Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Contemplation & Resistance (1) - Time, "we ARE eternity"


[What follows are excerpts from a slightly edited transcript of a conversation recorded in Paris in 1973 by Jim Forest between Thich Nhat Hanh and Daniel Berrigan, the one a Buddhist monk and Zen master, the other a Catholic priest well known for animosity to draft  records and for failure to report for imprisonment on schedule. Published in WIN magazine in June 1973]

Dan Berrigan: ... When we were in prison I believe we had a very different sense of time, too. It was closer maybe to the truth.

Nhat Hanh: We tend to imagine that the lifetime of a person is something like using your pen in order to draw a line across a sheet of paper. A person appears on this earth and lives and dies. And we may think of the life of a person just like a line we trace across a sheet of paper. But I think that is not true. The life of a person is not confined to anything like a line you draw, because being alive you do not go in one direction - direction of the right side of a piece of paper, but you also go in other directions. So the image of that line crossing the sheet of paper is not correct. It goes in all directions. Not only four, or eight, or sixteen, but many, many. So if we can see through to that reality, our notion of time will change. That is why in meditation you can feel that you are not traveling in time but we are, we are eternity. We are not caught by death, by change. A few moments of being alive in that state of mind is a very good opportunity for self purification. Not only will it affect our being, but of course it affects our action -- our non-action.

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From Dorothy Day’s editorial in the Catholic Worker on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on August 6, 1945.