Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk who has written many books and is included in our Living Spiritual Teachers Project. This edifying book is based on a retreat that he led for Westerners on the essence of Buddhist thought and practice. In his preface, Melvin McLeod, editor in chief of The Shambhala Sun, writes:
"Thich Nhat Hanh shows us how the path of mindfulness and insight can wake us from the corpse-like stare of self-absorption, heal our emotional wounds and improve our relationship with others, connect us with love and wonder to this beautiful universe in which we live, and, finally, help us escape the bonds of birth and death altogether."
For Thich Nhat Hahn, Buddhist practice is based on nonviolence and nondualism. We can love our bodies, our emotions, and our minds even though they may cause us trouble. "In Buddhist meditation, you do not turn yourself into a battlefield, with good fighting against evil. Both sides belong to you, the good and the evil. Evil can be transformed into good, and vice versa. They are completely organic things." He uses the illustration that if you look deeply at the flower you will see that there is compost in it, made of garbage. Both the beauty and the debris are there in a unity. Everything can be transformed from one thing to another.
We like the way this Buddhist teacher counsels us to treat our bodies with tenderness by sending them energy and appreciation such as "My heart, I know you are there for me, and I want to be there for you, too." The same can be said for other body parts as well. Being present in the here and now is crucial and there are many practices which help us achieve this state, including meditation, walking mediation, gathas, stopping and deep looking, and working with a sangha. And just because the emphasis is on the present doesn't mean that we cannot deal with the past or the future. We can correct the past and vow to take fresh steps into tomorrow by "beginning anew."
You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment also contains helpful and wise teachings on cultivating true love, the art of letting go, the practice of shining light, weathering emotional storms, understanding the three dharma seals (impermanence, non-self, and Nirvana), and becoming truly alive. Thich Nhat Hanh, as always, gives us plenty of practices to use in daily life.