“When I was a sixteen-year-old novice monk, my teacher taught me to open the door and close the door with one hundred percent of myself. One day, my teacher asked me to get something for him. Because I loved him very much, I was eager to do it, so I rushed to do this task and closed the door quickly.
My teacher called me back: “Novice, come back here.” I went back to him. I joined my palms and looked at him. He said, “Novice, this time go out mindfully and close the door behind you mindfully.” That was the first lesson he gave me on the practice of mindfulness. At that moment, I began to walk mindfully and became aware of every step I took. I touched the doorknob mindfully. I opened the door mindfully. I went out and closed the door behind me mindfully. My teacher didn’t have to teach me a second time how to close the door.
When you hold the hand of a child, invest one hundred percent of yourself in the act of holding her hand. When you hug your partner, do the same. Forget everything else. Be totally present, totally alive in the act of hugging. This is the opposite of the way we’ve been trained to lead our lives and run our businesses. We’ve been taught to do many things at once. We answer an e-mail while we talk on the phone; while in a meeting for one project, we work on our notes for another project. Every new technology promises to help us do more things at once. Now we can send an e-mail while listening to music, talking on the phone, and taking a picture, all with the same device. With your energy dispersed, where is your power?
Instead of always multitasking, we must teach ourselves to unitask. Mindfulness needs some training. We may be very intelligent. We may understand this right away. But that doesn’t mean we can do it. To do it, we have to practice and train ourselves.
Mindfulness is the capacity to be present with one hundred percent of ourselves. The energy of mindfulness enables us to recognize the presence of what is. What is there is yourself, what is there is your loved ones. If you aren`t capable of being in the here and now, you won`t be able to recognize yourself, your happiness, or your suffering. Without mindfulness, we can`t help ourselves or our loved ones or succeed in our workplace. Without mindfulness, any power we have will be fleeting and ultimately unsatisfying.”
– Thay (from The Art of Power)
On the 1st of April 2010, Thay made a present for each of his monastic and lay students in Plum Village. During the Dharma Talk Thay came to each person to hand him/ her a card with the graphic you can see above. Thay asked us to put this card in our pocket to remind us to be ourselves, to be at our best, to give hundred percent in everything we do in our daily lives. Maybe you feel inspired to do the same? Good luck! 🙂