No Mud, No Lotus

The Art of Transforming Suffering
by Thich Nhat Hanh | 128 pages

Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the world’s leading Buddhist monks. He is a true master and it’s a joy to connect with his powerful wisdom. I picked this book off the shelf after fires nearly burned down our town. It felt like a good time to remind myself of the fact that the good life is not—and cannot be—exclusively “good” times. Want a beautiful lotus flower? Embrace the mud. No mud, no lotus. Want a wonderful, flourishing life? Embrace the challenges. No challenges, no flourishing. Big Ideas we explore include: suffering goes with happiness, lotus flowers don’t grow in marble, feed the good stuff, the first thing to do when suffering strikes (breathe!), billions of funerals/b-days every day, the two arrows, and why the Buddha meditated after becoming the Buddha.


“We all want to be happy and there are many books and teachers in the world that try to help people be happier. Yet we all continue to suffer.

Therefore, we may think that we’re ‘doing it wrong.’ Somehow we are ‘failing at happiness.’ That isn’t true. Being able to enjoy happiness doesn’t require that we have zero suffering. In fact, the art of happiness is also the art of suffering well. When we learn to acknowledge, embrace, and understand our suffering, we suffer much less. Not only that, but we’re also able to go further and transform our suffering into understanding, compassion, and joy for ourselves and for others. …

If we focus exclusively on pursuing happiness, we may regard suffering as something to be ignored or resisted. We think of it as something that gets in the way of happiness. But the art of happiness is also and at the same time the art of knowing how to suffer well. If we know how to use our suffering, we can transform it and suffer much less. Knowing how to suffer well is essential to realizing true happiness.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh from No Mud, No Lotus

This is our fifth Note on one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books. (Our others include Peace Is Every Step, The Miracle of Mindfulness, Fear, and Silence.)

As you probably know, Thay (as he is known by his students—it’s pronounced like the first part of “Thailand”) is one of the world’s leading Buddhist monks. He is a true master and it’s a joy to connect with his powerful wisdom.

I picked this book off the shelf after fires nearly burned down our town. It felt like a good time to remind myself of the fact that the good life is not—and cannot be—exclusively “good” times.

Want a beautiful lotus flower? Embrace the mud. No mud, no lotus.
Want a wonderful, flourishing life? Embrace the challenges. No challenges, no flourishing.

As with all of Thay’s books, this is short and sweet and packed with Big Ideas. (Get a copy here.) I’m excited to share some of my favorites so let’s jump straight in!

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About the author

Authors

Thich Nhat Hanh

Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist