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  • Writer's pictureErika Murphy

The Ordinary as Extraordinary

My miraculous power and spiritual activity: drawing water and carrying wood. ~ Layman P'ang

The celebrated Zen master and spiritual leader Thich Nhat Hanh died on January 22 at the age of 95. As a Tibetan Buddhist monk, Hanh exemplified the integrity and teachings of the Buddhist tradition, and many around the world looked to him as their spiritual guide. Hahn actively applied Buddhist principles to his social justice work, using a model he called “engaged Buddhism.”

If we are on a spiritual journey, we too need to be actively engaged. The insights and skills that we develop as a result of our spiritual practices need to be brought into the everyday so we can live them moment by moment. As we work on behalf of ourselves, our families, and our communities, the spiritual practices come with us, informing each decision, action, and interaction.

The disciplined mind is one that is clear, strong, and skilled. It allows us to choose the "good" rather than the "pleasant." The mind often craves the pleasant: comfort, safety, and certainty. In order to move toward a life that is more conscious and just — for ourselves and our communities — we need to choose that which serves the common good. This often involves risk, upheaval, or discomfort. If we are rooted in the tenants of the spiritual teachings, we move toward our goal regardless of the mind's preferences and can face our task with equanimity.

Every moment we practice is a moment we become closer to internal freedom. It is also a moment of service, offering our attention to the highest. Our effort attracts the divine grace that assists us on the path and shows us glimpses of the extraordinary world beyond the ego mind. Evoke the energy of love and devotion to propel your progress on the journey!

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