No Mud, No Lotus by the famous Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh tries to tell you that pain or suffering is a part of our life. He is trying to tell the reader that a lotus needs mud to grow, it can not thus wish away the mud. Similarly, humans grow in the mud called suffering and we can not wish it away.
I have always said that I do not choose books to read, it’s the books that choose me at the right time. No Mud, No Lotus also landed up in my hands when I was suffering from health issues. I was stuck in the bed when I picked this book from my library. And I think its soothing cover made me pick it up and also its small size. I did not even have the energy to pick up a big book.
I started reading the book as it spoke about suffering. It said it is a part of our life just like mud is a part of Lotus’s life. It said we should accept suffering and treat it with care just like we treat the happier moments in life. And it said when you suffer, leave everything else and pay attention to that suffering, let it get the attention it seeks. Embrace it and accept that it is a part of you.
In another chapter, it told me where the pain and suffering can come from. Interestingly, it talks about the suffering that we inherit from our ancestors – I had never thought about it. If you close your eyes and think about it, you would see that it is so true. A major part of our sufferings come from our families, our clans or our other associations including our nationalism. Imagine all those who suffer because of wars or violence or communal clashes – they suffer because of their ancestral inheritance of some kind.
The second pain he talks about is the one that comes from fear. He tells us to have a deep understanding of the pain. To observe it closely and let it feel that you have understood it before letting it go. There is an emphasis on listening, he illustrates it through a lovely story of Buddha and Mara. How we wish there was someone to listen to us, but how we fail to be the person who listens.
He talks about the difference between joy and happiness. He tells us to let go – this is probably the biggest way of letting go the suffering as well. And then he guides you on how to create happiness. This is followed by the meditation techniques which is for you to practice and see how they work for you.
The best part of the discourse in No Mud, No Lotus is that tells you that you are a small part of a larger universe. You are connected to the rest of the world all the time.
While I was recovering, I tried some meditations – some simple mindful breathing and it did help me with my pain. I think I started accepting that today I am in pain and tomorrow it would go away. Now that I am feeling better, it seems reading the book at the right time helped, indeed.
I loved the title of the book and the minimalistic cover on which it sits calmly along with a very a lotus flower and a lotus bud.
Language is very soothing and calming. You can feel it from the soft, patient pace of the book. It allows you to stop and think, to stop and reflect and sometimes to stop and practice what it is telling you.
I think reading No Mud, No Lotus would help you because we all suffer one day or the other.
Buy this book – No Mud, No Lotus by Thich Nhat Hanh at Amazon.
Other Self Help Books that I recommend: