The Nature of Our Being
by Thich Nhat Hanh
When a cloud is about to become rain, she is not afraid.
She may even be excited.
Being a cloud floating in the blue sky is wonderful,
but being rain falling on the fields, the ocean, or the mountains
is also wonderful.
As she falls down as rain, the cloud will sing.
Looking deeply, we see that birth is just a notion
and death is a notion.
Nothing can be born from nothing.
When we touch the sheet of paper deeply,
when we touch the cloud deeply,
when we touch our grandmother deeply,
we touch the nature of no birth and no death,
and we are free from sorrow.
We already recognize them in many other forms.
This is the insight that helped the Buddha
become serene, peaceful, and fearless.
This teaching of the Buddha can help us touch deeply
the nature of our being, the ground of our being,
so that we can touch the world of no-birth and no-death.
This is the insight that liberates us from fear and sorrow.
Nirvana means extinction, above all the extinction of ideas -
the ideas of birth and death, existence and non-existence,
coming and going, self and other, one and many.
All these ideas cause us to suffer.
We are afraid of death because ignorance gives us
an illusory idea about what death is.
We are disturbed by ideas of existence and nonexistence
because we have not understood the true nature
of impermanence and non-self.
We worry about our own future, but we fail to worry about
the future of the other because we think that our happiness
has nothing to do with the happiness of the other.
This idea of self and other gives rise to immeasurable suffering.
In order to extinguish these ideas, we have to practice.
Nirvana is a fan that helps us extinguish the fire of all our ideas,
including ideas of permanence and self.
That fan is our practice of looking deeply every day.
This excerpt is taken from : The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching by Thich Nhat Hahn