Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh
A Timeless Introduction to Thich Nhat Hanh’s Important Teachings: Being Peace
Being Peace, written by Thich Nhat Hanh, is a spiritual classic that explores the vital connection between inner and global harmony. This profound book, initially published in the United States as one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s earliest works, not only engaged peace activists but also provided valuable commentary on the contemporary peace movement. Its impact was outstanding, rendering it an indispensable guide even after three decades. Over this time, Thich Nhat Hanh has grown into a globally acclaimed spiritual leader. Being Peace has spread its wisdom across over thirty languages and amassed half a million copies sold solely in the US.
A Refreshing Perspective on Suffering and Joy
Within the pages of this enduring book, readers will discover the hallmarks of Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings, vividly presented in his characteristic clear and resolute style. A cherished excerpt that serves as an introduction to the book reveals the following profound insight: life is indeed filled with suffering, but it also abounds in countless wonders, such as the vivid azure sky, the warm caress of sunlight, and the innocent gaze of a child. Mere suffering alone is insufficient.
Experience the Timeless Wisdom of Being Peace
Now, for the first time, you can immerse yourself in the enlightening pages of this captivating book with its new commemorative edition, beautifully presented in a hardcover format. This edition is enhanced by a foreword from the esteemed Dr. Jane Goodall, lending even greater value to this remarkable introduction to Thich Nhat Hanh’s transformative work. Whether you choose to explore these pages for your personal growth or gift it to your loved ones, Being Peace is a gem that provides solace, guidance, and insight.
Settling Disputes: 7 Methods of Peaceful Resolution in Buddhist Monastic Communities
Good morning, ladies and gentlemen! Today is a wonderful morning. We have just spent an hour practicing walking meditation, finding joy with every step. At the beginning of this retreat, I posed a question: Do we need to make a special effort to enjoy a beautiful morning? After four days of practice, it seems that there is no need for any particular effort to appreciate the beauty around us. When we look at the blue sky, we naturally see its splendor without needing to put in any extra effort. This question pertains to our practice as well. Does meditation require a lot of effort? After four days of practice, we have come to realize that meditation is a pleasant experience. Every second and every minute spent in practice brings us joy. Just as we don’t need any effort to enjoy the blue sky, we do not need any effort to practice meditation and find happiness in it.
Life is full of suffering, but it is also full of wonderful things like a blue sky, sunshine, and the eyes of a baby. It is important to recognize and appreciate the wonders of life that surround us at all times and in all places. We do not need to travel or wait for certain conditions to enjoy them. Being in touch with the wonderful aspects of life is crucial because if we focus only on suffering, we miss out on the beauty. In Theravada Buddhism, we emphasize the aspect of pain and suffering, while in Mahayana Buddhism, we emphasize the woundedness of life. Both aspects are present and need to be acknowledged.
Looking at the art of Buddha statues, we see the Buddha beautifully dressed and smiling. During this retreat, I have asked the children to dress beautifully to embody the spirit of a Bodhisattva. I have observed the genuine smiles of the children and shared with them how they make life more beautiful. A person doesn’t have to do much to save the world. By simply being themselves and smiling, they can bring peace and beauty to the world. When a child smiles, when an adult smiles, it is important because through their smiles, they bring joy and peace to themselves and others. Smiling is like blooming, and everyone around us benefits from it. Let us all practice the art of smiling.
Being in touch with the wonders of the world, smiling, and enjoying the present moment are the first things we should practice. This kind of practice does not require any special effort. It simply involves being aware of the presence of these wonderful things. Smiling and enjoying the blue sky, sunshine, and the presence of each other is revolutionary, especially when done in every moment of our lives, even during sitting meditation.
At first, smiling may seem difficult for some of us. We might wonder why it is so hard to smile. Smiling is an act of showing that we are ourselves, not lost in forgetfulness. A genuine smile can relax the muscles on our face and our nervous system, allowing us to be masters of ourselves. The Buddha and the bodhisattvas are always depicted smiling because they have mastered the art of smiling. Through smiling, we can see the wonder and beauty of life, and we can truly be present in the current moment.
Sitting here in meditation, we should not think of elsewhere in the future or the past. We should be fully aware that we are sitting here in the present moment. This is important because we often tend to live in the future, thinking that we will only be truly alive once certain conditions are met. We say things like “Wait until I finish school, get a job, or buy a house.” But the truth is that the only moment for us to be alive is the present moment. We should not postpone being alive to a distant future that may never come. We need to be fully present and alive now. This is the only moment that is real. We need to seize it and be aware of it. This is difficult to do in our busy lives, but it is essential for our well-being.
The practice of meditation is the practice of being aware of what is going on within ourselves and in the world around us. It is the practice of being alive in the present moment and not letting ourselves be carried away by distractions. By being fully present, we can experience peace, happiness, and joy. Breathing is a powerful tool in this practice. When we breathe in, we feel the breath entering our body and mind. When we breathe out, we smile, which has a relaxing effect on our entire being. The breath and the smile bring us back to the present moment, where life is happening.
When we practice meditation, it is like holding onto a rope. The breath is the rope that keeps us from falling into forgetfulness. By holding onto it, we nourish awareness and mindfulness. We nourish the presence of the Buddha within us. Breathing in, we are aware of our body and mind. Breathing out, we smile and enjoy the present moment. This practice is not just about reciting words but truly embodying the breath and the smile. It is about feeling the breath and smile within us, just as we feel the coldness of a glass of iced water or the freshness of freshly squeezed orange juice.
Being mindful of the present moment is crucial. We often live in the future, constantly thinking about what needs to be done or achieved. We say things like “I will be happy when…”. But happiness can only be found in the present moment. The present moment is where life is happening. By being fully present and enjoying the present moment, we can experience true happiness and peace. This is the essence of the practice.
The practice of meditation is not limited to sitting in a meditation hall. It can be incorporated into our daily lives. We can create a dedicated space in our homes for meditation, a room for breathing. This room should be simple and clean, with cushions and a small table with a flower. Children can arrange the flower mindfully, practicing the art of flower arranging. If we have a beautiful Buddha statue, we can place it on the altar. If not, a flower can symbolize our true nature. This room serves as a reminder to practice breathing and smiling, not only during formal meditation but throughout the day. It is a sanctuary for reconnecting with our Buddha nature.
If we ever feel sad or irritated, instead of reacting, we can take a moment to breathe and smile. We can enter our breathing room, sit down, and wave our troubles away with a smile. This room is a sanctuary where we can come back to ourselves whenever we feel the need. It is a way to nourish the Buddha within us and maintain our peace and happiness.
Having such a room in our homes is a way to cultivate a civilized and mindful family. We can start our days by being a Buddha, appreciating the beauty of life and ourselves. When we come back home, we can return as a Buddha, bringing joy and peace to our loved ones. This room serves as a reminder to be present, to be alive, and to be aware of what is going on within ourselves and in the world. It is a space to practice being a Buddha every day.
Let us remember the seven practices of reconciliation that Buddhist monasteries have used for over 2,500 years. These practices can be applied to settle disputes within families and society. They involve face-to-face discussions, remembrance of past events, non-stubbornness, covering mud with straw (finding peace amidst conflict), voluntary confession, decisions made by majority vote, and abiding by the community’s verdict. By practicing these principles, we can find peace within ourselves and foster harmony in our communities.
The practice of meditation, breathing, and smiling is not limited to retreats or formal meditation settings. It can be incorporated into our daily lives, in our homes, and with our families. By creating dedicated spaces for practicing meditation and mindfulness, we can cultivate peace and happiness within ourselves and those around us. Breathing and smiling are powerful tools that can bring us back to the present moment and remind us of the beauty and wonder of life. Let us all strive to be present, to be aware, and to embrace the Buddha within ourselves.
Today, let us practice breathing one more time before we continue. Breathe in, calming body and mind. Breathe out, smiling, enjoying the present moment. Calming, smiling, present moment. This is the only moment. It is a wonderful moment. Let us cherish it and make the most of it. Remember, you are the Buddha. Embrace your Buddha nature and let your light shine.