Thich Nhat Hanh, author of the national bestsellers Anger and Living Buddha, Living Christ has written more than 101 books of poetry, fiction, and philosophy. Since age 16, he has been a Buddhist monk, a peace activist, and a seeker of the way. In this masterwork, he presents his understanding of death along with profound ancilliary teachings on freedom, looking deeply, transforming grief, practicing resurrection, touching the Earth, and accompanying the dying.
With the simplicity and clarity that are hallmarks of his writing, the author reveals that freedom is one of the most important benefits of mindfulness training. We come to see that we can be liberated from our notions of birth and death, coming and going, permanent selves and annihilation. We do not pass away, Thich Nhat Hanh observes, we only change our manifestation: "When conditions are not right to support life, they withdraw."
For instance, the author’s idea of having lost his mother was revealed to be a source of great pain and suffering until he realized she lives on inside him. Each of us can look deeply and recognize our loved ones manifesting again in many forms. All of our ancestors and great saints and spiritual seekers are alive in us. At one point, Thich Nhat Hanh states that Jesus Christ is manifesting himself in countless ways. Then he adds: "The practice of resurrection should be taken up by each of us . . . This is the true practice of being alive."
The ways in which we work, play, and relate to others and the world are all occasions for resurrection or rebirth. Our practice should be to incarnate love, peace, kindness, compassion, and justice. Thich Nhat Hanh offers a wonderful image for this involvement: "You are just like a firework going off in every moment. The firework diffuses its beauty around itself. With your thoughts, words and actions you can diffuse your beauty. That beauty and goodness goes into your friends, your children and grandchildren and into the world. It is not lost and you go into the future in that way."
So there is no birth and no death, only constant change and impermanence. In the midst of all this ferment, we can touch the Earth with love and realize we are presently in nirvana or the kingdom of God. By living fully in the present moment, we can experience happiness and be freed from suffering and fear. Another spin-off of this practice is feeling a unity with all people, creatures, and things once the boundary between self and other has been removed.
Thich Nhat Hanh has rendered us an invaluable service by opening our hearts and minds to the wonderful becoming that is our joy and our destiny.