Excerpt from “Being Peace” by Thich Nhat Hanh
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 being are the same. This is the real meaning of engaged Buddhism.
A system of seven practices of reconciliation:
The first practice is Face-to-Face Sitting.
The two conflicting monks are present, and they know that everyhone in the community expects them to make peace.
The second practice is Remembrance.
… trying to mend the things of the past.
The third principle is Non-stubbornness.
The outcome is not important. The fact that each monk is doing his best to show his willingness for reconciliation and understanding is most important.
You do your best, and that is enough.
The fourth practice is Covering Mud with Straw.
… the mud is the dispute, and the straw is the loving kindness of the Dharma.
The fifth stage is Voluntary Confession. Each monk reveals his own shortcomings, without waiting for others to say them.
… de-escalation …
… the capacity of mutual understanding and acceptance will be born.
… you are part of the community. The well-being of the community is most important. Don’t think only of your own feelings.
… sacrifice …
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.
Peace work means, first of all, being peace.
There is a lot of anger, frustration, and misunderstanding in the peace movement. The peace movement can write very good protest letters, but they are not yet able to write a love letter. We need to learn to write a letter to the Congress or to the president of the United States that they will want to read, and not just throw away. The way you speak, the kind of understanding, the kind of language you use should not turn people off. The president is a person like any of us.
Can the peace movement talk in loving speech, showing the way for peace? I think that will depend on whether the people in the peace movement can be peace. Because without being peace, we cannot do anything for peace. If we cannot smile, we cannot help other people to smile. If we are not peaceful, then we cannot contribute to the peace movement.
I hope we can bring a new dimension to the peace movement. The peace movement is filled with anger and hatred. It cannot fulfill the path we expect from them. A fresh way of being peace, of doing peace is needed. That is why it is so important for us to practice meditation, to acquire the capacity to look, to see, and to understand. It would be wonderful if we could bring to the peace movement our contribution, our way of looking at things, that will diminish aggression and hatred. Peace work means, first of all, being peace. Meditation is meditation for all of us. We rely on each other. Our children are relying on us in order to have a future.