Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Needlepoint With Thich Nhat Hanh

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!


  1. I do so like this too. And I can't believe how far behind I am in my blog reading.

  2. Not to mention blog writing. I'll be looking for new posts from you.