As a psychologist, I’m inspired by the teachings of world renowned Zen monk, Thich Nhat Hanh who recently died mindfully in 2022. Although I do not consider myself a Buddhist or a Christian, I enjoy reading the spiritual teachings of both religions. Spirituality has helped us for thousands of years cope with the challenges of life. We can learn a lot by studying and contemplating religious teachings.
Hanh did a wonderful talk for children and adults called, “A Cloud Never Dies.”
One powerful teaching from his talk states the following:
When conditions are sufficient, a cloud transforms into rain, snow, or hail. The cloud has never been born and it will never die. This insight of signlessness and interbeing helps us recognize that all lives continue in different forms. Nothing is created, nothing is destroyed, everything is in transformation.“Thich Nhat Hanh
In addition, Hanh wrote about non-being in his book, “Fear, Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm.” In his book, he discusses how we always want to “become” something. But what if our greatest ally was to become nothing? Hanh offers us this contemplation to comfort our fears on dying and loss:
“Our greatest fear is that when we die we will become nothing. Many of us believe that our entire existence is only a life span beginning the moment we are born or conceived and ending the moment we die. We believe that we are born from nothing and when we die we become nothing. And so we are filled with fear of annihilation.The Buddha has a very different understanding of our existence. It is the understanding that birth and death are notions. They are not real. The fact that we think they are true makes a powerful illusion that causes our suffering. The Buddha taught that there is no birth; there is no death; there is no coming; there is no going; there is no same; there is no different; there is no permanent self; there is no annihilation. We only think there is. When we understand that we cannot be destroyed, we are liberated from fear. It is a great relief. We can enjoy life and appreciate it in a new way.”
When I become anxious or distressed in life, I meditate on the ideas outlined by Hanh. It gives me great comfort to consider this alternative perspective.
If you experience fear or anxiety about mortality and need a fresh perspective, I am happy to help you. Please remember you do not have to follow a particular religion to benefit from spirituality. Contact me through my website if you would like to make an appointment.