On Sunday the film “Walk with me”, about mindfulness advocate and Zen Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh had its world premiere at SXSW, otherwise known as “South by Southwest” which is an annual conglomerate of film, interactive media, and music festivals and conferences that take place in mid-March in Austin, Texas.
Filmed over three years, at Plum Village monastery in rural France and on the road in America, the film is a meditation on a community grappling with existential questions and the everyday routine of monastic life.
As the seasons come and go, the monastics’ pursuit for a deeper connection to themselves and the world around them is amplified by insights from Thich Nhat Hanh’s early journals, narrated by Benedict Cumberbatch.
How should we respond to the events in Paris? As a Buddhist I feel that the only wise, the only skillful response is compassion.
Compassion for the victims, all the victims, the victims of the past, those whose suffering has produced the hatred of the present, the victims of Friday’s terrorist attack, the victims to come and the potential victims who will not be killed, maimed or imprisoned but who will have their compassion killed their humanity maimed and their thoughts and opinions imprisoned in hatred.
The Syrian passport found alongside the dead body of one of the terrorists is significant. ISIS hates the compassion that Europe has shown to the victims of their bloody war; they loath the welcome shown to the refugees in many European countries, how better to sour the succour given than to sow suspicion and distrust precisly when the sheer numbers involved are causing disquiet.
The Buddha said that, “He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,”— in those who harbour such thoughts hatred will never cease. “He abused me, he beat me, he defeated me, he robbed me,” — in those who do not harbour such thoughts hatred will cease. For hatred does not cease by hatred at any time: hatred ceases by love, this is an unending truth.” The Dhammapada verses 3 – 5.
The Dalai Lama was once asked why didn’t you fight back against the Chinese. He replied that “war is obsolete, you know. Of course the mind can rationalise fighting back … but the heart, the heart would never understand. Then you would be divided in yourself, the heart and the mind, and the war would be inside you.”
Plum Village has reported that Thich Nhat Hanh has travelled to San Francisco’s UCSF Medical Centre from his monastery in France for intensive rehabilitation, following his stroke last Autumn. The report reiterates the message of Plum Village’s last release, that Thay is recovering remarkably well. While he currently is unable to speak, the report says he was able to walk off the plane himself.