Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh

Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh is perhaps one of the first books published in English by the incredibly prolific Vietnamese Buddhist monk who has been exiled from his home, currently lives in France, and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

In this slender volume, Thây explains his beliefs about interbeing, a “new” concept at the time, while suggesting that it is not enough to protest but to promote.  Instead of fighting for peace, an oxymoron at best, one should experience peace through being peace-full.  Through meditation, through the dedication and a deep commitment to peace, and embracing the 14 precepts of interbeing.

Through personal stories and traditional stories, the argument made for being peace (rather than having or creating or any of the other gerund forms one can suggest) coming from a man who has seen his home and his people torn apart through war is especially remarkable and the roots of his teachings are evident in this book.  Anyone who has read a lot of Thich Nhat Hanh’s writings will recognize many of the teachings.  That is one of the things I love about reading Thây’s writing; it feels like coming home.  Most of what I’ve read has been more contemporary and there is a slightly different tone in his more recently published writings.  I think this is more indicative of his growing more confident with his writing voice over the decades rather than any change in his teachings because I can see none.  At most, what I see is a refinement in his teaching that makes it all a bit more cohesive and no less accessible than it was when he first started putting his teachings on the page.

I've said it before after reading a Thich Nhat Hanh book--reading his writings is like coming home.  I always feel a rightness about his teachings.

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