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  • Thomas Bien

Slow Down

In the foyer of my house hangs some calligraphy by Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh. I got it on retreat with him years ago, and though at the time other works I thought more profound had already been claimed, and I felt I was settling for this piece, over the years I have come to think this one may have been the best one after all. It reads simply, “Don’t hurry enjoy the present moment.”

The English word haste is related to the word hate. When we are in a hurry, there is a kind of violence in how we are treating our world and ourselves. We are focused on our goal, and everything and everyone not involved with that goal becomes only an obstacle. We aren’t truly alive in those moments, but are just waiting to live when we get where we want to go or finish what we want to complete.

We talk about stopping to smell the flowers so frequently that it has become cliché, but we could add: stopping to view a beautiful cloud, to take in the moon on an autumn night, to enjoy the innocent, shining eyes of a young child, to really be present to a cup of coffee.

This is a very important practice.

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