Thích Nhất Hạnh during a ceremony in Da Nang on his 2007 trip to Vietnam
“We often think of peace as the absence of war, that if powerful countries would reduce their weapon arsenals, we could have peace. But if we look deeply into the weapons, we see our own minds- our own prejudices, fears and ignorance. Even if we transport all the bombs to the moon, the roots of war and the roots of bombs are still there, in our hearts and minds, and sooner or later we will make new bombs. To work for peace is to uproot war from ourselves and from the hearts of men and women. To prepare for war, to give millions of men and women the opportunity to practice killing day and night in their hearts, is to plant millions of seeds of violence, anger, frustration, and fear that will be passed on for generations to come. ” Thích Nhất Hạnh , Living Buddha, Living Christ
Thầy is 92 years old now. He returned to Vietnam in November 2018 to live his remaining days after turning down medication for a stroke. Thầy is not the only voice of sanity in an insane world, but he is a strong, gentle and consistently devoted voice. He has many lessons to teach and is an exemplar of the ideals he espouses. Thầy is considered the father of Engaged Buddhism, applying the insights from meditation practice and dharma teachings to situations of social, political, environmental and economic suffering and injustice. Thầy’s poetry is always salve for the weary spirit.
The cosmos is filled with precious gems.
I want to offer a handful of them to you this morning.
Each moment you are alive is a gem,
shining through and containing earth and sky,
water and clouds.
It needs you to breathe gently
for the miracles to be displayed.
Suddenly you hear the birds singing,
the pines chanting,
see the flowers blooming,
the blue sky,
the white clouds,
the smile and the marvelous look
of your beloved.
You, the richest person on Earth,
who have been going around begging for a living,
stop being the destitute child.
Come back and claim your heritage.
We should enjoy our happiness
and offer it to everyone.
Cherish this very moment.
Let go of the stream of distress
and embrace life fully in your arms.
© Thích Nhất Hạnh from Call Me by My True Names, The Collected Poems of Thích Nhất HạnhPhoto credit: mettabebe under CC BY-SA 2.0