My meditation group recently decided to read and discuss Thich Nhat Hanh’s Calming the Fearful Mind: a Zen response to terrorism.
I was nearly finished with the book when I decided to get some exercise yesterday afternoon and take a walk in my apartment building.
I saw my neighbor, a three times per week dialysis patient, seated in the alcove near the elevator. She looked disconsolate, so I stopped to visit with her.
She had lost her keys and was locked out of her apartment. Her granddaughter had an extra set of keys, but she was without a phone to call her. I happened to have my cell phone in my pocket.
Another neighbor joined us as we waited until the granddaughter arrived with her grandmother’s extra keys, and we saw her safely enter her apartment.
When I returned to Calming the Fearful Mind, I read the following paragraph:
You can’t feel safe if you’re not in good communication with the people you live with or see regularly. You can’t feel safe if those around you don’t look at you with sympathy and compassion. In the way you speak, sit, and walk, you can show the other person that she is safe in your presence, because you are coming to her in peace… Safety is not an individual matter. Helping the other person feel safe guarantees your safety.
Thich Nhat Hanh continues:
We can bring the spiritual dimension into our daily life, as well as our social, political, and economic life. This is our practice. Jesus had this intention. Buddha had this intention. All of our spiritual ancestors, whether Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, or Buddhist had this intention. We can display the light of wisdom and come together in order to create hope and to prevent society and the younger generation from sinking in despair.
We can learn to speak out so that the voice of the Buddha, the voice of Jesus, the voice of Mohammed, and all our spiritual ancestors can be heard in this dangerous and pivotal moment in our history. We offer this light so that the world will not sink into total darkness…
May it be so.