Sunday, May 27, 2012


As I read the following article from one of my favorite authors and teachers, Thich Nhat Hanh, I thought it especially appropriate for Memorial Day. As we mourn those who have fallen in war, may we determine to be part of bringing into reality a world where violence does not take the lives of those we love and of fellow human beings.  Quotable: "A civilization in which we must kill and exploit others in order to live is not a healthy civilization. [...] To bring about peace within the human family, we must work for harmonious co-existence."   Namaste, ya'll....

Nature and Nonviolence

--by Thich Nhat Hanh (May 22, 2012)                                                          

                                                                                                                           Listen To Reading!

You don’t discriminate between the seed and the plant. You see that they ‘inter-are’ with each other, that they are the same thing. Looking deeply at the young cornstalk, you can see the seed of corn, still alive, but with a new appearance. The plant is the continuation of the seed.

The practice of meditation helps us to see things other people can’t see. We look deeply and we see that father and son, father and daughter, mother and son, mother and daughter, corn seed and cornstalk, have a very close relationship. That is why we should awaken to the fact, to the truth, that we inter-are. The suffering of one is the suffering of the other. [...] When we see that we and all living beings are made of the same nature, how can there be division between us? How can there be lack of harmony? When we realize our ‘interbeing nature’, we’ll stop blaming and exploiting and killing, because we know that we inter-are. That is the great awakening we must have in order for the Earth to be saved.

We human beings have always singled ourselves out from the rest of the natural world. We classify other animals and living beings as ‘Nature’, a thing apart from us, and act as if we’re somehow separate from it. Then we ask, “How should we deal with Nature?” We should deal with Nature the same way we should deal with ourselves: nonviolently. Human beings and Nature are inseparable. Just as we should not harm ourselves, we should not harm Nature.

Causing harm to other human beings causes harm to ourselves. Accumulating wealth and owning excessive portions of the world’s natural resources deprives fellow humans of the chance to live. Participating in oppressive and unjust social systems creates and deepens the gap between rich and poor, and aggravates the situation of social injustice. While the rest of the human family suffers and starves, the enjoyment of false security and wealth is a delusion.

It’s clear that the fate of each individual is inextricably linked to the fate of the whole human race. We must let others live if we ourselves want to live. The only alternative to coexistence is co-nonexistence. A civilization in which we must kill and exploit others in order to live is not a healthy civilization. [...] To bring about peace within the human family, we must work for harmonious co-existence. If we continue to shut ourselves off from the rest of the world, imprisoning ourselves in narrow concerns and immediate problems, we’re not likely to make peace or to survive. The human race is part of Nature. We need to have this insight before we can have harmony between people.

--Thich Nhat Hanh in "Nature and Nonviolence"

Saturday, May 19, 2012


“People are paralyzed by the tensions and contradictions in their own beliefs.  In turn, they shy away from examining their own behavior too closely…” (Sharif Abdullah, Creating a World That Works For All, p. 105).

We all need food, safety, security, belonging, love. Sometimes our need for these things is so desperate that we try to take them, maybe harming others in the process.  For me, the definition of “sin” is when we try to meet our very legitimate needs in a way that is harmful to ourselves or others. It bothers us to realize that we’ve done things in unskillful ways to get what we need; that we’ve not lived with integrity with our innermost values.  That is very difficult to face, so most people choose to run from self-examination.  We shove it down and hide it – sometimes so deep that it’s buried in the unconscious.  It takes great courage to go within and face ourselves, for when we do so, we find that our actions don’t match our values - that we’ve not lived in honesty with our own selves.  That’s why Joseph Campbell termed it “The Hero’s Journey” – to face our inner demons takes more courage than most of us have!

We seek forgetfulness in many ways – watching TV, shopping, busy-ness, etc.  We try to like ourselves in spite of the things we’ve done that bother us.  Some self-help teachings even advise looking in the mirror and saying, “I like you!” to build self-esteem.  It would be healthier to face those behaviors and find ways to live in alignment with our innate desire to live with compassion toward all. 

We have such a deep need to forgive ourselves that we’ve created a God “out there” who can forgive us and wipe our slate clean…what we really need is to face ourselves, understand ourselves, forgive ourselves, and move forward in alignment with our innermost values.  It’s an internal thing of facing it, understanding it, and finding forgiveness…

The truth is we have all tried to meet our perfectly legitimate needs with unskillful means, bringing harm to others and/or ourselves.  Some traditions call this facing the "shadow" or dark side.  Christian teaching puts it this way: we have all sinned and come short of the glory of God. This has been interpreted to mean that individuals are evil and deserve to die, when in fact we have all learned to live in ways that are not beneficial to ourselves or others.  How freeing it is to see that, face it, forgive ourselves because we were ignorant of any better way, and learn more skillful and less harmful means of getting our needs met.  In Scriptural language, this process has been described as confession, repentance (turning), forgiveness, and sanctification (the process of learning to live righteously). Whatever we call this process, may we find the deep courage to forgive ourselves for past mistakes and to live in alignment with the deepest desires of our hearts...