Dear Still Water Friends
This Thursday evening, after our meditation period, we will recite together the Five Mindfulness Trainings. In our Dharma sharing we will focus on the Fourth Mindfulness Training: Deep Listening and Loving Speech.
To prepare for our evening, I wanted to share with you a poem and a practice.
The poem was written by Thay (Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh) after hearing of the bombing of Bên Tre on February 7, 1968. Bên Tre was small city about 45 miles southwest of Saigon, the capitol of then South Vietnam. Bên Tre was home to about 35,000 residents in the Mekong Delta. Journalist Peter Arnett quoted an unidentified American major who said, “We had to destroy the town to save it.” The quote captured the madness of that war. And perhaps all war.
I hold my face in my two hands.
No, I am not crying.
I hold my face in my two hands
to keep the loneliness warm –
two hands protecting,
two hands nourishing,
two hands preventing
my soul from leaving me
Anger is an obstacle that I face in my practice of the Fourth Mindfulness Training. I have watered the seeds of anger and unkindness and cultivated the habit energy of anger. My habitual reactivity of anger is the opposite of mindfulness for me, so I am looking for practices to work more skillfully with anger.
Thay shares the practice of the Peace Treaty that I have included below. I hope that we can begin our dharma sharing with these questions:
How do you work with anger?
How to you repair when anger has caused you to say something unkind?
How do you cool the flames of anger when it hijacks your better intentions?
I hope you can be with us on Thursday night.
From Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames by Thich Nhat Hanh
In Order That We May Live Long and Happily Together, In Order That We May Continually Develop and Deepen Our Love and Understanding, We, the Undersigned, vow to Observe and Practice the Following:
I, the one who is angry, agree to:
- Refrain from saying or doing anything that might cause further damage or escalate the anger.
- Not suppress my anger.
- Practice mindful breathing and go back to myself to take care of my anger.
- Calmly, within twenty-four hours, tell the one who has made me angry about my anger and suffering either verbally or by delivering a Peace Note.
- Ask for an appointment in that week, like Friday evening, either verbally or by note, to discuss this matter more thoroughly.
- Not say: “I am not angry, it’s okay, I am not suffering. There is nothing to be angry about.”
- Look deeply into my daily life, while sitting, walking, lying down, working, and driving to see:
The ways that I have been unskillful at times.
How I have hurt the other person because of my own habit energy.
How the strong see of anger in me is the primary cause of my anger.
How the other person is only the secondary cause.
How the other person is only seeking relief from his or her suffering.
That as long as the other person suffers, I cannot be truly happy.
- Apologize immediately, without waiting for the Friday appointment, as soon as I recognize my unskillfulness and lack of mindfulness.
- Postpone the Friday meeting if I do not feel calm enough to meet with the other person.
I, the one who has made the other angry, agree to:
- Respect the other person’s feelings, not ridicule him/her and allow time for him/her to calm down.
- Not press for an immediate discussion.
- Confirm the other person’s request for a meeting, either verbally or by note, and assure him or her that I will be there.
- If I can apologize, do so right away and not wait until Friday evening.
- Practice mindful breathing and deep looking to see how:
I have seeds of anger and unkindness as well as the habit energy, which make the other person unhappy.
I have mistakenly thought that making the other person suffer would relieve my own suffering.
By making him/her suffer, I make myself suffer.
- Apologize as soon as I realize my unskillfulness and lack of mindfulness, without making any attempt to justify myself and without waiting for the Friday meeting.
We vow with the Presence of the Lord Buddha, as Witness
and the Mindful Presence of Our Sangha,
to Abide by These Articles and Practice Them Wholeheartedly.
We invoke the Three Gems for Protection to Grant Us
Clarity and Confidence.
The ____ Day of ____________, in the Year _________.