MS: What do you think the effect would be on our society if a larger percentage of people would actually take time for meditation and/or relaxation?
TNH: It’s plain to see that there’s too much violence, poverty and suffering all around us; but we think we’re too small and powerless to make any difference in these things. Maybe there’s suffering right here in our own family; maybe a family member is in so much pain that one day he or she will end up in a desperate situation of drug addiction or violent crime. We tell ourselves we don’t know how to help that person, and we have our own busy lives to lead.
What is it we’re so busy with, exactly? For many of us, it’s working to pay for the fancy diploma, the new car, the bigger house, the exotic vacation. When we take time for relaxation and meditation, and turn off the constant drumbeat of advertising we’ve been inviting into our home, we find we actually need very little to be happy. We already have so many conditions for happiness that cost us nothing at all. Just take our eyes, for example. Our eyes are miraculous; they are like a pair of jewels. We only need to open them to see the blue sky, fluffy white clouds, beautiful flowers, the faces of our loved ones. Or our ears: anytime we like, we can take in the sounds of inspiring music, of bird songs, of a burbling stream, of the wind whistling through pine trees. These are wonders of life, accessible to us at any moment through our eyes and ears. Our body’s still healthy, our legs are healthy, and these are wonders in our very own body.
Can we find fulfillment in these costless joys and live more simply, so we have time to listen deeply to those close to us or write a letter to our Senator? When we wake up, when we become more aware of what’s going on, and see what we really need to do (and not do), this easily can bring major changes to our personal lives and also to our entire society. In fact, I don’t know what else can.
» Exclusive Interview With Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, at Huffington Post.