Thich Nhat Hanh: Message to Friends in Japan
by Thich Nhat Hanh on Tuesday, March 15, 2011 at 1:34am
Dear friends in Japan,
As we contemplate the great number of people who have died in this tragedy, we may feel very strongly that we ourselves, in some part or manner, also have died.
The pain of one part of humankind is the pain of the whole of humankind. And the human species and the planet Earth are one body. What happens to one part of the body happens to the whole body.
An event such as this reminds us of the impermanent nature of our lives. It helps us remember that what’s most important is to love each other, to be there for each other, and to treasure each moment we have that we are alive. This is the best that we can do for those who have died: we can live in such a way that they continue, beautifully, in us.
Here in France and at our practice centers all over the world, our brothers and sisters will continue to chant for you, sending you the energy of peace, healing and protection. Our prayers are with you.
Thich Nhat Hanh
I hope you are well and enjoying a peaceful day. With all of the suffering that we are being asked to be with in this world, it is vital that we water the seeds of joy in us by seeing the beauty and wonders available to us in every moment. It is also a good time to come together ….I have been so inspired by the stories of the Japanese people coming together and sharing and helping each other.
This is a reminder that this coming Sunday (the first day of Spring!!!!) at 6 PM we will be having a Transmission Ceremony for the Five Mindfulness Trainingsin Matunuck. (click here to download a copy of the Trainings) Please arrive at least 10 minutes early so that we will be able to begin on time. I hope that you will be able to be with us to support those who are receiving the transmission and making a commitment to themselves to do their best to practice the trainings. It is a wonderful way to begin anew with the beginning of Spring.
We will have a sitting meditation and will offer the merit of our practice and our prayers to our friends in Japan who have been experiencing such extreme suffering. The letter from Thich Nhat Hanh to the people of Japan reminds us to value every second of our lives and to do what we can to help our fellow beings. We can hold them in our hearts and in our meditations as well as offer material assistance through the various agencies which are sending bodhisattvas into the darkest places. Here are a couple of them … redcross.org… mercycorps.org …..you probably all know of agencies which are helping also.
I have also included a letter from a Japanese woman sharing some of the inspiring acts of kindness she has witnessed.
I also wanted to remind you that I have been invited to offer a Day of Mindfulness on Reconciliation in Franklin, MA (near Attleboro) on April 9 and one in CT on Removing the Obstacles to Our Happiness April 16. I hope that you will be able to join us for a day with our fellow practitioners. To spend a spring day being joyfully together and deepening our practice is a wonderful thing! See my calendar for more information.
Until then, I hope you enjoy every moment of this sunny day and the joy of discovering the signs of spring…(we heard the woodcocks doing their mating dance the other evening!)
with much love and deepest appreciation for interbeing with all of you,
“Every spring is the only spring — a perpetual astonishment.”
“I think that no matter how old or infirm I may become,
I will always plant a large garden in the spring.
Who can resist the feelings of hope and joy
that one gets from participating in nature’s rebirth?”
—Edward Giobbi, from Daily Good, News that Inspires
from Yuko in Japan….
Someone overseas called me on my cell. She said she wanted to connect to anyone who is in Japan, and so she called the country code and their own mobile number, which happened to be the same as mine. I didn’t fully understand everything she said, because it was English, but I knew enough to know that she really wanted to support the Japanese people. It really gave me so much hope.
Last night when I was walking home (since all traffic had stopped), I saw an old lady at a bakery shop. It was totally past their closing time, but she was giving out free bread. Even at times like this, people were trying to find what they can do and it made my heart warm.
In the supermarket, where items of all the shelves fell, people were picking up things so neatly together, and then quietly stand in line to buy food. Instead of creating panic and buying as much as needed, they bought as little as they needed. I was proud to be a Japanese.
When I was walking home, for 4 hours, there was a lady holding a sign that said, “Please use our toilet.” They were opening their house for people to go to the restroom. It was hard not to tear up, when I saw the warmth of people.
At Disneyland, they were giving out candies. High school girls were taking so many so I was thinking, “What???” But then the next minute, they ran to the children in the evacuation place and handed it to them. That was a sweet gesture.
My co-worker wanted to help somehow, even if it was just to one person. So he wrote a sign: “If you’re okay with motor cycle, I will drive you to your house.” He stood in the cold with that sign. And then I saw him take one gentleman home, all the way to Tokorozawa! I was so moved. I felt like I wanted to help others too.
A high school boy was saved because he climbed up on top of the roof of a department store during the flood. The flood came so suddenly, that he just saw people below him, trying to frantically climb up the roof and being taken by the flood. To help others, he kept filming them so their loved ones could see. He still hasn’t been able to reach his own parents but he says, “Its nobody’s fault. There is no one to blame. We have to stay strong.”
There is a lack of gas now and many gasoline stations are either closed or haave very loooong lines. I got worried, since I was behind 15 cars. Finally, when it was my turn, the man smiled and said, “Because of this situation, we are only giving $30 worth gas per each person. Is that alright?” “Of course its alright. I’m just glad that we are all able to share,” I said. His smile gave me so much relief.
I saw a little boy thanking a public transit employee, saying, “Thank you so much for trying hard to run the train last night.” It brought tears to the employee’s eyes, and mine.
A foreign friend told me that she was shocked to see a looong queue form so neatly behind one public phone. Everyone waited so patiently to use the phone even though everyone must have been so eager to call their families.
The traffic was horrible!! Only one car can move forward at green light. But everyone was driving so calmly. During the 10 hour drive (which would only take 30 minutes normally) the only horns I heard was a horn of thank you. It was a fearful time — but then again a time of warmth and it made me love Japan more.
When I was waiting at the platform, so tired and exhausted, a homeless person came to us and gave us a cardboard to sit on. Even though we usually ignore them in our daily life, they were ready to serve us.
Suntory (a juice company) is giving out free drinks, phone companies are creating more wi-fi spots, 1,000,000 noodles were given by a food company, and everyone is trying to help the best way they can. We, too, have to stand up and do our best.
Whenever there is a black out, people are working hard to fix it. Whenever the water stops, there are people working to fix that too. And when there is problem with nuclear energy, there are people trying to fix that too. It doesn’t just fix itself. While we are waiting to regain the heat in the cool temperature or have running water, there were people risking their life to fix it for us.
An old woman said, on a train: “Blackouts are no problem for me. I am used to saving electricity for this country, and turning off lights. At least, this time we don’t have bombs flying over our heads. I’m willing to happy to shut off my electricity!” Everyone around couldn’t say a word in response.
In one area, when the electricity returned, peopel rejoiced. And then someone yelled: “We got electricity because someone else probably conserved theirs! Thank you so much to EVERYONE who saved electricity for us. Thank you everyone!”
An old man at the evacuation shelter said, “What’s going to happen now?” And then a young high school boy sitting next to him said, “Don’t worry! When we grow up, we will promise to fix it back!” While saying this, he was rubbing the old man’s back. And when I was listening to that conversation, I felt hope. There is a bright future, on the other side of this crisis.
Update: March 16, 2010
There has been so much fear going around, that my heart is aching. When we start to see the world with fear, we forget to see the important things in life. Every moment is precious, every moment is the only gift (present) we have, and we simply cannot afford to waste it all on fear-filled despair.
A friend who is now living in the evacuation center told me how important it is to smile. And that his smile seemed to heal people around him. He lost his house, he doesn’t know what his future will be … but he still remembers to smile. Some may say, its not right to smile or laugh during this time, but I really respect the power of his courage. Not only smile, we must retain our humor too. In Japanese, humor is translated as “to laugh in spite of…”.
Today, people everywhere are talking about nuclear radiation. It could get in the air, the soil, the food. People are holding themselves with such dark, scared faces. So I went around giving the biggest smile and saying, “Its a sunny day today!” They smiled back, and I’m sure some might’ve thought I was crazy, but I saw beauty in their smiles. So much better than scary faces.
On my walk back home, I saw a beautiful flower. We have tried to use all our merits and even nature’s energy, for our own benefit and that has created all this scarcity and madness. All of us can now try to run away from radiation, but what of this flower? I bent down to the flower and just felt moved to say, “I am so sorry.”
If we are able to stop and step back from fear, even just a little bit, we can see so much more. I hope we don’t forget love, gratitude, acceptance, harmony and oneness. I hope we can keep reminding that to each other, cause, you know … I may forget too.