Shambhala Sun | September 2014
Is Nothing Something?
THICH NHAT HANH answers children’s questions.
Children have a special place in the Plum Village tradition
of Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. There are special practices, vows, and
programs designed especially for children and teens, and Thich Nhat Hanh often
fashions the first part of his dharma talks with them in mind. He regularly
takes questions from children, and by and large adults can identify with what
they ask. Children may be smaller and younger and they may have a funny way
with words, but their questions reveal that they, like adults, are grappling with the human condition. What
follows are real questions from children and Thich Nhat Hanh’s insightful
answers from a new illustrated book, Is Nothing Something? “I always try
to give an answer that offers the best of myself,” Thich Nhat Hanh says. “I am much older than
the children who asked these questions, but when we sit and breathe together, it seems that we are the same.” —Andrea Miller
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is energy. This energy helps us enjoy what is
happening right now. Mindful energy can bring us a lot of joy. It helps us
suffer less and learn from our suffering. A good way to get some mindful energy
is to close your eyes and breathe easily. Just pay attention to your breath. If
you can enjoy your in-breath and out-breath, you are creating mindful energy.
Is nothing something?
Yes. Nothing is something. You have an idea in your head of
nothing. You have an idea in your head of something. Both are things that can create
either suffering or happiness.
Why do I sometimes feel lonely and that no one loves me?
Sometimes the people around you are distracted and may forget
to express their love. But if you feel like no one loves you, you can always
look outside at the natural world. Do you see a tree out there? That tree loves
you. It offers its beauty and freshness to you and gives you oxygen so you can
breathe. The Earth loves you, offering you fresh water and delicious fruit for
you to eat. The world expresses its love in many ways, not just with words.
How can I love someone who likes different things than me?
To love is to discover. If you keep on loving another
person, you will keep discovering wonderful things about that person. You can
enjoy the differences because it would be boring if everyone were the same. Even
if the other person has a quality that doesn’t seem lovable, you can practice
loving that person anyway, just as they
are, and not how you wish they were.