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Author: Thich Nhat Hanh

From Being Peace
© 1987 Thich Nhat Hanhbrought to you by the Children of Ra Temple

I entrust myself to earth,

Earth entrusts herself to me.

I entrust myself to Buddha,

Buddha entrusts herself to me.

In Buddhism, there are three gems: Buddha, the awakened one; Dharma, the way of understanding and loving; and Sangha, the community that lives in harmony and awareness....Buddha, Dharma and Sangha become matters of everyday life, each minute, each hour of our daily life, and not just a description of something far away....In Buddhism, the most important precept of all is to live in awareness, to know what is going on. The most basic precept of all is to be aware of what we do, what we are, each minute. Every other precept will follow from that.

The root word "buddh" means to wake up, to know, to understand; and he or she who wakes up and understands is called a Buddha. It is as simple as that. The capacity to wake up, to understand, and to love is called Buddha nature....Buddha is in everyone of us.

The second gem is the Dharma. Dharma is what the Buddha taught. It is the way of understanding and love -- how to understand, how to love, how to make understanding and love into real things. Dharma is not just expressed in sounds, in words. It can express itself in just being....This is true not only of humans, but other species as well. Look at the trees in our yard. An oak tree is an oak tree. That is all it has to do. If an oak tree is less than an oak tree, then we are all in trouble. Therefore, the oak tree is preaching the Dharma.

In a meditation center, we have a Sangha, because the way of understanding and compassion is practiced there. If Buddha and Dharma are not present, it is not a Sangha. Without you, the Buddha is not real, it is just an idea....To me, a meditation center is where you get back to yourself, you get a clearer understanding of reality, you get more strength in understanding and love, and you prepare for your re-entry into society. If it is not like that, it is not a real meditation center. As we develop real understanding, we can re-enter society and make a real contribution.

Meditation is to be aware of what is going on -- in our bodies, in our feelings, in our minds, and in the world. Each day 40,000 children die of hunger. The superpowers now have more than 50,000 nuclear warheads, enough to destroy our planet many times. Yet the sunrise is beautiful, and the rose that bloomed this morning along the wall is a miracle. Life is both dreadful and wonderful. To practice meditation is to be in touch with both aspects. Please do not think we must be solemn in order to meditate. In fact, to meditate well, we have to smile a lot....Smiling means that we are ourselves, that we have sovereignty over ourselves, that we are not drowned into forgetfulness....A smile makes you master of yourself. That is why the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are always smiling....Meditation is to see deeply into things, to see how we can change, how we can transform our situation.

Practicing Buddhism, practicing meditation is for us to be serene and happy, understanding and loving. In that way we work for the peace and happiness of our family and our society.

There are three things I can recommend to you: arranging to have a breathing room in your home, a room for meditation; practice breathing, sitting, for a few minutes every morning at home with your children; and going out for a slow walking meditation with your children before going to sleep, just 10 minutes is enough. These things are very important. They can change our civilization.

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