdom
of God, in the pure land of the Buddha. Why should I deprive
myself of that pleasure? I need only some energy of mindfulness,
of concentration, in order to penetrate into the kingdom of
God, into the pure land of the Buddha.
kingdom of God is available to you in the here and the now.
But the question is whether you are available to the kingdom.
Our practice is to make ourselves ready for the kingdom so
that it can manifest in the here and the now.
don't need to die in order to enter the kingdom of heaven.
In fact, you have to be truly alive in order to do so. It's
not too difficult. Just breathe in and bring your mind back
to your body. That is the practice of mindfulness.
of breathing can be combined with mindfulness of walking, and
you will continue to get the nourishment and healing that is
available in the here and the now.
us walk in such a way that every step can bring us stability,
freedom, healing, and transformation. In order for each step
to be solid, to be free, to be healing, to be nourishing, we
need the energy of mindfulness and concentration.
energy can be obtained by mindful breathing, mindful stepping. "I
have arrived. I am home." That is not a statement. That
is a practice, and you will know whether you have arrived or
not in the here and the now. You don't need another person
to tell you.
you are truly established in the here and the now, you feel
free, and you can get in touch with all the wonders of life
that are available to you. Every step is an enjoyment.
is the outcome of that practice. Walk in such a way
that peace becomes a reality in every cell of your body, in every cell
of your consciousness, because our consciousness is also made
of cells. Mental formations, feelings, perception - they're
all the cells of our consciousness.
when we breathe peacefully, the peace of our breath will penetrate
into our body and into our mind. Then very soon, in no time
at all, body, mind, and breath will become one in concentration,
and we get the energy of stability, solidity, and freedom generated
by every step we make. "I have arrived. I am home." That
is a practice.
a few minutes, you may move to the second line of the poem: "In
the here. In the now." It means I have arrived in the
here and the now. I am at home in the here and the now. The
address of the pure land, the address of the kingdom of God,
the address of peace and brotherhood is here and now.
you want to meet the Buddha, if you want to touch God, if you
want to touch the ultimate dimension, that is the address:
the here and the now. It is very special.
some time, you might like to move to the third line. "I
am solid. I am free." Solidity and freedom are the most
important characteristics of happiness. Without some solidity,
without some freedom, true happiness is not possible; therefore,
every step should be able to generate more of the energy of
solidity and freedom. And, again, this is not a wish or a declaration.
you are able to make steps, they can bring you back to the
here and the now. You become more solid and freer with every
step. So, "I am solid, I am free" means I notice
that now I am more solid, I am freer. That makes the practice
much more pleasant, because every step helps to bring more
solidity and freedom to you.
walk like a prince. You walk like a lion, a princess. You walk
like a king, because you are truly yourself, with all your
serenity. "I am solid. I am free."
step becomes a delight. Every step has the power to heal, to
transform. Not only can we heal ourselves by our steps, but
we can help heal the Earth and the environment.
last line of the poem is, "In the ultimate I dwell." There
are two dimensions to reality. The first dimension is called
the historical dimension, and the second dimension is the ultimate
have an ultimate dimension--the ground of our being--and if
we know how to live deeply every moment of our historical dimension,
we are able to touch our ultimate dimension.
is like a wave. A wave may seem to have a beginning and end.
A wave might be seen as high or low, big or small, different
or not different from other waves.
terms--beginning, ending, high, low, more or less beautiful--they
belong to the dimension called historical, but the wave is
at the same time the water. Water transcends the form of the
wave, the idea of beginning, ending, high, or low. These notions
apply to the wave but not to the water.
moment when the wave realizes that she is water, she loses
all her fear and she enjoys much more being a wave. She is
free from birth and death, being and non-being, high or low,
because when we are able to touch our ultimate dimension, we
are no longer subjected to fear-- fear of being; fear of non-being;
fear of birth; fear of death.
is a very, very deep practice. When you've touched your true
foundation, your true nature, the nature of no birth and no
death, then non-fear arises. And with non-fear, true happiness
will become possible.
is possible to live each moment of our daily life in such a
way that helps us to touch our ultimate dimension. And this
is a wonderful way to transcend fear.
have arrived. I am home. In the here. In the now. I am solid.
I am free. In the ultimate I dwell." Four lines guiding
us in our practice of walking meditation. Let us practice together
as a Sangha, as a community. Let us flow like a river, generating
peace with every step we make.
is no walk for peace; peace is the walk. By walking, we generate
peace within our body, our consciousness. We embrace and heal
the pain, the sorrow, the fear in us, and that is the ground
for helping peace to be a reality in the world.
us sing these lines together in order to help memorize the
four lines of the song: "I have arrived. I am home. In
the here and in the now. I am solid. I am free. In the ultimate
us walk together and let us generate the energy of peace and
happiness and joy. Let us transform this place and this time
into the kingdom of God, into the pure land of the Buddha.
This is possible.
collective energy of mindfulness will be generated and penetrate
into every one of us for our transformation and healing. Happy
walking for everyone.
2002 Thich Nhat Hanh