by Derin Korman
Monastic students of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh visited Occupy Boston Friday afternoon to lead a walking meditation group to Copley Square, where the group met with the rest of the monastics for a meditation and sit-in. The students came to Boston as part of their Wake-Up Tour, teaching mindfulness and meditation at schools, community centers and prisons.
The group includes monks and nuns from all over the world, from upstate NY and as far Hong Kong. The students may rotate between these locations every four years.
The Unified Buddhist Church (Eglise Bouddhique Unifieé) was founded during the Vietnam War by Thich Nhat Hanh. His lifelong efforts to generate peace and reconciliation moved Martin Luther King Jr. to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. He currently resides in Plum Village, France, a Buddhist monastery for monks and nuns and a mindfulness practice center for lay people.
“They aspire for happiness for all, whether one works up there” - pointing at the financial towers – “or sits down here” said Brother Protection, noting, “we see that there is suffering for both.” Brother Stream, after the sit-in, said that we need not focus on “things outside of ourselves to be resolved” and that they aim to share “tools we received through practice so that they (young people) can use them for their own transformation through suffering.”
When asked about Occupy Boston, he said that in their practice, one arrives at the present moment with two feet on earth and that he felt such energy. He also noted the importance of “showing by example.” Talking about the Spirituality Tent, he said that it was a sign of cultivating presence and a lasting movement.
As the group prepared for a gathering with the public at The Community Church of Boston, Brother Spirit left me with a parable on standing united:
One day, an older King consults Buddha on attacking a nearby country. Buddha asks, “Do the people of that country assemble like our brothers?” “Do they respect teaching of their ancestors and the venerable one?” The king, after a moment in thought, responds that they indeed assemble and that they respect their ancestors just like they do.
“Then it would be very difficult to conquer that country,” Buddha replied.
For more information on the Wake Up Tour visit http://us.wkup.org/.
To learn more about The Art of Mindful Living and Thich Nhat Hanh, visit www.plumvillage.org.