This past Saturday, Zen Buddhist Master, spiritual leader, and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh passed away peacefully at Tu Hieu Temple in Vietnam at the age of 95. He was the embodiment of peace, love, gratitude, presence, and hope, and he is everywhere now. Here are three lessons of his that I will forever hold onto:
1. “Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.”
This beautiful quote of his poetically describes embodying gratitude. With every step, be grateful you’re here. With every step, thank the earth for the home it gives you every day. It makes me think of the time when I was anxious, sat against a tree, and asked it to share its healing energy with me. I then felt the most beautiful wave of calm envelop me. Often when I connect in with Mr. Big, the horse I worked with in Costa Rica, he shows me his hooves in the grass and I realize, oh yeah, I’ve been worrying about this or that...It’s time to get grounded and remember I’m taken care of by the earth and my guides and angels. Thich Nhat Hanh often talked about the ripple effect. Walk with love, gratitude and grounding, and it will have effect on everything around you.
2. “Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.”
After I started studying Reiki and intuitive animal communication, it felt like I woke up and started seeing the magic everywhere. It’s so easy to get distracted and live in the past or future. The only way to practice Reiki and intuitive work is to be present…and that’s when I started to see the miracles that happen every day.
One day I was sitting on my bed with my cat Nell, scratching her under her chin. Then I heard my phone buzz and I picked it up to read a text. Nell then put her paw under my chin and gave it a few rubs, bringing me right back to the present (and her and her loving, zen energy). You don’t have to do energy work to be present and see miracles every day. If we just remember that the blue sky, white clouds, green leaves are miracles, if we spend a moment with an animal, we’ll start to see more. We’ll naturally attract them in.
3. “I am a continuation, like the rain is a continuation of the cloud.”
Five years ago, I saw a screening of the film Walk with Me, a documentary about Thich Nhat Hanh. In one scene, a little girl says to the master, “I have a doggie. This doggie died. So I don’t know how to be not so sad.” He then describes to her how you can see a beautiful cloud in the sky, but then it rains, and you realize the cloud has become the rain. Then you see a cloud reflected in your tea, and you realize that cloud can turn up anywhere, that it’s always with you.
A few years ago in my morning meditation, I remembered how so many people, from friends to vets, would remark at how my cat Willow’s eyes perfectly matched her fur. Her eyes were a tan/gold/fawn color. Her fur was a beautiful multicolored blend with accents of that same hue.
A few hours after my meditation that day, I got into the elevator, and a man and his dog were there. The dog immediately moved toward me and as I petted her head, I noticed her eyes perfectly matched her rich caramel fur. I heard myself say to the man, “I love how the color of her eyes perfectly matches her fur!” The man replied, “Oh yeah, they do match! She doesn’t usually let anyone pet her—she usually stays to herself.”
It was then the Willow connection hit me. That dog was my tea with the cloud in it. Willow is still with me, talking to me, and sending me love. When I returned to the building later that day, I got into the elevator with the same dog and man as earlier. And I knew Willow was never not with me.
I know Thich Nhat Hanh’s wisdom is everywhere. It’s in the earth, the animals, the sky, in our friends and loved ones, and the people we encounter every day. Wisdom is everywhere, everything is a miracle, magic is real—from Buddhist temples in Vietnam, to the neighborhoods we live in, to our very own hearts. 💜