I first ran across the name of Thich Nhat Hahn in an airport bookstore. No less than Dr. Martin Luther King
Jr. himself nominated Thich for the Nobel Prize in 1967, with the following ringing endorsement:
I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize than this gentle Buddhist monk from Vietnam…. He is a holy man, for he is humble and devout. He is a scholar of immense intellectual capacity.
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Anyway, the book was entitled “Going Home: Jesus and Buddha As Brothers.” As someone who believes that Jesus was not the only great spiritual teacher, this intrigued me enough to pick up the book, which is so indescribably peaceful to read that I’m not even going to try to do so here. Suffice to say that since then, I’ve read many of Thich’s books, including True Love and Peace Is Every Step.
Earlier this month, Thich was scheduled to come to Magnolia Village in Batesville, Mississippi, where I was planning to go and learn from him. Unfortunately, he caught pneumonia and was hospitalized. But while I couldn’t make the trip, I ran across this piece by Ryan Croken at Religious Dispatches. Has to do with how we define “toughness.” I hope you enjoy it!
One of the things I like about an inclusive, all-encompassing image of God is that the concept eliminates an “either-or” outlook on who God is and how God works. This isn't new thinking either: See John 1:3 – “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” In short, nothing exists without God.
Case in point: the so-called rift between science and spirituality. Usually when someone wants to disprove the existence of God, they point to scientific principles and evidence. But why can't God be the scientific genius behind those principles and evidence? This possibility means expanding our idea of God, which, let's face it, can be very uncomfortable. This is true for the devout believer as well as the scientific purist.
But the choice between science and religion has always been a false one. Both represent avenues to explain why things happen in our lives and in our worlds. One does not invalidate the other. Quite the opposite. A deep sense of faith, combined with a critical and curious scientific mind, broadens our understanding of God. Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King said it t
Science investigates; religion interprets. Science gives man knowledge which is power; religion gives man wisdom which is control. Science deals mainly with facts; religion deals mainly with values. The two are not rivals. They are complementary.
All that's a long setup for a new book called “How God Changes Your Brain.” The authors are Andrew Newberg and Mark Robert Waldman. Newberg is a neuroscientist; Waldman is a therapist. They both are associated with Center for Spirituality and the Mind at the University of Pennsylvania, where they study . . . well, how God changes your brain, among other things. I also recognize the author from a stimulating movie I like called “What the Bleep Do We Know?”
Anyway, take a peek, let us know what you think . . .
I love Jesus. And I love Dr. Martin Luther King.
Both men, known for their compassion and peaceful ways, are simply jaw-dropping in their grasp of how to meet life and its various challenges. As the saying goes though, don't mistake their kindness for weakness. It takes a very special, divine kind of strength to meet hatred with love, to pray for people who want to destroy you, to face your enemies with no weapon and no intention of fighting back.
So I stumbled upon a copy of Dr. King's “Strength To Love” and started reading it last night. It comes at a time when I'm going through an extremely difficult divorce and custody battle. And while the situation
demands that I take a stand, I do so not with malice, anger or vengeance. I take my stand in Jesus' eternal call for us to love and forgive, no matter what the situation.
Still, it never hurts to be reminded. Which brings me to Dr. King's book. The very first chapter's title was heaven-sent: “A Tough Mind and a Tender Heart.” I would post an excerpt here, but what the heck — go read the first several pages of it online via Google: Strength to love – Google Book Search.
It's easy to think of Dr. King as a mere civil rights leader. But underneath the “Been to the mountaintop” and “I have a dream” sound bytes, there was an extraordinary wisdom and moral clarity that fueled everything he did. He wasn't calling for us just to break the chains of racial injustice — he was calling upon us to be better human beings, and to be better TO human beings.
I think he'd like “A Message From God.”