Waking Up The Nation

Vietnamese monk, peace activist, and poet Thich Nhat Hanh speaks to Tricycle of the blessings that suffering can provide.

Thich Nhat Hanh

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Part of the Tricycle 9/11 Special Section. View the complete series here.


When so many people die, we are shocked by it, and that shock can wake us up and it can help make awareness and mindfulness last. During this time, people are in a position where they have the capacity, and the opportunity, to look deeply into their situation and the situation around the world. That is why it is so important to make use of our suffering and not just complain about it. We have within us the seeds of despair, of anger, but we also have the seeds of compassion, awakening, Buddha-nature, and mindfulness. The teacher, the spiritual leaders, and the media play a very important role during this time. They can help water the seeds of wisdom and compassion, or they can continue to water the seeds of anger and fear—and that is what they are doing right now. America is getting angrier and more afraid every day because the negative seeds are being watered, and that is why we need people who have the capacity to water the good seeds.

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