It was exactly three months ago that the tsunami hit the Northeastern coast of Japan. Let us breathe mindfully, come back to ourselves and be with the direct victims of that gigantic catastrophe.
Let us tell our friends there, those who survived the catastrophe, that we are with them, we suffer with them, and we need their courage and their perseverance to maintain our hope. During the war in Vietnam, I myself underwent many moments close to despair. The village of Tra Loc, near the demilitarized zone separating North and South Vietnam, was rebuilt by our Buddhist social workers after it had been destroyed by the American bombing, just because it had been temporarily occupied by the other side of the war. Our young monastic and lay workers rebuilt it, only to see it destroyed a second time. “Shall we rebuild it again?” our workers there asked. “Yes, we have to rebuild it,” I answered. The village of Tra Loc was destroyed five times, and we rebuilt it five times. We had to, because otherwise we could have allowed despair to overtake us. The young people came to me and asked, “Thay, do you think that the war will end someday?” We did not see any sign telling us that the war was ending. We could not yet see the end of the tunnel. But in order to protect us from despair, I said, “Dear ones, the Buddha said everything is impermanent. The war is also impermanent. It cannot last forever. It will end someday. So let us trust in the Buddha.
Dear brothers and sisters, please do not lose hope. We are aware that you are doing your best. Not only for you, but for your children, for your people, and also for us. We also need hope. Your courage and your compassion will help us retain our humanity and our hope. The situation is really difficult. But the world is with you. We are with you. The tsunami hit us all.
You are the flame at the tip of the candle. It is hot. That heat reminds us all that mother Earth is calling for help. And you shine the light for all of us. We need the light in order not to be drawn into the realm of darkness and forgetfulness. You are children of the Buddha, children of God. Please allow your compassion and courage to be your guide. We need you. And we try to be present for you in every way we can.
Dear brothers and sisters everywhere, please come back to your breath. Let us breathe mindfully to be aware of what is going on, and try our best to preserve our humanness.
- Thich Nhat Hanh – What I Would Say to Osama bin Laden. Interview by Anne A. Simpkinson (mycaravanofdreams.com)
- The Eyes of the Elephant Queen by Thich Nhat Hanh (mycaravanofdreams.com)