In Remembrance


From Thich Nhat Hanh’s The Heart of Buddha’s Teachings (writing about his work during the Viet Nam War): “A wrong perception was responsible for a wrong policy, and a wrong policy was responsible for the deaths of many thousands of American and Vietnamese soldiers, and several million Vietnamese civilians. The people in the countryside could not understand why they had to die like that, why the bombs had to fall on them day and night. I was sleeping in my room close to the Buddha Hall on the School of Youth for Social Service campus when a rocket was fired into that hall. I could have been killed. If you nourish your hatred and your anger, you burn yourself. Understanding is the only way out. If you understand, you will suffer less, and you will know how to get to the root of injustice. The Buddha said that if one arrow strikes you, you’ll suffer. But if a second arrow hits you in the same spot, you’ll suffer one hundred times more. When you are a victim of injustice, if you get angry, you will suffer one hundred times more. When you have some pain in your body, breathe in and out and say to yourself, “It is only a physical pain.” If you imagine that it is cancer and that you will die very soon, your pain will be one hundred times worse. Fear or hatred, born of ignorance, amplifies your pain. Prajña paramita is the savior. If you know how to see things as themselves and not more than that, you can survive. I love the Vietnamese people, and I tried my best to help them during the war. But I also saw the American boys in Vietnam as victims. I did not look at them with rancor, and I suffered much less. This is the kind of suffering many of us have overcome, and the teaching is born out of that suffering, not from academic studies. I survived for Brother Nhât Tri and for so many others who died in order to bring the message of forgiveness, love, and understanding. I share this so they will not have died in vain.”



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