Last fall, some of our Facebook friends told us they’d like to read about forgiveness. They wanted to learn how to heal the past in the present. As submissions came in, I was inspired to look deeply at the theme in my own life. Every day gave me an opportunity to forgive myself or someone else!
I learned that sometimes, before I’m able to forgive, I need to move through a firestorm of grief or rage. When I hear of a child who has been abused or killed by an adult, I feel blinded by those strong negative emotions. When I’m righteously angry, it feels unnatural to forgive adults who harm children. Yet when I embrace the anger and uncover the need beneath it—such as the need for justice and kindness—I begin to move through the painful emotion and into inner peace. Within that peace, my heart feels wider and more willing to understand perpetrators of abuse. It’s necessary to honor the anger and sadness—like mud is necessary to grow a lotus. And for me, the lotus is an insight: forgiveness will only come when I love the hurting child within an adult who hurts children.
In this issue, Thay’s response to a rape survivor (“Together We Are One”) tells us that to truly understand is to forgive. He skillfully shows us how to grow our understanding and use it to stop the cycle of suffering. Sister Jewel frames her two visits to prisons with a lovely teaching on self-forgiveness that is not just for inmates. She calls out to the truly free person within each of us. Practitioners share about their rocky roads to the beautiful vista of forgiveness.
The time is ripe to heal the past in the present, to fully arrive in the now. The challenges in our world, the needs of our planet, are asking us to rededicate ourselves to awakening. Our mindfulness is needed now. This year marks the 30th anniversary of Plum Village—a time to celebrate, to reflect, to honor our wondrous transformations as individual “cells” and as a global Sangha body.
As we reflect on the path that led us to this moment, we can also turn our attention to a vision of how to continue beautifully. The Thich Nhat Hanh Continuation Fund gives us a chance to support our practice centers and to invest in peace. Please read Elizabeth Hospodarsky’s article, “A Handful of Rice” (p. 38), detach the brochure from the center of this issue, and return it with your contribution. Your gift makes a tremendous difference in sustaining our teacher’s legacy.
May this collection of heartfelt offerings nurture your understanding and peace.
With love and gratitude,
Natascha Bruckner True Ocean of Jewels