A reading from “The Heart of the Buddha’s
Teaching” by Thich Nhat Hanh. someone asked Someone asked me, “Aren’t you worried about the state of the world?”
I allowed myself to breathe and then I said, “What is most important
is not to allow your anxiety about what happens in the world to fill your heart.
If your heart is filled with anxiety, you will get sick and you will not be able
to help. There are wars, big and small, in many places, and that can cause us to
lose our peace. Anxiety is the illness of our age. We worry about ourselves our
family, our friends, our work, and the state of the world. If we allow worry to
fill our hearts, sooner or later we will get sick. Yes, there is tremendous
suffering all over the world, but knowing this need not paralyze us. If we practice
mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful sitting, and working in
mindfulness, we try our best to help and we can have peace in our heart. Worrying
does not accomplish anything. Even if you worry 20 times more, it will not change
the situation of the world. In fact, your anxiety will only make things worse.
Even though things are not as we would like, we can still be content knowing we
are trying our best and will continue to do so. If we don’t know how to breathe,
smile, and live every moment of our life deeply, we will never be able to help anyone. I am happy in the present moment.
I do not ask for anything else. I do not expect any additional happiness
or conditions that will bring about more happiness. The most important practice is
aimlessness not running after things, not grasping. We who have been fortunate
enough to encounter the practice of mindfulness have a responsibility to
bring peace and joy into our own lives even though not everything in our body,
mind, or environment is exactly as we would like. Without happiness, we cannot
be a refuge for others. Ask yourself, “What am I waiting for to make me happy?
Why am I not happy right now?” My only desire is to help you see this.
How canwe bring the practice of mindfulness to the widest spectrum of society? How can
we give birth to the greatest number of people who are happy and who know how to
teach the art of mindful living to others? The number of people who create
violence is very great, while the number of people who know how to breathe and
create happiness is very small. Every day gives us a wonderful opportunity to be
happy ourselves and to become a place of refuge for others. We don’t need to
become anything else. We don’t need to perform some particular
act. We only need to be happy in the present moment, and we can be of service
to those we love and to our whole society. Aimlessness is stopping and
realizing the happiness that is already available. If someone asks us how long he
has to practice in order to be happy, we can tell him that he can be happy right
now. The practice of apranahita, aimlessness, is the practice of freedom.