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Clear and Present Compassion

--by Thich Nhat Hanh (May 16, 2006)


Understanding and compassion are very powerful sources of energy. They are the opposite of stupidity and passivity. If you think that compassion is passive, weak, or cowardly, then you don't know what real understanding or compassion is. If you think you that compassionate people do not resist and challenge injustice, you are wrong. They are warriors, heroes, and heroines who have gained many victories. When you act with compassion, with nonviolence, when you act on the basis of nonduality, you have to be very strong. You no longer act out of anger. You do not punish or blame. Compassion grows constantly inside of you and you can succeed in your fight against injustice. Mahatma Gandhi was just one person. He did not have any bombs, any guns, or any political party. He acted on the insight of nonduality, the strength of compassion, not on the basis of anger.

Other human beings are not our enemies. Our enemy is not the other person. Our enemy is the violence, ignorance, and injustice in us and in the other person. When we are armed with compassion and understanding, we fight not against other people, but against the tendency to invade, to dominate, and to exploit. We don't want to kill others, but we will not let them dominate and exploit us or other people. [Ö]

Being compassionate means being intelligent. [...] Suppose you are leading a group of people doing walking meditation, moving slowly [Ö]. But suddenly, it begins to rain. Would you continue to walk slowly, letting yourself and everyone else get soaked? That's not intelligent. If you are a good leader of the walking meditation, you will break into a jogging meditation. You still maintain the joy of the walking meditation. You can laugh and smile and thus you prove that the practice is not stupid. You can also be mindful while running and avoid getting soaked. We have to practice in an intelligent way.

--Thich Nhat Hanh


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On May 22, 2006 :-] wrote:
:-]-[-+=

On May 16, 2006 pavi wrote:

The intelligence of compassion. Itís not often that you find those two words linked in this way. Maybe because you donít need to be kind or caring to get a college degree (I wonder Ė what would happen to our world if we were graded on compassion? :-)). Cutting roses for the house the other day I stabbed my finger on a thorn and a moment later stepped on another one barefoot. I was intelligently compassionate enough not to hold this against the roses. But am I the same about the people I encounter whose thorns enter my skin? This passage in the simplicity and strength of its truth brought to mind a prose-like poem someone sent me recently- one that reminds me of the quiet understanding it takes to meet the hostility, sarcasm, insults and other barbed, stinging not-fun thorns of negativity that come our way with clear-sighted compassion. The generous, humble, courageous kind that canít confuse the insult with the one who cast it. "The Ways We Touch" Have compassion for everyone you  See full.

The intelligence of compassion. Itís not often that you find those two words linked in this way. Maybe because you donít need to be kind or caring to get a college degree (I wonder Ė what would happen to our world if we were graded on compassion? :-)). Cutting roses for the house the other day I stabbed my finger on a thorn and a moment later stepped on another one barefoot. I was intelligently compassionate enough not to hold this against the roses. But am I the same about the people I encounter whose thorns enter my skin? This passage in the simplicity and strength of its truth brought to mind a prose-like poem someone sent me recently- one that reminds me of the quiet understanding it takes to meet the hostility, sarcasm, insults and other barbed, stinging not-fun thorns of negativity that come our way with clear-sighted compassion. The generous, humble, courageous kind that canít confuse the insult with the one who cast it. "The Ways We Touch" Have compassion for everyone you meet, even if they don't want it. What appears bad manners, an ill temper or cynicism is always a sign of things no ears have heard, no eyes have seen. You do not know what wars are going on down there where the spirit meets the bone. -- Miller Williams

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On May 16, 2006 guri wrote:
I really like this part, "Our enemy is not the other person. Our enemy is the violence, ignorance, and injustice in us and in the other person."

Well said! And it's expressed powerfully in the example that JZ (above) shares about Gandhi too.

On May 16, 2006 baba hadejia ali wrote:

This is a poem titled 'Undying compassion' the anthology of it is telling the world on what to do to preach 'peace' and i have even cited an example of Ghandi's and how Rwandan's Tutsi and Hutu killed themselve for a chief end(regionalism,ethno-political egocentrism and lots of factors that claims the live of many).it is in the same poem a phrase 'greed kills' is explainning how the worldly thing and egocentrism will engolf and drain somebody who capitalizes in his selfishness especially under developing countries leaders and africa's.Really compassion if fully understood and believed will work the powerless out of predicaments. her is the poem enjoy it: UNDYING COMPASSION Beard the Beards ebuliance young opressed stealthily planning sucession greed kills. expand the horizon pf your thought, for the sprrows and doves is a litte shell. plants sprouts and seeds germinates hunger and bullets are weapons resistance is so scary, indians law of silence,rwanda is a little exam  See full.

This is a poem titled 'Undying compassion' the anthology of it is telling the world on what to do to preach 'peace' and i have even cited an example of Ghandi's and how Rwandan's Tutsi and Hutu killed themselve for a chief end(regionalism,ethno-political egocentrism and lots of factors that claims the live of many).it is in the same poem a phrase 'greed kills' is explainning how the worldly thing and egocentrism will engolf and drain somebody who capitalizes in his selfishness especially under developing countries leaders and africa's.Really compassion if fully understood and believed will work the powerless out of predicaments. her is the poem enjoy it: UNDYING COMPASSION Beard the Beards ebuliance young opressed stealthily planning sucession greed kills. expand the horizon pf your thought, for the sprrows and doves is a litte shell. plants sprouts and seeds germinates hunger and bullets are weapons resistance is so scary, indians law of silence,rwanda is a little example. poverty the say is political greedness really kills. resistance is so fertile i pray lets peace come to all in Africa,Asia and Middle East Europe are so compassionate and Americathe peace ambasadors

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On May 16, 2006 Anon wrote:
This is an excerpt I ran across from his book, Being Peace:

Can the peace movement talk in loving speech, showing the way for peace? I think that will depend on whether the people in the peace movement can be peace. Because without being peace, we cannot do anything for peace. If we cannot smile, we cannot help other people to smile. If we are not peaceful, then we cannot contribute to the peace movement.

I hope we can bring a new dimension to the peace movement. The peace movement is filled with anger and hatred. It cannot fulfill the path we expect from them. A fresh way of being peace, of doing peace is needed. That is why it is so important for us to practice meditation, to acquire the capacity to look, to see, and to understand. It would be wonderful if we could bring to the peace movement our contribution, our way of looking at things, that will diminish aggression and hatred. Peace work means, first of all, being peace. (p 79-80)

On May 16, 2006 Lariv wrote:
http://www.beliefnet.com/index/index_1031.html has an awesome flash animation of "Being Peace," narrated by Thich Nhat Hanh, who was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by none other than Martin Luther King Jr!

On May 16, 2006 JZ wrote:
Compassion is certainly not for the weak.

Gandhi, when he was instructing compassion workers at the Dandi March -- where people stood in lines to get pulverized by the British army -- said this: don't just get hit; look at the man hitting you, look him in the eye with love, and preach a silent sermon. Preach that the love in me is far stronger than the negativity with which you strike. Oppose not the man, for he is divine, but oppose his actions, for they are confused when it harms another being. And know that love will always prevail over hatred, that wherever there is injustice, there will always be forces working for justice, wherever there is weakness, strength will be always be found. And all this from a guy who boldly said -- my life is my message.