Troy’s Book Club: Anger by Thich Nhat Hanh

December 30, 2010

A number of years ago, I read a few pages out of a book called “The Miracle of Mindfulness” by Thich Nhat Hanh.  I had never heard of “mindfulness” before, but knew from those few pages that this practice of trying to be in the moment was something I could utilize.  Honestly, I have never read the entire book since then.  I’ve picked it up a few times and read some pages, but have never completed the book. It sits by my bed, and I swear, it’s next on my list.  Right now though,  I’m reading another book by Hanh called “Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames.”

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Thich Nhat Hanh, for those who don’t know, is a very well-respected Buddhist monk.  He lives in France, but is from Vietnam. If you want to learn more, search for him.  There’s LOTS of info out there. Here is a good starting point: Thich Nhat Hanh Anyway, it’s through Hanh that I first learned about mindfulness and with this book, he explores how to deal with negative emotions through the use of meditation, breathing, walking, and mindfulness.

What follows are excerpts from this book, on pages that I dog-eared. I hope you can take the time to read them, and then, even more importantly, to think on them and try to apply some of these ideas in your life.

– – –

Two nights ago, I read about “The Five Remembrances” and they seemed very much like something worth sharing. Here they are, for your pleasure and contemplation. TLF

  • I am of the nature to grow old. I cannot escape old age.
  • I am of the nature to have ill health. I cannot escape ill health.
  • I am of the nature to die. I cannot escape dying.
  • All that is dear to me and everyone I love are of the nature to change. There is no way to escape being separated from them. I cannot keep anything.  I come here empty-handed, and I go empty-handed. (this reminds of the song lyrics “I came to this world with nothing, and I leave with nothing but love; everything else is just borrowed.” That is from the song “Everything Is Borrowed” by The Streets. TLF)
  • My actions are my only true belongings. (emphasis added) I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground on which I stand.

– – –

Re: politics

  • Your party exists in order to serve your country, not to create difficulties for another party or the party in power. So, as a politician, you have to practice non-duality. You have to see that compassion is above any political affiliation. This is not partisan politics, but intelligent politics. They are politics that are humane, that aim at the well-being and the transformation of society, not just at gaining power.

– – –

Re: Police and Compassion

  • To be kind does not mean to be passive. To be compassionate does not mean to allow others to walk all over you, to all yourself to be destroyed…If you need to lock someone up because he is dangerous, then you have to do that. But you have to do it with compassion. Your motivation is to prevent that person from continuing his course of destruction and from feeding his anger.
  • And if you practice mindful living, you have to help the policeman act out of compassion and non-fear. The police in our time are full of fear, anger, and stress, because they have been assaulted many times.  Those who hate the police and insult them don’t understand the police yet. In the morning, when the police put on their uniform and guns, they are not sure that they will return home alive in the evening. The police suffer very much. Their families suffer very much.
  • So, as a police chief, if you really understand the minds and hearts of the people on your police force, you will train yourself in such a way that compassion and understanding will be born in your heart.
  • You have to keep peace in yourself first. And peace here means non-fear, intelligence, and insight.
  • You have to act out of non-fear.

– – –

Re: the Sunshine Behind the Clouds

  • When it is raining, we think that there is no sunshine. But if we fly high in an airplane and go through the clouds, we rediscover the sunshine again…In a time of anger or despair, our love is still there also.
  • Our capacity to communicate , to forgive, to be compassionate is still there. You have to believe this.
  • We are more than our anger,
  • we are more than our suffering.

– – –

Re: compassion

  • During the time the other person speaks, he may be very judgmental, only blaming and punishing. Hey may be very bitter and cynical. Yet, because compassion is still in you, this does not affect you.
  • What the other person says will not touch off the anger and irritation in your, because compassion is the real antidote for anger. Nothing can heal anger except compassion.

– – –

Re: Happiness

  • In the beginning you told each other, “I cannot live without you. My happiness depends on you.” You made declarations like that. But when you are angry, you say the opposite: “I don’t need you! “Don’t come near me! Don’t touch me!”…You try to demonstrate that you don’t need the other person. That is a very human, very ordinary tendency. But this is not wisdom. Happiness is not an individual matter. If one of you is unhappy, it will be impossible for the other person to be happy.


day 2233

December 29, 2010

day 2233

at the CD store,

a surprise awaited me,

special order disc

the store: Exclusive Company

the CD: Theresa Anderson, and check this video, WOW: Birds Fly Away

day 2231/day 2232a/day 2232b

December 28, 2010

day 2231

outside, the cornstalks,

sihouetted by the light,

swaying back and forth



day 2232a

where it wasn’t ice,

the geese sat calmly paddling

against the current

day 2232b

as I ran, I heard

a long, low rumble; I paused

as the train passed by



Troy’s Book Club: “The Places in Between”

December 27, 2010

I began my “Troy’s Book Club” over at my Midwest Photo blog, but it seems that this blog would be a more appropriate place for it to reside. If you’d like to see the first book covered in my “reported reading”, go check HERE and HERE.

This report is more brief than my “Making a Living” report.  I just finished Rory Stewart‘s “The Places In Between” last night. I received this book from my brother Kyle, who received this book from a friend of his who was working in Afghanistan.  “The Places In Between” follows the journey of  Rory Stewart, a Scottish historian, as he walks across Afghanistan.

What made this book interesting for me is that it offered a very “on the ground” sort of viewpoint of the culture in Afghanistan; rural, isolated, mountains/highlands Afghanistan in particular.  Stewart also contrasts historical writing about Afghanistan with his own experiences–very interesting!

I was really intrigued by the concept of hospitality towards travelers, as seen through the Muslim tradition.  As he walks across the country, Stewart sleeps on the floors of mosques, guest-rooms, stables. He sees the vacant spaces where ancient Buddha statues used to stand, until demolished by the Taliban. Stewart walks alongside an unplanned road-mate, a dog he names Babur, in honor of an ancient conqueror who adventured through Afghanistan.

The book was an easy read, as it was a series of short anecdote/chapters, which made it an good before-bed read.  I could read 10-20 pages, imagine a few new experiences across the mountains of Afghanistan, and then easily fall asleep in a bed that was much more comfortable than a concrete room being slept in by 12-18 other people.

While reading this book, I came across an unexpected point of interest…on page 260, Stewart mentions meeting photographer Didier Lefevre at a Medecins Sans Frontieres house.  Stewart says of the meeting: “Most war photographers carry large digital cameras; Didier was using black-and-white film and two old Leicas. In a war zone most photographers prefer to use a zoom (lens). Didier didn’t have one. “I am the zoom,” he said. While other photographers were using cars and helicopters to chase news stories in different Afghan cities, Didier had been in Bamiyan for a month, photographing Hazara refugees.”

What was neat about this mention of Didier was: he was using Leica cameras (like I normally use!) and Didier has actually collaborated with a writer in creating a graphic novel called “The Photographer,” about his experiences as a war photographer.  I neve suspected that I’d come across Leicas and comicbooks in a story about walking across Afghanistan!

For anyone wanting to get a better idea of the country that our army has spent nearly a decade in, this book would be a good introduction. It IS an amazing country, filled with such a history, but I imagine that is the same of any country that we can turn our honest attention to.

A good NYT review of the book.

Rory Stewart

p.s.-I also just finished reading “The Bronx Kill“, a graphic-novel by Peter Milligan and James Romberger, published by Vertigo/DC Comics. If you like crime-stories and family revelations, this could be a good one for you.  It’s a good mix of comics and prose.

day 2230

December 26, 2010


day 2230

from beneath blankets

seems to be a difficult

place to escape from


day 2229

December 24, 2010


day 2229

shoppers in the mall,

of all colors, shapes, sizes –

mostly too large


day 2228

December 24, 2010


day 2228

littered ‘cross the lot,

errant shopping carts orphaned

by lazy shoppers