Based on some very insightful and caring comments from an email friend and genealogist, today I have taken a pause to reflect. What do I mean when I wish people “pax vobiscum”; how does the world deal with difference, historical wrongs, reconciliation? Obviously there are no simple answers here but I do have some thoughts on these matters.
When contemplating concepts such as pain, peace, family, tolerance I often read the writings of one of my favorite thinkers and authors- Thich Nhat Hanh. Today as I read, the following seem particularly relevant.
If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.
On ancestors & parents:
We are the continuation of our parents and their ancestors. The object of transmission is our body itself. And the one who receives the transmission is us. If we continue to meditate on this, we will see clearly that the transmitter, the object transmitted, and the receiver are one. All three are present in our body. When we are deeply in touch with the present moment, we can see that all our ancestors and all future generations are present in us. Seeing this, we will know what to do and what not to do–for ourselves, our ancestors, our children, and their children.
And once we have the condition of peace and joy in us, we can afford to be in any situation. Even in the situation of hell, we will be able to contribute our peace and serenity. The most important thing is for each of us to have some freedom in our heart, some stability in our heart, some peace in our heart. Only then will we be able to relieve the suffering around us.
On understanding and tolerance:
Understanding and Love are not two separate things, but just one. To develop understanding, you have to practice looking at all living beings with the eyes of compassion. When you understand, you cannot help but love. And when you love, you naturally act in a way that can relieve the suffering of people.
Reconciliation is to understand both sides; to go to one side and describe the suffering being endured by the other side, and then go to the other side and describe the suffering being endured by the first side.
Thich Nhat Hanh