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Nothing to Do, Nowhere to Go cover

Thích Nhat Hanh
Nothing to Do, Nowhere to Go

There’s a J.D. Salinger story where a young kid is out on the street playing marbles with his friends and his brother Seymour comes along and says “Could you try not aiming so much? If you hit his marble when you aim, it’ll just be luck.” And the kid says “How could it be luck if i’m aiming?” And Seymour says “Because it would be. You’ll be glad if you hit his marble, won’t you? Won’t you be glad? And if you’re glad when you hit somebody’s marble, then you sort of secretly didn’t expect to do it. So there’d have to be some luck in it. Actually there’d have to be quite a lot of luck in it.”

Nothing to Do, Nowhere to Go is Thích Nhat Hanh’s translation of The Record of Master Linji, a monk from the 800s, who dropped out of traditional Buddhism to practice Zen: “As I see it, there isn’t much to do. Just be ordinary—put on your robes, eat your food, and pass the time doing nothing.” His message was simple: You’re not going to find enlightenment in scriptures or sutras or dharma talks. Stop seeking and just come back to the present moment. In other words, ‘Could you try not aiming so much?’

If I could only recommend one book on buddhism, zen, and all of this mindfulness nonsense, this would be it—a book that constantly reminds you that you can’t find what you’re looking for in a book.

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