The Art of Living

Thich Nhat Hahn | Nonfiction, 2017

224 pages


I have decided to learn more about Buddhism, so you will see a few more books over the next months.

This book disappointed me. I assumed I did not know much about dharma.  I guess I do.  There was some, but not much, that was new to me.  It is broadly about a spiritual practice of mindfulness, compassion, and enlightenment, presented through the Buddhist Three Doors of Liberation: emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness, but with a preoccupation with suffering and attachment. The perspective of "she needs to be fixed" is central to this writing.  He clearly states we "need to live differently," as though we all are unconscious, unlearned, unaware, un-awake.

That being said, the concept of inter-being (chapter 2) is a great reminder of truth and reminds me of Braiding Sweetgrass and The Overstory ... tomes about the environmental unity of all beings, and about transformation from one form to another.

I most enjoyed learning about the eight bodies.  In my mind, it is a useful model or metaphor that helps me comprehend the various ways I am pulled; the various aspects of deep joy I feel; the sometimes-conflicting sources of wisdom I experience.  The eight bodies are the:

  • Human body
  • Buddha body
  • Spiritual Practice body
  • Community body
  • The Body Outside the Body
  • Continuation body
  • Cosmic body
  • Ultimate body

If you simply want to learn what to do or how to be ... read the “Afterword."  It is an excellent summary of the implications of the material in this book, and the choices and perspectives you might invite into your life.

I recommend this book if you want to consider another perspective on your own spirituality.

October 2022