Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Clinging With an Open Hand

Reading a report about the progress to health of the beloved Thich Nhat Hanh by Justin Whitaker (July 14, 2015), Thich Nhat Hanh comes to the USA for further treatment, funds sought to cover costs, there is an interesting discussion about clinging ... to life, to teacher ... something Buddhism disavows.  To wit: 



"When I have responded to such misgivings, it has usually been to note that all involved are still human, or to question the use of the term ‘clinging’ here. In Buddhist thought, motivation is key, and yet guessing about or supposing to know the motivations of others is a fool’s game. Perhaps those close to Thay are indeed clinging to him as much as devoted followers of any religious leader. Or perhaps they instead see his message that has reached so many people around the world and wish only to see that message continue in the strongest way possible, through his continuing to teach and write.



"My sense is that too many people have seized on the message of non-clinging (which is a good and central message within Buddhism) and tried to apply it here too forcefully. Like all teachings, it should be taken with some nuance. When driving on a windy mountain road, a good Buddhist clings firmly to the steering wheel.


"Perhaps Thay and his students see his journey as not quite finished and so hold on and work to see it through."

I am reminded of a conversation I once had with a Japanese Zen monk. I advanced my understanding of working / not working toward emptiness and was basically told that by working or not, my concept of emptiness was severe.

Back to the pillow. Opening the hand. 

And the other hand ...



Image: Geoff Livingston. CC Thanks

~

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