Mindful breathing-our unsinkable boat on the river of suffering

Thich Nhat Hanh

“When we practice mindful breathing, we nourish the awareness of being there in the here and the now. When we practice mindful walking or mindful breakfast making, we give ourselves an opportunity to touch what is there in the present moment, to touch the wonders of life that are available to us.

The wonders of life that are available inside of us and around us. And we are kind of providing us with a boat that helps us not to sink into the ocean of forgetfulness, the ocean of despair, the ocean of suffering. We feel a little bit heavy because of the weight of the suffering in us. Left alone, we can easily sink into the river of suffering.

When you release a piece of rock into the river, it will sink. But if you place the block of rock on a boat, you know that it will not sink. The suffering in us is like a piece of rock. Sometimes it feels heavy and it makes us sink into the ocean, into the river of suffering.

According to the teaching and the practice offered by the Buddha, even if you have blocks of suffering in yourself and if you know how to provide yourself with a boat, you will not sink. You will not sink into the river of suffering. And joy and peace and happiness are still possible.

Even if you have these blocks of suffering within yourself. This is a wonderful thing. And you can see it by yourself, you can test it, you can try it… if you can provide yourself with a boat, When you practice mindful breathing, mindfulness is a kind of boat that prevents you from sinking into the past, into the worries, into the despair. Because mindful breathing, mindful walking help you to be in the here, in the now, where you can touch many wonders of life.”

Excerpt from Dharma Talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh on December 28, 1997 in Plum Village, France.


About Steven Goodheart

"I have made a ceaseless effort not to ridicule, not to bewail, not to scorn human actions, but to understand them." Spinoza

3 Responses to “Mindful breathing-our unsinkable boat on the river of suffering”

  1. Good thoughts to begin a good year.

    • Good thoughts at any time of the year. The thoughts alone could make the year good. Pictures, too. But i would have much rather seen them when the high temperature climbed above 29 degrees here outside Philly.

      michael j

      Thich-Nhat-Hanh, what a guy

      • Thanks Michael J! It’s a “boat” I’m sure I’ll use a lot this year. 🙂

        Ah yes, the cold of NE and the Mid-Atlantic…I had 33 years of winter in Boston…now I’m a free-bird here in Berkeley…dare I say it was sunny and 63 today? 🙂

        PS – Thich Nhat Hanh is indeed quite a guy…it makes me so happy to share from the wealth of his living dharma.

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