The Miracle of Mindfulness | Thich Nhat Hanh

A couple years ago I found myself sitting in the back seat of a truck beside a person I met the night before while bumming a ride back to my van after an semi-aborted canoe trip. After learning I was a pastor he asked, “what’s your view on meditation?” I know the answer I was taught in Bible College. Christian meditation is a filling of the mind with scriptures, where Eastern-style meditation is a wicked emptying of the mind where who-knows-what can enter. My back-seat companion convinced me to look into things a little further. The Miracle of Mindfulness is the result of that conversation.

This short and simple work describes the fullness of life available to us when we slow down and notice everything around us. And we start to take notice by following our breath. It’s really that simple. Slow down, breathe deep, and focus on every breath you take. The world opens up before you. Since most of our lives are spent reacting to stimulus around us, and stress has become an epidemic, this is some good advice.

I should comment on the relationship between Buddhism and Christianity. I know many Christian readers see nothing good in other world religions. In my view, other world religions are human attempts on the basis of natural revelation to understand the divine. Why should we not learn where there’s wisdom to be found? As they say, all truth is God’s truth.

I was encouraged by Thich Nhat Hanh’s respectful tone whenever he spoke of Christians. I’ve started to integrate small breathing exercises into some of my morning devotions. It’s amazing how seven deep breaths will clear my mind to receive God’s Word.

Of course, there were parts of this book more directly related to Buddhism that I found difficult. The selection of Buddhist Sutras at the end, and some of metaphysical views on human nature were misguided.

Following the breath, while not an end in itself, is a good means to experience eternal life in God’s multifaceted creation.

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