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Exploring Peace (excerpts from ‘Living Buddha, Living Christ’)

In this excerpt of “Living Buddha, Living Christ,” Thich Nhat Hanh explains how we can impact the world by changing the way in which we understand and practice peace.

We often think of peace as the absence of war– [we think] that if the powerful countries would reduce their weapons arsenals, we could have peace. But if we look deeply into the weapons, we see our own minds– our prejudices, fears, and ignorance. Even if we transport all the bombs to the moon, the roots of war and the roots of the bombs are still here, in our hearts and minds, and sooner or later we will make new bombs.

To work for peace is to uproot war from ourselves and from the hearts of men and women. To prepare for war– to give millions of men and women the opportunity to practice killing day and night in their hearts– is to plant millions of seeds of violence, anger, frustration, and fear that will be passed on for generations to come.

(pp. 76-77)

Another excerpt on peace:

When we try to overcome evil with evil, we are not working for peace. If you say, “Saddam Hussein is evil [and] we have to prevent him from continuing to be evil,” [but] you use the same means he has been using, you are exactly like him. Trying to overcome evil with evil is not the way to make peace… 

(pp. 75)

Hanh goes on to write that peace cannot be established through war; only enemies are established through war. Peace is established by turning the other cheek.

His ideas remind me of Jeremiah 6:14, which says: “They have healed the brokenness of My people superficially, Saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ But there is no peace.”

In how many ways do we oppress others (through war and other means) by the “authority of God,” while proclaiming “Peace, Peace” with their Creator? What will it take for us to understand that despite our proclamations of “Peace, Peace,” there is no peace?

Once again, I highly recommend Living Buddha, Living Christ to you if you haven’t read it. This book has offered me a wonderful journey of the heart and mind.

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