compassion in the face of hate…

Thich Nhat Hanh praying...
Thich Nhat Hanh praying...

dear friends ~

below is a poem that graces the first pages of Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, “Calming The Fearful Mind: A Zen Response To Terrorism”.  it is the first Buddhist book i read and this autumn marks the anniversary of my reading it and the beginning of me following this path.

it speaks today, as it did then, to the very heart of how we see our interdependence – our relationship – to all others, even those who seem to be enemies.  we are seeing, in this election and attempted passage of propositions such as Prop 8, a not-so-subtle attack on those who are “other” to what we have been taught through ideology and religion is “normal”.

when faced with such hate, anger, or indifference as some of us are finding ourselves it is easy and even seems just to react with hate and anger in retaliation.  Buddhism teaches something different (and so do the teachings of Jesus Christ, even if Christianity as a religion sometimes fails to).

with his well known elegant, compassionate style Thich Nhat Hanh expresses this teaching of the Dharma in the following poem. 

be well friends and peace to you ~ j


Promise me,
promise me this day,
promise me now,
while the sun is overhead
exactly at the zenith,
promise me:

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,
remember, brother,
man is not our enemy.

The only thing worthy of you is compassion-
invincible, limitless, unconditional.
Hatred will never let you face
the beast in man.

One day, when you face this beast alone,
with your courage intact, your eyes kind,
(even as no one sees them),
out of your smile
will bloom a flower.
And those who love you
will behold you
across ten thousand worlds of birth and dying.

Alone again,
I will go on with bent head,
knowing that love has become eternal.
On the long, rough road,
the sun and the moon
will continue to shine.

-Thich Nhat Hanh, 1965

2 thoughts on “compassion in the face of hate…

  1. Thank you Jaysen… thank you for reminding us to embrace compassion.

    And congratulations on your upcoming anniversary… I feel that Buddhism suits you very well, and that you represent Buddhism very well…

    Peace my brother…


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