By Chet Yarbrough
By: Thich Nhat Hanh
Narrated by: Edoardo Ballerrini
“Being Peace” is a layman’s introduction to Buddhist belief. Thích Nhất Hạnh offers a “let it be” philosophy of life while being a political activist. Hanh’s philosophy of peace comes through meditation. Hanh finds through meditation human life is found to be neither good nor bad.
There is no evil in Hanh’s world. In one sense that reminds one of Christian’s belief in “turning the other cheek”. The difference is that Christian’s believe there is evil in the world, and it must be punished.
Hanh tells a story of a Sudanese pirate that rapes a girl-child and throws her into the sea to drown. Hanh suggests he could have become a Sudanese sea pirate by having experienced Sudanese poverty and depredation. Hanh’s view is that the circumstances of life and environment create miscreants, rapists, and murderers.
Contrary to belief in evil and punishment for moral transgression, Hanh finds empathy for those who pillage, torture, murder, and rape.
Hanh’s solution is to accept Buddhist belief in peace through meditation. In accepting life as it is, evil doers disappear. This is certainly an oversimplification of Hanh’s teaching.
Hanh notes world leaders squander world resources that could be used to create and sustain peace for all people in the world. He decries wasted dollars for military defense. His argument is predicated on abundance that is unevenly distributed.
Hanh lives through the French and American atrocities in Vietnam.
Hanh undoubtedly observed the senseless murder of innocents by both western powers and communists.
Ironically, until more recently, Hanh was banned from Vietnam because of the crowds he attracted to his teaching. Fear of competition from someone independent of the government frightens communist bureaucrats. Hahn is now allowed in Vietnam, but his forums are restricted to small groups of believers.
Money, power, and prestige seduce the poor, middle class, and rich, whether in a democracy or autocracy. There are few exceptions–maybe only Buddhist meditators, and Socratic philosophers–not the general public.
Hanh’s book is insightful but inadequate when measured against the innate nature of humankind. On a personal level, one can accept the value of meditation in seeing things as they are and how they should be. However, on a global level, it is difficult to imagine broad acceptance of meditation.