I hold my face in my two hands. I wrote this poem during the Vietnam War after I heard about
No I am not crying. the bombing of Ben Tre city. The city of 300,000 was destroyed
I hold my face in my two hands. because guerillas fired several rounds of unsuccessful
To keep my loneliness warm anti-aircraft gunfire and then left.
two hands protecting, My pain was profound. --Thich Nhat Hanh
two hands nourishing,
two hands preventing
my soul from leaving me in anger.
I offer my heartfelt condolences, care and love for all who are suffering at this moment. I am aware that most of us have not been able to overcome the shock. Day and night I am deeply concerned with how to heal and transform this national and global tragedy. We know that there are those of us who are trying to help heal, to support and we are grateful to them. We also know that there are many who are trying to see to it that violence will not happen again.
What needs to be done now is to recognize the suffering, to embrace it and to understand it. We need calmness and lucidity so that we can listen deeply to and understand our own suffering, the suffering of our nation and the suffering of others. By understanding the nature and causes of the suffering, we will then know the right path to follow.
All violence is injustice. Responding to violence with violence is injustice not only to the other person but also to oneself. Responding to violence with violence resolves nothing, it only escalates violence, and will only make hatred grow one thousand-fold. It is only with compassion that we can embrace and disintegrate violence. This is true in relationships between individuals as well as relationships between nations.
I and many others are fasting from September 21st to the 30th in order to support all who have died and all who are suffering terribly in this moment, and to embrace them tenderly with compassion, understanding, and awareness. This is my prayer in action.
I have the conviction that America possesses enough wisdom and courage to perform an act of forgiveness and compassion. And I know that such an act can bring great relief to America and to the world.
Thich Nhat Hanh
September 25, 2001
United Buddhist Church –