Words of WonderThe Good News – Thich Nhat Hanh

The good news
they do not print.
The good news
we do print.
We have a special edition every moment,
and we need you to read it.
The good news is that you are alive,
that the linden tree is still there,
standing firm in the harsh winter.
The good news is that you have wonderful eyes
to touch the blue sky.
The good news is that your child is there before you,
and your arms are available:
hugging is possible.
They only print what is wrong.
Look at each of our special editions.
We always offer the things that are not wrong.
We want you to benefit from them
and help protect them.
The dandelion is there by the sidewalk,
smiling its wondrous smile,
singing the song of eternity.
Listen. You have ears that can hear it.
Bow your head.
Listen to it.
Leave behind the world of sorrow,
of preoccupation,
and get free.
The latest good news
is that you can do it.

by Thich Nhat Hanh


I often find it hard to be balanced in how I meet ‘the news’ that reaches me through paper and screen, which speaks of outrage and atrocities, of heartbreaking injustice and future doom. What do I let in? And what do I do with this information? What is true, and what is also true?

Thich Nhat Hanh’s poem about the good news made me smile. I liked the image of the dandelion ‘smiling its wondrous smile, singing the song of eternity’, and as a mother, I appreciate the reminder that ‘hugging is possible’. I guess you can expect the promise of possible freedom from the world of sorrow from this renowned Zen master, who is possibly the greatest examples of mindfulness I have ever come across.

But what I really love, is that this invitation to focus on the good news  comes from a life-long peace activist, a Nobel Prize nominee, a Vietnamese man who knows first hand what humans can do to each other – and also the man who brought the words ‘Engaged Buddhism’ into being. A man who chose to stay with his contemplative life, meditating in a monastery, but at the same time started a movement to help those around them suffering under the bombings and turmoil of war. He is renowned for his teachings on non-violence and compassionate action, and rather than wishing away all suffering he emphasises that without mud, we can have no lotus.

The other thing I love about Thich Nhat Hanh, is how his love for our planet inspires his direct action for her (and our!) well-being. His book ‘Love Letter to the Earth‘ is a beautiful example of his inspiring reminders to deeply connect with the earth’s beauty and preciousness, and take concrete steps to protect her.

The Mindfulness for Life course ‘Engaged Mindfulness‘ that Fay Adams and I teach, was partly inspired by Thich Nhat Hanh and his living example of acting with compassion in difficult situations, and taking this the heart of our practice. But in order to be able to ‘honour our pain for the world’ as we do in that weekend course, we have to be deeply grounded in gratitude first. In other words, we need to stay connected with the ‘special editions’ of the good news all around us. And how wonderful that we can do that!

Photo by Rebekah Vos on Unsplash


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