This article focuses on Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings to find peace and compassion in today’s troubled world.
Thich Nhat Hanh sought compassion and peace his entire life. He states that the compassion and peace he learned did not come from an intellectual investigation, but from actual experiences of suffering to find peace.
He believes that being mindful in action and love is the only path to peace, and peace must exist inside each of us for peace to expand to others. Applying Thich Nhat Hanh’s teaching to find peace and to modern society can only happen when you have reached a peaceful place within you.
Related: Everyone Is Capable of Love
Thich Nhat Hanh, a great peace activist, said, “Root down the violence in your life and learn to live compassionately and mindfully. Seek peace. When you have peace within, real peace with others is possible.”
Nhat Hanh continues his peace lessons by teaching that to Find Peace or achieve peace we must be at peace. This is a simple truth and is the theme of one of his inspiring lectures a decade ago. To change the world, we must begin without ourselves and transform our way of living into a life capable of bringing lasting peace.
How to Find Peace in a Troubled World?
Meditation is a practice toward peace. When you meditate, you see deeply into things and discover how you can change and transform your situation. Once your situation is altered your mind can be engaged in peaceful thoughts.
“The nature of the bombs, the nature of injustice, the nature of the weapons, and the nature of our being are the same. This is the real meaning of engaged Buddhism” (Thich Nhat Hanh, 2005).
How to Have Peace in Mind?
Look back to Nhat Hanh’s Engaged Buddhism premises. Number eight gives us a way to bring peace to those around us. We are urged not to speak words that will create discontent and cause the sense of community to break. We should make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts. The right words are the way to peace. Working for peace also means that when we are aware we can do something to change the course.
We must put ourselves in the shoes of someone from another country. Become one with him and understand his suffering and fear. This is a way to peace. Another way to peace is not to take sides in engagement.
“If we align ourselves with one side or the other, we will lose our chance to work for peace” (Thich Nhat Hanh, 2005).
Stay neutral is Thich Nhat Hanh’s pacifist advice. During the Vietnam War young Buddhists organized themselves with the help of Thich Nhat Hanh to rebuild villages that had been destroyed. Many of these young followers died because they would not take sides.
They protested the war and tried to stop the fighting by burning themselves and suffering for peace. The world did not hear them; it only turned its back on them. They knew that to end the war and bring on reconciliation they had to be one with both sides. Taking no side only brought them many heartaches and punishments.
Thich Nhat Hanh wrote this beautiful poem for the young who died trying to teach the world how to be one with another:
Promise me this day,
And, promise me now,
While the sun is overhead
Exactly at the zenith,
Even as they
Strike you down
With a mountain of hatred and violence;
even as they step on you and crush you
like a worm, even as they dismember and disembowel you,
man is not our enemy” (Thich Nhat Hanh, 1987)
How to Find Peace or The Inner Peace?
It is time to apply these teachings to the modern world. We know that mothers and children in other countries need food more than they need weapons of mass destruction. They are not at all for the politics of land, government, and domination. They only want peace and a place to raise good sons and daughters.
Nhat Hanh’s admonition to political countries during the Vietnam War Era holds today. Citizens need to see the real situation. What we do every day prolongs the political situation in the world. Meditation gives you the power to see deeply into issues and determine how we can change and transform the situation, and bring peace. We must transform our minds to transform our situation.
Nhat Hanh tells us to protest the war peacefully. Peace will come when you do not avoid the truth and try and forget yourself. Awareness of yourself in the present moment is how you can make positive changes in your life. Mindful action is what makes peace possible.
Peace and Calmness
Thich Nhat Hanh feels strongly that the problems plaguing our society are just more problems from the past. We must recognize our interdependence on each other and the earth to find peace and to make the positive changes need to keep the earth viable and humanity peaceful.
He wrote a letter to the 2014 UN Summit for Climate Change that expresses a way to peace. Nhat Hanh said, “There’s a revolution that needs to happen, and it starts from inside each one of us. We need to wake up and fall in love with Earth. We’ve been homo sapiens for a long time. Now it’s time to become homo conscious. Our love and admiration for the Earth have the power to unite us and remove all boundaries, separation, and discrimination. Centuries of individualism and competition have brought about tremendous destruction and alienation.
We need to re-establish true communication–true communion–with ourselves, with the Earth, and with one another as children of the same mother. And, we need more than new technology to protect the planet. We need real community and co-operation.
All civilizations are impermanent and must come to an end one day. But if we continue our current course, there’s no doubt that our civilization will be destroyed sooner than we think. The Earth may need millions of years to heal, retrieve her balance and restore her beauty. She will be able to recover, but we humans and many other species will disappear until the Earth can generate conditions to bring us forth again in new forms.
Once we can accept the impermanence of our civilization with peace, we will be liberated from our fear. Only then will we have the strength, awakening, and love we need to bring us together. Cherishing our precious Earth–falling in love with the Earth–is not an obligation. It is a matter of personal and collective happiness and survival” (Thich Nhat Hanh, 2014).
A Peaceful Mind Quotes
- “Nothing can disturb your peace of mind unless you allow it to.” ― Roy T. Bennett, The Light in the Heart
- “Grudges are for those who insist that they are owed something; forgiveness, however, is for those who are substantial enough to move on.” ― Criss Jami, Salomé: In Every Inch In Every Mile
- “I’m not a concept. Too many guys think I’m a concept or I complete them or I’m going to ‘make them alive’…but I’m just a fucked up girl who’s looking for my peace of mind. Don’t assign me yours.” ― Charlie Kaufman, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: The Shooting Script
- “The punishment of every disordered mind is its disorder.” ― St. Augustine of Hippo, Confessions
- “Sit down before fact as a little child, be prepared to give up every preconceived notion, follow humbly wherever and to whatever abysses nature leads, or you shall learn nothing. I have only begun to learn content and peace of mind since I have resolved at all risks to do this.” ― Thomas Huxley, Life, and Letters of Thomas Henry Huxley – Volume 1
- “If you knew your potential to feel good, you would ask no one to be different so that you can feel good. You would free yourself of all of that cumbersome impossibility of needing to control the world, or control your mate, or control your child. You are the only one who creates your reality. For no one else can think for you, no one else can do it. It is only you, every bit of it you.” ― Esther Hicks
- “When God takes out the trash, don’t go digging back through it. Trust Him.” ― Amaka Imani Nkosazana, Heart Crush
- “Nothing is more conducive to peace of mind than not having any opinions at all.” ― Georg Christoph Lichtenberg, The Waste Books
- “The first ingredient to being wrong is to claim that you are right. Geniuses have a knack for raising new questions. Hence by the public they are either admired for their creativity or, even more commonly so, detested for disturbing the daily peace of mind.” ― Criss Jami, Killosophy
- “If you are driven by fear, anger, or pride nature will force you to compete. If you are guided by courage, awareness, tranquillity, and peace nature will serve you.” ― Amit Ray, Nonviolence: The Transforming Power
- “Never be in a hurry; do everything quietly and in a calm spirit. Do not lose your inner peace for anything whatsoever, even if your whole world seems upset.” —Saint Francis de Sales
- “The life of inner peace, being harmonious and without stress, is the easiest type of existence.” —Norman Vincent Peale
- “Do not let the behavior of others destroy your inner peace.” —Dalai Lama
- “Nobody can bring you peace but yourself.” —Ralph Waldo Emerson
- “If you are depressed you are living in the past if you are anxious you are living in the future, if you are at peace, you are living in the present.” —Lao Tzu
- “When things change inside you, things change around you.” —Unknown
- “Peace of mind for five minutes, that’s what I crave.” —Alanis Morissette
- “Peace is liberty in tranquillity.” —Marcus Tullius Cicero
- “Every breath we take, every step we make, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity.” —Thich Nhat Hanh
- “So, I took a deep breath and listened to the old bray of my heart. I am. I am. And, I am.” — Sylvia Plath
Also Read: Fourteen Precepts of Engaged Buddhism According to The Zen Master