Holy as the Day is Spent-Thich Nhat Hanh on the Holiness of Mindfulness

This excerpt below is from “The Blooming of the Lotus: the Nature of No-birth and No-death.” It’s a dharma talk  given by my heart teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh on May 3, 1998  in Plum Village, France. It is followed by the beautiful and profound song, “Holy as the Day is Spent” by Carrie Newcomer from her album The Gathering of Spirits.

May this teaching and music inspire each us to live a more holy life—a life of mindfulness, insight, concentration, liberation, and compassion!


“Are You a Holy Person?”

“Enlightenment, compassion and understanding should not be abstract ideas — they should become reality in our daily lives. When you pay attention to your in-breath and out-breath, that is already a form of enlightenment. Breathing in, I know I am breathing in, breathing out I know I am breathing out, and I enjoy my breathing. That is already the beginning of enlightenment.

There are so many people who breathe in and breathe out and yet they don’t know that they are breathing in and out. When you breathe in, you know that you are breathing in and you feel that you are alive. And to know that you are alive is a wonderful thing to practice, because so many people live and yet they are not aware that they are alive. To be alive, and to know that you are alive, is the greatest of all miracles.

When you sit, breathe in and become aware of the fact that you are still alive. There will someday be a moment when you are about to die, and no matter what you try you will not be able to stand up and sit and enjoy your breathing in and out, and enjoy your mindful walking anymore. And no matter what your friends try to do they will not be able to help you to stand up and make steps like you do during walking meditation. So during the time you sit, or you walk, become aware of the fact that you are alive. To be still alive, and breathing in and out and making steps on this planet is a wonderful thing, and that is already an enlightenment; that enlightenment brings a lot of joy and peace to you.

When you are mindful, you are fully present. When you are fully present, life is available to you. When you drink a glass of water mindfully, you are there, one-hundred percent of yourself. And since you are there one-hundred percent of yourself, the glass of water is also there one hundred percent of itself, and the encounter between you and the water is very deep. The fact that you drink the glass of water in mindfulness is a holy thing in itself. There are many ways of drinking your water, but there is only way that can make life possible, that can make yourself and the water holy, and that is to drink it mindfully, and you know that you can do it. Every time you lift up a glass of water and drink it, drink it in mindfulness, that is your practice.

And when you have your lunch, spend one hour or forty-five minutes eating in such a way that every moment of your lunch becomes a holy moment. You are totally yourself, you are totally present, so the lunch is present, and the community with whom you share the meal is also a holy community. During that time all of us are protected by the energy of mindfulness. We generate the energy of mindfulness that will protect us, that will make life deep, and anyone who comes and touches the Sangha in that moment, will touch holiness, and they will have a chance to go back to themselves, also generating the energy of mindfulness.

So remember what Mother Theresa said to the young man, when he asked her, “Are you a holy person?” and she smiled without complex and she said, “Yes, I am, and you are too.” Everyone can be a holy person when they are mindful, when they are truly present and living deeply every moment of their daily life.

The energy of mindfulness carries within itself the energy of concentration. This is easy to understand. When you look at something mindfully, when you drink some water mindfully, you are concentrated on what you see and what you drink, and therefore mindfulness is pregnant with concentration. And if you live concentrated in every minute of your daily life, then insight will come, because when you are concentrated you begin to see things more deeply. The true nature of reality will reveal itself to you, and when you can see things deeply like that, you will no longer make mistakes. You will no longer be a victim of ignorance.

Understanding things as they are, free from craving, you will become an instrument of the dharma for the world. Everyone you touch, everything you touch will become holy, just because there is the element of holiness within yourself.

Everything, everyone you touch can be healed, can be transformed. It is reported that anyone who was touched by Jesus Christ was healed of his or her illness. We can believe it, because in the person of Jesus Christ there was the energy of the Holy Spirit, and when you are motivated, when you are inhabited by the Holy Spirit, you have the power of being there, of looking deeply, of forgiving, of being compassionate, and all these elements have the power of healing.

Everyone of us is like that also. If we allow the energy of mindfulness to be born in us, if we know how to live each moment of our daily life mindfully, then the elements of concentration, insight, liberation, compassion will be in us, and everyone we touch will be healed, everything we touch will recover its beauty and sanity. So our practice is crucial, and the Buddha has instructed us on how to practice mindfulness, concentration and insight..”

Excerpt from “The Blooming of the Lotus: the Nature of No-birth and No-death”
Dharma Talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh on May 3, 1998  in Plum Village, France.

Carrie Newcomer

Click button to listen to: “Holy as the Day Is Spent” from The Gathering of Spirits by Carrie Newcomer

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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

2 Responses to “Holy as the Day is Spent-Thich Nhat Hanh on the Holiness of Mindfulness”

  1. Thanks Steven! This is a good message that I will pass on to my friends/family!

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