Always Well Within

Calm Your Mind, Ease Your Heart, Embrace Your Inner Wisdom

The World We Have by Thich Nhat Hanh

Buddhist meditation master Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh

The World We Have is a startling and potent book.

With no holds barred, Thich Nhat Hanh and Alan Weisman paint a precise and disturbing picture of the perils we face as a species. They are not afraid to tell the truth:  complete destruction of the planet is a likely outcome if we continue blindly on our current course.

Despite the dark possibilities, reading this book – I’m halfway through – leaves me in a state of sublime joy.

Why? Thich Nhat Hanh illuminates the secret to complete transformation of the environmental crisis. He tells us that the choice lies squarely in our hands.

With his bright and gentle spirit, Thich Nhat Hanh kindly shows us how to transcend the fear, anger, and despair that wells up within with each new environmental disaster.  He encourages us to embrace our interconnectedness and deeply accept impermanence as the basis for finding inner peace and planetary harmony.

Most remarkably, Thich Nhat Hanh gives us the magic key – the one that has the power to turn the environmental crisis on its head.

The secret is this – the simple yet effective practice of mindfulness.

Don’t let the word “Buddhist” in the title fool you.  The ideas and principles presented in The World We Have are universal and apply to all of us.

Sunday Reflection: Waking Up to Our Impact

For this week’s reflection, I’ve chosen the following quotes from the World We Have, A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology. These quotations remind us up to look deeply at our own actions and impact they have on the planet.

“The bells of mindfulness are calling out to us, trying to wake up up, reminding us to look deeply at our impact on the planet.”

“The bells of mindfulness are sounding. All over the Earth, we are experiencing floods, droughts, and massive wildfires. Sea ice is melting in the Arctic and hurricanes and heat waves are killing thousands. The forests are fast disappearing, the deserts are growing, species are becoming extinct every day, and yet we continue to consume, ignoring the ringing bells.”

“All of us know that our beautiful green planet is in danger. Our way of walking on the Earth has a great influence on animals and plants. Yet we act as if our daily lives have nothing to do with the condition of the world. We are like sleepwalkers, not knowing what we are doing or where we are heading. Whether we can wake up or not depends on whether we can walk mindfully on our Mother Earth. The future of all life, including our own, depends on our mindful steps. We have to hear the bells of mindfulness that are sounding all across our planet. We have to start learning how to live in a way that a future will be possible for our children and our grandchildren.”

Thich Nhat Hanh has coined the term “mindful consumption.” When we consume mindfully, he says,

“…we recognize exactly what to consume and what not to consume in order to keep our bodies, our minds, and the Earth healthy and not cause suffering for ourselves and for others. Mindful consumption is the way to heal ourselves and to heal the world. As a spiritual family and as the human family, we can all help avert global warming by following this practice.”

This is an enlightening and encouraging book that covers a great deal of territory beyond mindful consumption alone.  I recommend it highly and wish everyone would read it.

What are your thoughts about applying mindfulness to consumption?  Would you like to share a tip with us on your own efforts toward mindful consumption?

Stay Tuned: My review of Be Love Now, The Path of the Heart by Ram Dass will be up on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

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14 Comments

  1. Thank you for the tips about the book Sandra! I will put in my books-to-get list. About mindful consumption I think we need to ask ourselves before any buying why we should buy the thing we are thinking of buying. You can see today people doing a lot of shopping only for the cause of shopping, not because they need it. I´ve discussed this with some women regarding shopping clothes and they say it is a male point of view 🙂 But men are also good at buying things they don´t really need althought it might be something else than clothes. This might be good for the economy in short sight but it´s probably not too good for the environment and it sure isn´t good for your own economy. People buy a lot of stuff they don´t need and then they wonder why they don´t have any money.

    • Hi Tom,

      You are really going to the root of the problem in your comment when you note how people shop just to shop. Thich Nhat Hanh says this is how we try to fill our emotional void or quell our uncomfortable feelings. Yes, men are quite terrific at buying unnecessary things too! Instead of buying to support an artificial economy, I think we need to have a long term vision of an economy rooted in balance, interconnectedness, and sanity. Thanks for your thoughts!

  2. Mindfulness is deeply empowering for me Sandra.

    When I press the pause button and take a better look at what’s happening around me, I’m able to adjust and make better decisions. It’s all about lifting my head from the busyness and becoming more mindful of the here and now.

    Thanks for sharing these powerful quotes – they are great Sunday morning prayers.

    Alex

    • Alex, I really like the idea of the “pause” button. You outline the benefits of mindfulness so perfectly – the ability to adjust and make better decisions.

      I’m glad you enjoy the Sunday reflections. I had no idea how powerful they would be for me when I started sharing them a few months ago. It makes me happy to know they are meaningful for others as well.

      Thanks for your sharing your insight and for the kind words.

  3. Mindfulness is a critical concept to understand and truly embrace.Is it powerful enough to counteract the “mindlessness” of much of society?

    I think the problem really involves selfishness and a total disconnect between someone’s actions and the effect on others. That is where being mindfulness is so desperately needed.

    • Hi Bob,

      You make a good point! Everyone would have to get on board with the idea, which probably seems like an impossible idea. But anything is possible! As the crisis becomes more apparent, more people may take a liking to the idea.

      Selfishness is definitely a core issue. I don’t think people fundamentally want to be selfish, but our culture definitely encourages a self-centered mentality. Sadly, many people don’t recognize how much harm it actually brings them. I think people are waking up though and that’s reflected in the trend toward minimalism.

      It’s always so nice to hear your perspective!

  4. Thanks so much for the book recommendation and info.

    The idea that we are headed down this road is a tough subject, and anything that can help us influence the direction for the better is sorely needed right now.

    I love Thich Nhat Hanh’s work (and especially love listening to him — his peace is quite contagious). Perhaps this post will encourage some others to discover him, to the benefit of all the world.

    Blessings to you and thank you for these beautiful and helpful thoughts…

    • Hi Patti and Welcome,

      Thanks for your light-filled thoughts. It’s nice to hear your personal experience of Thich Nhat Hanh and how much you love his voice. Being around a person with such peace and wisdom can definitely be contagious. Would it be wonderful if the whole world caught peace?!

      Thank you for taking the time to leave a comment. It’s so nice to “connect” with you.

  5. Thich Nhat Hanh is a timeless teacher. He is one of 730 inspirations included in my latest book, Transform Your Life. His life experience invites everyone to reconnect with what latters and remember the freedom to be experienced as you let go of and bless everything else.

    • Hello Liara,

      730 inspirations! That sounds like a wonderful book and much needed in these times. Thanks for sharing your impressions of Thich Nhat Hanh. Someone like him just radiates peace, love, and truth and naturally infuses others with freedom of mind and heart.

  6. I just love your Sunday Reflections, Sandra. The topic of mindful consumption is very interesting and very relevant in my life. To create an awareness around shopping and evaluate what my mood is when I shop for things I don’t really need-am I bored, anxious, happy, sad……I am guessing there is some pattern. As in many things, creating an awareness is the key to understanding ourselves. Thank you for facilitating for so many of us.

    • Lori,

      You are really making my day when you say you love the Sunday Reflections. It’s amazing how much they have helped me too. These weekly words of wisdom have really enriched my understanding and practice too. I’m so happy to prepare them and happy they are meaningful to you.

      Shopping can be understood on so many levels! I agree that awareness is the key.

  7. As a more-rationalist-than-thou-westerner, I’ve been quite resistant to anything that is labeled spiritual or shelved in the spirituality section. Through your posts, which expose me to authors I wouldn’t pick up on my own, I’m finding more and more common ground. I actually blogged about the tradeoffs of mindless consumerism right before I read your entry today. Thank you for continuing to open my mind!

    • Ailanna,

      That’s a great post on mindless consumption and I hope people will hop on over and read it.

      Speaking of shopping, I think the West has become to some degree a spiritual supermarket. So as in all shopping endeavors, it’s good to be mindful when considering spirituality too!

      Glad you are finding some interconnections. I constantly see the interconnections between health, ecology, personal development, and spirituality and that’s why I blog on all those topics. The Dalai Lama’s teachings in particular are very steeped in logic, which can tend to appeal more to a rationalist mind.

      Thanks for the positive feedback. Stay well!

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