Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. was a noble friend to Thich Nhat Hanh.. it’s not surprising when you consider the singular missions of each man. Dr. King said of our simple monk friend “A holy man, for he is humble and devout. He is a scholar of immense intellectual capacity. HIs ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.”
During these days where Thich Nhat Hanh needs our loving-kindness as his earthly body wears out, I’m re-reading his journals from Vietnam in 1962. I love understanding where people came from, what influenced them. He describes a moment when he and his friends were building their first monastery in Vietnam, Phuong Boi.
“Living in the mountain forest, our strides and gestures grew bold and strong. Instead of joining palms and bowing to greet each other in the traditional manner, we raised one hand up high and waved. WE didn’t walk along the mountain paths with the measured stately steps. WE walked fast, and often we ran. WE yelled to one another from one hill to the next. Nguyen Hung could yell louder than anyone, and his voice was as shrill as a train whistle. In fact, everyone who spent much time at Phuong Boi loved to shout. Once Hung climbed a tall pine tree in Meditation Forest to cut a branch, and he let a whoop so loud the whole forest reverberated. I was straightening out meditation hall, and his shout startled me so that I dropped my broom and ran outside to look. What is even funnier is that I shouted right back! The forest was so immense, we felt minuscule. I think we shouted to overcome our feeling of being utterly insignificant. It was also our way of compensating for the many social conventions forced upon us in the past. In the conventional world, we had to speak with restraint, guarding each word. Society dictates how we must eat, greet each other, walk, sit, and dress. When we came to Phuong Boi, we wanted to cast off all of these rules and conventions. We ran and yelled to shatter social restraints and prove to ourselves that we were free”
I think this simple journal entry shows us why Thich Nhat Hanh is so significant in this world… he understands his insignificance and yet lives significantly anyway.. he shouted and screamed and laughed and gave up the dogma of religion, instead committing to freedom and authentic joy.
Pausing to send him more loving-kindness…he needs, and deserves it. Join me. 1,2,3, go. _/\_