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Needlepoint With Thich Nhat Hanh

Welcome to My Green Vermont - A Blog by Eulalia Benejam Cobb.
By Eulalia Benejam Cobb

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!

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