Excerpt from Going Home by Thich Nhat Hanh, plus links to reviews, author biography & more

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Going Home

Jesus and Buddha as Brothers

by Thich Nhat Hanh

Going Home
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  • First Published:
    Sep 1999, 240 pages
    Oct 2000, 224 pages

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But the living Christ is not only a notion, or an idea. He must be a reality. This is true for the living Buddha, too. How can you recognize the presence of the living Christ or the living Buddha? This is your practice. Maybe when you hear the sound of the bell, you are able to recognize him, to touch your true home. Maybe because you know how to walk mindfully, with concentration, you recognize your home.

What is the home of a wave? The home of the wave is all the other waves, and the home of the wave is water. If the wave is capable of touching himself and the other waves very deeply, he will realize that he is made of water. Being aware that he is water, he transcends all discrimination, sorrows, and fears. Your home is available in the here and the now. Your home is Jesus or God. Your home is Buddha, or Buddhahood.

A Person? Or More than a Person
Last week we spoke of nirvana as the reality of no birth and no death.

Nirvana is our true substance just as water is the true substance of the wave. We practice to realize that nirvana is our substance. Once we realize this, we transcend the fear of birth and death, of being and non-being. God is an equivalent expression. God is the foundation of being, or as many theologians, like Paul Tillich, say, "God is the ground of being."

Last week we said that the notion of being and non-being cannot be applied to God or to nirvana. The notion of beginning and end cannot be applied to the absolute either. That is why both the notion of person and of non-person cannot be applied to God nor can it be applied to nirvana. So if we spend time quarreling with each other as to whether God is a person or a non-person, we waste our time. That is discouraged in the Buddhist practice and that is why Paul Tillich was so skillful when he said, "God is not a person, but not less than a person." It was a wonderful way to advise people not to spend too much time speculating.

We are people, but we are also more than just people. Are you only a person? Or at the same time are you also a tree and a rock? You only need to look deeply to discover that you are a person and at the same time you are a rock and a tree. In the Buddhist circle, people believe that in former lives they were human beings, animals, plants, and minerals. This is scientifically true. If we look deeply into the evolution of our species, we see that in former times we have been a rock, a tree, and an animal. Humans are very young creatures. We have evolved over many years to become what we are today. It is scientifically proven that we have been a rock, a cloud, a tree, a rabbit, a deer, a rose, and a single-cell being.

If you continue to look deeply, you will see that in the present moment, you continue to be a rose, a rabbit, a tree, and a rock. This is the truth of interbeing. You are made of non-you elements. You can touch the cloud within you. You can touch the sunshine within you. You can touch the trees and the earth within you. You know that if these elements were not in you, you could not be here at this very moment. Not only in former lives were you a tree, but sitting here, right now, you are a tree. That is why I say that the trees are your home. Recognize your home, your home sweet home.

Cultivating Our Home,Cultivating the Holy
In East Asia, we speak of the human body as a mini-cosmos. The cosmos is our home, and we can touch it by being aware of our body. Meditation is to be still: to sit still, to stand still, and to walk with stillness. Meditation means to look deeply, to touch deeply so we can realize we are already home. Our home is available right here and now.

Jesus Christ practiced meditation. When John baptized Jesus, he made it possible for the Holy Spirit to be born, or manifested, in Jesus the human being. Then Jesus went to the mountain to spend forty days in retreat. He practiced meditation and strengthened that Spirit in order to bring about a total transformation. Although it's not recorded in what position he practiced, I am sure he did sitting and walking meditation, and that he practiced looking deeply, touching deeply, and nourishing the energy of the Holy Spirit in him. Maybe he sat under a Bodhi tree like the Buddha.

Reprinted from Going Home by Thich Nhat Hanh by permission of Riverhead Books, a member of Penguin Putnam Inc. Copyright © 1999 by Thich Nhat Hanh. All rights reserved. This excerpt, or any parts thereof, may not be reproduced in any form without permission.

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