Paris 2013, instagram
Each of us experiences pain differently. For some it can trigger an explosion of anger, or a cascade of tears, or sometimes an overwhelming numbness, a stupor.
For me, it’s always a piercing sensation in my heart that crumples me inward.
I find I need a corner, somewhere quiet, still.
Before there was the internet, I would reach for a book or go for a long walk to try and soothe the pain. I still go for long walks, but now I can also readily access websites that bring in healing energies like Plum Village where I can connect to the spirit of Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay).
Thay lived through the Vietnam war. The bombs were dropping all around him. The horror was all around him. And he continued to find peace. He continued to bring peace.
Tonight I found solace in the words I found at his website (Plum Village):
“Wherever we are, we know that our practice of nourishing and healing ourselves is the best way we can all take care of Thay, and take care of the present moment.”
Because suffering is impermanent,
that is why we can transform it.
Because happiness is impermanent,
that is why we have to nourish it.
-Thich Nhat Hanh, 10th June 2014
This writing is from an update on Thay who is very sick. It is a direction to those of us who care about him and wish to help. I believe it can also be a direction for those of us who are witnessing the sickness of this country as it faces the cancer of racism that is laced through it.
For me, it helps to know that we can bring healing energy into the world around us by looking closely at our daily life. How we treat ourselves and the people in our everyday world.
It seems a simple thing, but it is not.
When we get honest and look closely at where we hold unkindness, where we hold unforgiveness, where we hold hard thoughts about another, where we hold anger for a parent, a friend, a colleague, we have an opportunity to help the world at large.
However trite or insignificant your personal feelings may seem in the face of the national outrage, the fact is, if you can’t forgive that person you are mad at, if you can’t hold that former friend, spouse, or co-worker in a place of genuine love and light, then the national drama is just what is in your heart, writ large.
As Thay writes in Good Citizens,Creating Englightened Society,
“We need to abolish poverty and social injustice, and to deal with the problems of global warming and economic recession.
But we need to begin with the painful feelings we carry inside us.
We have to deal with these things first.
If they are not dealt with, we may inadvertently cause more suffering when we’re trying to relieve it. The Buddha didn’t begin his first teaching with the suffering of social injustice, poverty, and hunger, although he cared very much about these things. He began with the lack of peace within our own bodies and minds. We want to deal with suffering realistically and at the roots.“
The good news is, no matter how difficult it may be to release our unkind thoughts or unforgiving stance, we can do it. And, when we do, there is one more release of light and goodness into the world.
Multiplied by thousands, multiplied by millions – it will add up.
That is my prayer.
morning at the Seekonk River, instagram