Practicing in the Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh Since 1993

Charlotte, North Carolina USA

We offer the following words from Thich Nhat Hanh to support our practice in the light of recent violence in Beirut, Paris, Charleston, Sudan, and too many other places around the world. Let us remember all people, whether they look or live like us, need our compassion and loving practice. May these words water seeds of peace and understanding in each of us. (More details about our Sangha and our practice are below after the teaching.)
--- Leslie Rawls, Dharmacharya

A Mindful Response to Terrorism
from Calming The Fearful Mind:
A Zen Response to Terrorism

Some people commit acts of terrorism in the name of their values and beliefs. They may hold the idea that others are evil because they don’t share these values. They feel justified in destroying their enemies in the name of God. People who engage in this violence may die with the conviction that they are dying for a righteous cause. And isn’t our country acting out of the same conviction when we kill those we define as threats? Each side believes that it alone embodies goodness, while the other side embodies evil.
Fear is another root of violence and terrorism. We terrorize others so that they will have no chance to terrorize us. We want to kill before we are killed. Instead of bringing us peace and safety, this escalates violence. lf we kill someone we call a terrorist, his son may become a terrorist. Throughout history, the more we kill, the more terrorists we create.
Across the globe, people suffer from very much the same things: social injustice, discrimination, fear, and fanaticism. Fundamentalism is very much alive in countries around the world. Many people believe that they alone are on the side of God, and they behave as if they are the only children of God and the lives of others are not as precious. They want God to bless their own country above all, and not to bless others who they feel represent evil. But to think that everything the other group does is evil and everything we do is good, prevents us from understanding the values of others, and from recognizing their suffering and fear. Instead of making us stronger, our unwillingness to listen keeps us vulnerable and afraid.
God does not take sides. Jesus, Buddha, Allah—all the great beings speak of compassion and inclusiveness. We should not believe that we can be peaceful by eliminating the other side.
A doctor wants to destroy the malaria in a sick person, not destroy the patient himself. Terrorists are human beings who are sick with the virus of terrorism. The virus you see is made of fear, hatred, and violence. You can be a doctor for a person with this illness. Your medicine is the practice of restoring communication.
But if a doctor cannot talk to a patient, if the patient refuses to cooperate, then how can the doctor help? If the patient refuses the doctor’s help, doesn’t trust her, and fears the doctor maybe trying to kill him, he will never cooperate. Even if the doctor is motivated by a great desire to help, she cannot do anything if the patient will not collaborate. So the first thing the doctor has to do is find ways to open communication. If you can talk to the patient, then there is hope. If the doctor can begin by acknowledging the patient’s suffering, then mutual understanding can develop and collaboration can begin.
To resolve our current dilemma with terrorism we must be like this doctor. After our leaders have inspired confidence in Americans and proved that, as a country, we have the capacity to listen and understand, we can then turn to those who are considered to be terrorists. Our leaders can address them with loving speech,
"We know that you must have suffered and hated us very deeply to have attacked us. You must have thought that we want to destroy you as members of a religion, as a race, as a people. You must have believed that we embody evil, that we don’t recognize your religion and your spiritual values. We are sorry that you suffer so much. We want to tell you that it is not our intention to destroy you as a people, as a race, or as members of a religion. It is not our intention to reject your spiritual values.
We want to respect you. Because of a lack of understanding on our part, we have not been skillful at showing our respect, our care for you, and we have been caught in our own situation of suffering. Please tell us what is in your hearts. We want to understand your suffering. We want to know what mistakes we have made for you to hate us so much.
We ourselves do not want to live in fear or to suffer and we do not want you to live in fear or to suffer either. We want you to live in peace, in safety, and in dignity because we know that none of us will have peace until all of us have peace. Let us create together an occasion for mutual listening and understanding, which can be the foundation for real reconciliation and peace."

About the Charlotte Community of Mindfulness

Inspired by the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh and supported by local Dharma Teacher Leslie Rawls, the Charlotte Community of Mindfulness is a small group of friends who study and practice the Buddha’s teachings on mindfulness and meditation. We aspire to live every moment deeply and compassionately. While practicing in the Mahayana tradition of Buddhism, we recognize and respect the value of all spiritual traditions as the heritage of humankind.

Newcomers are welcome. No experience needed. CCM offers Beginner’s Mind Days every few months. Newcomers are welcome any time, but may appreciate the additional guidance and basic instruction offered on Beginner’s Mind Days. On these days, the first hour will include meditation instruction and guidance. The second hour, we will explore other basic elements of our practice.

Please wear comfortable clothing. The floor is carpeted. We have a few extra meditation cushions and benches, as well as chairs. Click here for study schedule showing activities on specific dates.

We have a yahoogroup for Sangha news and announcements. To join, please visit charlottemindfulness and ask to join. We welcome anyone interested in our practice. Help us avoid spammers when you ask to join; let us know where you live and briefly explain your interest in our group.

CCM is a 501(c)(3) non profit corporation. Donations are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.

CCM has core community members and extended community members. To become a core community member, one must have been an engaged participant with CCM for at least a year and wish to formally commit to the community. Core community members may participate in decision making by consensus. Extended community members wish to formally associate with CCM, to practice with and support CCM, but either do not wish to be a core member or do not yet qualify. The community welcomes the comments and observations of extended community members, who may contribute to discussions but not participate in decision making. Membership forms should be completed and delivered to a member of the Caretaking Council. The form can be found by clicking here.

For a .pdf document about our lineage, please click here