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Episode 39 - Practicing non-violence:             The practice of non-violence Buddha explains in the chapter of the Dhammapada called “Violence” refers to abandoning both the killing of living beings and the violence of our speech. Sometimes we...

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            The practice of non-violence Buddha explains in the chapter of the Dhammapada called “Violence” refers to abandoning both the killing of living beings and the violence of our speech. Sometimes we harm other people most with our speech. Unlike a physical wound, hurtful words may cut a person throughout their whole life. Our words our very powerful. As people create their self (a mere perception), unkind words can shape their identity.  Non-violence means to not harm or retaliate. We can learn to not retaliate towards those who irritate or harm us by developing compassion for them. These are the steps of the practice: Step one. Know that forgiveness of another person is necessary for our own mental peace and sanity. When we forgive others it helps us most of all.  Step two. Try to separate the person from their uncontrolled minds like anger, jealousy, attachment and so forth. These uncontrolled minds are the real enemies of ourselves and others. They destroy our happiness and cause us to harm others.  Step three. We contemplate the ways that the person who harms us is suffering or is causing their own future suffering. We try to generate real compassion for them.  Step 4. We make a determination that through the week, whenever we start to think negatively about that person, we will instead move our mind to consider the ways that they suffer. We will try, through mindfulness, to replace our thoughts of anger with thoughts of compassion.   In June 1965, after another self-immolation by a Buddhist monk in Vietnam, spiritual teacher Thich Nhat Hanh felt compelled to write an open letter to Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Dr. King had just received the Nobel Peace Prize the year before for his leadership in the struggle for racial equality. In that letter, Nhat Hanh attempted to explain the spiritual intent of the immolations. He also urged Dr. King to speak out for America’s withdrawal towards peace in Vietnam. Through this gesture, Dr. King and Thich Nhat Hanh began a conversation, which transformed them both. Their engagement and eventual deep mutual friendship. In the letter, he writes:   “I believe with all my heart that the monks who burned themselves did not aim at the death of the oppressors but only at a change in their policy. Their enemies are not man. They are intolerance, fanaticism, dictatorship, cupidity, hatred, and discrimination which lie within the heart of man. I also believe with all my being that the struggle for equality and freedom you lead in Birmingham, Alabama… is not aimed at the whites but only at intolerance, hatred, and discrimination. These are real enemies of man — not man himself.”   Through this gesture, Dr. King and Thich Nhat Hanh began a conversation, which transformed them both. Their engagement and eventual deep mutual friendship. All tremble at violence; All fear death.  Seeing others as being like yourself,  Do not kill or cause others to kill. (129)*    All tremble at violence;  Life is dear for all.  Seeing others as being like yourself,  Do not kill or cause others to kill. (130)*    If, desiring happiness,  You use violence  To harm living beings who desire happiness,  You won’t find happiness after death. (131)   If, desiring happiness,  You do not use violence To harm living beings who desire happiness,  You will find happiness after death. (132)    Don’t speak harshly to anyone;  What you say will be said back to you.  Hostile speech is painful,  And you will meet with retaliation. (133)   References   Buddha. The Dhammapada: The Buddha’s Path of Wisdom. Translated by Acharya Buddharakkhita. Buddhist Publication Society Kandy, 1985. pp. 35-36.   Je Tsongkhapa. Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, Volume 1. Pages 218-220. Translated by the Lamrim Chenmo Translation Committee. Joshua Cutler, Editor-in-Chief, and Guy Newlan, Editor.   Je Tsongkhapa. Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, Volume 3. Pages 53-54. Translated by

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