Even with our hectic and rat-race lifestyles, it is possible to focus upon a complex subject like alcohol addiction from the perspective of Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk.
Thich Nhat Hanh and The Art of Mindful Living
Vietnamese Zen Master Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh is a Buddhist monk, scholar, poet and a human rights activist.
Thich Nhat Hanh teaches the art of “mindful living,” namely a deep awareness of what is happening both within and around us at the present moment.
While the abuse of drugs or alcohol can be perceived as a way of trying to run away from what is happening in life by trying to forget one’s problems and responsibilities, mindful living (mindfulness) is the opposite.
More precisely, mindful living enhances an individual’s ability to cope with life’s circumstances and situations by teaching him or her how to be “present in the moment” with whatever is happening without becoming distressed, overwhelmed, or anxious.
So that there is no misunderstanding, let it be stated clearly that the philosophical framework for “mindful living” the 5 mindfulness trainings developed by Thich Nhat.
The 5 Mindfulness Trainings
To help others better cope with life, Thich Nhat Hanh has articulated the 5 mindfulness trainings.
The First Mindfulness Training
This first mindfulness training focuses on a commitment against killing. That is, according to this first training step, a person should not kill, should not let others kill, and should not support any act of killing in the world, either in one’s thinking or in their way of life.
The Second Mindfulness Training
The second mindfulness training step centers on developing “loving kindness and learning ways to work for the well-being of people, animals, plants and minerals.”
This principle includes respecting the property of others and refraining from stealing.
The Third Mindfulness Training
The third mindfulness training step concentrates on a commitment “to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families and society.”
A main component of this third training step concerns involvement in sexual relations only when love and a long-term commitment are present.
The Fourth Mindfulness Training
The fourth mindfulness training step focuses on “cultivating loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering.”
A main component of this principle is speaking truthfully, refraining from spreading uncertain news, and refusing to criticise or condemn people or things that are not based on fact.
The Fifth Mindfulness Training
The fifth mindfulness training step centers on “cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family and my society by practising mindful eating, drinking and consuming.”
A main component of this fifth principle is a determination to refrain from ingesting alcohol or any other intoxicant.
Also part of this training step is the active avoidance of various activities that contain “poisons” such as certain books, films, magazines, conversations, and TV programs.
According to Thich Nhat Hanh, damaging one’s body or consciousness with these toxins is betraying one’s ancestors, one’s parents, one’s society, and betraying future generations.
And finally, Thich Nhat Han states that a proper diet is critical for “self-transformation and for the transformation of society.”
Thich Nhat Hanh: Conclusion
Needless to say, the 5 Mindfulness Trainings by Thich Nhat Hanh are not only relevant guidelines for people who may be experiencing drug or alcohol addiction, but they also formulate a philosophy of life and living that can offset many of the “poisons” in our society.