We don’t have to be Perfect

Excerpt from Dharma Talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh on July 20, 1998 in Plum Village, France.

North Star

North Star

When we get lost in the forest, if we want to go home, we may rely on the North Star as a sign to help us know what direction we should take. Suppose we want to go north: we look at the North Star in order to go north. But we do not have an intention to arrive at the North Star (laughter). We don’t have to arrive there, we need just to go north. The same thing is true with violence and non-violence.

We don’t have to be perfect in the practice of the First Mindfulness Training; in fact, no one can be perfect in the practice of the First Mindfulness Training. Lord Buddha had to eat vegetables just like us, so we know that his dish was not completely vegetarian. And every time he walked and moved, he may have crushed insects under his feet. As a human being you have to walk, you have to eat, you have to drink, and that is why you cannot be perfectly non-violent. But the important thing is that you try to be as non-violent as possible, and you cultivate compassion, so that each day you become more and more compassionate, each day you become more and more non-violent, and that is an art.

In order to know how to be more compassionate each day, how to apply better and better the First Mindfulness Training each day, we have to come together as a Sangha and recite the Mindfulness Trainings and share ideas, in order to understand more deeply the Trainings and to find out better ways to put the Mindfulness Trainings into practice in our daily lives. Therefore, please remember the North Star: we don’t have to be perfect, and sometimes we have to use means that are not completely non-violent; but you are in a position to understand the suffering of the people, you have the energy of compassion in you, you can intervene so that people around you and yourself become less and less violent every day. That would make the Buddha happy already.

About Still Water Sangha of MN

We are a community, formed with enthusiasm and joy, practicing Mindfulness and Meditation together in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. We meet on Monday nights from 7-8:30pm in a private home in Stillwater, Minnesota.
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