Mistreat The Body

Personally, it’s a tough day for me. I have come close to violating Precept 4 (vowing to refrain from false speech) on several occasions.

As I sit and have breakfast at a Residence Inn, those who disregard personal self-control and simply act appall me, as they consume and discard in any fashion they see fit.  The amount of wasted food, over eating and lack of decorum is amazing.

The venerable Thich Nhat Hanh wrote about fourteen precepts of Engaged Buddhism. I will not go through all of them here, but in reflecting upon the above scenario, I remembered Mr. Hanh’s fourteenth: “Do not mistreat your body. Learn to handle it with respect.”

Honesty, I am not the poster child of health. I do not have that chiseled hard Olympic body seen on NBC. I am not even close.  Yet I continually struggle to not only take care of myself, but to respect others. Can I speak and listen in a way that can help not only myself, but others as well, to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations? Am I determined not to say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people, nor to utter words that might cause division or hatred? Can I protect the joy and harmony by refraining from speaking about the faults of another person in their absence and always ask myself whether my perceptions are correct? Can I speak only with the intention to understand and help transform the situation?

And now, even as I write this, the anger of the moment has passed.  I did not lose myself in dispersion or be carried away by regrets, worries about the future, or cravings, anger, or jealousy in the present. I have been able to cultivate seeds of joy, peace, love, and understanding in myself, thus facilitating the work of transformation and healing in my own consciousness.

At the end of the day, the goal of internal peace must be replaced with peace as a practice.  As a nation, we can neither win or wage lasting peace nor can we make or create a lasting peace for others unless we unceasingly work at it with constant commitment.



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