What If Congress Practiced Mindful Communications?

Nobel Peace Prize Nominee Thich Nhat Hanh

Imagine if Congress practiced mindful communications. Eric Cantor, majority leader and lead Congressional voice of the divisive Tea Party, probably wouldn’t make statements like Occupy Wall Street pits Americans again Americans. The rhetorical battles, arm crossing and finger pointing we have seen over the past year would be something of the past.

Well, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is holding a mindfulness retreat for Congress members in two weeks.

The web site for the effort says, “Politics is, like many professions, a difficult one in which to practice. The day to day pace of a congressional office is rapid. Inquiries and expressions of concern through phone email, fax, and person seem to come relentlessly and are often quite far from being loving speech. The staffers answering the phones encounter a lot of anger and despair. In such a climate, a little bit of loving speech goes a long way. We have the capacity to bring nourishment to staffers who might be suffering deeply from a lack of loving speech and deep listening.”

It certainly makes sense that the pressure of the situation only creates more combativeness. Even 24 hours of relief might make a difference. Please ask your Congressperson to attend.

Nominated by Dr. Martin Luther King and one of the most respected Zen masters in the world today, poet, Thich Nhat Hanh (called Thây by his students) is pictured above. As an international statesman, Thay has addressed members of the Indian Parliament, met representatives of the US House and Senate, and next spring will address members of the UK House of Lords.

This is the second time that Thay has been invited by the Faith and Politics Institute to offer a retreat and lecture (the first time being in 2003), and this year the US Institute of Peace is the co-sponsor. Prior to the overnight retreat Thay will give a private lecture for members of congress, their families, staff and other invited guests. On Wednesday, October 26th, Thay will deliver the Annual Walter Capps-Bill Emerson Memorial Lecture, “Path Toward Peace: Cultivating Clarity, Compassion, and Courage in Political Life” at The Library of Congress.

Caitlin and I have found Thay’s retreats, the Plum Village monastics that practice with him, and the practice of Zen to be an incredible influence on our marriage and life. The above photo set is from a retreat last week in New York. You can see our baby daughter Soleil got along with monastics, too. Also, you can check out Thay’s awesome Facebook page with 300,000+ members here.