“Strike against terror” is a misleading expression. What we are striking against is not the real cause or the root of terror. The object of our strike is still human life. We are sowing seeds of violence as we strike. Striking in this way we will only bring about more hatred and violence into the world. This is exactly what we do not want to do.
Terror is in the human heart. We must remove this terror from the heart. Destroying the human heart, both physically and psychologically, is what we must absolutely avoid. The root of terrorism should be identified, so that it can be removed. The root of terrorism is misunderstanding, intolerance, hatred, revenge and hopelessness. This root cannot be located by the military. Bombs and missiles cannot reach it, let alone destroy it. Only with the practice of looking deeply can our insight reveal and identify this root. Only with the practice of deep listening and compassion can it be transformed and removed.
Darkness cannot be dissipated with more darkness. More darkness will make darkness thicker. Only light can dissipate darkness. Violence and hatred cannot be removed with violence and hatred. Rather, this will make violence and hatred grow a thousand fold. Only understanding and compassion can dissolve violence and hatred.
Hatred, and violence are in the hearts of human beings. A terrorist is a human being with hatred, revenge, violence and misunderstanding in his or her heart. Acting without understanding, acting out of hatred, violence and fear, only helps sow more terror, bringing terror to the homes of others and ultimately bringing terror back to the homes of the attacker. The philosophy of “an eye for an eye,” only creates more suffering and bloodshed and more enemies. One of the greatest casualties we may suffer results from this wrong thinking and action. Whole societies are living constantly in fear with their nerves being attacked day and night. Such a state of confusion, fear and anxiety is extremely dangerous. It can bring about another world war, this time extremely destructive in the worst possible way.
We must learn to speak out for peace now, so that our spiritual voice can be heard in this dangerous and pivotal moment of history. Those of us who have the light should display the light and offer it so that the world will not sink into total darkness. Everyone has the seed of awakening and insight within his or her heart. Let us help each other touch these seeds in ourselves so that everyone can have the courage to speak out. We must ensure that the way we live our daily lives does not create more terrorism in the world, through intolerance, hatred, revenge and greed. We need a collective awakening to stop this course of self-destruction.
Spiritual leaders in this country need to be invited to raise their voice strongly and speak up for peaceful solutions to the world problems and bring about the awareness of the teaching of compassion and non-violence to the American nation and the people.
By understanding the nature and cause of the suffering of humanity, we will then know the right method to begin to heal the great problems on this planet.
* This Article was written by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk and peace activist:
“Thich Nhat Hanh is a holy man, for he is humble and devout. He is a scholar of immense intellectual capacity. His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, and to humanity.” –Spoken by The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., in nominating Thich Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize.