“Who will be gone and who will stay? Where do we come from and where will we go? Are the other shore and this shore one or two? Is there a river that separates the two sides, a river that no boat can cross? Is such complete separation possible? Please come over to my boat. I will show you that there is a river, but there is no separation.”-Thich Nhat Hanh, from Love in Action
Like you, we are deeply saddened, heartbroken and shaken by the unimaginable violence in Palestine and Israel, and the growth of retaliatory violence arising inside and outside the region. Grief and rage need great care and should not be the grounds for revenge, for further violence, nor for demonizing one another. As our beloved teacher Ven. Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us,“ Man is not the enemy. Our enemy is hatred, anger, ignorance and fear.”
As sibling practitioners in the Plum Village practice communities who center racial justice and social equity, we recognize the dangerous moments we are in, where violence is the default response to violence, where over two million people in Gaza are facing imminent loss of life, starvation, and forced displacement from the ceaseless Israeli military bombardment, where settler and military violence in the West Bank is increasing, where Jews, Palestinians, and Arabs in Israel and beyond are targeted for reprisal. To look at the underlying issues of apartheid and colonization faced by Palestinians does not diminish the suffering faced by all communities. It is in these moments that as we embrace and tenderly care for our own suffering, grief and despair, we can also embrace and tenderly care for the suffering of our siblings across the globe.
The widespread killing of Palestinians, at least 12,000 since October 7th, at least half of whom are children, will not bring peace. The ongoing oppression and occupation of Gaza and other occupied Palestinian territories by Israel also will not bring peace. Cutting off water, food, medicine, electricity, fuel and humanitarian relief, as well as bombing civilians and annihilating the social and structural fabric of society for the people of Gaza will not bring peace. The massacre and hostage taking of Israelis will not bring peace. Violence against Israelis, the Jewish diaspora, Palestinians, Arabs and Muslims will not bring peace. “Hatred does not cease by hatred, but by love alone is healed.” (Siddhārtha Gautama, The Dhammapada)
Join us and many others in a compassionate and humanitarian call for peace, for a ceasefire, for the return of the Israeli hostages, release of unjustly detained Palestinians, and for humanitarian support for all of the impacted Palestinian communities in Gaza, Israel and the occupied territories. Join us and many others in a compassionate and humanitarian call for an end of the Israeli occupation of the Palestinian people and territories. The freedom and peace of the peoples of Palestine is deeply intertwined with the freedom and peace of the peoples of Israel. Thay’s teachings, including the mindfulness trainings, remind us to not turn away from the suffering in ourselves, in our communities and in the world; and that the suffering of another is not separate from our own.
While we call for a military ceasefire, we also invite each of us to tenderly care for our anger, rage, and impulses towards violence so that we may cease the fire that is raging inside of our bodies and hearts. We can see more clearly, more deeply, when we stop and allow a settling, a clearing, a transparency that can lead us forward toward peace.
Breathing in, I know that all my Palestinian and Israeli siblings want to be safe.
Breathing out, I know that all my Palestinian and Israeli siblings want to be happy.
Breathing in, I know that all my Palestinian and Israeli siblings want to be free from fear and violence.
Breathing out, I know that all my Palestinian and Israeli siblings want to live in peace and freedom.
Bowing in the lotus of interbeing,
We also share two practices, our ARISE Gatha and the Twelfth Mindfulness Training (part of the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings of the Order of Interbeing), as offerings for practice:
ARISE Gatha for Healing Racial, Systemic and Social Inequity
Aware of the suffering caused by racial, systemic, and social inequities, we commit ourselves, individually and as a community, to understanding the roots of these inequities, and to transforming this suffering into compassion, understanding and love in action. As a global community of practitioners, we are aware of the disproportionate racial violence and oppression committed by institutions and by individuals, whether consciously or unconsciously, against African Americans, Indigenous peoples and people of color across the United States and beyond. We know that by looking deeply as individuals and as a community, we can engage the collective wisdom and energy of the Sangha to be our foundation for Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Mindfulness, and Right Insight. These are the practices leading to nondiscrimination, non-harming, and non-self which heal ourselves and the world.
The Twelfth Mindfulness Training: Reverence for Life
Aware that much suffering is caused by war and conflict, we are determined to cultivate nonviolence, compassion, and the insight of interbeing in our daily lives and promote peace education, mindful meditation, and reconciliation within families, communities, ethnic and religious groups, nations, and in the world. We are committed not to kill and not to let others kill. We will not support any act of killing in the world, in our thinking, or in our way of life. We will diligently practice deep looking with our Sangha to discover better ways to protect life, prevent war, and build peace.