“People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh
It is very easy to take life for granted. We all have a sense of entitlement from birth. When we were hungry, uncomfortable, unhappy, or sad we would throw fits and someone would fix the situation because, after all, we were helpless babies. After some time, we got used to having things our way. We could frustrate our caretakers until they would break and, just like that, candy; just like that, a bicycle. It was not our duty to figure out how anything was made or where it came from, but instead how to get it. We were the masters of our universe.
Unfortunately, many people never lose that sense of entitlement. Because of that, they will never see the world as a miracle, but instead as a feeding ground for them to pillage and later ignore. They feed their egos, their wallets, and their guts at the expense of the land and the feelings of its inhabitants. I am sure everyone has encountered this type of person. I also think we are all this person sometimes. Life can be overwhelming and there are often very difficult moments that leave us with tunnel-vision set on escaping that darkness. It can be difficult to stop, take a deep breath, and look around.
I had the great opportunity to walk, meditate with, and listen to my favorite author and Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh last year. He visited Deer Park Monastery in Southern California for a “Day of Mindfulness”. The day started with a mindful walk (in complete silence) up a mountain and then silent group meditation. He spoke with us for a bit and we headed down the mountain. After the walk, we all sat and listened to him speak about several topics related to mindful living and meditation. It was very moving to hear him speak in person and expand on certain topics he’s covered in his books (I have read several of them). He is a living example of a successful life practicing loving kindness and I hope to learn more from him and other Buddhist teachers in the future.
I am well aware that the experiences I have lived through and the lessons I have learned are not the normal path for most. I know that many people don’t know who Thich Nhat Hanh (also goes by the name Thay) is and do not practice Buddhist meditation. I, myself, only began to learn about him a few years ago. Being Catholic, I was always afraid of looking outside of the Bible and the Catechism for spiritual guidance. The quote I am sharing today, for example, would have intimidated me before. Today, however, I don’t see many conflicts between both lifestyles. In reality, I see more conflicts between Christianity and itself than anything. It is because of this comfort with my faith that I can agree with Thay and share his ideology with the world. I do believe that everything is a miracle and more importantly, I appreciate all those miracles. This appreciation connects me to them better than physically touching them. I could lay on grass in a park, but if I am mindful of all life, then I lay with the grass. The same applies with most everything else. I believe we are all meant to share and care for the earth. If we are mindful of all life, then all life will embrace us and protect our path.