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Buddhism And Meditation In The Novel Being Peace By Thich Nhat Hanh

1538 words - 7 pages

The novel Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh shows how the world can be made a better place though the application of Buddhism and meditation in our daily lives. Thich Nhat Hanh describes practices and suggestions that the common person can apply in their daily lives immediately in order to create peace in their life and in the world.
Thich Nhat Hanh begins by stating that we are often aware of suffering, however that is not enough. We need to be aware and peace and happiness in order to create peace. He also mentions that today, humans have a very difficult time being alive in the present moment. We are constantly looking to the future for our next goal or our next to-do list to ...view middle of the document...

There are three kinds of feelings in the world: pleasant, unpleasant, and neutral and it is up to our individual perception as to how we perceive these feelings. Bad perceptions can create negative feelings and good perceptions can create happiness and peace. Happiness is everywhere and we are all welcome to it. We must transform our feelings in order to attain happiness. Buddhism teaches us to look at the world deeply in order to understand true nature so that we may avoid misleading perceptions that create suffering and bad feelings. In order to understand something, according to Hanh, we must become one with it. Additionally, Buddhism teaches that bad energy such as anger cannot be destroyed. However, through meditation it can be transformed into something better like peace or happiness. Understanding must be attained in order for true happiness, however, “In Buddhism, knowledge is regarded as an obstacle to understanding” (48). This means that we often hold onto a truth so firmly that even when a real truth is presented to us, we are unable to recognize it because of our preconceived notions. Thich Nhat Hanh teaches therefore that we must release our knowledge in order to transcend it and gain full understanding.
Thich Nhat Hanh also teaches that it is important to remember that the individual does not exist in Buddhism. Meditation is often seen as an escape from society when it is in fact a way to reenter society. Hanh uses a tree and leaf analogy in order to illustrate the relationship between the individual and society. He says, “Leaves are usually looked upon as the children of the tree. Yes, they are children of the tree, born from the tree, but they are also mothers of the tree” (52). This is to demonstrate how yes, the leaves are a product of the tree but the tree could also not live without the leaves. Just as individuals are a product of society, society is also a product of the individuals. If individuals are separated from society, they have no way of changing it, no way of creating peace within it. Therefore, the importance of meditation can be seen. Those who meditate are able to remain a part of society and have the ability to change it for their children. Those who don’t meditate become removed, alienated, and withdrawn from society.
This book then moves onto a discussion on how we must work for peace. In Buddhism we must have awareness for without it we are unable change society. Hanh says “ If we are aware of our lifestyle, our way of consuming, of looking at things, we will know how to make peace right in the moment we are alive, the present moment” (69). Hanh urges all of us to not align ourselves with one side because by doing so we are unable to work for peace. Rather, he stresses reconciliation; “Reconciliation is to understand both sides, to go to one side and describe the suffering being endured by the other side, and then to go to the other side and describe the suffering being...

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