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Day 34: Thich Nhat Hanh

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Looking for a daily devotion for Lent? Every day (minus Sundays), U.S. Catholic will bring you words of wisdom and questions for reflection from different spiritual writers, from C.S. Lewis to Henri Nouwen. Click here to get these messages of hope delivered to your inbox daily!

Thich Nhat Hanh: Mindful consumption
The Buddha said that we cannot only talk about doing what is beneficial, we have to put it into practice. By practicing [the Five Mindfulness Trainings], we gain more awareness of the suffering caused by the violence in our thoughts, words, and actions. . . .

The Fifth Mindfulness Training is mindful consumption: Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I vow to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I vow to ingest only items that preserve peace, well-being, and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society.

I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self-transformation and for the transformation of society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest food or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films, and conversations.

I am aware that to damage my body or my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society, and future generations. I will work to transform violence, fear, anger, and confusion in myself and in society by practicing mindful eating for myself and for society. (Creating True Peace, Free Press)

Reflection questions

1. What unintended violence do you cause by your thoughts, words, and actions?

2. Does this concept of mindful consumption lead to self-transformation? How so?

3. How does reading this Buddhist reflection add to your Lenten practice in these 40 days?

Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk and world-renowned writer, poet, and scholar.