Thay’s words came spontaneously to me last evening, as I gently prodded the idea that power comes from choice. The idea didn’t sit well with me; I was very tired from a day working with people who would rather complicate the simplest situation than admire the innate simplicity of it. Stirring up the mud, clouding the waters. That’s what brought Thay’s words to mind.
When he reminds us that below the still pool, the lotus blossom is anchored in the rich and humble mud, he is telling us that beauty and practicality are one. Dark is the twin of light. All things are one. We are interconnected. It is a beautiful image with very fluid boundaries. We have both good and bad within our nature. We do choose which to nurture, and that shapes the balance of who we are.
In making choices, we don’t cut away the bad, leaving great holes. We nurture the good, and the bad either withers away as the good grows into its space, or it is transformed into good. The mud, after all, contains the nutrients from which the lotus grows stronger.
The question remains. How do I weave a sheath for the tool that symbolizes choice? What is the tool?
Thay means teacher in Vietnamese. Students of Thich Nhat Hanh use this title to show our love and respect for him.