Once upon a time in the small kingdom of Kapilavastu, a young prince was born. The prophets at the time believed that he was destined for greatness. He would either become the greatest emperor the world had ever known, or an unprecedented spiritual teacher.
This is the story of Siddhartha Gautama, the man who is now known throughout the world as the Buddha – the Enlightened one.
I have heard these tales from a number of different sources, but this is my favourite rendition by far. Thich Nhat Hanh strives to balance faithfulness to what we believe to be true, stylistic elegance and relevance to the modern audience.
Reading this book we go on a spiritual journey from the birth of Siddhartha, to the Full Enlightenment, teachings and death of the Buddha.
Reading this book we go on a spiritual journey spanning the birth of Siddhartha all the way to the enlightenment, teachings and final resting of the Buddha.
How good can a person actually be?
Throughout all of history, culture and fiction I don't believe I've found a moral exemplar that would seem to rival the that of the Buddha.
Central to Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings of Buddhism has always been the notion of interdependence, that for any phenomena to be, all others must as well.
In the tea you are drinking, is the rain that was falling.
In that rain that was falling, are the clouds that drifted in the sky.
In the clouds above you, is the sunlight that provides them with energy to rise up and form.
It is believed that nothing exists independently of all else. That phenomena are all interconnected, moving, changing, transforming in a never ending flux and flow of arising and passing away. All that you ever encounter in this world is simply nature manifesting in different forms.
The ground beneath your feet is the same old path that the Buddha and countless others have walked. When you look up into the sky, you gaze upon the same white clouds which have formed and dissolved for as long as anyone can remember.
The life and teachings of the Buddha, and the presentation of them as given by Thich Nhat Hanh, is nothing short of a work of beauty.