If the deer like to be in the countryside, and the birds like to be in the sky, then the practitioner likes to be in nirvana. We are in nirvana. The only problem is that we are not able to return to it.

In Plum Village, we use the simple example of the wave and the water. In our life as a wave, we struggle and we have fear, because we have to go up and down, to be born and die, to exist and not to exist. We can see clearly that to live the life of the wave is very difficult. But when the wave discovers it is water, then it begins to practice living as water. A wave is and is not, is up and down, is high and low, but water is utterly free. The question is: Does the wave have the ability to live its true nature as water, or must it just live as a wave? A wave can practice living its life as water.

From Enjoying the Ultimate: Commentary on The Nirvana Chapter of the Chinese Dharmapada by Thich Nhat Hanh. Reprinted in arrangement with Parallax Press.

Get Daily Dharma in your email

Start your day with a fresh perspective

a photo of a Buddhist meditating
Explore timeless teachings through modern methods.

With Stephen Batchelor, Sharon Salzberg, Andrew Olendzki, and more

See Our Courses

Thank you for subscribing to Tricycle! As a nonprofit, to keep Buddhist teachings and practices widely available.

This article is only for Subscribers!

Subscribe now to read this article and get immediate access to everything else.

Subscribe Now

Already a subscriber? Log in.