Friday, November 10, 2017

Being Peace

Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh
Berkeley, CA:  Parallax Press, 1987, 1996
ISBN 0-938077-00-7

(6)  A smile makes you master of yourself.

… Therefore, the technique, if we have to speak of a technique, is to be in the present moment, to be aware that we are here and now, and the only moment to be alive is the present moment.

(32)  Happiness is available.  Please help yourself to it.  All of us have the capacity of transforming neutral feelings into pleasant feelings, very pleasant feelings that can last a long time.

…  When we practice sitting or walking, we have the means to do it perfectly.

(36)  I have to take care of myself, knowing that I am responsible for your happiness, and if you do the same, everything will be all right.  This is the Buddha’s teaching about perception, based on the principle of dependent co-arising.  Buddhism is easy to learn!

(40)  If you cannot be compassionate to yourself, you will not be able to be compassionate to others.  When we get angry, we have to produce awareness:  “I am angry.  Anger is in me.  I am anger.”  That is the first thing to do.
NB:  Embodied Peacemaking

(53)  If you practice one hour of sitting a day, that hour should be all twenty-four hours, and not just for that hour.  One smile, one breath should be for the benefit of the whole day, not just for that moment.  We must practice in a way that removes the barrier between practice and non-practice.

(57)  The problem is not to do a lot, but to do it correctly.  If you do it correctly, you become kinder, nicer, more understanding and loving.

(63)  There is a Zen story about a man riding a horse that is galloping very quickly.  Another man, standing alongside the road, yells at him, “Where are you going?” and the man on the horse yells back, “I don’t know.  Ask the horse.”  I think that is our situation.

(68)  If you are a mountain climber or someone who enjoys the countryside, or the green forest, you know that the forests are our lungs outside of our bodies.

(69) Sometimes we had to burn ourselves alive to get the message across, but even then the world could not hear us.  They thought we were supporting a kind of political act.  They didn’t know that it was a purely human action to be heard, to be understood.  We wanted reconciliation, we did not want a victory.

(74)  Our daily lives, the way we drink, what we eat, has to do with the world’s political situation.  Meditation is to see deeply into things, to see how we can change, how we can transform our situation.  To transform our situation is also to transform our minds.  To transform our minds is also to transform our situation, because the situation is mind, and mind is situation.  Awakening is important.  The nature of the bombs, the nature of injustice, the nature of the weapons, and the nature of our own beings are the same.   This is the real meaning of engaged Buddhism.

(75)  [seven practices of reconciliation]
The first practice is Face-to-Face Sitting.  In a convocation of the whole sangha, everyone sits together mindfully, breathing and smiling, with the willingness to help, and not with the willingness to fight.  This is basic….

The second practice is Remembrance.  Both monks try to remember the whole history of the conflict, every detail having to do with the conflict, while the whole assembly just sits patiently and listens…

(76)  The third principle is Non-stubbornness. Everyone in the community expects the two monks not to be stubborn, to try their best for reconciliation.

(77)  The fourth practice is Covering Mud with Straw.  You know when you walk in the countryside after a rain.  It is very muddy.  If you have straw to spread over the mud, you can walk safely.  One respected senior monk is appointed to represent each side of the conflict.  These two monks then address the assembly, trying to say something to de-escalate the feeling in the concerned people…. Putting straw on mud - the mud is the dispute, and the straw is the lovingkindess of the Dharma.

… The next stage is Voluntary Confession.  Each monk reveals his own shortcomings, without waiting for others to say them.  If others say them, you feel differently.  If you yourself say them, it is wonderful.

(78)  The sixth and seventh practices are Decision by Consensus and Accepting the Verdict.  It is agreed in advance that the two monks will accept whatever verdict is pronounced by the whole assembly, or they will have to leave the community.  So, after exploring every detail of the conflict, after realizing the maximum of reconciliation, a committee presents a verdict.

(79)  These seven methods of settling disputes have been adopted by Buddhist monks and nuns in India, China, Vietnam, Japan, Korea, and many other countries for more than 2,500 years.  I think we can learn something from them to apply in our own households and society.

…The peace movement can write very good protest letters, but they are not yet able to write a love letter.

(86)  We do not practice for the sake of the future, to be reborn in a paradise, but to be peace, to be compassion, to be joy right now.

(88)  The Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing - Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings

(89)  First:  Aware of the suffering created by fanacticism and intolerance we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones.  Buddhists teachings are guiding means to help us learn to look deeply and to deveop our understanding and compassion.  They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for.

(90)  Second:  Aware of the suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions, we are determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views.  We shall learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to others’ insights and experiences.  We are aware that the knowledge we presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth.  Truth is found in life, and we will observe life within and around us in every moment, ready to learn throughout our lives.

… The Buddha said, “If you cling to something as absolute truth and are caught in it, when truth comes in person and knocks on your door, you will refuse to let it in.”

(91)  The way of nonattchment from views i the basic teaching of Buddhism concerning understanding.

…  We are commited ot finding ways, cinldying personal contact, images, and sounds, to be with those who suffer, so we can udnerstand their situation deeply and help them transform their suffering into compassion, peace, and joy.

(93)  The Eight Realizations of Great Beings Sutra says, “The human mind is always searching for possessions, and never feels fulfilled.  Bodhisattvas move in the opposite directon and follow the principle of self-sufficiency.  They live a simple life in order to practice the Way, and consider the realization of perfect understanding as their only career.”

(94)  “Learn to look at other beings with the eyes of compassion” is a quote from the Lotus Sutra chapter on Avalokiteshvara.  You might like to put this down and put it in your sitting rooom.  The original Chinkese is only five words:  “comapssionate eyes looking living beings.”  The first tme I recited the Lotus Sutra , when I came to these five words, I was silenced.  I knew that these five words are enough to guide my whole life.

Seventh:  Aware that life is available only in the present moment and that it is possile to live happily in the hera and now, we are committed to training ourselves to live deeply each moment of daily life.

(95)  The first seven trainings deal with mind, then two with speech, and five with body.  This mindfulness training is about reconciliation, the effort to make peace, not only in your family, but in society as well.  In order to help reconcile a conflict, we have to be in touch with both sides and understand.  The world needs people like this for the work of reconciliation, people with the capacity of understanding and compassion.

NInth:  Aware that words can create suffering or happiness we are committed to learning to speak truthfully and constructively, using only words that inspire hope and confidence.  We are determined not to say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people, nor to utter words that might cause division or hatred.  We will not spread news hat we do not know to be certain nor criticize or condemn things of which we are not sure.  WE will do our best to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so many threaten our safety.

(96)  There is a gatha that can be recited before picking up the telephone:
Words can travel across thousands of miles.
May my words create mutual understanding and love.
May they be as beautiful as gems,
as lovely as flowers.

(98)  If I lose my direction, I have to look for the North Star, and I go to the north.  That does not mean I expect to arrive at the North Star.  I just want to go in that direction.

(99)  Preventing war is much better than protesting against the war.  Protesting the war is too late.

(100)  In sexual relations, we must be aware of future suffering that may be caused.

(101)  We are aware that loneliness and suffering cannot be alleviated by the coming together of two bodies in a sexual relationship, but by the practice of true understanding and compassion.

… Is our world safe enough to bring in more children?  If you want to bring more children into the world, then do something for the world.

(102)  In the religious and medical traditions of Asia, the human person was said to have three sources of energy:  sexual, breath, and spirit.  Sexual energy is what you spend during sexual intercourse.  Breath energy is the kind of energy you spend when you talk too much and breathe too little.  Spirit energy is energy that you spend when you worry too much and do not sleep well.  If you spend these three sources of energy, your body will not be strong enough to penetrate deeply into reality and realize the Way.  Buddhist monks observed ccelibacy, not because or moral admonition, but to conserve energy.  Someone on a long fast knows how important it is to preserve these three sources of energy.

… To be reborn means first to be reborn in your children.

(103)  If you wish to have children, please do something for the world you will bring them into.  That will make you someone who works for peace, in one way or another.

(111)  The Buddha’s basic Dharma talk concerning meditation, the Satipatthana Sutta, is available in Pali, Chinese, and many other languages, including English and French.  According to this text, to meditate is to be aware of what is going on in your body, in your feelings, in your mind, and in the objects of your mind, which are the world.  If you are aware of what is going on, then you can see problems as they unfold, and you can help prevent many of them.

(114)  A flower is a Buddha.  A flower has Buddha nature.

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