World peace, do not all of us long for it?

Mother Theresa won many prizes and was once awarded the Nobel Peace Prize. Once a man asked her how he could bring more peace in the world. She answered him: “Go home and take care of your family. Be friendly to them and bring peace into your home.”

Many people long for world peace. They dream of great things, great goals in the world. But everything starts at home. We must start small. It’s only when we are able to bring more peace into our own family that maybe one day we can bring peace into the team in which we work and into the company. Maybe one day we can do something for the greater society. But we must start at home and stop dreaming of great works.

The Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh goes one step further and asks the question how we can bring peace in our family around us. He says that first of all we have to find inner peace inside ourselves. We have to live in peace with ourselves. That is something we can reach by meditating regularly. When we have reached that inner peace we will also radiate it to the people around us. And that goes always further, just like when you throw a stone in the water. It makes circles that expand always further away. In that way we can bring change in the world.

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Why I, being a Christian, practice Buddhist meditation

The first time that I heard something about Buddhism was when I studied psychotherapy. A teacher said that the client centred therapy, founded by Carl Rogers, has a lot in common with Buddhism, even Rogers didn’t base his ideas on Buddhism. But he came spontaneously to the same insights. I had a huge confidence in Carl Rogers and his psychotherapy. That fitted me and I was very enthusiast about it.

Later I felt like reading something about all important religions in the world. I wanted to know how other people thought about religion, God, life and community. I went to a bookshop, and the first book that I found was an introduction to Buddhism. I was very interested in it and I continued reading sometimes books about Buddhism. In these books I also read about meditations, but I didn’t start meditating immediately.

One day, in the hospital where I worked as a psychiatric nurse, a catholic monk who practiced zen Buddhism came to talk about it. Halfway his speech we did a meditation of five minutes as introduction. I was very surprised that I felt so restless and excited inside. I was the first time that I came in touch with it. And I was even more surprised that meditating seemed to give me rest.

I continued regularly meditating and I liked it very much. I tried to do it like I read it in books, but it didn’t work so well. Meditating was difficult and I didn’t make any progress. I read in some books that while meditating you have to stop thinking. I tried to do that but it made me stressed. Until I read in a book written by a Tibetan monk that not thinking is not natural. You have always thoughts. But what you have to do is each time that you are aware of being thinking, you let go your thought and you return with your attention into your breath. That helped me and I didn’t become stressed anymore. But I started longing after personal talks with a Buddhist monk.

After many years, I looked for Buddhist organisations in my region on the internet. And yes, I found one leaded by a teacher who was officially acknowledged by zen Buddhism. I go meditate there nowadays regularly and have personal talks with the teacher. And it helps me enormously. Now I make really progress and grow spiritually. And the rest which I in the beginning, many years ago now, experienced during meditation, I experience now all day long. I become totally calm and quite inside.

I start also living more here and now. When you are during meditation distracted by any thoughts, these thoughts are mostly about the past or the future. I let these thoughts go now and I concentrate on my breath, which is here and now. It is reality. And I experience this reality now more and more all day long.

Relatives tell me that I am changing. They say that I am more positive and cheerful. And that is partly because of zen meditation. I am very enthusiast about meditation. It becomes easier and it becomes fun. Each day I long to my meditation sessions in the morning and the evening. It is changing my life. I also become more myself, more authentic and it feels so normal.

Meditation is not only practiced in Buddhism. There also exists Christian meditation. Monks sometimes practice meditation in their monastery. I also read books about these monks and one day I longed to find a Christian organisation where I can practice meditation. But where I go now I receive excellent guidance by a teacher who knows everything about it, and so I stayed there. I will never become a real Buddhist, I am a convinced and practicing Christian. But Buddhist meditations is a very good addition to the Christian faith.