Today I am grateful for Thich Nhat Hanh. He is a Vietnamese Zen Buddhist master, a poet, scholar, peace activist and author. I have just finished his book
Fear – Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm.
I loved reading the whole book. It is a book that investigates fear and teaches that life is full of wonderful and difficult moments. Thich Nhat Hanh suggests that to ease fear one needs to acknowledge that fear is present and to look deeply at its source.
Some of the parts of the book that really resonated with me were:
Unconditional acceptance is the first step in opening the door to the miracle of forgiveness.
Our ancestors are part of us and we have all their strengths and weaknesses. It is important to recognize both these strengths and weaknesses. It is important to make peace with those parts of you and your ancestors that are negative like fear, greed and jealousy. It is important to foster the strengths that are part of us and were part of our ancestors that include kindness, compassion and fearlessness.
Our responsibility is to produce the energy of compassion that first calms our own heart and then allows us to help the other person. If we punish the other person, he will suffer more, and the cycle will continue.
We can only remove violence and fear with compassion and love.
We have to learn to communicate as individuals, communities and nations. You cannot feel safe if those around you don’t look at you with friendliness and compassion. It is clear that police, armed forces and massive fire power can’t guarantee us real safety. Maybe the first thing we have to say is “Dear friend, I am aware that you want to live in safety. I too want to live in safety, so why don’t we work together?”. Wrong perceptions are the foundation of fear, hatred and violence and you cannot remove wrong perceptions with a gun.
The four mantras of transforming fear into love:
- I am here for you.
- I know you are there, and I am so happy.
- I know you are suffering. That is why I am here for you.
- I am suffering. Please help.
A solid sense of community gives us strength when we feel fear or despair and helps sustain our power of love and compassion.
We need a community that nourishes our joy as well as our sense of shared humanity.
Mindful breathing is very helpful
- eg Breathing in, I know this is an inbreath. Breathing out, I know this is an out breath.
- Breathing in, I follow my breath all the way from the beginning to the end. Breathing out, I follow my out breath all the way from the beginning to the end.
- Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body. Breathing out, I am aware of my whole body.
- Breathing in, I am aware of some tension and pain in my body; breathing out, I calm and release the tension and pain in my body.
It is important to cultivate in our lives the capacity to be happy and the capacity to be loving. It is our responsibility to take care of each other. It is essential we work to understand each other and it even though we know blaming and arguing do not help we often forget. We need to practice not blaming and arguing and we need to practice happiness and the art of making others happy.
I am so grateful for all the wisdom that is shared in this book.
PLEASE NOTE ALL THE ABOVE ARE EXAMPLES OF WHAT THICH NHAT HANH HAS WRITTEN AND ARE NOT MY OWN THOUGHTS.