Thich Nhat Hahn wrote this poem in 1965 for the young people who risked their lives during war, recommending that they prepare to die without hatred.
Here is a portion of that poem,
"The only thing worthy of you is compassion--
invincible, limitless, unconditional.
Hatred will never let you face
the beast in man.
One day, when you face this beast alone,
with your courage intact, your eyes kind,
(even as no one sees them)
out of your smile
will bloom a flower.
And those who love you
will behold you
across ten thousand worlds of birth and dying."
[excerpted from Creating True Peace, Thich Nhat Hanh]
I read this today and realized that each day we choose to experience the present moment as it is, without opposing emotions, but simply experiencing our anger, our hatred, our greed, our jealousy, our sadness, our humiliation, our grieving, and allowing ourselves the full courage to face each of these 'beasts' with kind eyes and untroubled hearts, knowing that this, too, shall pass. That this moment is but a moment and no sensation is permanent.
So essentially, the stronger we grow ourselves to experience life, the stronger we become, the more peaceful we become.
For example, if someone cuts us off on the highway and we feel anger, and then suppress it believing we're not spiritual or good if we feel anger, we are still not blooming flowers. We may be creating a whole lot of compost heap under which that anger is simmering, but the anger will still be there, waiting for the next moment to upheave it. Instead, if we allow ourselves the natural anger, and face it, and feel it. Really feel it. Then it dissipates, releases, relaxes back from which it came, and hence we can then slide out of that old volatile skin, and allow the newness of a smile to emerge and compassion for all beings to follow and flower.
As those young people readied for war, Thich Nhat Hahn reminded them, "Our enemy is our anger, hatred, greed, fanatacism, and discrimination. If you die because of violence, you must meditate on compassion in order to forgive those who killed you. When you die realizing this state of compassion, you are truly a child of the Awakened One."
Thankfully, many of us will not ever experience the physical battlefields of war. Yet, most of us experience a different kind of internal war daily. The battles on the innerspace in which we catch the scent of feelings we'd rather not feel and we push the inner eject button.
Instead, as we learn to stay present, courageously present, to face the strong emotions, we build the capacity to face our beasts with resiliency. To smile and bloom flowers.
Blessings & Namaste.
Writing Challenge for Today: Gather a list of feelings as you experience them today, even if the irrational ones. Especially the irrational ones. You know, the sneaky ones that you'd rather stuff--those. The part that celebrates a friend's success and also senses one's own sadnesses about perhaps not yet achieving that level of greatness. Instead of pushing that down, instead of running from that, allow yourself to sit with it. To actually feel it and witness it's dissolution. Dissolving like sugar in water, sweetening it all the way down.