On Sunday, May 6, the Venerable Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh
appeared on Super Soul Sunday on Oprah’s OWN network. In a rare interview with Oprah herself, the inspirational monk and gentle spirit discussed his dedication to mindful meditation. Of the many things he talked about, his “four mantras” for relationship success were truly powerful. These mantras are for use not just in intimate relationships, but also in professional, social, and family settings. I have attempted to analyze these mantras within the context of my spiritual framework.
- Darling, I’m here for you.
- Darling, I know you are there for me…and I’m so happy you are truly there.
- Darling, I know you suffer…that is why I am here for you.
- Darling, I suffer. I am trying my best to practice. Please help me.
1. Darling, I’m here for you.
Life is a pilgrimage and every individual we encounter in this journey is a pilgrim. Understanding a fellow pilgrim is akin to understanding the cadence of our own hearts. Especially when the fellow pilgrim is a spouse, a partner or a close family member, a simple gesture such as a heartfelt embrace or a brief phone/email message is a great way to express pure, selfless love and concern in a positive, meaningful way. Jamming the mind’s brakes to make emotional room for others is really an invitation for personal growth and healing as we, in essence, are connecting with our own inner selves and learning to accept those in our lives with no strings attached. Unconditionally. In spite of deficiencies.
2. Darling, I know you are there for me…and I’m so happy you are truly there.
I see both gratitude and validation expressed in this vein of thought. To be loved, heard, and accepted is a basic human craving, regardless of an individual’s placement on the spiritual ladder. What better way is there to express love and gratitude towards a loved one than giving them the gift of appreciation?
3. Darling, I know you suffer…that is why I am here for you.
Compassionate listening, paradoxically, is a self-empowering tool. It helps us remain open to others’ points of view. It helps widen our sense of purpose and worthiness, offering an opportunity to cast off judgment by helping us dive deep into our inner ocean of compassion. Ironically, the greatest blessing of compassion, unlike material acquisitions, is that you get to keep it for yourself–forever.
4. Darling, I suffer. I am trying my best to practice. Please help me.
Perhaps the most difficult mantra to articulate and practice is that of self love as also self care. For those unfamiliar with the concept of self love, it is about letting go of fears, self importance, self-pity, separation and all things that are disengaged from the higher self.
Why do we find it so difficult to acknowledge our own turmoil? Why do we always resist seeking assistance? Why do we choose to put up a false front? What are we afraid of? Losing something? Someone? Do we feel that we don’t deserve love? Or, is it that the ego — our security blanket — believes nobody can help us? How much longer are we going to use the shield of reactions (denial, defiance, frustration, anger, hostility, blame, bitterness) to ward off ambiguities and insecurities?
The ability to comprehend our own suffering is a positive life force — a cherished gift that can not only align an individual’s thoughts, words, and actions in step with universal harmony, but also serve as the launch pad for the individual’s emotional and spiritual growth.
In the end, what matters is the blossoming of the human potential for inner transformation, the tightening of the human connectivity matrix, and the deepening of collective healing — a welcome proposition in a world riddled with divisiveness and strife.