Peace and Aliveness: some quotes from Living Buddha, Living Christ

Almond tree in bloom, from pixabay (CC0)
Almond tree in bloom, from pixabay (CC0)

Some favorite passages (so far) from Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh:

From Chapter One:

“Twenty years ago at a conference I attended of theologians and professors of religion, an Indian Christian friend told the assembly, ‘We are going to hear about the beauties of several traditions, but that does not mean we are going to make a fruit salad.’ When it came my turn to speak, I said, ‘Fruit salad can be delicious! I have shared the Eucharist with Father Daniel Berrigan, and our worship became possible because of the sufferings we Vietnamese and Americans shared over many years.’ Some of the Buddhists present were shocked to hear I had participated in the Eucharist, and many Christians seemed truly horrified. To me, religious life is life. I do not see any reason to spend one’s whole life tasting just one kind of fruit. We human beings can be nourished by the best values of many traditions.”

and

“The second precept of the Order of Interbeing, founded with the Zen Buddhist tradition during the war in Vietnam, is about letting go of views: ‘Do not think the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views.Learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to receive others’ viewpoints.’ To me, this is the most essential practice of peace.”

And, from the Foreword by Brother David Steindl-Rast:

“Twice in this book Thich Nhat Hanh puts before us a powerful image of Christian legend: In midwinter, St. Francis is calling out to an almond tree, ‘Speak to me of God!’ and the almond tree breaks into bloom. It comes alive. There is no other way of witnessing to God but by aliveness.”

and

“Reading Living Buddha, Living Christ, I felt the same challenge. I am not referring to the few passages that criticize Christian (or rather un-Christian) narrowness, exclusivism, or sexism. Any Christian who strives to follow Christ will have voiced those criticisms long ago and probably less gently. The challenge I felt was personal. It came not from anything Thay [Nhat Hanh] said, but from his silence, from between the lines. I felt a bit like the almond tree confronted by St. Francis. ‘Start blooming, frozen Christian!’ the mystic Angelus Silesius called out. ‘Springtime is at hand. When will you ever bloom if not here and now?’ Thich Nhat Hanh’s words entered me like a Zen koan: Speak to me of the unspeakable, and not with words. ‘Speak to me of God!’ This is the challenge Thich Nhat Hanh offers us: Come alive, truly alive!”

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