Thich Nhat Hanh was invited back to Vietnam in 2005. He was invited to speak to the upper echelons of the Vietnamese communist leaders. He spoke about home.
Here are excerpts from his speech as presented in Parabola.
RETURNING TO SELF
Open the door of your heart. Bring your mind back to your body so you can be truly present. Recognize and embrace your sufferings. When you look deeply at your habit energy, with calmness and mindfulness, and shine the light of understanding on your suffering, your afflictions then become your awakenings.
We can transform our afflictions into love and happiness. Then we are no longer afraid of suffering because we know it is the element that connects us to others and leads to our happiness. If we understand our suffering and do not feed it, it will not continue.
At first, we see the Buddha outside us; then we know the Buddha is inside us. We have all the conditions to be happy now. What is essential is the intervention of a spiritual or moral dimension; otherwise, we will follow mindlessly the suffering of our parents and ancestors.
RETURNING TO FAMILY
Be honest and direct. Use deep listening and loving speech. "Please tell me your difficult emotions. I don't want to make you suffer more." Then when your loved one speaks, even with words of blame or bitterness, listen with compassion to give them a chance to say what is in their heart. "I know you've had difficulties and I've not been able to help you. Please tell me what I can do to help you." If a husband knows how to listen deeply to his wife and if the wife knows how to make her husband happy, they become teachers of love for their children. When a father is angry with a son, if he looks deeply, he sees that the son's shortcomings are his and his ancestors as well. With eyes of understanding, we accept that they have not had the opportunity to have their good seeds watered. Happiness needs to be nourished. The food for happiness is love. The love shared between parents becomes the teaching for the children.
RETURNING TO ANCESTORS
Each cell of our ancestors is in us, positive and negative. We can call on our ancestor who has lived to ninety-six years old to support our good health. We can also understand that an ancestor or parent who was sad or angry did not have the opportunity to have their positive seeds nourished and so they perpetuate their anger and hurt. We can establish happiness in the family by accepting that our ancestors had shortcomings, as we do, and knowing that transforming our anger into love will help their transformation and happiness.
Food for thought this Thanksgiving Eve! May family dynamics be fluid with ease! : )