Words and phrases such as “lan lan” which are included in the original text of Sang Sinxay, literally mean a million-million, or what we finally decided on, countless. The concept of using these infinite numbers requires that the reader/listener suspend their normal way of thinking, “Do not get caught up in the words” as Thich Nhat Hanh writes. Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist. He has been a prolific writer and one of our favorite books is Peaceful Action, Open Heart: Lessons from the Lotus Sutra, the origin of the quote in our title of this post. Although Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen (Mahayana) Buddhist and Sinxay originates from the Theravada heartland of Laos and Isan/Thailand, we do not limit ourselves to just Theravada Buddhism to explain the Buddhist context of Sinxay. For our readers to fully understand the magic and wonder that is Sinxay we’ve felt it necessary to cross over back and forth from Theravada into Mahayana and back to Theravada as needed to explain the Buddhist complexities of Sinxay. Peaceful Action, Open Heart has been one of the Mahayana texts that bas been extremely helpful in helping us better understand the Buddhist world of Sinxay.
We have another personal reason Thich Nhat Hanh is special for us. There was a Social Issues Conference back in 2007 presented by the University of San Diego’s Center for Christian Spirituality and Social Issues Committee titled Walking Together in Peace where Thich Nhat Hanh was the keynote speaker. Before the conference we were contacted and asked if they could use one of our photographs of monks walking in Luang Prabang in promotional literature. To be honest at the time we were not very familiar with Thich Nhat Hanh and although we quickly agreed to let them use our photo however they saw fit, we probably could have gotten a couple of tickets to hear him speak as “payment.” Not easy to do these days. You can see the photo they used on a large postcard they sent out. We use the same photo in our graphic header of our Laos Textile site at gotlaos.com