Monday, February 16, 2009

Another transformational book review

The book review this month, is called Creating True Peace by Thick Nhat Hanh. It is a transformational book about Life. Thick Nhat Hanh is a buddhist monk who has written several books about Engaged Buddhism, which he learned and taught during the Viet Nam war. He mentions how they fervently prayed for a 24-hour truce so they might have some respite from the bombing, in order to meditate, breathe and smile. The smile is very symbolic in Buddhism. They smile with compassion at every person, because they believe suffering is universal.

TNH believes that if we promote peace in our own hearts and minds, then our circumstances will improve. He believes that mindful breathing and walking can increase peace and compassion and even transform our negative emotions into a more productive state of happiness. He says no person can be happy, if they do not have peace in their heart. He advocates deep listening and loving speech in order to promote peace in our own lives. And if we have peace in our own lives, it can spread to the family, community and the whole world.

He gives a lot of practical advice in the book, to promote mindfulness and peacefulness. For example, every house should have a Peace room and a meditation bell. Whenever the bell is rung you must stop and breathe, so even the youngest in the family may initiate a peaceful time out. The peace room is a place where anyone in the family can go for peaceful meditation, yet whenever a family member uses the room it is advisable for the whole family to join in.

It's also about transforming your suffering or negative emotions into compassion, with very simple methods, like breathing and walking. Things we do every day. But do we do them mindfully? Of course not!

Peace, love and compassion. You would think these would be concepts worthy of embracing in today's world. You might think everybody could agree that these are valuable and worthwhile. But it is amazing how controversial they can be.

Fortunately, it seems that by applying his practical advice, and applying compassion, persistently, circumstances and relationships can change. Conflict can be transformed into cooperation. He even has advice for politicians and governments.

As a result of reading (and rereading) this book, I have decided to adopt some of his ideas in order to have more peace in my heart, a more harmonious family life, more deep listening at work, and hopefully promote peace in my own community and country.

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