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Buddhadharma : Summer 2012
SUMMER 2 0 1 2 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 11 HOW CRIMINALS ARE MADE Thich Nhat Hanh says we can’t forgive our transgressors until we understand that they are victims too. MANY PEOPLE in Vietnam escaped the Communist regime by boat, and many of them died during the trip crossing the sea to Thailand or to the Philippines. Many of their deaths were caused by sea pirates, who’d been born into families of poor fishermen in the coastal areas of Thailand and the Philip- pines. These sea pirates heard that when the boat people were fleeing their country, they often had their family valuables, like gold or jewelry, with them. So the sea pirates knew that if they robbed the boat people of their valuables, they could escape the poor, desper- ate situation they and their families had been stuck in for so long. If we meditate, we know that today there will be babies born into poor families on the coastline. If educators, politicians, and others do not do anything to help these babies get better food and education, when they grow up they will become sea pirates. We can see that if we’d been born and raised in that way, we too could have become sea pirates. Forgiveness is possible with understand- ing. You cannot forgive if you only have the desire, the intention to forgive. In order to truly forgive, you have to see the truth, to understand that the person you’re angry with is a victim. When you see that, compassion arises, and naturally you can forgive, and you feel lighter. You don’t want to punish him anymore. You want him and his children to have a better environment in order not to con- tinue suffering, generation after generation. So many of us in society are victims of violence, anger, fear, and discrimination. The only answer is compassion. Compassion arises from understanding. Understanding is the fruit of meditation, namely the practice of looking deeply in order to understand why things have become the way they are. When you respond with compassion, you suffer less, and you are able to help. FROM THE MINDFULNESS BELL, WINTER/SPRING 2012 START WITH THE BODY Jackie Ashley, a psychotherapist and teacher at Naropa University, says the best way to support your meditation practice is to have open and honest communication with your body. TWO OF THE STATED hopes of Buddhist meditation, mental clarity and peace, can be attained sooner if one starts with the body. But unfortunately our relationship with our bodies in meditation practice has been one of control and discipline. We have not allowed for the body’s innate wisdom to guide us toward enlightenment or to enhance our physical well-being. FIRST THOUGHTS ILLUSTRATIONS by ERIC HANSON MARVINMOORE