Raw, adjective: 7. brutally or grossly frank: a raw portrayal of human passions.

Really beautiful interview with Thich Nhat Hanh in the March issue of Oprah magazine. (I know, I know; I always feel slightly dirty when I link to her stuff. Like, covered in chintz and casseroles and Laura Ashley. Hold on while I go do a tequila shot.....

....ok, I'm back.)

But seriously. Great sit-down chat with the oh-so-famous, oh-so-radiant renowned Vietnamese Buddhist monk. And this interview actually, in many ways, provides an excellent introduction to many basic Buddhist concepts for the newbie who might be intrigued by the whole Siddhartha/Four Noble Truths bit.

Read it; nod as you acknowledge the ecumenical wisdom of Hanh's meditation practice as manifested in tea-drinking and silent dining; really sit with his discussions of listening and suffering and compassion and mindfulness, and find therein so many cross-religious theological parallels. Here's one of my favorite exchanges:
Oprah: The nature of Buddhism, as I understand it, is to believe that we are all pure and radiant at our core. And yet we see around us so much evidence that people are not acting from a place of purity and radiance. How do we reconcile that?

Nhat Hanh: Well, happiness and suffering support each other. To be is to inter-be. It's like the left and the right. If the left is not there, the right cannot be there. The same is true with suffering and happiness, good and evil. In every one of us there are good seeds and bad. We have the seed of brotherhood, love, compassion, insight. But we have also the seed of anger, hate, dissent.

Oprah: That's the nature of being human.

Nhat Hanh: Yes. There is the mud, and there is the lotus that grows out of the mud. We need the mud in order to make the lotus.

Oprah: Can't have one without the other.

Nhat Hanh: Yes. You can only recognize your happiness against the background of suffering. If you have not suffered hunger, you do not appreciate having something to eat. If you have not gone through a war, you don't know the value of peace. That is why we should not try to run away from one thing after another thing. Holding our suffering, looking deeply into it, we find a way to happiness.
Then, today, practice one of the elegant mantras he recommends. Just say it: "Darling, I'm here for you." Can you imagine how the world would open up if we just sat down across from one another and spoke those few words out loud every day??

Oprah Talks to Thich Nhat Hanh (Oprah.com)


Popular Posts