BUDDHISM: Peace At Home
This is Buddha’s wisdom for peace in relationships, spoken by Thich Nhat Hanh:
The Practice of Looking Deeply: Practicing Impermanence
All of us can understand impermanence with our intellect, but this is not yet true understanding. Our intellect alone will not lead us to freedom. It will not lead us to enlightenment.
When we are solid and we concentrate, we can practice looking deeply. And when we look deeply and see the nature of impermanence, we can then be concentrated on this deep insight. This is how the insight of impermanence becomes part of our being. It becomes our daily experience.
We have to maintain the insight of impermanence in order to be able to see and live impermanence all the time. If we can use impermanence as an object of our meditation, we will nourish the understanding of impermanence in such a way that it will live in us every day. With this practice, impermanence becomes a key that opens the door of reality.
We also cannot uncover the insight into impermanence for only a moment and then cover it up and see everything as permanent again. Most of the time we behave with our children as though they will always be at home with us. We never think that in three or four years’ time they will leave us to marry and have their own families. Therefore we do not value the moments our children are with us.
I know many parents whose children, when they are eighteen or nineteen years old, leave home and live on their own. The parents lose their children and feel very sorry for themselves. Yet the parents did not value the moments they had with their children. The same is true of husbands and wives. You think that your spouse will be there for the whole of your life, but how can you be so sure? We really have no idea where our partners will be in twenty or thirty years’ time or even tomorrow. It is very important to remember every day the practice of impermanence.
Seeing Emotions Through the Eyes of Impermanence
When somebody says something that makes you angry and you wish they would go away, please look deeply with the eyes of impermanence. If he or she were gone, what would you really feel? Would you be happy or would you weep?
Practicing this insight can be very helpful. There is a gatha, or poem, that we can use to help us:
Angry in the ultimate dimension
I close my eyes and look deeply.
Three hundred years from now
Where will you be and where shall I be?
When we are angry, what do we usually do? We shout, scream, and try to blame someone else for our problems. But looking at anger with the eyes of impermanence, we can stop and breathe. Angry at each other in the ultimate dimension, we close our eyes and look deeply. We try to see three hundred years into the future. What will you be like? What will I be like? Where will you be? Where will I be? We need only to breathe in and out, look at our future and at the other person’s future. We do not need to look as far as three hundred years. It could be fifty or sixty years from now when we have both passed away.
Looking at the future, we see that the other person is very precious to us. When we know we can lose them at any moment, we are no longer angry. We want to embrace her or him and say: “How wonderful, you are still alive. I am so happy. How could I be angry with you? Both of us have to die someday, and while we are still alive and together it is foolish to be angry at each other.”
The reason we are foolish enough to make ourselves suffer and make the other person suffer is that we forget that we and the other person are impermanent. Someday when we die we will lose all our possessions, our power, our family, everything. Our freedom, peace and joy in the present moment is the most important thing we have. But without an awakened understanding of impermanence, it is not possible to be happy.
Some people do not even want to look at a person when the person is alive, but when the person dies they write eloquent obituaries and make offerings of flowers. At that point the person has died and cannot really enjoy the fragrance of the flowers anymore. If we really understood and remembered that life was impermanent, we would do everything we could to make the other person happy right here and right now.
If we spend twenty-four hours being angry at our beloved, it is because we are ignorant of impermanence. “Angry in the ultimate dimension/I close my eyes.” I close my eyes in order to practice visualization of my beloved one hundred or three hundred years from now. When you visualize yourself and your beloved in three hundred years’ time, you just feel so happy that you are alive today and that your dearest is alive today. You open your eyes and all your anger has gone. You open your arms to embrace the other person and you practice: “Breathing in you are alive, breathing out I am so happy.”
When you close your eyes to visualize yourself and the other person in three hundred years’ time, you are practicing the meditation on impermanence. In the ultimate dimension, anger does not exist.
source: Thich Nhat Hanh, No Death, No Fear, pp 42 – 45
ART: Peace At Home
“Post a piece of art, a photo, or a video that epitomizes a perfect relationship.”
During the reign of Zhenguan Emperor (627 – 648) of China’s Tang Dynasty, the two young men, Han Shan (literally cold mountain) and Shih De, had been very good friends since they were small. They are known in China far and wide through their poems as Masters who lived Buddha’s teaching on Impermanence. You can read more about their lives here.
Pictures of these two are found in Chinese homes, as the peaceful spirits of Han Shan and Shih De have been deep in Chinese minds. Their picture is thought to ensure domestic peace in the home.
Hehe er xian (The Two Gods of Love)
Hé-Hé èr xiān, i.e. “Two immortals [named] Hé and Hé”), also known as the “Immortals of Harmony (和) and Union (合)” or “the two spirits of Harmony and Union” are two Taoist immortals. They are popularly associated with a happy marriage.
He and He are typically depicted as boys holding a lotus flower (荷, hé) and a box (盒, hé).
Han Shan and Shi De were monks and good friends in the Zhenguan Period of Tang Dynasty. The Chinese characters for “harmony and good union” as a phrase (he-he) mean a harmonious mind, reconciliation, and smooth going. The god of harmony and good union, originally was in charge of family relationships, gradually evolved into the god of marriage. It also changed from one god to two gods, one holding a lotus and the other a treasure box. Han Shan and Shi De were officially canonized as the God of Harmony and the God of Good Union in the first year of Yongzheng rule in the Qing Dynasty. They are widely regarded as gods/immortals who bless love between husband and wife and ensure peace in the home.