"We already have so many conditions for happiness that cost us nothing at all. Just take our eyes, for example. Our eyes are miraculous; they are like a pair of jewels. We only need to open them to see the blue sky, fluffy white clouds, beautiful flowers, the faces of our loved ones. Or our ears: anytime we like, we can take in the sounds of inspiring music, of bird songs, of a burbling stream, of the wind whistling through pine trees. These are wonders of life, accessible to us at any moment through our eyes and ears. Our body's still healthy, our legs are healthy, and these are wonders in our very own body.
When people's bodies and minds are relaxed, they are much less likely to speak or act in violent ways. We also can access many insights and a wellspring of energy we haven't had since childhood.
How can we balance being engaged with the world while nurturing our inner life?
We must be willing to challenge the assumption that time spent in relaxation and meditation takes away from our realizing other goals, such as a successful career or successful relationships. My own experience and that of my students has been that, as paradoxical as it may seem, when we take time for meditation we actually gain in the other areas of our lives.
Relationships are like a forest: it takes a long time to build up precious trust, but one really thoughtless act or remark can be like a lighted match that destroys everything. Those of us who practice have seen very clearly that meditation and relaxation are the most effective ways of promoting creative, innovative thinking, intelligent choices, success and satisfaction in all areas of our lives."
For more information on Thich Nhat Hanh, visit www.plumvillage.org.