Throughout the centuries people have been seeking and fighting for peace, but until today, is peace really there for humanity? What are politicians, and governmental organizations, the head of United Nations (UN), the supreme intergovernmental organization, doing to bring peace to themselves, their organizations, and humanity?
TG Minh Thanh brings up here the problems of humanity, and plans to make humanity prosper to bring safety and peace to the world, basing on mercy and protection of Lord Buddha. Buddhism does not advocate doing politics, but the Buddhist spirit is the inspiration for peace in the political world. The message of Lord Buddha is peace and mercy, in which the vigilant path is to shed light on the self, our behavior, and the surrounding world. Practicing right mindfulness is practicing peace, bringing peace back to the body, cooling down all the temper and resentment. Whichever party would join hands with each other, whichever nation would respect, be willing to love and help each other.
Politics serves human and brings peace to human. Therefore, politicians, governmental organizations, and the UN need to change the perception towards politics to understand that the true essence of politics is peace, serving peace, living in peace, which never changes. Politicians need to change the way they think. Choosing letting go, openness, listening, lovely speech, and non-violence as their political manners and attitude, embracing a political life full of Buddhist values, and abiding by the noble moral and humane ideals of Lord Buddha will create a political environment imbued with exceptionally lively spiritual traditions, which helps the world become kinder. Constructing peace, wiping out violence, healing the world, and building the green Earth are the missions of not only the UN but also the politicians as the world is an inseparable entity.
If politicians or the UN want to make humanity prosper, first they need to make themselves prosper, which is none other than promoting morality, practicing love, and seizing the present. People who undertake the peace mission must first think, speak, and act calmly, only then can expect to bring peace to the world.
When the mind is peaceful, the world is.
A day with General Secretary of the United Nations Anan Ghali Moon
Awaking with the fresh breath
The alarm went off resoundingly in a bedroom still strongly imprinted with the moonlight. The room was decorated in blue, the color of hope and life. It was four a.m. already, and it was still cold. Outside, it seemed like someone was hanging the moon and using brushes to embellish it with dots of stars. The breeze was blowing, but the moon and the stars remained still awaiting, only the foliage swayed gently. The cold morning dew fell from a yellow leaf onto a blade of green grass, reflecting the moonlight. The whole universe lied within the dew, small but great. The moon went inside the dew, the stars went inside the dew, even the foliage or the blade of grass also went inside the dew. The dew was not only on the tree, it is also on the eyelids, in the beads of perspiration, in the glass of water, in the stream or in the river, and in the immense ocean. The morning was beautified thanks to the dew, the kind of beauty that deeply moves those who go far away, dispels the homesickness and the soul full of love for this land.
Anan awoke and slowly sat up. He stepped down the bed and approached the window to gaze at the bright moonlight. Waves of moonlight lapped against his face, he closed his eyes embracing the peace of life, so cozy and relaxed. Life would be idyllic like one in Pure Land when we know how to fully enjoy it, and temporarily soothe all the worries. Anan still did not hurry, he said goodbye to the moon, and then went to the restroom. The Colgate tube nearly ran out but was still enough for the family to use in about two days. The cute Oral-B toothbrush lay on the shelf. He knew all the brand names of the toiletries used every day. Brushing teeth is only for brushing teeth, enjoying the happiness of brushing teeth is like gazing at the moon. Gazing at the moon has its own pleasure, and brushing teeth has its own pleasure. If he thought about the working agenda at the UN headquarters, he would not have a chance to enjoy the pleasure of brushing teeth. The hair and the tooth are human’s root so we need to take tender loving care of them. Brush so that teeth become more beautiful, so that teeth become prettier, brush so that we can greet the dawn. Beautiful teeth are not to look at or to advertise toothpaste, but to speak lovely words, proper words, and words from the heart. Anan knew how to brush his teeth by himself when he turned three but had never felt as interested and excited as now. He was grateful to his teeth for the chance of brushing them. Later in life, he would probably have chances of soaking the teeth in cleaning solution only, not brushing them. He did not allow himself to pamper the teeth since whatever being pampered too much would be corrupted.
Meditating room was slightly lit, making the meditation more comfortable. The room was neither spacious nor cramped, but large enough to hold from eight to ten meditating persons. Opposite the entrance was a wooden Buddha statue, which was said to be originated in Vietnam. On the right, there was a small bell and a sutra neatly arranged on the shelf. Every day, Anan meditated in the morning and in the evening, each session was around thirty minutes to one hour. Meditating had become a habit, he meditated before going to bed; he also meditated before having breakfast and going to work. Meditation, to him, was like breathing, eating, or brushing teeth. Whenever he was bothered by something or stressed, he meditated. The recent conflict in Gaza made him meditate for a very long time; the image of those children in Gaza with frightened and sleepless looks stressed him out. His family usually did not bother him when he was meditating, even some of them started to imitate him. Meditation had become the family’s culture; it was not a belief, but a practice. Contemplating the breath brings it back to the body, identifying the stresses in the political life, alleviating and transforming them into fresh dews. Meditating in lotus position – half lotus or full lotus position – is the most comfortable one, the back is straighthened but the whole body is relaxed. When breathing in, we know we are breathing in. When breathing out, we know we are exhaling. That is it. The breath comes back to the body, it knows where pain is in the mind and body, and heals and transforms it into peace and unoccupiedness. The breath is so fresh, gentle, and pure. Walking meditation is the same, every pace steps into vigilance, every pace steps into the Pure Land. When practice walking meditation, we interact with the earth, the surrounding trees and plants, the moon and the stars above, and the dew on the earth. Every slow pace stepping on the life makes all kinds flourish, and allows one to see the miracles that only slow living can interact with.
After practicing walking meditation, Anan did not miss watching the sun rise. For so many times, he had gazed at the sun on the beach, but rarely had he seen the sun from the hillside. This did not take much of his time, it lasted for only fifteen minutes, but not everyone had the privilege to enjoy the marvelous nature. Many people are so obsessed with power and wealth that are stuck in the circle of battles for power and rights, or are depressed about the return on equity. They do not have enough time to watch the sun rise, what they see are how many votes they will get this month, whether this plan would be passed by the parliament, and what they should do in the upcoming electoral competition. Every day the sun rises, but is it of equal importance to that we know the sun is rising? That the sun rises is worth as much attention as, or even more than that Barack Obama’s inauguration ceremony on 20th January 2009. If the sun had not risen on that day, human would probably have paid more attention to the sun. We tend to neglect the ordinary but great things, and attend more to what is considered great but ordinary. Anan didn’t want to become someone like that. The Secretary – General of the UN must know how to gaze at the sun. The sun provides warmth, cooked food, the growth of plants, and good harvests. Knowing how to play and travel along with the sun, human can see the light of civilization. If one day the sun became so formidable that it burned everything or one day the sun disappeared as in a song’s lyric, humankind would not have time to put forward any political or economic doctrines anymore.
Meditating room was now filled with sunlight, life is everywhere and the face of Lord Buddha was the same as it had been for more than 2500 years. Anan put his joined hands on the forehead, and his mouth mumbled “Namo Sakyamuni Buddha” and deliberately bowed down. His posture kowtowed before the small statue. His head, two hands, and two knees touched the ground with his heart full of sincere reverence. He freed himself of thoughts and prayers. What was left was the Buddha’s merciful spirit filling his body. Two hands, two legs, and the head, everything touched the ground. Any arrogance and disrespect disappeared. When we salute the flag in a ceremony or on Monday, we are not just salute a piece of cloth fluttering. We are actually salute the national spirit, saluting the flag helps the nationmen interact with the sacred spirits of the nation’s rivers and mountains, with the ancestors, and with the people building and protecting the nation, those who sacrificed themselves for the peace of the nation. Similarly, when bowing to the Buddha’s statue, we are not just bowing before an unanimated statue. At this time, we are interacting with the vast land, with our ancestors, our grandparents, our parents, and, especially, Lord Buddha’s spirit. Bowing before Buddha reminds us to follow his example, acquire his personality, and behave in immutable, peaceful, and unoccupied manners. This is a miraculous practice which can be called bowing meditation. Any politician can practice this. If he salutes the flag well, he must bow before Buddha well.
Both meditation and bowing to Buddha bring happiness to the mind, but we cannot skip the stomach. Ana liked making breakfast with his wife, and consumed a lot of vegetables and fruits. In a meal, Anan ate really slowly. His mind carefully followed the chewing jaws. Sometimes, he looked at his wife and children, and showed contentment as he knew that they were there for him. He did not adopt the habit of watching TV or reading newspaper while eating. All of these were unhealthy to the stomach and disrespectful to his family. Breakfast was an important meal, helping him work perfectly the whole morning without any assistance from the nurses or doctors. However, how can we eat to feel happy, the moon gazing, walking meditation, or bowing before Buddha kinds of happiness. Before we eat, we need to contemplate. Politicians should contemplate as followed: ”This food is the gift from the earth, the sky, and people’s hard work, I vow to consume it in contemplation taking the cognizance of nurturing mercy, protecting the life of all beings, wishing all beings would have enough food, wishing the world would have no war, wishing the earth would be green forever.” When we eat, we give our presence to our beloved ones, particularly our wife, children, or parents. The mind does not wander back to the war situation in Gaza the day before, to what to speak at the office , or whether to run down the food. Anan practiced eating breakfast in contemplation for so many times that he mastered it already. He felt happy during breakfast time with his family. He knew he had a happy family, a politician is only successful when he truly has a happy family.
Translated from Vietnamese book “Tam An Canh Se An, Tam Binh The Gioi Binh (or Ke Hoach Chan Hung Nhan Loai)” by Tg Minh Thanh
(Some events and characters are fictional)