Today I ran across two particularly interesting quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh that really resonated with me.
“People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don’t suffer anymore.”
“Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.”
These two quotes really resonated with me because the theme of how the internal path is reflected into the external world, and vice versa, has been a recurring theme for me this week.
First, leading up to, during, and after the North Carolina constitutional amendment this week that bans same-sex marriage, there was a huge amount of vitriol being spewed forth by conservative talking heads regarding the issue. Just watching the conservative political pundits and politicians speak about the amendment and issues facing the LGBT community, I was really struck by the amount of true hate that many of these people had. Even those that cloaked their opposition to LGBT rights in politically correct niceties such as “I’m not anti-gay, I’m pro traditional values”, seemed to harboring a great deal of resentment to a group of people that in no way poses any actual harm or threat to anyone. Period. Even though these people were clothing themselves in the cloak of righteousness, they were (and are) suffering because of the anger and ill-will that their views create internally and externally, whether or not they want to admit it, or even realize it. These people are not only experiencing internal conflict and turmoil, but externally they are influencing and/or governing over a society that is also full of conflict and turmoil. The vitriol is now ramping up even higher, because President Obama (thanks largely to Vice-President Biden’s horrid Washington D.C. sin of a truthful tongue slip), has finally came out in support of the right for same-sex couples to get married.
Now then, admittedly I generally fall into the libertarian portion of the scale when it comes to social issues, because I feel that as long as you aren’t hurting me, or anyone else, I don’t really have the right to force you to live your life a certain way, nor do I have the right to force my version of morality on you. However, no matter what end of the political spectrum you fall into, it shouldn’t be that great of a stretch to realize that every human being is a person that has the same rights and emotional needs as anyone else, and they are entitled to those rights and the fulfillment of those needs no matter their race or gender, or their sexual, religious, or political preferences.
Beyond our feelings towards LGBT issues, in all portions of our life when we hold onto certain views, especially negative views, or views that discriminate or harm other people, we are not only causing internal suffering, but we are causing external suffering because our world will be filled with imbalance and chaos. As the first quote alludes to, when we staunchly hold onto views, especially those that don’t stand up to rational thought, they cause us to suffer internally because we are in a constant state of internal defense. Our ego is battling against our true-self which is loving, caring and compassionate. By allowing ourselves to be open-minded, loving, caring, and compassionate, we can be released from the constant state of having to justify irrational, or at least ill-conceived, views.
The second quote alludes to the fact that our internal state and views undoubtedly effect our external actions, and our external actions effect our internal state and views (the internal and external worlds are reflections of one another). Our internal thoughts and states, as well as our external actions, bear our signature because they reflect back on one another, and whatever energy you put out (positive or negative) will eventually be returned to the sender (you). Basically, what we put out into the world will eventually come back to us (the law of cause and effect, Karma, etc). So our internal views and external actions constantly send out ripples into the pond of the external and spiritual worlds, and eventually those ripples will return to us and bring back whatever energy we have put out. So positive begets positive, and negative begets negative, and in order to live a positive and happy life, both the internal and external worlds must be in a positive and balanced state.
Therefore, we create our reality, because if we are open, loving, positive, and compassionate on the inside, our external actions will be a reflection of that, and that positive energy will be returned to us in a variety of ways including: greater inner peace and harmony, more balanced and positive relationships, and a more balanced and positive society and world at large.
Since we each create our own reality, we must refine our inner self to be more positive, loving, compassionate, and open-minded, and we must make sure that our actions reflect positive energy out into the world. If we are full of internal conflict, hate, mistrust, and ill-will, our external world will reflect that. Therefore, we must choose wisely.
Practical Tip: When you have a feeling of ill-will toward an individual or group, evaluate why you feel that way, and once you have identified the core reason, rationally reflect on it and decide if it is reasonable to hold that belief (which it almost certainly will not be). If it is an unreasonable belief disregard it, and work to think of that person or group in a loving and caring way.
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