A friend lent me a CD of one of Thich Nhat Hanh\’s talks and I put it on the player and sat down to work on my needlepoint of big, red Art Nouveau poppies. I was multitasking, a really bad Western habit. But at least I wasn\’t watching TV at the same time.
TNH\’s English is very good–he studied at Princeton and taught at Columbia in the 1960s. But his intonation is still a bit disconcerting, and that, combined with the quality of the recording, made him difficult to understand. His voice, though, is lovely, soft but deep and just a little raspy and absolutely even in volume. If there is such a thing as an equanimous delivery, TNH has it. Listening to him is the polar opposite of listening to Italian opera.
After some initial frustration I let go of attachment and just let his voice wash over me. At the same time, I was acutely aware of the aural aspects of needlepoint, which in case you\’d never noticed are as follows: thwack!, the needle goes in; swishhh…, the thread goes through; pop! the needle comes up. And so on.
Beyond all the thwacking and swishing, TNH kept up his murmur. Every once in a while, like a deep-red leaf dropping to the ground in autumn, a sentence would reach me: \”Stop thinking; start feeling; enjoy brushing your teeth.\” \”How wonderful to have a paradise at any time, because you have eyes.\” \”Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile.\”
Thwack, swish, pop…
And the kicker: \”I think, therefore I am not here.\” Take that, Descartes!