I am reading the most wonderful book right now, “Living Buddha Living Christ” by one of my favorite authors, Thich Nhat Hanh. In this beautifully written book Thich Nhat Hanh eloquently compares and presents the teachings of both Buddha and Jesus Christ in very practical ways. He suggests using the concept of mindfulness to help us better understand each other. Buddhist concepts like mindfulness can be used within your own faith to help you grow in your understanding and tolerance of others who see things differently than yourself.
He points out how the lack of understanding leads to suffering, social injustice and violence. Punishing those who act on the anger and violence stored within our collective consciousness is an ineffective way to address these problems. They need help to transform the hurt, fear and anger within them into understanding, compassion and love.
He explains Jesus teachings on this as being to “love our enemies, and pray for those who persecute and mistreat us.” “If someone strikes you on the one cheek give him the other as well.” Buddha teaches that if you look deeply into your anger, you will see that the other person who you call your enemy is also suffering. When you can see this compassion is born in you, and the person is no longer your enemy. “Hatred never ceases by hatred, but only by love. This is the eternal rule.”
Master Hanh explains further how understanding is the key to living peacefully with one another. He cites Jesus saying from the sermon on the Mount, where Jesus said, “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the children of God.” He explains that if we do not create peace within our hearts, and seek to mindfully look deeply into ourselves in order to transform the anger, fear and prejudice we hold within our hearts, we will not be able to create peace with others. To understand others, we must first understand ourselves.
As we grow and better understand ourselves, we will better understand others. With understanding compassion is born, and love for one another. We can learn that we are all suffering, as expressed in the First Noble Truth presented by Buddha. This leads us to the Second Noble Truth, which looks at the cause of our suffering, followed by the Third Noble Truth which helps us to find the way of liberation from our suffering. As we look deeply into the nature and cause of things we can act with love and compassion to alleviate the problems we find.
Looking deeply into suffering and the social injustice we see happening all around us we can help transform the anger we feel and that of those around us who are also suffering, into compassion. To do this we must take the stance Jesus took when he cried out “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do!” as he was being nailed to the cross. Understanding, helps us to be able to forgive, both ourselves and others. Forgiveness cannot be forced.
As we see how we all make mistakes, we all have false perceptions that lead to suffering. We all fall short of the glory of God. We can also see that our actions have caused others to suffer, even as the actions of others have caused us to suffer. In order to change ourselves and begin anew we need to be forgiving of others. To do this, we need to understand them and see how they too are suffering. When we can view one another as brothers and sisters, who hurt each other due to our misperceptions and pain we are suffering we can forgive one another.
Many people are crying out today about social injustice, and how they are suffering due to not being understood, or treated fairly by others. I do not see a way for all this suffering to end through continued hatred and blame. The only way we can come together as one in our human experience and create a peaceful and happy life together, is if we take the time to deeply listen to one another. Consider what the other person is truly communicating; not just the words they are saying. What is this person trying to tell me? We need to listen fully with all our being, and use great love and compassion to help us understand.
When understanding can be reached between men and women, and differing races and religions and all the many ways of being that people have to express themselves, perhaps together we can find ways to love each other enough to save us all. If we do not use love as our guide to reach healing; hatred and blame will only lead to a great deal more pain and suffering for everyone.
When you step into the shoes of another until you can fully understand them, “walk in their moccasins for a while,” you will feel their suffering and pain, and when you understand their pain, you can no longer hate them. The only way we can heal the raw wounds of humanity, is to apply the healing salve of love and compassion. With this, we can heal many wounds.
As it is said in the Bible 7 The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear-minded and sober, so you can pray. 8 Above all, love one another deeply because love covers over a multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:7-8 and in Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up strife, But love covers all transgressions.”
“Love is the cure,
for your pain will keep giving birth to more pain
until your eyes constantly exhale love as effortlessly as your body yields its scent.”
May the Love and peace of the Great and Awesome Divine Father of us all, help and guide you in your search for inner healing and peace.