I have a YouTube video where I discuss the notion of manifestation in Buddhist thought, as inspired by the Buddhist thinker Thich Nhat Hanh (who inspired Martin Luther King), which I made into an essay. You can find the video here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=neJabtw8OUw
I’ll also post the accompanying essay for reference.
I’d like to talk a little bit about Buddhism, particularly one idea in Buddhism. I’ve been reading a book, written by Thich Nhat Hanh. He was a Buddhist thinker. He talks about an idea that in Buddhism, there is no birth and there is no death. Basically our existence is the result of certain conditions taking place, that allow for our existence … but we’ve always existed. We don’t die, and we were never born: We were always there, in a manner of speaking. Essentially, the metaphysical idea is that reality is fluid, and our existence is fluid: It is always there.
I find this notion very interesting in the context of Buddhism because there is the idea of impermanence, the idea that nothing stays the same. And yet, this kind of implies that we are immortal. Maybe not immortal in our bodies, but in the sense that we always exist in some form or another.
Specifically, there is the notion of manifestation, and thinking about how in order for us to manifest, the conditions have to be right. I’ve been thinking about this and thinking about it in the context of my own life, and I’ve been thinking about certain disappointments and discouragements and unfortunate situations and circumstances I find myself in. I know that I’ve been hoping for conditions to be right. I have to admit I take comfort in these notions of Buddhism, of the idea of conditions manifesting: It’s all just a matter of waiting for the right conditions.
We can extrapolate this further as a universal rule and principle, as patience, but also understanding: You have to wait for the plant to grow, for instance. You have to wait for the right conditions to happen in order to see the growth. It’s the same with us as people. I think it’s a useful concept to keep in mind when we get discouraged, because we realize that our goals can become reality, they can transcend potentiality and become actuality, but we have to wait for the right conditions.
There is another concept as well, which is basically an appreciation of the self: We should be very happy about our manifestation in existence. So right now, for instance, as I’m thinking about these things, I should be grateful that I exist, that I’ve manifested, and that the conditions are right for me to exist in the moment.
We can’t forget that our existence is a blessing. Our existence is beautiful. Just by virtue of the fact that we exist, that is enough. I definitely take a lot of peace and solace in that idea.
If I was going to wrap up all of this, I would say it’s very easy to get carried away with thinking that something needs to happen now. We also constantly think we’re doing something wrong because we haven’t seen the results. Nonetheless, what we can take away from Buddhism is that things manifest and materialize in their own time.
So, for instance, when we need rain, the rain doesn’t come right when we want it to come, but when the conditions are right and the clouds have formed, the rain comes. It’s a beautiful thing. It’s important for thinking about patience and being appreciative of what we have, and appreciating the manifestation of this existence and what is has to teach us.