Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Creating True Peace

When Martin Luther King, Jr. nominated Thich Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize, he said, “[Hanh’s] ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to world brotherhood, to humanity.” I agree.

Hanh’s books, including Creating True Peace, describe ways that we can change our thinking, speaking, and acting in profound and powerful ways. Hanh shows us the simple ways that we can transform our lives and create peace on every level—personal, family, neighborhood, community, nation, and world. He teaches us that peace is possible.

He describes the Five Mindfulness Trainings that help anyone experience greater peace, regardless of their spiritual beliefs or cultural background. His teachings are simple and beautiful.

The First Mindfulness Training is reverence for life. He challenges us to show greater reverence for life and to not condone killing in the world. Of course, the Christian equivalent of this teaching is “Thou shalt not kill.” Each of us can do more to encourage nonviolence in our communities and in the world. Violence and peace cannot coexist.

The Second Mindfulness Training is generosity, which motivates us to share our time, talents, and material means with others and to “prevent others from profiting from human suffering.” Truly, as we give, we receive. As we share love, we receive love. As we create peace, we are blessed with peace.

The Third Mindfulness Training is sexual responsibility, being faithful to our spouses and doing all that we can to protect children from sexual abuse. Although I have learned firsthand that we cannot always protect those we love from sexual predators, we can teach children to avoid any dangerous situations, to learn self-defense, and to report any abuse that they see or experience.

The Fourth Mindfulness Training is deep listening and loving speech. As we listen carefully and compassionately to others, we can better understand their needs and pain and can help to alleviate it. Hanh tells us that in our families when we feel angry, rather than speaking unkindly, we can leave the situation, practice mindful breathing, and return to resolve the conflict when we feel calmer.

The Fifth Mindfulness Training is mindful consumption. Not only does Nanh challenge us to eat healthy foods in moderation, but he urges us to avoid anything that brings “toxins into our consciousness.” He explains that when the average American child finished elementary school, he has watched about 100,000 acts of violence and 8,000 acts of murder. As we protect ourselves and our children from violence and pornography, we can experience greater peace. Hahn suggests that we put a warning label on our televisions as we do on cigarettes: “Warning, watching TV can be dangerous.”

This short description doesn't begin to describe the depth of Hahn’s wisdom. He shares hundreds of simple but life-altering ways that we can create peace in our lives here and now. He tells us that “practicing peace is possible with every step, with every breath.” He provides us with tools that will help us bring hope and compassion into our homes, communities, nations, and the world.

“True peace is possible,” he says, “yet it requires strength and practice, particularly in times of difficulty.”

© Carol Brown

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