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Readings for Reflection: June 2009
from the Committee on Ministry and Counsel

Friends typically engage in some combination of spiritual seeking, learning, and activism. This brief passage from Thich Nhat Hanh provides a Buddhist perspective on these interdependent ways of leading our lives.

Mindfulness Must Be Engaged

When I was in Vietnam, so many of our villages were being bombed. Along with my monastic brothers and sisters, I had to decide what to do. Should we continue to practice in our monasteries, or should we leave the meditation halls in order to help people who were suffering under the bombs? After careful reflection we decided to do both to go out and help people and to do so in mindfulness. We called it engaged Buddhism. Mindfulness must be engaged. Once there is seeing, there must be acting. Otherwise, what is the use of seeing?

We must be aware of the real problems of the world. Then, with mindfulness, we will know what to do and what not to do to be of help. If we maintain awareness of our breathing and continue to practice smiling, even in difficult situations, many people, animals, and plants will benefit from our way of doing things. Are you massaging our Mother Earth every time your foot touches her? Are you planting seeds of joy and peace? I try to do exactly that with every step, and I know that our Mother Earth is most appreciative. Peace is every step. Shall we continue our journey?

Thich Nhat Hanh
Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, p. 91
Edited by Arnold Kotler
Bantam Books, New York, 1992


All Readings for Reflection
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