Journal Article — The Environment is You: A Talk by Thich Nhat Hanh, Denver, Colorado, August 29, 2007 — by Thich Nhat Hanh

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Abstract

When we produce a thought that is full of anger, fear, or despair, that thought has an immediate effect on our health and on the health of the world. We may like to arrange our life in such a way that we will not produce thoughts of that kind very often. Producing a thought is already karma or action, and that is our continuation into the future. Our speech may be an expression of right speech as recommended by the Buddha. Something we say may manifest our loving-kindness, our nondiscrimination, and our willingness to bring relief. After having uttered such a word we feel better in our body and mind. We receive healing and everyone in the world benefits from our speech of loving-kindness, forgiveness, and compassion. Cognitive science and neuroscience ask about the relationship between the “in here” and the “out there.” We perceive reality subjectively and we ask the question whether the external reality is exactly the same as the subjective reality. If you pursue meditation deeply you will be able to transcend the duality of in here and out there. There are two kinds of environment: the social environment and the natural environment. In Buddhist practice you should take care of your five skandhas but you should also take care of your environment because the environment is you. You help create that environment, whether that is social environment or the natural environment. When you see things like that you are no longer sure that you are only inside of your skin, and you can transcend very easily the duality of self and non-self.

Recommended Citation

Hanh، Thich Nhat. 2008. “The Environment is You: A Talk by Thich Nhat Hanh, Denver, Colorado, August 29, 2007.” Pp. 15-20 in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Sociological Imagination: Essays and Commentaries on Engaged Buddhism (Human Architecture: Journal of the Sociology of Self-Knowledge: Volume VI, Issue 3, 2008.) Belmont, MA: Okcir Press (an imprint of Ahead Publishing House).

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