Be Peace First
There are many refreshing and healing elements of nature, around us and in us. And if you know how to get in touch with them, you can gain the nourishment and healing that you need. This not only benefits you: if you suffer less, if you can nourish yourself with joy and happiness, then you will also be able to help others around you.
The practice of mindful breathing, of mindful walking – allowing yourself to be fully present in the here and now, in order to be nourished by nature – is very important. If we can stop running, looking for things, we can allow ourselves to be fully present in the here and now. And let the refreshing and healing elements of nature heal us. Then we can become instruments of peace, of happiness, of joy, to help others suffer less.
Around us, there may be a lot of anger, bitterness, and resentment. If we don't know how to go home to ourselves, to take care of ourselves, nourish ourselves, we will be overwhelmed by the collective energy of hate, anger, bitterness, and so on. So take care of yourself. It's very important. And to do so, you have to go home to yourself. There is a safe island within.
So, the practice is to preserve ourselves, to stop ourselves being overwhelmed by the suffering all around. This is possible with mindfulness. Because you know that fresh air is available, sunshine is available, fresh water is available; many wonders of life are available.
Even the way you sit and look at people can be very helpful; if you have peace, tranquility, and compassion, then your presence is already very helpful. So to be is very important. To do comes from that kind of being. Be peace first; do peace later.
- Thich Nhat Hanh, adapted
Perhaps it is a mistake to confuse excitement or arousal with the vital flow of enlightenment. Stimulants and emotional adventures arouse people, but such arousal does not enhance one's energies. On the contrary, excitement spends energy and exhausts vitality.
Think of excitement as tension that comes when stimulation meets resistance. The exciting experience ends when the stimulation stops or when a person wears out.
The vitality of enlightenment is a continuous flow. It meets no resistance and goes on and on without stress. Excitement is rooted in passing desires. Vital energy springs from the eternal.
- Heider, 1985, adapted