“Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha” is one of the best books on Buddhism where Thich Nhat Hanh a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, has sourced from 24 Pali, Sanskrit, and Chinese to tell the story of Buddha. In very simple style, Hanh has walked the footsteps of Buddha from his childhood to his Nirvana. If you have to read only one, book on Buddhism, this one should be sufficient to completely satisfy all your curiosity. Its one of the amazing books, I have had read many times in last decades after one of my good friend gifted it to me.
Thích Nhất Hạnh (born October 11, 1926) is a Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist now based in
. Nhat Hanh has become an important influence in the development of Western Buddhism. His teachings and practices aim to appeal to people from various religious, spiritual, and political backgrounds, intending to offer mindfulness practices for more Western sensibilities. He was awarded the Courage of Conscience award in 1991. France
To read more about Hanh, please click here
Author Images: Wikipedia
Book Image Curtsey: monasticdialog.com
Below are some of the book’s quotes, some times the words of Buddha and some times the philosophy of Buddha, that has touched me deeply for your to read.
From the Book:
Everything in the universe is created by our own mind. Our mind is the source of all phenomena, Form, sound, smell, taste and tactile perception such as hot and cold, hard and soft – these are creations of our mind.
Our consciousness is like an artist, painting every phenomenon into being.
The realm of no materiality is the state in which we see that no phenomenon exists outside of out own mind.
You can not make fire with soft, wet wood. The body is the same. If physical desires are not mastered, it’s difficult for the heart to attain enlightenment. I will practice self mortification in order to attain liberation.
He (Siddhartha) realised that body and mind formed one reality which could not be separated. The peace and comfort of body were directly related to the peace and comfort of the mind.
In reality, all things were without a separate self. Non-self or anatman was the nature of all existence.
One included all and all were contained in one.
Seeing the interdependent nature of all phenomena, Siddhartha saw the empty nature of all phenomena – that all things are empty of a separate, isolated self. He realised that the key to liberation lay in these two principles of interdependence and non-self.
He saw that the birth and deaths were but outward appearances and not true reality, just as millions of waves rise and fall incessantly on the surface of the sea, which the sea itself is beyond birth and death.
Understanding and love are one. Without understanding there can not be love. In order to attain clear understating , it is necessary to live mindfully, making direct contact with life in the present moment, seeing what is taking place with and outside of oneself. Practicing mindfulness strengthens the ability to look deeply and when we look deeply in the heart of anything, it will reveal itself. This is the secret of mindfulness – it leads to the realization of liberation and enlightenment.
Life is illuminated by
- Right understanding
- Right thought
- Right speech
- Right action
- Right livelihood
- Right effort
- Right mindfulness
- Right Concentration
Siddhartha called the Noble path: Aryamarga
There are two extremes that a person on the path should avoid. One is to plunge oneself into sensual pleasures, and the other is to practice austerities which deprive the body if its needs.
There are four truths: the existence of suffering, the cause of suffering, the cessation of suffering and the path which leads to the cessation of suffering. I call these Four Noble Truths
The five aggregates – Body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness, should be looked as five constantly flowing rivers which contained nothing that could be called separate or permanent. By meditating on the five aggregates within themselves, they can see the intimate and wondrous connection between themselves and all in the universe.
If you live simply and wholesomely, not ruled by desires, it is possible to experience the many wonders of life
… But suffering is not the true nature of the universe. Suffering is the result of the way we live and of our erroneous understanding of life.
Life can be found only in the present moment, but our minds rarely well in the present moment. Instead we chase after the past or long for the future. We think we are being ourselves, but in fact we almost never are in real contact with ourselves. Our minds are doo busy chasing after yesterday’s memories or tomorrow’s dreams. The only way to be in touch with life is to return to the present moment. Once you know how to return to the present moment, you will become awakened, and that that moment, you find your true self.
You can not reach lofty heights in art if you do not first discover the unsurpassable beauty in your own heart. If you would like to play the flute truly well, you must find your true self on the path of Awakening.
For a long time, humans have been trapped by the concept of atman, the concept of a separate and eternal self. We have believed that when our body dies, the self continues to exist and seeks union with its source, which is Brahma. But friend Kassapa, that is a fundamental misunderstanding which has caused countless generations to go astray.
You should know, Friend Kassapa, that all things exist because of interdep3ndence and all things cease to be because of interdependence. This is because that is. This is not because that is not. This is born because that is born. This dies because that dies. This is the wonderful law of dependent co-arising which I have discovered in my meditation.
There is no self, whether a higher or a lower self. Kassapa, have you ever meditated on your body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations and consciousness? A [person is made up of these five aggregates. They are continuously changing rivers I which one can not find even on permanent element.
If there is no self, no atman, why should one practice a spiritual path in order to attain liberation? Who will be liberated?
Once a person is caught by belief in a doctrine, he loses all his freedom.
Attachment to views is the greatest impediment to the spiritual path.
My teaching is not a philosophy. It’s the result of direct experience. The things I say come from my own experience. You can confirm them all by your own experience.
My goal is not explain the universe, but to help guide others to have a direct experience of reality. Words can not describe reality. Only direct experience enables us to see the true face of reality.
I must state clearly that my teaching is a method to experience reality and not reality itself, just as a finger pointing to the moon is not the moon itself.
My teaching is a means of practice, not something to hold on or worship
Almost all painful feelings have their source in an incorrect way of looking at reality. When you uproot erroneous views, suffering ceases. Erroneous views cause people to consider the impermanent to be permanent. Ignorance is source of all suffering.
On must look deeply into things in order to penetrate their true nature. One can not overcome ignorance through prayers and offering.
Beauty arises and passes away like al other phenomena. Fame and fortune are no different. Only the peace, joy and freedom that are the fruits of meditation bring true happiness.
The true nature of all dharma’s transcends beauty and ugliness. Beauty and ugliness are only concepts created by our minds. They are inseparably entwined with the structure of the five aggregates.
When a liberated person looks at beauty, he can see that it is composed of many non-beautiful elements. Such a person understands the impermanent ad empty nature of all things, including beauty and ugliness. Thus he is neither mesmerized by beauty nor repulsed by ugliness
Compassion is the ability to love unconditionally, demanding nothing in return. A liberated heart is unbound by conditions. A compassionate and liberated heart is true beauty.
Father, begging is a spiritual practice which helps a Bhikshu develop humility and see that all persons are equal.
Begging does not demean my own dignity. It recognizes the inherent dignity of all persons.
Because we imprison ourselves in our suffering, we loose the ability to experience the wonders of life.
In love there is suffering.
Life has a great need of the presence of love, but not the sort of love that is based on lust, passion, attachment, discrimination and prejudice. Majesty there is another kind of love, sorely needed, which consist of loving kindness and compassion, or maître and karuna.
Love that is based on discrimination, breeds prejudice
In maître and karuna, there is no discrimination, no ‘mine’ or ‘not mine’. And because there is no discrimination, there is no attachment
We should look at the nature of our love. Our love should bring peace and happiness to the ones we love. If our love is based on a selfish desire to possess others, we will not be able to bring them peace and happiness. On the contrary our love will make them feel trapped. Such a love is no more than a prison. If the persons we love are unable to be happy because of our love, they will find a way to free themselves. They will not accept the prison of or love. Gradually the love between us will turn to anger and hatred.
Majesty! According to the way of Enlightenment, love cannot exist without understanding. Love is Understanding. If you can not understand, you can not love.
If you only want your loved ones to follow your own ideas and you remain ignorant of their needs, it’s not truly love. It is only a desire to possess another and attempt to fulfill your own needs, which can not be fulfilled in that way.
Love based on compassion can provide the energy needed to respond to the sufferings of others. Loves based on attachment and desire only creates anxiety and more suffering.
Happiness that libration brings is true, unconditional happiness. It can never be destroyed. Aspire to that happiness.
Practice observing the breath and mediate on th body, feelings. Mind and objects of mind. Practicing like that, each day you will experience a deepening of humility, ease, detachment, peace and joy.
Without faith, understanding and love, life would be nothing but suffering.
Loving kindness has the capacity to bring happiness to others without demanding anything in return.
Non attachment is the way of looking at all things openly and equally. This is because that is. That is because this is. Myself and other are not separate. Do not reject one thing to chase after another.
Rahula, loving kindness, compassion, sympathetic joy and non attachment (Four Immeasurable) are beautiful and profound states of mind.
With one breath you can attain awakening. That awakening is the Buddha nature that exists in all beings.
With concentration, you will be able to look deeply7 into the nature f your body, feelings, mind and the objects of mind which are called Sarva Dharma.
Friends’, being lost in thoughts is one of the things that prevents us from making true contact with life. If you are ruled by worry, frustration, anxiety, Anger or jealousy, you will lose the chance to make real contact with all the wonders of life.
A heart burdened by confusion and weariness can be purified by the waters of enlightenment.
Breathing with awareness enables us to return to ourselves and to life.
Enduring sufferings in love and awareness can erase the bitter hatred of thousand life-times
A finger pointing to the moon is not the moon. The finger is needed to know where to look for the moon, but if you mistake the finger for the moon itself, you will never know the real moon.
If you catch a breeze and trap it in prison of love, the breeze will soon die and no one will benefit from its coolness, including yourself. Love Ananda as you would a refreshing breeze. Prakriti, if you could love like that, you could become a cool and refreshing breeze yourself. You would relieve your own pain and burden and those of many others as well.
The immediately-preceding-moment as cause is an uninterrupted process and serves as an underlying cause. Without this continual process, the rice plant’s growth would be interrupted before reaching fruition
The Lord has said that things do not need a creator that they arise from one another.
People are easily caught by the four traps. The first is attachment to sensual desires. The second is attachment to narrow views. The third is doubt and suspicion. The fourth is false view of self. The Way of Enlightenment helps people overcome these four great traps.
We must not become discouraged every time we meet with difficulty. Solutions should be sought in the very midst of hardship.
Bhikshu’s, ignorance is the second and third arrow to strike at the same spot of suffering and pain. It intensifies the pain.
Birth and death are only concepts created out of ignorance. To transcend the thoughts of birth and death and beginning-and-end is to transcend the endless round.
World is the collective whole of all things which posses the nature of change and dissolution.
We can not say that emptiness is something which exists independently. Fullness is also the same. Full is always full of something, such as full of market, buffaloes, villages or Bhikshu. Fullness is not something which exists independently.
The emptiness and fullness depends on the presence of the bowl, Ananda.
Bhikshu’s look deeply at this bowl and you can se the entire universe. This bowl contains the entire universe. This is only one thing this bowl is empty of and that is separate individual self.
Emptiness means empty of self.
Ananda, being and nonbeing are concepts which do not accord with reality. Reality transcends the boundaries of such concepts. An enlightened person is one who has transcended the concepts of being and non-being.
To die means to pass from existence to non-existence. Is there any dharma in all the universe, which can pass from existence to non-existence. A leaf, a mote of dust, a trail of incense smoke – none of which can pass from existence to non-existence.
Waves rise and fall but the water remains. Without the water there can be no waves.
The three Dharma Seals / Three gates of emancipation:
First gate is Emptiness:
Emptiness does not mean non-existence. It means that nothing exists independently. Emptiness means empty of separate self.
Second is sign-less-ness:
Signlessness means to transcend the confines of perception and mental discrimination
Third is Aimlessness:
Aimlessness means not chasing after anything
Nothing in the universe exists independently of your own consciousness, not even nirvana or liberation.
Happiness is not the result of gratifying sense desires. Sense pleasures give the illusion of happiness, but in fact they are source of suffering.
Sense pleasures are like a pit of fire. They bring happiness only to those who are ill. A healthy person shuns the flames of sense desires.
The source of true happiness is living in ease and freedom, fully experiencing the wonders of life. Happiness is being aware of what is going on in the present moment, free from both clinging and aversion.
ॐ नमः शिवाय