“One Nation, Indivisible” features excerpts from The Sun’s archives that speak to the current political moment.
You have to want to lose your appetite for violence or aggression. And to do that, you have to lose your self-righteousness. You have to realize that you cannot continue to have your habitual reaction to something, especially if your reaction ends with violence — physical or verbal — against yourself or somebody else, or even against the government of your country or the terrorists or whomever. You have to accept in your gut that the habitual reaction is poisonous not only to you but to the rest of the world.
Some people are waking up to this because they see the repercussions of violence in the world today. But I also see more and more people looking for ways to justify their aggression. I hear them say, “Yes, but this time I’m right.” That’s our self-righteousness talking. It is the voice of the fundamentalist within us. People need a lot of encouragement before they can silence that voice.
“Sitting in the Fire,” Pema Chödrön, interviewed by James Kullander, January 2005
I don’t think there’s anything wrong with anger. In fact, I’m suspicious of people who are never angry. If you’ve never gotten angry, then either you’ve never been crossed or you don’t have solid values. I just laugh at certain people I know who call themselves pacifists in our oh-so-safe world. What would you do if somebody went after your six-year-old daughter? You’d chase him down with an eight-inch frying pan and beat the shit out of him, that’s what you’d do. Pacifism and civil disobedience are nice if your opponent is also nice. The Nazis weren’t nice.
“Not on Any Map,” Jack Turner, interviewed by Leath Tonino, August 2014
In the West you have been struggling for many years with the problem of evil. How is it possible that evil should be there? It seems that it is difficult for the Western mind to understand. But in the light of nonduality, there is no problem: as soon as the idea of good is there, the idea of evil is there. When you perceive reality in this way, you will not discriminate against garbage for the sake of a rose. You will cherish both. . . . For many years, the United States has been trying to describe the Soviet Union as the evil side. Some Americans even have the illusion that they can survive alone, without the other half. But that is the same as believing that the right side can exist without the left side.
And this very same feeling exists in the Soviet Union. The American imperialists, it is said, are on the bad side and must be eliminated for the possibility of happiness in the world. But that is the dualistic way of looking at things. If we look at America very deeply, we see the Soviet Union. And if we look deeply at the Soviet Union, we see America. If we look deeply at the rose, we see garbage; if we look deeply at garbage, we see the rose. In this international situation, each side is pretending to be the rose, and calling the other side garbage.
“The Heart of Understanding,” Thich Nhat Hanh, July 1988
I could make a very convincing case to you for the practice of sitting meditation — just to do that and nothing else — and an equally convincing case for going out and serving the world. Look at it from the first side. Does the world need more oil and energy and food? Actually, no. There are enough resources for all of us. There is starvation and poverty and disease because of ignorance, prejudice, and fear, because we hoard and create wars over imaginary geographic boundaries and act as if one group of people is different from another group somewhere else on the planet. What the world needs is not more oil, but more love and generosity, kindness and understanding. Until those are attained, the other levels won’t ever work; so you really have to sit and meditate and get that understanding in yourself first. Only when you have done it yourself can you have the skill to help change the greed in the world and to love. Thus, it’s not a privilege to meditate, but a responsibility.
“The Path of Compassion,” Jack Kornfield, May 1987
During the beatings I received in prison, I would pray, “May Tibet be free.” I knew that the Dalai Lama wanted a nonviolent solution to the problem of the Chinese occupation of Tibet. So I accepted that I would endure my pain for a worthy cause. It was important that I saw my tormentors as people who, like myself, were injured. I took the attitude that they could do whatever they wanted to my body, but my mind was free to think for itself. I concentrated my thoughts on His Holiness so intensely that, as I was being tortured, I could actually feel his presence. So I did not feel the pain. I did not pray for myself, but for peace for all beings. The Tibetans believe that the body is not important. What’s important is where your mind is.
“Whispered Prayers,” unidentified Tibetan prisoner, interviewed and photographed by Stephen R. Harrison, June 2000