The Art of Communicating ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Released Date: August 13, 2013
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, bestselling author of Peace is Every Step and one of the most respected and celebrated religious leaders in the world, delivers a powerful path to happiness through mastering life’s most important skill.

How do we say what we mean in a way that the other person can really hear?

How can we listen with compassion and understanding?

Communication fuels the ties that bind, whether in relationships, business, or everyday interactions. Most of us, however, have never been taught the fundamental skills of communication—or how to best represent our true selves. Effective communication is as important to our well-being and happiness as the food we put into our bodies. It can be either healthy (and nourishing) or toxic (and destructive).

In this precise and practical guide, Zen master and Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh reveals how to listen mindfully and express your fullest and most authentic self. With examples from his work with couples, families, and international conflicts, The Art of Communicating helps us move beyond the perils and frustrations of misrepresentation and misunderstanding to learn the listening and speaking skills that will forever change how we experience and impact the world.

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist Zen Master, poet, scholar, and peace activist who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. He is the author of many books, including the classics Peace Is Every Step and The Art of Power. Hanh lives in Plum Village, his meditation center in France, and leads retreats worldwide on the art of mindful living.

Oprah Winfrey talks with Thich Nhat Hanh Excerpt – Powerful

Published on May 12, 2013

Truly insightful, deep and powerful. Oprah Winfrey via her incredible OWN network, talks to Thich Nhat Hanh about becoming a monk, meeting Martin Luther King Jr; The powers of mindfulness, insight, concentration and compassion, How to transform warring parties and how to deeply transform relationships.

Ram Dass interviews Thich Nhat Hanh

Ram Dass interviews Thich Nhat Hanh at the State of the World forum, September 1995

Why I Quit Facebook ~ SUMI LOUNDON KIM

What if our online life gets in the way of our flesh and blood connections? SUMI LOUNDON KIM on how she cut the wireless tether. (It wasn’t easy.)

My Facebook addiction began six years ago when my husband said to me, with no apparent irony, “Facebook is so cool! Why don’t you join so we can become friends?”

A year later, we relocated to a city where we had no friends or family. The lively and loving exchanges with old friends through Facebook mitigated my sudden isolation and got me through a pretty tough year. Eventually, I made friends in the new city, but my Facebook habit continued. In fact, it intensified.

After five years of clicking through the News Feed, however, disenchantment began to creep in. Who would have guessed that normally exciting stuff could become so repetitive? Same-ol’, same-ol’: snapshots of chic restaurant meals, babies, vacations, calls to rally around causes—Oh my God, how many causes can someone take on?!—snippets of wisdom from Buddhist teachers, cartoons, jokes. I became further disenchanted when I realized I was using Facebook for approval, a sense of belonging, and subtle self-promotion. And I often mentally rebuked some of my Buddhist friends for their own blatant egotism.

I then made a commitment not to post anything personal. Using the guidelines of right speech, I only commented on others’ status updates and posted what I found truly useful, uplifting, and funny. Doing this helped me recognize where Facebook was entangling my ego. It also changed the way I sought approval and friendship. Now these came from the people around me rather than through online connections.

Paring back on my postings showed me how I had been living my life through “Facebook status possibilities,” rather than just being in and enjoying the moment.

Anything interesting was now a potential status update, and I would spend a lot of time formulating the most clever, attention-grabbing wording—a fairly universal trait of Facebook users. It was like looking at life through a camera. That distanced quality was increasingly incongruent with what I was trying to do in meditation practice.

Last December’s shootings in Newtown, Connecticut, gave me a whole new angle on Facebook’s impact. One of the first things I did after hearing the news was to scroll through the News Feed. I wondered why I had this impulse. Observing my grief-stricken and terrified mind, I saw that I was looking for comfort from others. But what actually happened was that other people’s outrage and anguish intensified my own. I was searching for a sense of connection, but as soon as I walked away from the computer, I was alone in my empty apartment. What I needed was physical comfort, a hug, to hold and be held by others. That Facebook cannot provide, yet I would return to it again and again, searching for what was not there.

Daily meditation practice began revealing to me how living in continual distraction robbed me of so much. When I rested my attention on the breath and let go of distractions (thoughts about Facebook being one of them!), my mind felt restored, revitalized, made whole in a very pleasurable way. I began noticing how my online habits were splitting my attention and reducing my quality of life. one time, I was toodling away on Facebook, my back turned to the family, when my four-year-old son came up to me to talk and cuddle. I told him to go play. Noticing this and similar instances, I made a rule not to use my computer unless the kids were in bed or at school.

That was when I discovered the strength of my addiction. one day, while watching my kids at the park, I literally had to sit on my hands to keep myself from sneaking a peek at my phone. What I felt was, “The present moment is really boring in comparison to what’s happening online. What’s happening online is more like a big, chatty, nonstop party!”

In the middle of the night in early January, it hit me that, taken altogether—the repetitiveness, self-promotion, superficial sense of belonging, fractured attention, disconnection with those present around me, and my addictedness—Facebook was doing me more harm than good. I couldn’t wait until the morning to shut down that damn account.

The first few hours after closing my Facebook page were mind-bending. My husband went onto his account to see if any trace of Sumi Loundon Kim remained. Nothing. For a few minutes, I felt like I no longer existed. There was no “Sumi” in the online ecosystem. I’m not sure what an insight into nonself feels like, but it seemed close. It was freaky and liberating at the same time.

It felt so good, in fact, that a few days later I disabled Google chat in my Gmail account because my eyes would constantly flicker over to the box to see who was online. I noticed how often I checked email on my cell, so I removed that function. A month later, I changed the texting aspect of my mobile-phone plan and now only use it for immediate, necessary transactions.

It was quite interesting to observe the psychological effects of leaving Facebook, in addition to reducing online connectivity in general. I see that I was living with a divided mind: one in reality and one in a kind of mental dia- logue with my online/media world. My mind had been playing a continuous loop, asking and answering seven questions, at all times, even when I was away from a computer or tech gear:

What’s new on Facebook?

Did an email come in?

Did I get a text that I might have missed? Who’s on Google Chat now?

What’s new on Huffington Post/in the news cycle?

Is my phone ringer at the right setting so I can hear it?/Did I miss a call?

Are there any messages on the home answering machine?

As I’m letting go of the alternate reality of the online world, I find myself much more attuned to actual reality. I am more interested in the people right in front of me because I am not half-attending to the virtual people online. I kind of feel like I am waking up: Oh wow, there’s a blue sky! There’s the sound of birds chirping! My daughter is giving me a big hug right now! It has been fascinating to feel my attention restored to greater wholeness. I have a lot more buoyant mental energy, and I can feel a certain return of tranquility, as well as a willingness to think about one thing at a time more deeply, rather than many things in a cursory, shallow manner.

The online world is a reality; it’s not nonreality. And yet, as with our thought process, if we get too wrapped up in it, we risk losing touch with the beauty, richness, and wonder of the present moment and loving fully those in our own homes. Thoughts are a reality, too, but if we live only in our thoughts, we miss a great deal and misunderstand even more.

The Sumi of 2007 would have felt that the Sumi of Now is a real party pooper, a dour Buddhist who can’t handle the modern world. But for me right now, renouncing constant connectivity doesn’t feel like deprivation. It is renouncing an addiction—and, therefore, gaining a degree of freedom.

Sumi Loundon Kim is the Buddhist chaplain at Duke University, minister to the Buddhist families of Durham, and editor of the anthologies Blue Jean Buddha and The Buddha’s Apprentices. The mother of two young children, she is working on a book that provides a Buddhist-meditative curriculum for families and communities. Spurred by her liberation from Facebook, Kim also quit texting, mobile email, chat, and neurotically clicking over to the Gmail inbox. (The fetter of LinkedIn was abandoned long ago.) She can be reached by carrier pigeon.

Source: July 2013 Shambhala Sun magazine

Moon Temple

The MASTER is within us all;
If only we turn our attention inwards;
And experience the space in between our thoughts;
Therein resides our truly immortal souls as we touch eternity at the pulse of our heartbeat;
At the blink of the eye, we, the moon, the stars, and the universe
are ONE;
Overcome time  we have now;
Overcome space and we have here;
And in between HERE and NOW;
We shall always meet each other;
Know that Greatness consists of simple things in life and they come in only just one word:
Truth, love, courage, peace, loyalty, justice, perseverance, strength and wisdom.

Compiled and composed by 1martialart, New York Aug 18, 2011

“A Killing Art – the Untold History of Taekwon-Do” by Alex Gillis (updated Oct 25, 2011)

A Book Review By Wee Sun, Ngiaw – Special Correspondent, TKD Times Magazine.

Those who had received their TKD training in the 1960s and 1970s, this book provides an informative insight into the geo-political and military history on the development of Taekwon-Do, featuring the pioneer Instructors spearheaded by General Choi

And it will definitely make an interesting read for those had started learning TKD in the 1980s, 1990s, and right up to the present moment. This book entitled, “A Killing Art – the untold history of Taekwon-do” takes the form of narrative stories of struggle for power and domination punctuated with allegations of bribery, corruption, assassination and blackmail. Some of the names of Korean Masters mentioned in the book may be familiar to some of us who had had the opportunity to have been taught by them.

Written by Alex Gillis, a Canadian Instructor who received his training from ITF Korean Instructors, this book, as the author admitted, is partly biography, and partly memoir streamed together, giving a seemingly bizarre account of how General Choi, during his pre and post ITF era maneuvered his game plans in exploiting his Korean Instructors and dictating to his advantage, thus claiming authorship to the founding of the art, though there were several ‘founders’ of the various ‘kwans’ (schools)earlier before him. [His 4th Degree was awarded to him by one of the earlier seniors in Korea]

Even more grotesquely descriptive were the stories of the involvement of KCIA, CIA and the famous cult preacher Sun Myung Moon and the Unification Church with some of the well-known pioneer Korean instructors in the United States. Plots and counter plots of assassination, and ‘gangsters’ ala mafia’ were treated as customary events during these turbulent times of Taekwon-Do’s historical development.

Some of the Korean Instructors [who are by now Grandmasters] are still alive to reminisce those tumultuous events, feeling morose at having had to experience such anguished moments of their lives. One of them is Grandamster Kim Bok Man whom I met recently in November 2008 with the assistance of a colleague who managed to trace him at his dojang in New Jersey

Grandmaster Kim had graded me in 1968 in Singapore YMCA where I received my early TKD training. And much to my surprise and awe, a picture of me in the group photo of the Grading test was found hanging on the wall of his dojang in New Jersey– after a lapse of 40 years!

Grandmaster Kim as some of you may know was considered the pioneer in introducing TKD in South East Asia. The book did mention that during the time when Gen Choi was the Korean Ambassador to Malaysia , Grandmaster Kim together with Master Woo Jae Lim ( now deceased) were instrumental in developing, formatting and refining the 16 original ITF patterns at the compound of the Korean Embassy in Kuala Lumpur under the starry eyes of Gen Choi.

Talking and listening to his stories after a lapse of 40 years was quite an experience, especially his emotional outbursts of lashing out at those who ‘betrayed’ him during those troubling periods.

The hard cover book comes with chapters creatively crafted under the headings of the tenets of Taekwon-do, such as indomitable spirit, courtesy, self control, and perseverance though the contents within this chapters may not lend credence to the spirit of this tenets, belying the scandalous and controversial series of events that had occurred since the introduction of TKD to the martial art world.

The changing of the guards under the helm of the Presidents of both the two world bodies of ITF and WTF was also marred with scandals and disgrace that were heralded as breaking news in the world of martial art, and TKD in particular.

In one of the chapters, the story was told of the Korean government officials raiding the residence of the former President of WTF and discovered millions of dollars in currency notes and expensive gifts and items being stashed away in the cupboards. It was reported that millions of government funds meant to be disbursed to the world body were kept by the former President. The rest was history as he was found guilty of corruption and CBT and was sentenced to jail. The current President of ITF was not spared either, as allegations of corruption and embezzlement of funds were reported in the inner circles of the TKD community.

For the past 5 decades or so, TKD has been tossed around as a political tool manipulated by the major players to forge their struggle for power, dominance and financial gain. The very fact that ITF has split into more than three world bodies bespeaks the lamented commercialization of the martial art. It was reported that WTF with its Kukiwon headquarters in Seoul, Korea, is also embroiled in such similar scandals.

When a question was posed to Grandmaster Kim Bok Man as to his purpose of pending visit to Seoul, South Korea in December 2008. he answered vaguely that he will be having some official discussions relating to TKD, about the condition of certificate issuance, inferring that another new TKD body might be set up.

On another piece of development, it was also reported Choi Jung Hwa, Gen Choi’s son, was in South Korea recently revealing some controversial information to the government officials accusing the current ITF President to be acting as a government spy for North Korea.

In light of such circumstances and development surrounding TKD, will the proposal for the unification of TKD ever become a reality or is it just an exercise in futility?

One thing is certain, there will be many steep mountains to climb, there will be more challenges to overcome, and last but not least, more concerted effort is needed in the ‘slaying of the beast’, and that is the EGO, if ever TKD is be free from the shackles of one-upmanship and territorial turf dominance.

For those serious TKD practitioners who nonchalantly continue to focus on the traditional and spiritual values of the art, making positive contributions in promoting goodwill and a sense of fellowship and camaraderie, there is still a beacon of hope to excel in the perfection of execution of techniques that this art offers.

Against the backdrop of continuing struggle for dominance and control for selfish gains, the serious practitioner has to be steadfast and disciplined, and diligently divorce himself from such temptations of ‘wheeling and dealing’. He has to come to terms with the realization that, viewed from spiritual perspectives, there exist the many dimensions of reality when one meditates and transcends the egoic self. He will then find the answers as to the much sought after secrets of happiness and life fulfillment

Some 2,500 years ago, a wise man became enlightened and preached to the world that LIFE in the relative world, there will be happiness and sorrow, love and hatred, richness and poverty, laughter and sadness, freedom and bondage, war and peace and all the dualities in living. In short, the wise man said, LIFE situation contains SUFFERING.

He further revealed the prognosis on the causes of suffering:

* Identification with a separate self;

*Attachment to the ego;

*Clinging to the permanency in life;

He then prescribed the cure for this suffering – in what we call the noble eightfold path.

Time constraint does not permit to go into details of this noble eightfold path, but perhaps one of the most important and cardinal concepts amongst them that, through the life long practice of TKD, one precept that one can cultivate and achieve is:

RIGHT MINDFULNESS – mental ability to see things as they are, with clear consciousness.

Every movement and step that we execute in our TKD practice is consciousness in motion, to be totally focused in the present moment awareness – the witnessing self observing the martial artist performing the art. Practiced progressively over periods of time, the martial artist and the art converge and merge into one wave of consciousness – the martial artist becomes the art in motion. (The Rig Veda of India’s vedic science also mentions about the Samhita of Rishi, Devata and Chandas having similar transcendental experience and spiritual understanding on the 3-in-1 consciousness)

Upon experiencing the transcendence on the boundaries of our thought, the many dimensions of reality give the notion that our body is just our re-cycled earth, our body fluids are re-cycled water, our breath is re-cycled air, and our thoughts are re-cycled information. Is there permanency in life that we need to cling so fearfully not knowing who we are, where do we come from, what is the purpose of our life?

One favorite past-time whenever traveling to places of sights and sceneries, is to visit the cemeteries and glimpse at the tombstones and the dash sign ( – ) in between the two dates. Therein lies the greatest revelation about our LIFE. Our lives are just a dash, pure and simple. We are mortal beings. And having realized this simple truth, we are a step closer to the secrets of happiness and the awakening to enlightenment.

For those who are interested in ordering the book, it is available at , now presently offering valuable discounts.

By: Master Ngiaw Wee Sun