Love Revolutionaries – Lion’s Roar

Pamela Ayo Yetunde, associate editor of Lion’s Roar, presents the May 2022 issue.

Photos: Thich Nhat Hanh © Dana Gluckstein / mptvimages.com; bell hooks by Liza Matthews

“What has the United States done to anyone? »

That was the question posed by a woman who had her back to me as we stood in the queue. It was September 11, 2001 and we were in a crowded airport in Tucson, Arizona. I don’t know if his question was born out of shock, defensiveness or real historical and political naivety.

Although I was aware of a list of things that the United States had done, it was another answer to his question that came to me a month later when someone gave me the book touch peaceby Thich Nhat Hanh.

The first meditation in the book invited me to notice my in-breath and out-breath and visualize myself as the non-human aspects of nature. I was anxious about the impending US retaliation for 9/11, but the practice was so powerful that I felt my anxiety shift the very first time I tried it. Captivated by this experience, I started my daily meditation practice the same day.

Reading the writings of Thich Nhat Hanh, I have come to understand that the United States has repeatedly engaged in wars against others largely because of the wars we wage against ourselves. This was the answer to the woman’s question Thich Nhat Hanh led me to. We deny the truth of our geopolitical greed, fuel our aggression with violent entertainment, invest in industries that produce intoxicants, and sometimes refuse to engage in the collaborative world.

As reported in this issue, Thay told dharma teacher Peggy Rowe Ward a stark truth about the racial abuse she and her husband Larry Ward had experienced as an interracial couple: “You have a lot of work to do. in the USA. This work can be done if, as Larry Ward says, we “transform the crashing waves of our shadows.” In other words, it can be done if we heal our fractured parts, and that’s what the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh have helped the Wards – and so many others – do.

Thich Nhat Hanh passed away on January 22, 2022. Now that he has transitioned, how will we continue his teaching to live in peace every step of the way?

Thay was a refugee because the United States was at war in his country. Honoring his life means that we sometimes have to ask ourselves, “What did the United States do to anyone? and be open to the truth. We have to ask ourselves, “What is the United States doing to others right now?”

Thich Nhat Hanh was a great lover of life. His love of life was noticed and embraced by another lover of life who, like him, will be sorely missed: Buddhist scholar and practitioner Bell Hooks, who passed away on December 15, 2021.

Hook’s article, “Towards a Love Revolution”, is as relevant today as it was when we first published it in Lion’s Roar – and it will be in the future. . For it is love that healthily binds Buddhism to skilful engagement in the world.

Thelma J. Longworth