true sovereignty

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samurai

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Thich Nhat Hanh:

“Often, we live a life of compromise so that there’s peace in the house. We buy a small peace so that we can get though the day. And if we live like that we aren’t a great person, but a cracked vase, unable to contain the rice soup. If we want to be a great Dharma instrument, then we have to be determined not to let other people trick us.

“Master Linji exhorted us to be the master of our own situation, but that doesn’t mean we need to fight and suppress others, but rather to be masters of ourselves. Suppose we have a friend who is quick to anger. We can think there is something wrong with him, and try to suppress his anger. Or we can be the masters of ourselves in that situation, feeling real compassion for the other person’s difficulties.

“Sometimes it’s not a person in the moment but a person in the past who we think is the master of our situation. We say we are behaving a certain way because of something our parents or someone else did to us as a child. But each person has their own karma and each person is the master of their own situation in the moment, not a slave to others past or present.

“The true person doesn’t go looking for an outside master. WE are in charge of our own destiny and we have to be responsible for each of our own words, thoughts, and actions. Mindfulness will help. Then we realize, ‘I’m thinking like this. I’m responsible for these thoughts. I’ve spoken like that, I’m responsible for my words. I’m doing this, and I’m responsible for this action.’

“We have to know that each word, each thought, each of our actions carries our signature. We are responsible for it and that is called being in charge of ourselves.

“Wherever we stand, wherever we sit, we are the true person. We are masters of ourselves and wherever we are, we are ourselves. We only need to live these eight words, and that’s enough to make us Master Linji’s student, worthy to be his continuation: ‘Wherever we are, we are our true person.’ Write these words and hang them somewhere to remind yourself.”

source: Thich Nhat Hanh, “Nothing To Do, Nowhere To Go” p. 128

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