No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering by Thich Nhat Hanh
Let’s be completely honest. We are living during a global pandemic, people are out of work, some people are dying from the virus, basically anything fun is canceled, there lots of fear out there, and it’s just a shitty time. Pre-shit show, my mind felt awesome. Sure there were some ups and downs but overall, it was good. During this shit show, my mind has spiraled a couple of times. Where are we going to all land after this is over? What is going to happen to our economy? What is going to happen with our jobs? What happens if I get sick?
Okay, I feel much better that I got that crap out of the way. Enter No Mud, No Lotus. I found this book by searching for a book about mindfulness. I knew I need to re-center myself and return my mental state back to my version of normal. I learned at the beginning of this book that the beautiful lotus plant grows in some of the stinkiest mud. If there is no stinky mud, there is no lotus. When Thich Nhat Hanh explained the metaphor about being shot by an arrow and the second arrow causing even more pain, it hit me. Things can be terrible, but how we respond will determine how hard that second arrow hurts.
RELEASING THE ARROW There is a Buddhist teaching found in the Sallatha Sutta, known as The Arrow. It says if an arrow hits you, you will feel pain in that part of your body where the arrow hit; and then if a second arrow comes and strikes exactly at the same spot, the pain will not be only double, it will become at least ten times more intense. The unwelcome things that sometimes happen in life—being rejected, losing a valuable object, failing a test, getting injured in an accident—are analogous to the first arrow. They cause some pain. The second arrow, fired by our own selves, is our reaction, our storyline, and our anxiety. All these things magnify the suffering. Many times, the ultimate disaster we’re ruminating upon hasn’t even happened. We may worry, for example, that we have cancer and that we’re going to die soon. We don’t know, and our fear of the unknown makes the pain grow even bigger. The second arrow may take the form of judgment (“how could I have been so stupid?”), fear (“what if the pain doesn’t go away?”), or anger (“I hate that I’m in pain. I don’t deserve this!”). We can quickly conjure up a hell realm of negativity in our minds that multiplies the stress of the actual event, by ten times or even more. Part of the art of suffering well is learning not to magnify our pain by getting carried away in fear, anger, and despair.No Mud, No Lotus by Thich Nhat Hanh
No Mud, No Lotus is full of beautiful nuggets of wisdom to help you re-frame your current situations. I would recommend this book to anyone looking to re-ground, re-frame, and rediscover your mindfulness practice. I am looking forward to reading more books by Thich Nhat Hanh in the future.
If you can recognize and accept your pain without running away from it, you will discover that although pain is there, joy can also be there at the same time.No Mud, No Lotus by Thich Nhat Hanh
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