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Buddhadharma : Summer 2010
11 summer 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly no one to love or hate A young Buddhist nun at Bat Nha (Prajna) Monastery in Vietnam, a community practicing in the Plum Village tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, recalls the compassion that prevailed during the violent expulsion of monastics by the Vietnamese government last September. At 11:30 a.m., six men walked around our hamlet and knocked on the sisters’ doors, shouting, “The nuns have to leave this place. Do not make us get angry and hurt you. If you don’t leave this place, you will have to suffer the consequences.” All of us sat next to each other quietly. We listened to the sounds of glass windows being broken. People came into every room and herded us outside. They held long iron bars, which were used to hit us if we resisted. One by one, we walked out of our rooms and went out in the front yard. It was raining heavily. Perhaps the sky gods also cried for us. When everyone was down in the front yard, we discovered that young sister Cong Nghiem was not with us. She had recently had an accident, so she could not move. We begged the uncles [the attacking men] to allow us to go back and carry her down. All of us were so moved when we saw our elder sister carrying our young sister on her back. The more we looked, the more we also felt sorry for the uncles. There was one uncle about fifty years old, who wore a helmet and walked with a limp. While he was smash- ing the windows his hand got cut, and it was bleeding severely. We ran to the first-aid cabinet, which was completely destroyed. We were lucky to find some cotton balls, gauze, and alcohol to clean and dress his wound. Looking into his eyes, I saw that he was deeply moved. He realized we did not hate him, but instead we took care of him whole- heartedly. During that time, for me, there was not someone to love or someone to hate. I did not think about what they had done to us. There was only this person who needed our help. After we dressed his wound, he lowered his head to thank us and situated himself quietly in the corner, watching us standing next to each other in the rainstorm. He was not vio- lent anymore. Then I saw him leaving quietly. At that point, all of us were together and safe. No one was stuck inside. We felt so happy to realize that we loved each other, and that we could sacrifice our lives for each other, for our ideals, and for this path of understanding and love. From Mindfulness Bell, Winter/Spring 2010 illustrations by kim scafuro first thoughts