Yesterday I wrote a bit about Oprah’s upcoming Sunday interview w/Thích Nhất Hạnh. In the excerpt, she asks him if he has regrets — if the Nobel-nominated, quiet Buddhist monk ever contemplates a path that might have held a wife, children. And the answer reassured me:
Yes, he answered. Walking once, he saw a beautiful young woman, w/ a lovely child, and thought for a moment — if I were not a monk, I might have had a wife and child like that.
I found this simple admission profoundly comforting. Here’s Thích Nhất Hạnh — Nobel Prize nominee, major influence on so many lives, resister of a horrific war… And he sometimes has 2nd thoughts. The difference, of course, is that (as he told Oprah), “I don’t get lost in that kind of deviation …. I recognize it and I overcome it very quickly.” In other words? He doesn’t dwell on things. Just goes on w/ his life, knowing that “the intention is so strong that it can protect and keep you alive.”
Hmmm… It doesn’t work quite the same for this far more flawed vessel. But at least I realise — once again — how hard this work we set for ourselves is. If Thích Nhất Hạnh has questioned the choices he made — even if only once, in a park in France, then it’s hard. And like meditation teaches us, it’s not putting thoughts ‘out’ of our heads and hearts. It’s the coming back to this point, this practice. It’s the stepping back from those other, possible lives (air castles, fictions, distracting thoughts of nevermore…) that constitutes the practice.
So thank you yet again, inimitable monk. Thank you for reminding me that to be human is to have to return, over & over & over, to the business at hand ~