Using the Practice of Mindfulness to cope with Trump

Thich Nhat Hanh, one of modern world’s greatest spiritual leaders, says challenging anger with anger will only lead to further unrest and violence. As the world’s first propagator of “mindfulness and action,” the 90-year-old teacher advises people should become more mindful about their thoughts, and engage those thoughts in actions of love, compassion and peacefulness. The teacher believes when a person sees something that needs to be done, it’s important that it’s acted upon. What matters is how we act on it, as that is what influences world peace.

Mindfulness can be adopted and applied to the rise of activism under U.S. President Donald Trump. Under Trump, the U.S. is seeing a greater need among the people to take proactive actions against terrorism. However, the question is whether the steps taken or proposed so far are actually going to ensure peace, or only make matters worse. This is where Thich Nhat Hanh’s call for ‘mindfulness’ comes into the picture.

The concept of mindfulness is when people become more mindful and conscious about their own thoughts and desires, they discover the means to be peaceful. From this peacefulness come actions that are full of compassion and empathy towards one another. It is from this understanding of the self that nonviolence emerges. For him, nonviolence is not simply an abstract concept that has to be learned.

Sister Peace, a nun at the teacher’s Plum Village monastery in France says that action is meaningful and effective only when it comes from a love that’s deeply rooted. She was referring to Americans who want to take action against terrorist forces under Trump’s call for activism. Although she believes activism is important, she insists that this activism should proceed from self-understanding and must be carried out in a nonviolent manner.

Brother Phap Dung, a monk at the same monastery, says rather than take action by giving into passions and emotions, it’s better to take a moment and understand the situation and yourself. Although he agrees action that stems from anger can have results, he warns the results can only lead to worse situations.

The monk also pointed out at the Buddhist idea of interdependence, and that we are all inter-connected. As such, he suggests rather than hate Trump for his actions and words, it’s important that we try and examine those elements in us that are akin to Trump himself.

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