Creating True Peace : Ending Violence in Yourself, Your Family, Your Community, and the World
Creating True Peace is both a profound work of spiritual guidance and a practical blueprint for peaceful inner change and global change. It is the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh's answer to our deep-rooted crisis of violence and our feelings of helplessness, victimization, and fear. As a world-renowned writer, scholar, spiritual leader, and Zen Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the most visible, revered activists for peace and Engaged Buddhism -- the practice he created that combines mindful living and social action. Having lived through two wars in his native Vietnam, he works to prevent conflict of all kinds -- from the internal violence of individual thoughts to interpersonal and international aggression.
Now, in this new book, perhaps his most important work to date, Thich Nhat Hanh uses a beautiful blend of visionary insight, inspiring stories of peacemaking, and a combination of meditation practices and instruction to show us how to take Right Action. A book for people of all faiths, it is a magnum opus -- a compendium of peace practices that can help anyone practice nonviolent thought and behavior, even in the midst of world upheaval.
More than any of his previous books, Creating True Peace tells stories of Thich Nhat Hanh and his students practicing peace during wartime. These demonstrate that violence is an outmoded response we can no longer afford. The simple, but powerful daily actions and everyday interactions that Thich Nhat Hanh recommends can root out violence where it lives in our hearts and minds and help us discover the power to create peace at every level of life -- personal, family, neighborhood, community, state, nation, and world.
Whether dealing with extreme emotions and challenging situations or managing interpersonal and international conflicts, Thich Nhat Hanh relies on the 2,600-year-old traditional wisdom and scholarship of the Buddha, as well as other great scriptures. He teaches us to look more deeply into our thoughts and lives so that we can know what to do and what not to do to transform them into something better. With a combination of courage, sweetness, and candor, he tells us that we can make a difference; we are not helpless; we can create peace here and now. Creating True Peace shows us how.
In narrating Nhat Hanh's spiritual guide, York did not have an easy task. The text is an accessible, solid introduction to Buddhist principles. Since Nhat Hanh is committed to what he calls "engaged Buddhism," he takes basic Buddhist practices (mindful breathing and walking meditation) and shows how they can transform not only a soul, but a family and even a nation. But can a narrator find drama in a series of meditation instructions York does. While there is very serious drama in the text at times-Nhat Hanh was a young monk in Vietnam in the 1950s and '60s and brought his faith and his work with refugees right up to the front lines-this is a book of reflections, and York manages to find the poignancy in these reflections. Indeed, York's reading stays so close to the spirit of the text that listeners can practically hear the inflection of the monk himself. His voice is soothing, yet never hypnotic-a great match for a work that urges its listeners to wake up to their true natures. Simultaneous release with the Free Press hardcover (Forecasts, July 14). (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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July 27, 2004
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Excerpt from Creating True Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh
True peace is always possible. Yet it requires strength and practice, particularly in times of great difficulty. To some, peace and nonviolence are synonymous with passivity and weakness. In truth, practicing peace and nonviolence is far from passive. To practice peace, to make peace alive in us, is to actively cultivate understanding, love, and compassion, even in the face of misperception and conflict. Practicing peace, especially in times of war, requires courage.
All of us can practice nonviolence. We begin by recognizing that, in the depths of our consciousness, we have both the seeds of compassion and the seeds of violence. We become aware that our mind is like a garden that contains all kinds of seeds: seeds of understanding, seeds of forgiveness, seeds of mindfulness, and also seeds of ignorance, fear, and hatred. We realize that, at any given moment, we can behave with either violence or compassion, depending on the strength of these seeds within us.
When the seeds of anger, violence, and fear are watered in us several times a day, they will grow stronger. Then we are unable to be happy, unable to accept ourselves; we suffer and we make those around us suffer. Yet when we know how to cultivate the seeds of love, compassion, and understanding in us every day, those seeds will become stronger, and the seeds of violence and hatred will become weaker and weaker. We know that if we water the seeds of anger, violence, and fear in us, we will lose our peace and our stability. We will suffer and we will make those around us suffer. But if we cultivate the seeds of compassion, we nourish peace within us and around us. With this understanding, we are already on the path of creating peace.
The teachings of this book are offered to help anyone who aspires to lead a life of nonviolence. These practices are the living legacy of the Buddha and of my ancestral teachers. They are as powerful today as they were at the time of the Buddha's awakening, 2,600 years ago. Together, they form a practical manual of peace -- for you, your family, your community, and the world. At this time, with so much conflict in the world, I am offering this book to help us realize that violence is not inevitable. Peace is there for us in every moment. It is our choice.