Buddhist monk and teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, often addresses the theme of peace in his teachings. They are practical, focused on the present moment, and for me offer ways to begin building this house of peace that we need in our lives and in the world.
The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.
He reminds me that in each moment there is joy and happiness to be found–if I am looking, open and curious about finding them. This is foundation building, for me, in raising a house of peace. If in this moment I can open to and find some joy and happiness, I am in that moment transformed. My transformation in that moment touches and influences others, in that moment. It is a world changer–one moment at a time. As I write this, I know that joy of classical music playing in the background, and two eggs boiling on the stove for my breakfast. I am grateful for the gift of music-makers and chickens (chickens, by the way, that I know Karen and Steve Smith have loved and well cared for).
When you begin to see that your enemy is suffering, that is the beginning of insight.
I don’t think of myself as having enemies, but I do encounter people in my life who are difficult to get along with. In this moment, if I consider one of those irritating people and that they are suffering, it does in this moment soften the edges that I hold around that person. It does allow me to let go of some of my own defensive posture toward that person. What if, today, I allowed myself to see each person–especially those who seem difficult to me–and acknowledge that they are suffering, before I draw any other conclusion? For our relationships in general, he advises:
We really have to understand the person we want to love. If our love is only a will to possess, it is not love. If we only think of ourselves, if we know only our own needs and ignore the needs of the other person, we cannot love. We must look deeply in order to see and understand the needs, aspirations, and suffering of the person we love. This is the ground of real love. You cannot resist loving another person when you really understand him or her.
Building a house of peace is about cultivating our relationships. The two are always related.
Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. Every breath we take, every step we take, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.
All quotations― Thich Nhat Hanh,