Book Name: No Mud, No Lotus
Author: Thich Nhat Hanh
Book Blurb: In this extraordinary book, one of the world’s most renowned Zen Buddhist masters teaches us how to find happiness by getting past suffering. He shows us how the only way to do this is by acknowledging and transforming suffering, not running away from it. He shares with us the practices of stopping, mindful breathing and deep concentration that will enable us to generate the energy of mindfulness within our daily lives; using that energy, we can embrace pain and suffering, calm them down, instantly bringing us a measure of freedom and a clearer mind. Serene and wise, No Mud, No Lotus is an immensely practical guide to overcoming life’s big and little problems.
Review: As someone who has studied a lot about Vipassana, this book is a welcome addition to my reading list. All great minds have called Buddhism the greatest religion, or perhaps the complete religion. Right from Rahul Sankrityayan to Goenka and even Shantum Seth, many folks have devoted their lives to understanding and practicing this great religion. Its teachings are simple and immensely useful as Buddha developed his teachings as a way to escape the suffering which is inevitable in an ordinary human being’s mortal life.
Shantum Seth is famous in his own right and while his brother Vikram may have earned more accolades in the literary world, anybody who is into Vipassana or has studied Buddhist teachings knows about Shantum. In his foreword, he writes, “Thich Naht Hanh has taken the ancient teachings of the Buddha, developed in India 2,600 years ago, and made them relevant to our time.”
In this book, the Zen master deals with the subject of suffering and explains it in simple layman’s terms.
“According to the creation story in the biblical book of Genesis, God said, ‘Let there be light.’I like to imagine that light replied saying, ‘God, I have to wait for my twin brother, God asked, why do you need to wait? Darkness is there.’ Light answered,’ In that case, then I am also already there.’
Some books are not meant to be reviewed but to be experienced. This is one of those little gems. It should be kept as a handy guide and accorded the same status as you would to your religious scripture. I have never tried Vipassana but during my research and study, everybody had explained it in this simple sentence:
“It’s a life-changing experience.”
I have come across very few works that have explored human suffering and how it affects the psyche in the long run. Oscar Wilde examined it in his best work, ‘De Profundis’ but while it is easy to describe suffering, very few can offer some sort of solutions. Wilde was an author (the greatest I guess) and articulated suffering in a manner few can but if you’re looking for answers, Thich Nhat Hanh provides some answers in this book. It is just the tip of the iceberg but a good place to start.