I find myself so confused by the walls between us.

Religious walls, political walls–  your way,  my way, this way, that way.  Right and wrong, good and bad.

Of course, I recognize the walls because I’ve helped build many a wall in my time.. if I hadn’t, I’m sure I wouldn’t notice.A-Palestinian-demonstrato-003

Exploring Sri Lanka for me was an extraordinary opportunity to see first hand what happens after the walls come down– people living in relative harmony, honoring diversity and making space for many paths.

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Tyler, in Sri Lanka in July 2013 teaching at a rural mountain school with local kids, many of whom had never seen a white person…

 

This observation changed me.

I came home less able to judge, less willing to disrespect, more desirous of harmony and unity and a significant willingness to meet people wherever they’re at.

I’m convinced now that when we tear down the walls the entire world embraces one another and a grace unites us all in common purpose and massive harmony.

People talk of peace but this is the real work of it.   

“Many years ago I encountered some children on a beach in Sri Lanka.  It had been a long time since I had seen children like that, barefoot children on a very green island with no sign of industrial pollution.  These were not children of the slums; they were of the countryside.  I saw them, and to me they formed a beautiful part of nature.  AS I stood on the beach alone, the children just ran toward me.  WE didn’t know each others language, so I put my arms around their shoulders— all six of them, and we stood like that for a long time.  Suddenly I realized that if I chanted a prayer in the ancient Buddhist language of Pali, they might recognize it, so I began to chant.  “Buddham saranam gaccami” ( I take refuge in the Buddha ).  They not only recognized it, they continued the chant.  Four of them joined their palms and chanted, while the other two stood respectfully.  This chant is a common prayer, like the Our Father. 

I motioned to the two children who were not chanting to join us.  They smiled, placed their palms together and chanted in Pali, ” I take refuge in Mother Mary” The music of their prayer did not differ much from the Buddhist one.  Then I embraced each child.  They were a little surprised, but I felt very much at one with each of them.  They had given me a feeling of deep serenity and peace.  We all need a place that is safe and wholesome enough for us to return for refuge….. “

~from  Mindfulness is the Refuge, Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh

Check out about the school and trip here: