I just finished reading this beautiful, reassuring book ~ Being Peace ~ by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, poet, scholar and human rights activist who was, in 1967, nominated by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., for the Nobel Peace Prize. Although he didn't win, Thich Nhat Hanh has worked a great deal towards spreading his message of "nonviolence" and peace.
This book was so calming that simply reading it brought me an inner comfort and peace that you sometimes feel from a certain experience, place or person. You can either buy the book, or enjoy the few excerpts that I will post here, but I would recommend you read the whole book because, apart from the spiritual benefits, it is thin, only $12.95 and a very easy, light read. It is definitely something you can return to for more thought. (I know I will be reading it again to calm myself down after what I am reading now "A People's History of the United States by Howard Zinn," which has my blood boiling at what Mr. Christopher Columbus did to the Arawaks of the Bahamas, what Corte`s did to the Aztecs of Mexico, Pizzaro to the Incas of Peru and the English settlers to the Native Americans.)
But as Howard Zinn himself explained it: "My point is not that we must, in telling history, accuse, judge, condemn Columbus in absentia. It is too late for that.....
The treatment of heroes (Columbus) and their victims (The Arawaks) - the quiet acceptance of conquest and murder in the name of progress - is only one aspect of a certain approach to history, in which the past is told from the point of view of governments, conquerors, diplomats, leaders...."
What a Buddhist approach from Zinn ~ let bygones be bygones, but let us learn from the past; let it be our teacher. I shall keep both his words and that of Thich Nhat Hanh as I continue with that book now.
As you may all know, Howard Zinn, American historian, author, activist, playwright and intellectual, died recently on Jan 27 2010. He too contributed greatly to thoughtful politics and promoting peace through his writings.
*The first mindfulness training ~
Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist teachings are guiding means to help us learn to look deeply and to develop our understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for....
Human life is more precious than any ideology or doctrine.
*The second mindfulness training ~
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 non-attachment from views in order to be open to others' insights and experiences. We are aware that the knowledge we possess is not changeless, absolute truth.....
*The third mindfulness training ~
Aware of the suffering brought about when we impose our views on others, we are committed not to force others, even our children, by any means whatsoever - such as authority, threat, money, propaganda, or indoctrination - to adopt our views. We will respect the right of others to be different and to choose what to believe and how to decide. We will, however, help others to renounce fanaticism and narrowness through compassionate dialogue....
*The fourth mindfulness training ~
Aware that looking deeply at the nature of suffering can help us develop compassion and find ways out of suffering, we are determined not to avoid or close our eyes before suffering. We are committed to finding ways, including personal contact, images and sounds, to be with those who suffer, so we can understand their situation deeply and help them transform their suffering into compassion, peace and joy.
*The fifth mindfulness training ~
Aware that true happiness is rooted in peace, solidity, freedom and compassion, and not in wealth or fame, we are determined not to take as the aim of our life fame, profit, wealth or sensual pleasure, nor to accumulate wealth while millions are hungry and dying.....
* The sixth mindfulness training ~
Aware that anger blocks communication and creates suffering, we are determined to take care of the energy of anger when it arises and to recognize and transform it....
*The seventh mindfulness training ~
Aware that life is available only in the present moment and that it is possible to live happily in the here and now we are committed to training ourselves to live deeply each moment of daily life.....
*The eighth mindfulness training ~
Aware that the lack of communication always brings separation and suffering, we are committed to training ourselves in the practice of compassionate listening and loving speech.....
*The ninth mindfulness training~
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 utter words that might cause division and hatred. We will not spread news that 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 may threaten our safety.
*The tenth mindfulness training ~
Aware that the essence and aim of a Sangha is the practice of understanding and compassion.....☮