One day the Buddha held up a flower in front of an audience of 1,250 monks and nuns. He did not say anything for quite a long time. The audience was perfectly silent. Everyone seemed to be thinking hard, trying to see the meaning behind the Buddha’s gesture. Then, suddenly, the Buddha smiled. He smiled because someone in the audience smiled at him and at the flower…To me the meaning is quite simple. When someone holds up a flower and shows it to you, he wants you to see it. If you keep thinking, you miss the flower. The person who was not thinking, who was just himself, was able to encounter the flower in depth, and he smiled.
That is the problem of life. If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.
– Thich Nhat Hanh, excerpt from Peace Is Every Step
Thích Nhất Hạnh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, a poet, a scholar, and a peace activist. His life long efforts to generate peace and reconciliation moved Martin Luther King, Jr. to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. He founded the Van Hanh Buddhist University in Saigon and the School for Youths of Social Services in Vietnam. When not travelling the world to teach “The Art of Mindful Living”, he teaches, writes, and gardens in Plum Village, France, a Buddhist monastery for monks and nuns and a mindfulness practice center for lay people.
Image: Faces of Buddha by Virginia Peck