"I know Thich Nhat Hanh, and am privileged to call him my friend. "
"Thich Nhat Hanh offers a way out of this nightmare, a solution acceptable to rational leaders. He has traveled the world, counseling statesmen, religious leaders, scholars and writers, and enlisting their support. His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity." - excerpts from Dr. King's letter to the Nobel Committee - entire text below.
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
“Forgiveness is not an occasional act, it is a constant attitude.”
“Let no man pull you so low as to hate him.” Dr. Martin Luther King
I hope you are well and happy and enjoying this beautiful day.
Once again we are commemorating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King. As many of you know, I am in awe of what he was able to do in his short lifetime. He and Thay were friends and he nominated Thay for the Nobel Prize. I have included the text of his nomination letter below...as well as the transcription of a talk I gave several years ago to illustrate the oneness of their vision for building the beloved community and creating conditions for peace on earth. That is the purpose of our Sanghas. We can look deeply at how we are practicing in order to create conditions for their dream to manifest.
CHANGE OF VENUE There is an opportunity to enjoy the community and deepen our practice this Sunday evening at 6 PM. It will not be at our home, but instead be at the home of Cindy and John West (directions below.). There will be sitting and walking meditation, sharing of the Dharma and enjoying togetherness. I hope you will be able to attend.
CARE TAKING COMMITTEE MEETING!!! A deep bow of gratitude to all of you who responded to the doodle poll. The day that worked best for the most people was Sunday, January 31 at 2 PM. So we will meet at our house at that time. If you did not respond to the poll but would like to join us, please come. It will be wonderful to be able to look together at ways we can strengthen our sangha. I will be sending out more info before our meeting....in the meantime, please be thinking of ways that the Sangha might better support your practice. Thank you all for your willingness to support the Sangha.
REGISTRATION IS OPEN FOR THE MARCH 5 DAY OF MINDFULNESS in Franklin, MA Transforming Suffering - Finding True Refuge in Busy, Troubled Times - This is always a lovely day. We can deepen our practice and enjoy being part of the larger community. I have been invited to offer a Transmission of the Five Mindfulness Trainings at that time. If you know of anyone who would like to receive formal transmission, please let them know. The application is available at joannefriday.com/calendar...and needs to be returned to me by Feb 27. Reading Thay's "Mindfulness Survival Kit" would be good preparation for anyone who is interested in receiving the Trainings. All of the registration information is available at joannefriday.com/calendar.
There will be an OI/Aspirant gathering at the Bell Street Chapel in Providence on Saturday, January 16 at 10 AM. There will be a Recitation Ceremony of the 14 Mindfulness Trainings, and a sharing about our practice with the 6th of the Fourteen.We have been practicing with one training each month and this month is the 6th. For me the thing I have been trying to be mindful of is "By contemplating impermanence, we will be able to look with the eyes of compassion at ourselves and at those we think are the cause of our anger, and to recognize the preciousness of our relationships. " It has been a wonderful defuser of the energy of anger in me. The text of the 6th Training is below. This meeting is open to Order members, aspirants and anyone who would like to learn more about our practice. There will be a meeting of the Radiant Bell Sangha from 8-9:45 at Bell Street before the OI meeting. All are welcome.
There are lots and lots of opportunities to practice. Please remember to check the monastery websites to learn about all of the upcoming retreats they are offering and to listen to the talks that they offer. There is tnhaudio.org where you can access lots of Thay's Dharma talks.
I hope you can attend some or all of these events and in the meantime, may we all transform the hatred, anger and violence in our own hearts, so we can be beautiful continuations for Thay and Dr. King.
with much love and deepest gratitude for all of you, Joanne
DIRECTIONS TO THE WEST HOME We live about 2 miles from URI. From rt 138, go north onto Old North Rd. (across the street from big sign ““Kingston Hill Store Books Used and Rare””. Also, just a smidge west of the 138/108 traffic light). Old North Rd starts off as a one way, continues on as a two way street, and finally ends as a T. You will see our corner property from there. Go left at the T (Old North Rd meets Stoneyfort Rd), and then a quick right onto Plantation Dr. We are the first home on the right (2nd driveway is easiest). Come on in the side door (porch/kitchen)!
SIXTH MINDFULNESS TRAINING Aware that anger blocks communication and creates suffering, we are committed to taking care of the energy of anger when it arises, to recognizing and transforming the seeds of anger that lie deep in our consciousness. When anger manifests, we are determined not to do or say anything, but to practice mindful breathing or mindful walking to acknowledge, embrace, and look deeply into our anger. We know that the roots of anger are not outside of ourselves but can be found in our wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in ourselves and in the other person. By contemplating impermanence, we will be able to look with the eyes of compassion at ourselves and at those we think are the cause of our anger, and to recognize the preciousness of our relationships. We will practice Right Diligence in order to nourish our capacity of understanding, love, joy and inclusiveness, gradually transforming our anger, violence, fear, and helping others do the same.
DR. KING'S NOMINATION LETTER
ON THIS DATE IN 1964, DR. MARTIN LUTHER KING accepted the Noble Peace Prize. In his acceptance speech, he wrote, As the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate of 1964, "I now have the pleasure of proposing to you the name of Thich Nhat Hanh for that award in 1967.
I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize than this gentle Buddhist monk from Vietnam.
This would be a notably auspicious year for you to bestow your Prize on the Venerable Nhat Hanh. Here is an apostle of peace and non-violence, cruelly separated from his own people while they are oppressed by a vicious war which has grown to threaten the sanity and security of the entire world.
Because no honor is more respected than the Nobel Peace Prize, conferring the Prize on Nhat Hanh would itself be a most generous act of peace. It would remind all nations that men of good will stand ready to lead warring elements out of an abyss of hatred and destruction. It would re-awaken men to the teaching of beauty and love found in peace. It would help to revive hopes for a new order of justice and harmony. Let me share with you some things I know about him. You will find in this single human being an awesome range of abilities and interests. He is a holy man, for he is humble and devout. He is a scholar of immense intellectual capacity. The author of ten published volumes, he is also a poet of superb clarity and human compassion. His academic discipline is the Philosophy of Religion, of which he is Professor at Van Hanh, the Buddhist University he helped found in Saigon. He directs the Institute for Social Studies at this University. This amazing man also is editor of Thien My, an influential Buddhist weekly publication. And he is Director of Youth for Social Service, a Vietnamese institution which trains young people for the peaceable rehabilitation of their country.
Thich Nhat Hanh today is virtually homeless and stateless. If he were to return to Vietnam, which he passionately wishes to do, his life would be in great peril. He is the victim of a particularly brutal exile because he proposes to carry his advocacy of peace to his own people. What a tragic commentary this is on the existing situation in Vietnam and those who perpetuate it.
The history of Vietnam is filled with chapters of exploitation by outside powers and corrupted men of wealth, until even now the Vietnamese are harshly ruled, ill-fed, poorly housed, and burdened by all the hardships and terrors of modern warfare.
Thich Nhat Hanh offers a way out of this nightmare, a solution acceptable to rational leaders. He has traveled the world, counseling statesmen, religious leaders, scholars and writers, and enlisting their support. His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.
I respectfully recommend to you that you invest his cause with the acknowledged grandeur of the Nobel Peace Prize of 1967. Thich Nhat Hanh would bear this honor with grace and humility.
Sincerely, Martin Luther King, Jr.
Peace Through Active Nonviolence Martin Luther King Remembrance a talk given by Joanne Friday
You may wonder what a Buddhist is doing here honoring Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. I have been a student of the Vietnamese Buddhist monk named Thich Nhat Hanh for 16 years.. He was a close friend of Dr. King and in 1967 he was nominated by him for the Nobel Peace Prize. In nominating him Dr. King said: “Thich Nhat Hanh’s ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.” I am so honored for the opportunity to speak here today in this remembrance of Martin Luther King Jr. I am also so happy that it is called “Peace Through Active Nonviolence” The practice of Engaged Buddhism is very similar to Dr. King’s practice of non-violence. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us that compassion is a verb. Compassion without action is not very meaningful. We practice love in action. What Dr. King was practicing was also love in action as a spiritual path to liberation. I was a teenager when the civil rights movement was happening. I was so amazed at the power of this one teacher. That he could inspire and motivate people who were being beaten and abused to respond with love and nonviolence and thus change the course of history. it was truly astonishing. What was it that he did? How did he do that? He said the night before he was killed, “I’ve looked over, and I’ve seen the promised land. I may not get there with you, but I want you to know tonight that we as a people will get to the promised land. So I’m happy tonight. I’m not worried about anything, I’m not fearing any man” The promised land was his vision of a world in which all beings are equal and treat each other with love and respect. He had been to the mountain top. He had seen the promised land and what he saw was the truth – that “we are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality – tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly affects all indirectly. “ In our practice we refer to this as interbeing. In 1956 at the First Annual Institute on Non-Violence and social change, he stated that “love might well be the salvation of our civilization...the end is reconciliation, the end is redemption; the end is the creation of the beloved community. ...It is love that will bring about miracles in the hearts of men.” And he was right. It did. He was able to look deeply and not get caught in the surface of things. To see beyond our impulse to have an immediate knee jerk response to violence, and to understand the long term implications of our actions. He had experienced God’s unconditional love and his calling was to share that love with the world, even at the cost of his own life. He said “To return hate for hate does nothing but intensify the existence of evil in the universe. Someone must have sense enough and religion enough to cut off the chain of hate and evil, and this can only be done through love.” And he had sense enough and religion enough. He said,” Nonviolence is absolute commitment to the way of love.” But he did more than say it. On the night of January 30 1956, he was at a meeting and learned that his house had been bombed. He rushed home and found that Coretta and their baby Yolanda weren’t hurt, but there was an angry mob of black men wanting a showdown with the police on the scene. King raised one hand to quiet the crowd and then said, ”I want you to go home and put down your weapons. We cannot solve this problem through retaliatory violence. We must meet violence with non-violence. We must meet hate with love.” He embodied the practice of nonviolence. He practiced what he preached – Love, non-violence and fearlessness. He was a man whose house had been bombed, the two people he loved most were in danger and right in the midst of it he could maintain his equanimity and practice nonviolence. He did not get caught in the surface of things . He did not just react to hatred with hatred, to injustice with injustice, to violence with violence. He looked beyond the surface to see that “mankind must evolve ...a method which rejects revenge, aggression and retaliation. The foundation of such a method is love.” He looked deeply enough to see that Jesus wasn’t just talking to hear himself talk when he said “Love your neighbor as yourself. ..Love your enemy”. He knew it was the only thing that would work. It’s not unrealistic, naïve idealism. It is absolute pragmatism. He looked beyond the horrible events of the present – the hatred and violence to see that moving toward the promised land of respect and equality is the only way we will survive. We have been conditioned to believe that revenge is the only answer. If someone hurts you, hurt him more. I would ask...”How’s it working for us?” Look at the Middle East and the answer is obvious. We may win a battle, but if in doing so we have planted thousands of seeds of hatred and fear..the war is not over- only the present conflict has ceased. There will be no peace as long as we react to violence with violence. That is true in our personal lives as well as in our national and international politics. If I am harboring hatred, anger and resentment, I am not at peace. Peace is not simply an absence of war or conflict. Peace is a deep personal practice of transformation. If I am not at peace, I cannot create peace on this planet. Many look at responding to violence with love as being weak- as being a doormat. King said “Don’t ever let anyone pull you so low as to hate them.” Love is the ultimate position of strength. In talking about the power of love, He said, “We shall match your ability to inflict suffering with our capacity to endure suffering. We will meet your physical force with soul force... You throw us in jail, ...bomb our homes,... beat us and we’ll still love you. ...We will wear you down by our capacity to suffer, and one day we will win our freedom. We will not only win freedom for ourselves; we will so appeal to your heart and conscience that we will win you in the process, and our victory will be double victory.” And that’s exactly what happened. Dr. King did not put himself in the path of a bullet so that we would come together once a year and parrot his glorious words and think,’what a shame,’ what a tragedy that he is gone. NO. He put himself in the path of that bullet because he was the embodiment of what he preached – Love, justice, fearlessness, peace. He had a calling. He did not let his small self, his own fears, his own doubts, his own desires to see his children grow up, supercede his larger truth. He had been to the mountain top. He had seen the promised land and he knew that he would never die . His body may be gone, but he is alive and well in every cell of every being that was touched by him. His death was a mandate for all of us who were touched by him to change the way we live and the choices we make, to transform the hatred, anger and violence in our own hearts. To practice what he preached. To embody his teachings. To be peace. To be love. Until everyone feels safe, no one is safe. Until everyone feels happy we all suffer. Until everyone feels loved we all suffer. In the peace movement there is a slogan. If you want peace, work for justice. As long as our prosperity comes at the price of suffering, starvation and deprivation for others, there will not be peace on earth. As long as we refuse to acknowledge that other people’s suffering is our business, and do what we can to alleviate it, there will not be peace on earth. The highest tribute we could offer Dr. King is not to praise him, but to be his continuation -to embody the practice of peace and non-violence. To be the beloved community. As he proved....It is love that will bring about miracles in the hearts of men. (bell) May we do our best to take good care of ourselves and each other so that we can create the conditions to manifest peace on earth.
“Now there is a final reason I think that Jesus says, "Love your enemies." It is this: that love has within it a redemptive power. And there is a power there that eventually transforms individuals. Just keep being friendly to that person. Just keep loving them, and they can’t stand it too long. Oh, they react in many ways in the beginning. They react with guilt feelings, and sometimes they’ll hate you a little more at that transition period, but just keep loving them. And by the power of your love they will break down under the load. That’s love, you see. It is redemptive, and this is why Jesus says love. There’s something about love that builds up and is creative. There is something about hate that tears down and is destructive. So love your enemies. (from "Loving Your Enemies")” Dr. Martin Luther King