Jesus and Buddha as Brothers..
© Thich Nhat Hanh
It is the 24th of December 1997 and we are in the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village. I would like to talk with you a little bit about my practice of the bell, the sound of the bell.
When I was a small child I used to go to the Buddhist temple with my mother, my sister, my father, and I heard the sound of the bell a lot, but it did not make a lot of sense to me, the sound of the bell. I remember there were people who were still talking when they heard the bell. I became a novice monk at the age of sixteen. At that time I had a chance to discover what is really the sound of the bell. I was given a little book to learn by heart. That little book has about 55 little poems. There were a few poems about inviting the bell to sound and how to listen to the bell. It was wonderful. It was the first time I learned that the bell has a great role to play in the life of a monk and the life of a lay person.
Before you invite the bell to sound, you don't say "hit the bell", that would not be very kind; you say "inviting the bell to sound." You have to breathe in and out. You use the little poem to breathe in and out deeply.
"Body, speech and mind in perfect oneness
I send my heart along with the sound of this bell.
May the hearers awaken from their forgetfulness
and transcend the path of all anxiety and sorrow."
When you read one line you breathe IN. When you read another line you breathe OUT.
You read it silently within your mind. After you have read these four lines of the poem you become calm, you become solid and now you have the right to touch the bell. When you invite the bell to sound you are sending your love, you are sending your greeting, you are sending your wish to the people who will hear the bell. You wish when they hear the bell they will stop suffering, they will begin to have the energy of peace, of joy in themselves and they can get out of the energy of anger, suffering, and despair within themselves.
That is why inviting the bell, sending the sound of the bell to the people around you, is a very compassionate action. You cannot do it without putting a lot of your heart in it.
So I began to learn by heart this poem and there were also other poems for the same purpose. I also learned other poems concerning how to practice listening to the bell. When you hear the bell you are to practice deep listening to the sound of the bell.
"Listening to the bell I feel the afflictions in me begins to dissolve. My mind is calm and my body is relaxed. A smile is born on my lips. Following the sound of the bell I go back to the island of Mindfulness and in the garden of my heart the flowers of peace bloom beautifully."
There are poems like this that you have to learn by heart in order to practice listening to the bell. Inviting the bell to sound and listening to the bell can bring about the energy of peace, of joy, of solidity in you. How can you have this energy of peace, of solidity, of joy? You need only to practice listening to the bell.
Today we shall practice sitting meditation together. The young people, if they like, can join us in our sitting. The sitting today is very special because after 15-minutes we will begin to hear the bell of the church bell in northern Russia. We will sit like this very silently. We will listen to the sound of an Orthodox Church bell in northern Russia for about 20-minutes. We shall be sitting together silently like this, solidly like a mountain, free like the air, We will allow the sound of the church bell to touch the seeds of solidity and joy within us. If you do well the seeds of joy, of love, and peace will begin to bloom like flowers in the fields of our hearts. You may have a chance to discover the true nature of the bell.
The sound of the bell in the Buddhist temple and the sound of the bell in an Orthodox Catholic Church, and the Protestant Church , that nature is the same. The first time I heard the bell, the Church bell I was not moved. I did not understand, I did not allow the Church bell to touch the depths of my being. It was in my country, I heard the Buddhist temple bells, but from time to time I heard the Catholic Church bells also. I was not able to be touched by that bell until very recently when I was in Prague.
About 5 years ago, we visited Moscow, and Leningrad. We offered retreats and Days of Mindfulness in Russia and then we went to other countries. We had a retreat in the city of Prague. That day we had a Lazy Day after many days of hard work. We went to visit that beautiful city. I was walking very slowly with a number of friends and a number of sisters and brothers also. We were looking at the beautiful post cards in a little church. The road was very small, but very beautiful. Suddenly I heard the Church bells.
That time it went very deep into me. I had been listening to the Church bells before, many times everywhere, in France, in Switzerland, in many other countries. But this was the first time the Church bell touched me very deeply. I felt that it was the first time I was able to touch the soul of ancient Europe. I have been in Europe for a long time. I have seen a lot. I have heard a lot about the civilisation, the culture and have met with many Europeans. Only in this time, walking in the city of Prague I was able to touch the soul of Europe in a most profound way. This is due to the sound of the bell.
We stood there very quietly and listened to the bell. When I listened to the bell I hear also behind it the sound of dripping water. Those of you who have heard me tell the story of the well you will understand. Behind the sound of the bell was the sound of tripping water. I was something like eleven years old. I was on a small mountain in northern Vietnam. I went up to the mountain with 300 school boys and girls for a picnic. We had climbed the whole morning. Because we did not know how to practice Climbing Meditation we climbed very quickly. Half way we were very exhausted. We had drunk all our water, and we were very thirsty.
I had heard that on the top of the mountain there was a hermit who practised in order to become a Buddha. I had never seen a hermit so that day I was very excited, I wanted to see a hermit. To see how he practised in order to become a Buddha. When we arrived at the top of the mountain we heard that the hermit was not there. So I was very deeply disappointed. I guess a hermit is a man who wants to live alone. He does not want to meet 300 children at the same time. That is why he must have hidden himself somewhere in the forest.
But I did not loose all my hope. My group of 5-boys received orders to take out the food we had brought and have lunch. We knew we no longer had any water. We had our rice, our sesame seeds, and things like this. I left my friends. I went alone into the forest hoping that I would be able to discover the hidden hermit. After a few minutes I began to hear the sound of water dripping. The sound was very beautiful, it was like a piano. I followed the sound, and very quickly I discovered a beautiful, natural well. The water was so clear, you could see everything at the bottom of the well.
You know I was very thirsty. When I saw the little well I was so happy. Nobody had made that well. It was made by itself of natural stones and a stream of water going into it. The sound of the dripping water had led me into that wonderful spot. I knelt down and took the water in my two hands and drank the water. I had never tasted any kind of water that was so delicious like that. You know I had read a lot of fairy tales. I was very influenced by these fairy tales. I believed that the hermit had transformed himself into the well in order for me to meet him privately. After having drunk the water I felt completely satisfied. I did not feel any desire whatsoever, including the desire of meeting the hermit (because I thought the hermit was the well).
I was completely satisfied. I laid down and looked at the beautiful sky, and because I was so tired I fell into a very deep sleep. I slept so soundly that when I woke up I did not know where I was. Only a number of seconds after I began to realise I was on top of the Na Son mountain. The sleep did not last very long, I don't think so. But it was very deep. I remembered that I had to go down in order to meet the other four boys for lunch. I left the well with a lot of regret. While going down a sentence was formed in my head. It was in French. It was like this: "I have tasted the most delicious water in the world."
I did not tell the story to the other four boys. I wanted to keep it secret. I had the feeling if I told them I felt I would loose something. So I kept the story very secretly in my heart. I had believed that I had already met the hermit.
When I was in Prague listening to the bell I realised that behind the sound of the bell there was the sound of dripping water that I had heard when I was a young boy of eleven. I knew that the sound of the dripping water had helped me touch deeply the sound of the Church bell. I realised that from this time on I began to have roots not only from my own culture but also from the culture of Europe. If you are rooted in your own culture you may have a chance to touch deeply and get rooted in another culture as well. This is very important.
I know that there are Vietnamese who suffered so much in their country. They suffered because of their families, suffered because of the war, suffered because of their government, and they hated everything that was called Vietnamese. They hated their ancestors, they hated their society, they hated their government, they hated their culture, and they hated their family because they have suffered so much. When they went to Europe or America they wanted to be purely a European or American person leaving behind what is called Vietnamese. They were very determined not to be a Vietnamese any more. They want to become a French person or a Dutch person, or an American person. They want to completely forget their roots.
You may ask: Whether they have succeeded in doing so? Is it possible to forget all your roots to become something completely different? The answer is: No. Because I have seen many of them, and have met many of them after so many years trying to be someone else than yourself. They do not succeed. They try and go back to their own roots.
Thirty years of sharing the Dharma in the west have brought opportunities for me to meet Europeans and Americans who bear very much the same kinds of wounds and desires. They have suffered so much that they wanted to have nothing to do with their society, their church, their family, and their culture. They want to become someone else, they want to become an Indian, they want to become a Chinese, and they want to become Vietnamese. They want to become a Buddhist because they have hated everything relating to their roots. You may ask the question whether they have succeeded to leave everything behind in order to become something completely other? The answer is: No.
When they come to Plum Village, for instance, I recognise them right away. I recognise them right away as Hungry Ghosts. Yes, they are very hungry. They are hungry for something beautiful to believe in. They are hungry for something good to believe in. They are hungry for something true to believe in. They want to leave behind everything that belonged to their society and their culture.
I know that in order to help these people we have to be very patient. My tendency is to tell them: A person without roots cannot be a happy person. You have to go back to your roots. You have to go back to your family. You have to go back to your culture. You have to go back to your church, and if I tell them so they will get angry with me. They will shout at me, because that is exactly what they don't want to do.
At the same time I know that a tree without roots cannot survive. A person without roots cannot survive either. So I have to be very patient. I said, "Welcome, practice sitting meditation, you have the right to love the Buddha, to love the Vietnamese culture. Slowly, slowly they recover a little bit of their confidence, their faith, and their capacity to accept love. When the time is right I tell them: Go back to your own culture, go back to your own family, go back to our own church. They need you. Do that for not only your own generation but for the future generations as well.
Dear Friends I would like to tell you a little bit about my happiness. I am very happy every time I touch the beauty of life around me. Sometimes I feel deeply moved because there are so many beautiful things around me and also inside me. Sometimes the trees are so beautiful. Sometimes the sky is so clear. Sometimes the river is so magnificent. The sunrise, the sunset, the birds, the deer, the squirrels, the children, the fact that there are people capable of loving, forgiving, and taking care of other people. I see a person capable of loving other people and taking care of animals, they can take care of the trees, the water, the air, and the minerals. So beautiful. I am very inspired by the beauty around me. I am inspired by the capacity of loving around me.
That does not mean that I do not suffer. I would like to tell you a little bit about my suffering. I suffer a lot. When I see we have to eat each other in order to remain alive. When you observe around you see the animals have to eat each other in order to remain alive. That is a very heartbreaking fact. Of course you have observed nature yourself. You have seen films of nature. You have seen a lion, in order to feed herself and her children, she has to kill deer and other animals. You know that big fish eat small fish. The birds eat fish. What makes me suffer the most is that we have to eat each other.
In this season you know there are hunters around. In old times men had to hunt in order to survive to eat. But now I don't think that we are starving to that point. We don't have to go and hunt any more. And yet there are so many hunters around. Every Sunday they terrorise the little creatures living around them.
If love exists there are other things that exist also. There is ignorance. There is violence. There is craving. Mankind suffers very much because many of us make other people suffer. We have created war a little bit everywhere. We want to consume, we want to buy a lot. Therefore, we have created a lot of suffering for each other. Let me tell you it is a privilege for many of us to be able to be a vegetarian. I know that vegetables are living things also, they suffer when we eat them. But their suffering does not compare with the suffering of other living beings. It is not as intense.
Last Sunday I shared formal lunch with the monks and nuns and lay people in the upper hamlet. I was eating my lunch very mindfully and I looked very deeply into the rice, beans, and tofu that I was eating. I saw many things in the food I ate. I saw the mud, the soil, the minerals, and the compost. I saw the rotten bones of small animals. In order for the rice, the vegetables to grow they need these kind of elements. When I was eating the rice, beans, tofu, tomato, I saw very much the elements which have made the rice, beans, and tofu. I saw them very deeply and still the food tasted very good.
I was surrounded by brothers and sisters who were in the Sangha. I was aware that it was wonderful to be able to eat your lunch in the presence of a practising community. You have to eat in such a way that love, peace, and stability are possible. That you are support to others. We have to eat in such a way that compassion is nourished within our heart. We practice love and compassion while walking, sitting, and eating.
Let me invite the bell to sound and we shall practice breathing together one minute before I continue. Sit beautifully and receive the sound of the bell. Make it possible for the energy of peace to be born in each of us.
According to the tradition on Christmas Day you have to go back to your family. When I look into Christmas deeply I realise that Christmas is very close to the spirit of the Vietnamese New Year. Because in our tradition you have to go back to your family before the New Year date.
You have to be a family again. You have to touch your roots deeply again. It is easier for you to touch your roots deeply if every member of the family is there. That is one of the wonderful things concerning Christmas. Everyone is urged to go back to his or her family on Christmas day. I hope that this practice lasts for a long time. When we come together as a family we have a chance to touch deeply our roots. To be together as a family is an opportunity. We should learn to make use of this opportunity in order to touch each other deeply, to reconcile with each other, because that is the best way to touch our ancestors. As you know a person cannot be a happy person if he or she has no roots. That is why to go home and touch our roots deeply is a very important practice. Christmas is an opportunity for us to do so. We have all kinds of roots. Christmas is an opportunity for us to sit down, to look deeply, and to realise that we have roots. To become aware that we have roots. We have more stability and peace and joy if we can be firmly rooted in our own ancestors, in our own culture.
There was a film maker who lives in Sweden who wanted to come and ask me this question: "If Jesus and Buddha met today what do you think they would tell each other?" I am going to offer you the answer.
If you were born in Europe there is a big chance you are a child of Jesus and you have Jesus as your ancestor. Jesus is a spiritual ancestor for many people in Europe. We have blood ancestors but we have also spiritual ancestors. Jesus is one of the many spiritual ancestors of Europeans. You may not consider yourself a Christian, but that does not prevent Jesus from being one of your spiritual ancestors. Because your great-grandfather might have been a good Christian. He has transmitted to you the seed, the energy, the love, and the insight of Jesus. If you do well you will be able to help this energy to manifest within yourself.
There are those who think that they don't have anything to do with Christianity. They hate Christianity. They want to leave Christianity behind, but in the body and spirit of these people Jesus may be very present, very real. The energy, the insight and the love of Jesus may be very true, very existential. It is like the sound of the bell. When you hear the sound of the bell, when you hear the sound of the Church bell, when you hear the sound of the Buddhist temple bell, you may not feel anything. You may think the sound of the bell has not much to do with me. One day it may be very different.
I would like to answer the film maker's question: A Buddhist is someone who considers the Buddha as one of his spiritual ancestors. You can say that the Buddha is an enlightened one, a great Bodhisattva, a teacher, the founder of Buddhism. You can say that the Buddha is my spiritual ancestor. I would like to talk about the Buddha as an ancestor. To me the Buddha is very real. I can touch him at any time I want. I can profit from his energy, and insight anytime I want. It is so real. He is in every cell of my body. Every time I need him I have ways to touch him and to make his energy manifest.
I do the same with my father. I know that my father is in me. My father is in every cell of my body. In me there are many healthy cells of my father. He lived more than 90 years. Every time I need him, I can always call upon him to help. I get the energy from every cell of my body.
I live in permanent touch with my ancestors whether they are blood ancestors or spiritual ancestors. If you are a Buddhist you have the Buddha as an ancestor. The energy, the insight, the love of the Buddha has been transmitted to you by your teacher, and by many generations of teachers. You know how to touch the cells within your body, in your soul, you know how to make the energy of the Buddha manifest. You need the energy of the Buddha. Sometimes you are overwhelmed by the energy of hate, of anger, of despair. You forget that in you there are other kinds of energy that you can manifest also. If you know how to practice you can bring back the energy of insight, to bring back the energy of love, of hope in order to embrace the energy of fear, of despair, the energy of anger. Our ancestors are capable of negating the evil spirit within us and bring back the Holy Spirit in order for us to heal and to be healthy and to be joyful, to be alive again.
In Buddhism we talk about these kinds of energies also, the negative energies and the positive energies. There is a little difference, in the case of Buddhism we don't have to chase the evil spirit outside, in fact we embrace the evil spirit, the energy of anger, the energy of despair, the energy of hate, the negative energies which should be embraced. They don't need to be chased away.
What do you do in order to embrace and transform them? You have to call in, you have to help manifest the energy of love, of understanding, of peace in order to embrace these kinds of negative energies. Listening to the bell, for instance, is one of the wonderful ways in order to generate the energy of peace, to generate the energy of mindfulness. These energies will help to take care of the negative energies. For instance when you are angry you can always practice like this,
"Breathing in, I know there is the energy of anger in me."
It is a very simple practice. It is a very wonderful practice. You just practice breathing In, and Out to be aware that anger is in you. You know that when you are angry it is not good to say anything. It is not good to react or do anything. "Breathing In, breathing Out I recognise there is anger in me" is the best thing to do. If you know how to do it the energy of anger will not be able to do anything to you and to the people around you.
During this practice the energy of mindfulness is in you, alive, because you continue the practice of mindful breathing In and mindful breathing Out. Mindful breathing In and Out helps the energy of mindfulness to be alive, and this enables you to embrace the energy of anger, to recognise it as existing. You are put in a very safe situation. You don't have to chase anger out of you. You allow it to be in you, you embrace it tenderly and then anger will subside, and the danger is overcome. During the practice you have helped anger to be transformed slowly. At times when anger manifests itself you acknowledge your anger smiling to it.
You know something? During the time you practice breathing In and Out, acknowledging your anger and smiling to it, the energy of the Buddha is in you. The Buddha is in you, the Buddha as an ancestor is protecting you. You know that the Buddha is not an idea. The Buddha is true energy. The energy of the Buddha is the energy of Mindfulness, the energy of peace, the energy of wisdom.
If you are a practising Christian your practice should be something like this also. When the evil spirit is within you, the evil spirit is the spirit of despair, anger, violence, and of hate. When the evil spirit is within you, you have to be aware that it is in you. You ask Jesus to come and to become manifest in you in order for you to be able to recognise the evil in yourself and to embrace it.
With prayer and contemplation, with the reading of the Bible you put yourself in a safe situation. You are able to contain, to control, to transform the negative energy in you, the energy you call evil spirit. The Holy Spirit is the energy that you need in order to embrace and take care of the negative energy in you. For those of us who practice mindfulness, we think, we believe that the energy of mindfulness (which is the energy of the Buddha), is the equivalent of what our friends call the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the kind of energy that is capable of being there, of understanding, of accepting, of loving and of healing. If you agree that the Holy Spirit has the power to be present to understand, to heal, to love , if you agree about this, then you have to say it is the same thing as the energy of Mindfulness. Where Mindfulness is, there is true presence. Where Mindfulness is, there is the capacity to understand. You have the capacity to accept, to become compassionate, to love therefore able to touch the energy of mindfulness to become manifest in you. The Buddha as a spiritual ancestor is manifest in you. You are able to allow the Holy Spirit to be in you, to guide you, to shine on you like a lamp. Jesus is then alive in you that very moment.
There are those of us who have the Buddha and have Jesus, and these people have roots within the Buddhist tradition and also within the Christian tradition. In my hermitage I put a lot of Buddha Statues on my altar, about 10 or 15 very small Buddhas one centimetre high, and many big Buddhas like this, and also a statue of Jesus as my ancestor. I have adopted Jesus Christ as one of my spiritual ancestors because of the fact that I have met a few Christians I respect and love deeply.
During the Vietnam War I worked very hard in order to stop the killing in Vietnam. When I was in Europe and in North America I have met with a number of Christians who have really embodied the spirit of love, of understanding, of peace, of Jesus. Thanks to these people I have touched deeply Jesus as a spiritual teacher, a spiritual ancestor.
So now, if I am to answer the film maker's question "If the Buddha and the Christ were to meet today what do they have to tell each other?"
Not only do they meet today but they met yesterday, they met last night, they are always in me and they are very peaceful and united with each other. There is no conflict at all between the Buddha and the Christ in me. They are real brothers, they are real sisters within me. This is part of the answer.
As I had told you a Christian is a child of Jesus, having Jesus as a parent, as an ancestor. As we are children of our ancestors we are the continuation of our ancestors. A Christian is a continuation of Jesus Christ, he is Jesus Christ, and she is Jesus Christ. That is how I see things, this is how I see people. A Buddhist is a child of the Buddha, he is, she is, a continuation of the Buddha. She is the Buddha, he is the Buddha. You are the child of your mother. You are the continuation of your mother. You are your mother, your mother is yourself. You are the son of your father. It means that you are the continuation of your father. In a sense, you are your father, whether you like it or not. You are only the continuation of your mother and your father. You are your mother, your father.
That is the same thing with the Buddhist. A Buddhist is the continuation of the Buddha. He is the Buddha. That is why when the Buddhist meets the Christian, the Buddha is meeting Jesus. They do it every day. In Europe, in America, in Asia, Buddha and Christ are meeting each other every day! What do they tell each other? Imagine 300 years ago when Jesus came to Vietnam. Imagine the Buddha in Vietnam said "Who are you? What are you here for?"
"The Vietnamese people already have Buddhism. Do you want the Vietnamese to reject Buddhism and to embrace another faith?" What do you think the Buddha in Vietnam would say to Jesus? Would you imagine that Jesus would say: "Well you Vietnamese people, you follow a wrong spiritual path. You have to reject all that and you have to learn the new spiritual path that I am going to offer to you."
If you are a historian, if you have made research into the history of religion you would known what the Buddha would have said to Jesus 300 years ago and what Jesus would have told Buddha 300 years ago. Imagine today in Europe and in America, you don't have to imagine, for it is happening every day. The Buddha comes to Europe. The Buddha said: "I am new to this land. Do you think I should stay here or should I go back to Asia?"
There are so many refugees who come from Indochina. There are people coming from Thailand, from Burma, from Tibet. They have brought their religious beliefs with them to Europe and to America. Do they have the right to continue their practice here in the land of Europe? Do they have the right to share their beliefs and practices with non-Buddhists?
Can you imagine that Jesus would tell them "No, in Europe you already have Christianity and it is not nice for you to try to propagate a new faith in this land." You can imagine all kinds of proposals, you can imagine all kinds of reactions.
A month ago I was in Lille, a city in northern France. In the discourse given in French I said that I can see the Buddha and Jesus sitting and having tea together, and Jesus was telling Buddha "My Dear Brother, Is it too difficult to continue in this time of ours? Is it more difficult to be straight forward, to be fearless, to help people to understand and to love than it was in the old time?" That could be a question to Buddha by Jesus.
In the old time Jesus was a very fearless person, a straight forward person. He was a teacher that had a great capacity of loving, of healing, of forgiving. And the question addressed to him by the Buddha is "My Dear Brother Jesus: Is it much more difficult in our time?" After having asked the question he asked "What can I do to help you, my brother?"
Jesus is all of us in the Orthodox Church, the Catholic Church, in the Protestant Churches, in the New England Churches trying to bring the true message to the people of our time so that once again people are able to understand, to accept, to live and practice the way that love and acceptance become possible again.
Jesus is all these people who have in mind the important concern of how can the Christian message be received easily, and be understood easily. How far the practice to be accepted, to be effective, in order to rebuild what has been shattered, to restore what has been lost, faith, courage and love.
The question asked by the Buddha to Jesus was very practical. "My Dear Brother Jesus: Is it too difficult in this time to try to bring the message of love, of non-fear, of reconciliation to the people? What can I do to help you?"
The Buddha is asking Jesus that question because he has that question in himself also. At this very time it is also difficult for him to do the things he has done 2,500 years ago in India. In his own tradition people talk a little too much about the teaching. People have invented so many things.
People have gone astray. People have organised too much. They loose the true essence of the Dharma. The Buddha asked Jesus that question; it means he is asking himself that very same question. How to renew Buddhism as a spiritual tradition? How can the Buddhist embody the true spirit of the Dharma? How can the practice generate the true energy of love, of compassion, of understanding?
The question addressed to Jesus is the question addressed to the Buddha within himself. Buddha and Jesus are two brothers who have to help each other. Buddhism does need help. Christianity does need help. Not for the sake of Buddhism, not for the sake of Christianity but for the sake of humankind, for the sake of other species on earth. Because we live in a time when individualism prevails. We live in a time when violence prevails. We live in a time where ignorance is overwhelming. People are no longer capable of understanding each other, of talking with each other, of communicating with each other. We live in a time where destruction is everywhere and many are on the verge of despair. That is why the Buddha should be helped. That is why Jesus should be helped.
So, instead of discriminating against each other the Buddha and Jesus have to come together every day, every morning, every afternoon, every evening in order to be two brothers. That is the hope of the world today.
Jesus and Buddha are to meet each other every morning, every afternoon, every evening in the form of a Christian and of a Buddhist. The Buddha and Jesus have to meet every moment in each of us. Because in each of us in our daily practice we touch the spirit of the Buddha, we touch the spirit of Jesus in order for the spirit to manifest. Because these energies are so crucial for us to embrace our fear, to embrace our despair, to embrace our anxiety.
It is possible according to Jesus and according to the Buddha that we can restore our peace. We can restore our hope. We can restore our solidity because this peace and solidity, that hope is very crucial for those we love, for those who live all around us. Every step you make in the direction of peace, every smile that you have, every loving look that you have is inspiring, is helping the people around you to have faith in the future.
That is why the Buddha should help Jesus to restore himself completely. Jesus should also help the Buddha restore himself completely because Jesus and the Buddha are not merely concepts, they are around us, alive. You can touch them!
In many countries including Vietnam, China, Korea, Thailand young people find it difficult to marry each other if one of them happens not to be in the same religious belief. If a Buddhist young man falls in love with a Catholic young lady they will have a difficult time, because families of both sides will try to prevent them from getting married to each other. This tragedy has been dragging on for a long time. In 1995 I was participating in a seminar between Buddhist and Christians. It was the first seminar of its kind.
I said Dear Friends: If it would take 100 years to settle the problem that if it happens that a Buddhist young man or a Buddhist young lady falls in love with another person who is not of the same spiritual tradition we would be able to allow them to get married.
Young men who make the vow to learn and practice the spiritual tradition of the young woman and the young woman would make a vow to learn and practice that of the young man, in that case both of them have two roots instead of one and this can only enrich each person. When they have children they will encourage their children to have two roots and to have both the Buddha and Jesus within their life. Why not?
I said that, Ladies and Gentlemen, if you need 100 years to arrive at this position it is very worthwhile. If you can arrive at this conclusion the younger generation will not have to suffer like the people in my generation and before us. You love the apple, yes, you are authorised to love the apple, but no one prevents you to enjoy eating a mango.
These dharma talk transcriptions are of teachings given by the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh in Plum Village or in various retreats around the world. The teachings traverse all areas of concern to practitioners, from dealing with difficult emotions, to realizing the interbeing nature of ourselves and all things, and many more.
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