No Mud, No Lotus

All quotes are from the book ‘No Mud, No Lotus’ by Thich Nhat Hanh

“Everyone knows we need to have mud for lotuses to grow. The mud doesn’t smell so good, but the lotus flower smells very good. If you don’t have mud, the lotus won’t manifest. You can’t grow lotus flowers on marble. Without mud, there can be no lotus.”

“Without suffering, there’s no happiness. So we shouldn’t discriminate against the mud. We have to learn how to embrace and cradle our own suffering and the suffering of the world, with a lot of tenderness.”

“Suffering has its beneficial aspects. It can be an excellent teacher.”

“. . . the first mindfulness training: reverence for life – Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing, compassion, and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, nondiscrimination, and nonattachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world.”

“We ruminate on suffering, regret, and sorrow. We chew on them, swallow them, bring them back up, and eat them again and again. If we’re feeding our suffering while we’re walking, working, eating, or talking, we are making ourselves victims of the ghosts of the past, of the future, or our worries in the present. We’re not living our lives.”

“The main affliction of our modern civilization is that we don’t know how to handle the suffering inside us and we try to cover it up with all kinds of consumption.”

“The notions we entertain about what will bring us happiness are just a trap. We forget that they are only ideas. Our idea of happiness can prevent us from being happy. When we believe that happiness should take a particular form, we fail to see the opportunities for joy that are right in front of us.”


  1. I wonder about this statement: “I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life.” I think this is too broad a statement. For example, during WWII some were compelled to kill others in self defense. Just recently a Buddhist monk in Myanmar had to kill an anti-Buddhist extremist in self defense. I’m sure he vowed never to kill anyone, but has no choice. When you look at nature, you see that one organism must kill another to consume it in order to stay alive. I like the way some (or all) Native Americans used to kneel beside the organism that he/she just killed, and they would thank that organism respectfully for giving their life in order that they may continue living. What a great gesture, this showing of respect for the dead organism. We must remember that plants and mushrooms are also living things and that we must kill them in order to consume them and we must show them as much respect as we do the animals that we (some of us) kill for nourishment. In my opinion, killing is necessary and is a natural part of the cycle of life. You don’t have to kill an animal, but you must kill a living thing (plants/mushrooms/seaweed/yeast) to consume it and stay alive. I respect Thich Nhat Hanh very much, and I enjoy reading what he has to say about love and mindfulness, and I’m glad you posted this, Lesley.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thanks as always, Sabishi, for your thoughtful comment. I agree, nothing’s ever black or white. I accept this precept as doing as much as I can that is in my power according to my particular situation. For example, I choose not to eat meat for various reasons – I dislike the texture and I love animals and don’t want to be a part of their suffering that the intensive farming system inflicts upon them. I won’t buy leather goods if I can help it and I try to be careful about not choosing products that are harmful to the environment or detrimental to the habitats of other living beings.
      I like the example of how Native Americans show respect for the sacrifice creatures have made to sustain others. It’s a marked contrast to how systems such as intensive agriculture and hunting for leisure/entertainment is run – animals in these situations are viewed merely as an object for humankind’s exploitation.
      As a vegan, I eat a great amount of vegetables and fruit. I’m grateful to the earth for providing me with such tasty and healthy foods – with the advancement of scientific research, if it’s ever found that plants suffer . . . I’m well and truly snookered!

      Liked by 2 people

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