I was truly touched by the book of Thich Nhat Hanh Living Buddha, living Christ
, in which he brilliantly shows the parallels between the life of Jesus and the life of the Buddha. I was inspired because many of the things he writes make me think Aha! This is exactly what the Community Life Competence Process is about
I was particularly struck by this paragraph:
"In a true dialogue, both sides are willing to change. We have to appreciate that truth can be received from outside of -not only within- our own group. If we do not believe that, entering into dialogue would be a waste of time. If we think we monopolize the truth and we still organize a dialogue, it is not authentic. We have to believe that by engaging in dialogue with the other person, we have the possibility of making a change within ourselves, that we can become deeper. Dialogue is not a means for assimilation in the sense that one side expands and incorporates the other into its "self". Dialogue must be practiced on the basis of "non-self". We have to allow what is good, beautiful and meaningful in the other's tradition to transform us.
This rings a bell, right? When we do a SALT visit, we try to be open. We are eager to learn and be transformed through the experience. T of Transform. Sometimes we don't know right away that we have been transformed during a visit. Like last week, when we visited the Ruhuha community near Kigali. We were 'one' with them. We danced and sang together. We hugged each other like close friends. At the end of the visit, Phil said: "I have received a beautiful gift."
We can't always explain what is different, what is transformed. But sometimes it is just our heart that is a little more open... soft... :-)
And Thich Nhat Hanh goes on: "But the most basic principle of interfaith dialogue is that the dialogue must begin, first of all, within oneself. Our capacity to make peace with another person and with the world depends very much on our capacity to make peace with ourselves. If we are at war with our parents, our family, our society, or our church, there is probably a war going on inside us also, so the most basic work for peace is to return to ourselves and create harmony among the elements within us -our feelings, our perceptions and our mental states."
We, as human beings, facilitators, maybe development workers, we have to start with ourself. Appreciate our own strengths and qualities. When we can appreciate who we are, we are at peace and we can let go of the 'control' we want over other people's life. We always want to help because it makes us feel good and important. But we have to be careful not to take away the ownership of people over their own life issues.
Miriam is a sex worker selling her services at the truckers stop of Kigali. She told us last week: “What should I do? I keep telling my clients that I’m HIV positive but they still want to have sex without a condom.” It is difficult to resist 'fixing' or judge her situation. But we have to trust that she can solve her own problems. We have to accept that we can only facilitate the discussion between girls like her and the truckers...
Have a wonderful day!
The picture is a calligraphy of Thich Nhat Hanh