Rev Dr Martin Luther King with Thay Thich Nhat Hanh

Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr and Thích Nhất Hạnh

Thích Nhất Hạnh and Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr had much respect and love between them.

Even before they met in person, King knew of the importance of seeing our interbeing. King wrote from the Birmingham jail:

Moreover, I am cognizant of the interrelatedness of all communities and states. I cannot sit idly by in Atlanta and not be concerned about what happens in Birmingham. Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly.

The same is still true today, in the suffering that is on display in our current political perceived divisions. We are not divided. We are suffering in the illusion of separateness. We share the planet. We all breathe the same air and bask in the same sun. All of our teachers are pointing at the same moon.

In his book, How to Fight, Thây teaches that we need to get in touch with the suffering in ourselves and others.

Often, our suffering begins when we are quite young and continues to fester as we grow. There is a five-year-old still inside us. This child may have suffered a lot. A five-year-old is fragile and easily wounded. Without mindfulness, parents may transmit all their pain, anger, and suffering to their children.

So it is important to get in touch with the five-year-old child within, and begin to heal the wounds still inside. We can learn to listen to the suffering of our five-year-old, to embrace it tenderly. Holding our pain and suffering with the energy of mindfulness and compassion, it begins to transform.

May you be in touch with the five-year-old child in all of us.