This Life

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In the West, Nhat Hanh is sometimes called the father of mindfulness. He famously taught that we could all be bodhisattvas by finding happiness in the simple things—in mindfully peeling an orange or sipping tea. So enjoy being a Buddha. His influence has spread globally. Christiana Figueres, the former executive secretary of the U. But practically, it risks reopening old wounds. Other Vietnamese exiles were infuriated by highly publicized visits Nhat Hanh made in and , when he toured the country and held well-attended services that made international headlines.

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To his critics, these tours gave legitimacy to the ruling Communist Party by creating the impression that there was freedom of worship in Vietnam, when in fact it is subject to strict state controls. In November, the U.

The meaning of his return, therefore, carries great freight here in Vietnam. If he lives out his life in peace, they can claim credit. Nhat Hanh has always gone his own way. He studied science at Saigon University, edited a humanist magazine and established a commune. After teaching Buddhism at Columbia and Princeton universities from to , he returned to Vietnam to become an antiwar activist, risking his life with other volunteers to bring aid to war-torn communities.

He refused to take sides, making enemies of both North and South Vietnam. His commune was attacked by South Vietnamese troops, and an attempt was made on his life. In , as the war escalated, he left Vietnam to tour 19 countries to call for peace. This proved too much for the regime in Saigon, which viewed pacifism as tantamount to collaboration with the communists and prevented him from returning.

The next time Nhat Hanh saw Vietnam was during a visit in His reputation grew in exile. Hippies set his antiwar poetry to music. In , he was nominated by Martin Luther King Jr.

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He oversaw the translation of his books into more than 30 languages. When Western interest in Buddhism went through a revival at the turn of the century, Nhat Hanh became one of its most influential practitioners. Instead, he says, just become aware of your breath, and through that come into the present moment, where everyday activities can take on a joyful, miraculous quality.

If you are mindful, or fully present in the here and now, anxiety disappears and a sense of timelessness takes hold, allowing your highest qualities, such as kindness and compassion, to emerge. This was highly appealing to Westerners seeking spirituality but not the trappings of religion. Burned-out executives and recovering alcoholics flocked to retreats in the French countryside to listen to Nhat Hanh.

An entire mindfulness movement sprang up in the wake of this dharma superstar.

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Among his students was the American doctor Jon Kabat-Zinn, founder of the Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction course that is now offered at hospitals and medical centers worldwide. When it first went out in , a lot of reviews accused the show of being obsessed by sex. It was just a normal part of life. I got a letter from a young gay man working for the Post Office. He said he saw himself in it. I auditioned more times than I care to remember, over weeks.

The meaning of life is that which we choose to give it.

Miles was a twat in a lot of respects, an unreconstructed public schoolboy, but I loved playing him. Also, I think most of the characters in the show were flawed: pretty selfish and unthinking.

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They were young, still being formed. The first series was filmed on location near Southwark Bridge in London, in an abandoned Victorian terrace. At one end was the house itself, in the middle were the production offices. If we needed to film on the street, we just went out and did it. We were just grateful to be working at all, and excited to be doing something good.

Initially no one watched it, but gradually it built into this huge thing.

For the second series in , we did 21 episodes, which is unheard of in British TV. Then the BBC repeated the first series, so we were on nearly all summer. We were getting million viewers and we were popular with the cool kids.

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People were writing about it all the time. It came back to haunt us, though, when we reunited 10 years later for a one-off special. We knew it would get a kicking. Maybe it was a bit Spinal Tap-ish , but we embraced our inner Nigel Tufnel. That really is life. Topics Television How we made. Drama features.

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