© Thich Nhat Hanh
Today is the twenty-eighth of July, 1996, we are in the Lower Hamlet and we are going to speak English.
There was a little girl whose name was Kinh, who was born in North Vietnam a long, long time ago. Her parents would have preferred a boy, but a girl was born to them, but they were still happy and they named her Kinh. Kinh means "respect, reverence." That is a very good name. You respect people, you respect animals, you respect life including the plants and the minerals. Reverence. Reverence for life, for what is there inside of you and around you. Kinh was a very beautiful child. As a little girl she was already very beautiful, like a flower. Kinh used to go the Buddhist temple in the village with her mother to offer lotus flowers to the Buddha and to listen to the Dharma talks given by the high monk. She loved the Dharma.
There was a very deep intention in her to become something like a monk, because she saw the monks living their lives very happily and helping so many people. She wished that she could become a monk, because practicing, living in the temple—everything—seemed to be very beautiful and calm. She loved the manner of the monks, going back and forth with gentleness, touching everything with reverence. She just loved the Dharma, even though she was very small. She inquired about the possibility of becoming a monk, and they said no, not for girls. Because Buddhism had just been introduced into Vietnam, there were only monasteries for monks; perhaps there were one or two temples for nuns, but they were very rare. In that time, there was no airplane, there was no bus, so she could not imagine that she could travel far. She was not happy at the idea that she could never become a monk because she was a girl. A kind of frustration was in her—she believed that as a girl one could also practice like a monk, living the Dharma happily like a monk.
She grew up into a beautiful girl and her parents wanted to marry her to someone in the neighborhood. In olden times, weddings were arranged by parents, and you had to obey them because they had their wisdom, they knew who was good for you. The deepest desire of parents was to see their daughter be wedded to a young man with a bright future. One morning they received a letter from the parents of a young man, asking whether they can marry her to their son. The young man’s name was Sung Tin—"scholar of goodness," "student of goodness." I don’t know how good he was, how bright a human he was, but it seemed that he was born into a family of outstanding tradition, a noble family. He seemed to have a bright future, because he was a good student and he might pass the examination and become a high official in the government. The dream of all students in the past was to pass the high exam and be selected by the king to be a minister, a chief of province, and so on.
Kinh had to obey them to become the wife of Sung Tin, although her love, her deepest desire, was to become a nun. There was no way at all; it was not like in our time. In our time, if a young lady wants to become a nun, she might pick up the telephone and inquire about the existence of nunneries. But in that time Kinh did not have any opportunity to do so. So she buried her desire deep inside and had to obey her parents and be wedded to that young man, Sung Tin. Of course the young wife had to support her husband in his studies. Nourishing the husband, supporting the husband so that the husband can succeed in his studies was the main task of a young wife of that time.
The family of Sung Tin was rich, so Kinh did not have to work very hard to support her husband. There were, however, many young wives who had to sell rice in a market or carry rice in the heat of the summertime in order to earn enough money to support their husbands to continue their studies. This was not the case of Kinh because her in-law family was very rich. So she only took care of the housework, cleaned, cooked, sewed his clothes, and so on. Kinh was trained very thoroughly as a housekeeper by her parents. One day while she was mending some cloth, her husband Sung Tin was studying beside her and fell asleep. Students want to study as much as possible, they want to stuff in as many books and as much knowledge as possible. So he was trying to do the same thing. He studied day and night, and that day, reading a book close to his wife, he fell asleep.
When Kinh looked at Sung Tin, she saw that a few moustache hairs were not cut evenly. So out of her love and care she used a pair of scissors, trying to trim those three or four hairs. But suddenly her husband woke up. And in that kind of state of being, he thought that she was trying to kill him! So he shouted, he screamed. He screamed. I don’t know how deep their love was, how much they understood each other, but this is what happened. So his parents came and asked, "Why are you screaming like that?" He said, "Well, I was dozing. When I woke up, I saw her using a pair of scissors like that. So I don’t know." His parents said, "It does happen that wives who are not faithful may kill their husband, because it’s in their mind to have other desires, other men. So we don’t want you any more as a daughter-in-law. We’d like to send you back to your home." Kinh tried to explain, but the parents did not want to accept.
When I practiced looking deeply into this, I saw that the cause of her being dismissed as a daughter-in-law was not suspicion, but jealousy. Since the time the young man married he spent all of his time with his wife, and the parents felt that they had lost their son. This new woman who came to their home monopolized entirely their son so they acted on this kind of jealousy without even knowing it. So they wrote a letter to her parents and asked them to come and take back their daughter. Imagine how great was the suffering undergone by that family. To them their daughter was perfect, their daughter was very true, very faithful. It was a kind of injustice. And that was the first injustice that Kinh had to suffer, to bear, to accept. So they brought her home. Her parents believed her that she did not have the intention to kill her husband. It was just a misfortune, and the three of them suffered.
But Kinh had learned something from the conjugal life. She saw that people are full of wrong perceptions. Even in that wealthy family, they made each other suffer very much. The love that she felt in that family was not enough to make her happy, to make her bloom like a flower. That kind of love, that kind of life, did not satisfy her deepest need. So the idea of becoming a nun suddenly re-emerged. She spent many nights thinking of how to become a monk in order to practice in a Buddhist temple, so that she would be able to embrace the Dharma entirely and devote her life to the practice of the Dharma.
One night she decided that she would disguise herself as a young man and try to be accepted by a monastery. She did not think that she should go to a temple close to her family, because people would recognize her and her parents would not allow her to go. She decided to go far away because there were temples everywhere. She had to walk something like one hundred miles in order to go so far that even her parents would not know where she was. And she did not tell her friends that she wanted to become a monk. Because if she did, her parents would go looking for her in the temples and would very soon discover her. She kept her desire very secret.
One day she just disappeared with some of her belongings and left behind a letter that said, "Dear Mother, dear Father, I have something I love very much I want to accomplish. So please forgive me for not being able to be home to take care of you, because this desire in me is so big." You know that desire was bodhicitta—the desire to practice the Dharma and to bring happiness to many people, because people suffer so much everywhere and are caught up in their wrong perceptions; they do injustices to each other every day. She didn’t want to repeat that kind of life again, she wanted to become a monk. So after having walked more than one hundred miles, she found a temple—a temple named Phap Van, Dharma Cloud, not very far from Hanoi.
When she came to the temple disguised as a young man, as a student, she asked to see the abbot. She attended the Dharma talk and was so moved that she waited until the people all went home, approached the monk, and asked to be ordained as a novice monk. The monk asked her to sit down and he said, "Young man, why do you want to become a monk?" And she said, "Dear teacher, I have seen that everything is impermanent, that nothing can last forever. Everything is like a dream, everything is like the flash of lightning. When I looked at a cloud in the sky, first I saw the cloud having the form of a dog, and in no time at all, the form of dog is transformed. I saw the cloud now in the form of a shirt. Everyone is trying to get fame and profit and money in the world and they don’t seem to be really happy. I want to have true happiness, and I believe that only in the Dharma could I find peace and happiness." After having said that, she stayed quiet and the monk congratulated her, "Young man, you have understood the teaching of impermanence and I hope you succeed in the practice as a monk." So he allowed her to stay in the temple, and three months later she was ordained as a novice monk.
Her Dharma name was Kinh Tam. He retained the name Kinh, "reverence," and he added the name Tam is "the heart." Reverence of the Heart or The Heart of Reverence. My students all bear the Dharma name "heart." "Source of the heart," "Door of the heart," everything is "of the heart." So they share some of the new novice’s name.
Kinh Tam practiced very well, very diligently. She was very intelligent. She studied, she learned the sutras very quickly and she enjoyed very much the life of a young monk. Her teacher loved her very much and he always believed that this was a young man. The young novice was very handsome. Although she was disguised as a young man, although she did not wear anything—gold or perfume and things like that—she was still very handsome as a young "monk," and that drew a danger to her. Because down in the village there was the daughter of the wealthiest family, who would come to the temple every fortnight to offer incense, flowers, and so on, with her mother. The first time she saw the young monk, she fell in love with him right away.
I don’t think that it was because of his face; his face was beautiful, yes. But there was something more than the appearance of a young man. The young monk practiced mindfulness very well—we have to call her "he"—he practiced walking mindfully, drinking mindfully, doing everything mindfully. And that is why he looked very beautiful. Because people in society are not that beautiful; they are always in a hurry, they only run, they only do things quickly, they don’t have that freedom, that relaxation, that kind of peace that is expressed through the way you look, through the way you do things, through the way you sit down, through the way you walk. And that is why the young lady fell in love with the young monk right away.
Her name is Mau. Mau means "color." What color, I don’t know. I don’t blame her. I don’t blame her because the monk was very beautiful. You can call him "handsome," but he was more than handsome, he was beautiful because he had peace within him. So if there is a lady who falls in love with a monk, that is not something extraordinary, that does happen. I remember there was one time a man who came to Plum Village and who asked Sister Jina, "You are such a beautiful lady, why have you become a nun? That is a pity, that is a loss." After some silence Sister Jina said, "If you see me as beautiful, it is because I have become a nun. If I had not become a nun, I would not be as agreeable, as pleasant as you may see."
That is true, when you become a monk or a nun, you become much more beautiful. You adorn yourself with peace, with mindfulness, with the practice of the Dharma, and that is why you emanate that kind of beauty that is rare in society. So I really don’t blame Mau at all. If I was Mau, I would fall in love with the young novice also. She tried to talk to him, tried to find opportunities to be alone with the young monk, Kinh Tam. But Kinh Tam always seemed to avoid her; it was very frustrating. Sometimes she tried to guess in advance the way the young monk would go, and run to wait for him, but when he saw her, he would turn and go into another direction. She tried several times to express her love to the young monk, but he was very determined to continue practicing as a monk.
She was very frustrated. She did not know how to transform her love. She did not understand the Dharma. She only practiced Buddhism in a very shallow way—going to the temple, offering a lot of bananas, sweet rice, and flowers and doing a lot of prostrations. She did not know how to practice in order to take care of her desire, her anger, and so on. When you go to the temple, you have to learn the Dharma. You have to change yourself in the practice of the Dharma and not do like Mau. Her love for him was so deep, and she was deeply frustrated. That is why, one day, when her parents were not home, she called into her room the young man who worked as a servant, an attendant, in the family. He took care of the garden and the housework, and during the night—I think it was a full moon night—she could not bear her love any more. So she called him in and she allowed him to have sexual intercourse with her, and during the act she imagined the young man as the young novice. It was stated in the story very clearly that in that state of being half awake, she imagined the young man as the beautiful novice.
The accident happened. And a few months later she felt that she was pregnant. She tried to hide it from her father and mother, but it became more and more apparent. The parents asked, "Why are you like that my daughter? You don’t want to eat anything, you refuse eating rice, you eat only very sour things." She said, "No, I am perfectly all right, my parents. I just don’t feel well enough in my body, that’s all. Maybe my blood needs purification." But in a few days, she was summoned by the council of the village together with her parents, because in the village they had noticed that the young lady without a husband had become pregnant. They set up a kind of court and asked her to tell them with whom she had slept in order to become pregnant like that.
So she thought for a long time: "The young man was already chased away. Even if I tell the truth, people wouldn’t believe me. The head of the village said that I should tell them the truth, and if I name the young man, I will have the opportunity to have him as an official husband. Why don’t I tell them that the man who slept with me is the novice Kinh Tam practicing in the Phap Van temple?" So she said, "Respected elders, I used to go to the temple and I fell in love with the young novice Kinh Tam over there. And both of us could not bear our love not being fulfilled, that is why we have made the mistake. So please forgive us."
The head of the village sent someone to summon the family of the temple: the monk, the novice, and a few other people from the temple. When Kinh Tam arrived, she was told that Mau had declared that "he" had slept with her and made her pregnant, and the head of council said, "Kinh Tam, young novice, you have already decided to become a monk, why didn’t you practice the precepts? You have slept with a young woman in the village. What do you have to say?" And the young monk said, "No, I practiced my precept. I never slept with anyone in the village. Please reconsider. This is injustice. Please be understanding. Please have compassion. I have not done anything like that." But when the head of the village turned toward Mau, she continued to confirm that it was the young monk who had slept with her and caused her to be pregnant. And the young novice firmly denied this. "No, as a young monk I practice deeply my precepts. I have never done that. The Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha are witness to my honesty."
Finally, they had to use whips. "You have to tell the truth, otherwise you will be beaten with a whip thirty times. You have to confess that you have slept with Mau." Then they tied her up to a pillar and they ordered her to be beaten thirty times by the whip. That is the kind of punishment used in the past. The whipping was very, very strong and the blood began to penetrate, to come out into the cloth of the young monk. But "he" did not give in. "He" said, "No, I am innocent, please reconsider." And after Mau saw that, she said, "Please, thirty lashes are enough." She felt pity for the young novice. Because she was the daughter of a wealthy family, her request had some weight. So they allowed the novice to go home. When they went back to the temple, other people wanted to take care of the young novice but the young novice said, "No I will take care of myself. I can make the bandage, I will take care of the wound on my body," because she did not want others to discover the fact that she was not a young man.
After taking care of the wounds inflicted on her by the whips, she presented herself to her teacher, and her teacher said, "My son, I don’t know, I’m not sure. I don’t know whether you have done it or not. I really don’t know. If you have done it, then I wish you would practice deeply the practice of Beginning Anew every day. And if you have not done it, please also practice forbearance—shanti-paramita—and try to find the joy in the practice." That was all of his teaching. And because of that, she was requested by other people in the temple to move into the gate of the temple and stay there, and not to stay together with other monks. You know, every temple has a triple gate, and the tower bell was very close to the triple gate, and now Kinh Tam was ordered to go and live alone in the triple gate so that the population of the village could not blame the sangha, because there was already suspicion.
I don’t know whether if I was the teacher of Kinh Tam I would allow her to continue to stay with me in the compound of the sangha. I don’t know, because my time is different and that was a very old time and people were still full of prejudices, and so on. And I would have had enough wisdom to know whether my student had done it or not because I always try to practice good communication with my students and with my insight, with my mindfulness, I would know that he has done it or not. Because I am not there to blame my student, I am there only to help him or her. So she would tell me the truth. When the baby was born, Mau did not know what to do. She did not want at all to tell people that this was a child coming from a servant. That would be very bad for the reputation of her noble family. To die was preferable to saying that she has slept with a servant. That was something she could not bear, and her family could not bear. You have made a mistake, you have done something wrong, but you have no courage to admit your wrongness and you blame other people—that is something that happens every day. So finally she brought the baby to the novice. She brought the baby to the triple gate of the temple and said, "Novice, this is your child. Why don’t you receive it?" Then she put it on the steps and she went away. When the baby started to cry, the novice said, "Well, now the child is abandoned. If I don’t take him, who will take him? I am practicing compassion and understanding. If I don’t take him and try to protect him, who will?" So he said, "Leave it to me!" And he picked up the baby.
The baby was hungry and the novice did not have milk. So she took the baby and went into the hamlet and tried to beg for some milk. Every day she had to go to the village and ask for some milk for her baby. There were people who were moved by the act of the young novice, but there were many people who said, "Well, how could he practice as a monk if he does things like this—sleeping with a woman and when the woman gave him the baby, accepting it, and now trying to raise the baby as a father. How can someone practice the Dharma in that way?" The novice felt that people didn’t understand her, and yet she continued to practice forbearance because she was able to feel the peace and the joy of living with the Dharma.
If she wanted to get rid of that injustice, it would not be very difficult—just declare to the village council and to her teacher that she is a girl. And a few minutes later she would be free from that kind of blaming, from that kind of suffering. Why hadn’t she done it? Because she loved the Dharma so much, she wanted so much to continue as a monk, that is why she did not give up. When you are in love with something very deeply, when you feel so much happiness with that object of your love, then you have the courage to bear all kinds of injustice. So being beaten, being misunderstood, being blamed by many people, she could still go on because she had the pleasure, the happiness, of being a monk, of practicing the Dharma.
In our days, there are people who live in the Sangha and who encounter some difficulties and think of leaving the Sangha. They don’t have that kind of forbearance. They cannot bear little injustices inflicted on them because their desire, their happiness is not large enough. Therefore the key is whether you love it a lot, you treasure it a lot, you want it a lot, whether your heart is huge or not. If your heart is small, then you cannot bear injustice inflicted on you. Understanding and love are what help your heart to grow bigger and bigger. That is the practice of the four unmeasurable hearts—loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Because your heart can grow as big as the cosmos; the growth of your heart can never end. If you are like a big river, you can receive any amount of dirt—it will not affect you, and you are able to transform the dirt very easily.
In the Dharma talk in English preceding this one, I used that image offered by the Buddha. If you put an amount of dirt in a small container of water, then that water has to be thrown away, people cannot drink it. But if you throw that amount of dirt into a huge river, people in the city continue to drink from the river, because the river is so immense. There does not have to suffering because of that amount of dirt. Overnight that dirt will be transformed by the water, by the mud within the heart of the river. So if your heart is big as the river, you can receive any amount of injustice and still live with happiness, and you can transform overnight the injustices inflicted on you. If you still suffer, it means that your heart is still not large enough. That is the teaching of forbearance in Buddhism. You don’t try to bear, you don’t to suppress your suffering. You only practice in order for your heart to expand as big as a river. Then you don’t have to bear, you don’t have to suffer.
There are ways to make your heart big. That is the practice of looking deeply in order for you to understand. The moment when you understand, your compassion arises. And that compassion will allow you to go on, allow you not to suffer, not to look at other people with the eyes of irritation and hatred. That is the real practice of forbearance—you don’t have to suffer. Forbearance in the context of the Buddhist teaching is not to try to swallow the injustice, or to suppress the injustice, but to embrace it entirely with your big heart. So every morning you have to go to your heart, touch it, and ask, "My heart, my darling, have you grown overnight a little bit bigger?" We have to visit our heart every day in order to see whether our heart still continues to grow unlimited, to grow great. "Growing great" is the term used by Buddha while he was teaching about the four unmeasurable minds. Your heart of compassion becomes larger. It grows great all the time, your heart of loving kindness, your heart of joy, your heart of equanimity. OThat is why paramita is sometimes translated by the term "[ph: vo que]." [Thây writes on blackboard] It means "the highest point, the limit." [ph: vo que] means "no point all highest or limit." "[ph: Que]" means extreme, like a [ph: Ba kuk], the northernmost or the southernmost tip of the earth called [ph: Ba kuk]—north pole. It is an extreme, this is the limit. But how ur compassion, our loving kindness, our joy, our equanimity knows no limit—that is why these four minds are called "unmeasurable minds" because they always grow and grow, without stopping. They grow into a river, and then they grow into an ocean, and they continue. The more your heart becomes bigger and bigger, the easier you can bear, or accept, injustice without suffering.
A few days after the young monk received the baby and adopted him and tried to nourish him, he was summoned by his teacher: "My child, why have you done that? You have not slept with the lady, it is not your baby, but why have you received it? It does not seem that this is making a good reputation for our Sangha." I do not know whether, if I were the teacher I would do like him, very afraid of my prestige. But Kinh Tam bowed to him and said, "My dear teacher, I have learned in a sutra that if you build a stupa of seven stories, and if you build one thousand of them, the merit would not be as important as the merit of saving the life of a living being. That is why I have accepted this baby and try to bring it up." That is what the young monk told his teacher.
The novice learned to sing lullabies. So in the village they heard sometimes the big bell and the gatha, "Listen, listen, this wonderful sound brings me back to my true self. May the sound of this bell penetrate deep into the cosmos . . . ," and so on. And sometimes they could hear, "Sleep well, sleep well, my baby . . . . " These two things mingled with each other. I believe that the novice practiced well, singing the lullaby as well as the gatha, because both of them have the flavor of the Dharma in them.
When the little boy was grown up, Kinh Tam became very sick, and she knew that she would die in a few days. So she wrote a letter to her parents and she wrote down their exact address, and she told the boy that after her passing away, he had to try his best to go back to her original village and present this letter to her mother and father. She also wrote a letter to her teacher. Two letters. After she passed away, the boy did as he had been told. He went to the teacher and submitted the letter of his "father" and also he asked for the permission to depart in order to go to the original village of his "father." After reading the letter, the monk was very surprised so he asked two nuns to come to examine and all the nuns reported that the young novice was not a boy, but a girl. Then everyone was very surprised, and the monk sent a messenger to the head of the village. The head of the village was very surprised, also. So he convened a meeting and sent a delegation to the temple for the verification of the fact. After having verified that, he announced to the whole village the truth and asked the family of Mau, Color, to come and answer their questions.
And Mau’s wealthy family had to pay a very heavy kind of tax to the village, and they had to pay all the expenses of the funeral organized by the temple. In the Vietnamese poem written about the story we have the full text of the letter. Kinh Tam requested the forgiveness of her father and mother, saying that she had not told them where she had been because she desired so much to practice as a monk. She said that she practiced like that not only for herself, but for the whole family and for many living beings, and she hoped that they would understand and forgive her, and receive this young man as someone very close to the family although he is only an adopted child. Her parents cried a lot. It had been so many years without hearing anything from their daughter and suddenly this morning they received a letter announcing that she was no longer alive. So they cried a lot, and they set out for the Phap Van temple. They also told the former husband, Mr. Sung Tin, to come along. They spent many days traveling; and when they arrived at the temple, they saw the banner bearing their daughter’s name, and a very long procession. All the people in the village came to attend the funeral service. They were so moved, and many people were crying.
If you practice, you have to practice like that. That is the absolutely perfect way to practice. Even if injustices are inflicted on you, you continue to have a lot of energy, you continue the Way. You don’t blame anyone for your suffering. Practicing like that is real practice. When her family arrived, they participated in the funeral service and were received as distinguished guests by the temple and the village. After that, the whole village organized a ceremony to transfer all the merits to Kinh Tam and to practice giai oan. Giai oan means "untie the injustice." And it was said at the end of the story that the Buddha appeared and announced that Kinh Tam had arrived in a state of enlightenment, and she was now acting as one manifested body of Avalokiteshvara. Her name is Quan Am Thi Kinh. She is a Vietnamese Avalokiteshvara and the story is known by everyone. In the temple, many people know the poem by heart and it is the perfect model for the practice of forbearance.
All of us feel at times that we are victims of injustice. We suffer so much injustice, even from the people we love. And we want to repair that injustice, we want to cry out. We want to practice untying the injustice that we have borne for so long in the past. That is why we are always ready to talk to other people about our suffering and the injustice we have suffered. Maybe deep in our heart, we want justice to be done by any kind of means. Maybe we want a military solution. Sometimes you want to use a gun. Sometimes you want to use a stick. Sometimes you want to use an army. As a nation, if you feel that you are a victim of injustice, you are tempted to use a military solution. But if you are not a nation, you are inclined to use other kinds of revenge—using sticks, hiring someone to beat the other person, using a gun, or you want to manipulate the situation, you want to use political means in order to repair your injustice.
But according to the teaching of the Buddha, you can only repair that injustice in you, you can only transcend it, by transforming it. The only way is to practice the four immeasurable minds—maitri, which is loving kindness; karuna, which is compassion; mudita, joy; and upeksha, equanimity. And in order to cultivate these four qualities, you have to use the practice of looking deeply, namely, calming and looking—samatha and vipasyana . You do your best to remain calm, to remain concentrated. You do your best to look deeply into the nature of your suffering, and suddenly understanding comes and your heart begins to expand. Suddenly you feel that you have the power to bear that injustice; you can survive with that, you can live with that, and you even can transform it.
The Buddha said that when you are struck by one arrow, you suffer. But if a second arrow comes exactly to the same spot, you suffer not twice, but maybe thirty times more. When you suffer something and you get angry, your suffering will be not only doubled, but thirty times more intense. You amplify your suffering by your ignorance, your anger, your frustration, your hatred. Why do you have to suffer that much? In fact, why do you have to receive the second arrow? With one arrow, and with some understanding and practice, you would not suffer much and you would be able to remove the arrow very soon. But because of our ignorance, our lack of practice, we become angry, we let hatred and despair overcome us—that is why our suffering has become unbearable. This is the teaching of the Buddha in the Samyutta Nikaya (Samyutta Nikaya: 4, 210) about the first arrow and the second arrow. The second arrow is ignorance.
The other day we used the image of a little child tearing apart a butterfly. The little child does not know that doing that is inflicting a lot of injustice and suffering on the little insect. The little child just wants to play. He doesn’t know that tearing apart a butterfly like this is making a living being suffer. The little child is doing it out of ignorance. When we tell the little child, "My darling, do you know that tonight the little butterfly cannot go home to his parents? What if you cannot go back tonight to your parents? They would suffer a lot." If you tell a child that, the next time she will not tear a butterfly with her two hands. She will be able to protect life. "Lord, forgive them because they do not know what they are doing." People make each other suffer, and they don’t know it. They act out of anger or hatred; they don’t have happiness within themselves. They are overwhelmed with ignorance, with hatred, with anger, and that is why they have made people around them suffer. And we may be doing the same thing, but we don’t know it.
It happens from time to time everywhere that a person will use a gun to kill people in a market place; suddenly in a high school someone with a gun just appears like that and kills three, four, five students without any reason at all. Your daughter, your son, goes to school as usual. And that morning it happens that it is your daughter who was killed by that crazy man. That is a form of injustice. And you might bear a lot of hatred toward that man. But if you look into that man and look deeply, you see that that man is full of craziness, that man is full of ignorance, that man is full of hatred, of alienation. When a man holds a gun and shoots at people like that without reason, there must be a reason. And people like him or like her, they do exist in the world. How could a man become like he is? How was his family, how was his society, how was his education? Did anyone take care of him at all? Of course, if we were there we would try our best to prevent him from continuing to kill other people. We are urged to act right away, put him in a situation where he cannot continue to harm people, even to lock him into a prison cell; we have to do that. But we have to do that with wisdom and compassion. We don’t do that with anger and hatred. We don’t do it out of the will to punish the man, because the man has been suffering a lot.
These dharma talk transcriptions are of teachings given by the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh in Plum Village or in various retreats around the world. The teachings traverse all areas of concern to practitioners, from dealing with difficult emotions, to realizing the interbeing nature of ourselves and all things, and many more.
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