Today I called my daughter who is a college freshman to congratulate her on a report of exceptional grades. She had just “aced” her midterm in history. While we were on the phone she told me that she had been thinking of me as she participated in a religion class she is taking. Curious about that statement I inquired a little more. It turns out that she is studying eastern religions and presently studying Buddhism. I told her that I did like what I had read of Zen Buddhism in particular. We both agreed that Buddhism is more a philosophy than a religion in the strictest sense, but that Buddhism emphasized an inter-connectedness of all creation. That sounds somewhat like St. Francis and in some ways there are parallels.
While at Mt. Saviour Monastery last week I skimmed through several of Thich Nhat Hanh’s books which were on sale in the Monastery gift shop. I first read Nhat Hanh’s work about ten years ago when I picked up his book, “Living Buddha, Living Christ.” Several years later while working with a Franciscan friend at Mt. Irenaeus I learned that one of the priests there had been on retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh. If you haven’t read any of Thich Nhat Hanh’s works, I encourage you to do so. You will discover a very holy man whose life long mission is about peace.
The eleventh,twelfth and thirteenth principles of Interbeing which were developed by Thich Nhat Hanh state:
“Do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. Do not invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to live. Select a vocation that helps realise your ideal of compassion.”
“Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect life and prevent war.”
“Possess nothing that should belong to others. Respect the property of others, but prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.”
There are fourteen principles that make up the “Principles of Interbeing” these three in particular remind me of the Prayer of St. Francis.
Lord, make me an instrument of Your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
where there is injury, pardon;
where there is doubt, faith;
where there is despair, hope;
where there is darkness, light;
and where there is sadness, joy.
O, Divine Master,
grant that I may not so much seek
to be consoled as to console;
to be understood as to understand;
to be loved as to love;
for it is in giving that we receive;
it is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
and it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.
Peace be with you.