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Lions Roar : January 2014
“Because I’d made efforts to practice,” he says, “I overtook myself. That is why I was accepted, and he was not. In the pro- cess of practice, you become your better self with more freedom, more happiness.” The music class, according to Thay, symbolized an assembly of advanced Bud- dhist practitioners, while the professor symbolized the Buddha himself. “I regret that I did not have a few more minutes in the dream,” Thay quips. “If I had, then I would have seen the Buddha in person.” DURING THE VIETNAM WAR, Thich Nhat Hanh was sleeping when a grenade was hurled through his window. He would have died, but it hit a curtain and rico- cheted, exploding into the next room. On another occasion, grenades were thrown into the dormitories of the School of Youth for Social Service, an innovative grassroots organization he founded to improve edu- cation, sanitation, and farming practices in poor, rural communities. These grenades left two volunteers dead, a young man par- alyzed, and a young woman riddled with a thousand pieces of shrapnel. Thay and those working with him did not take sides in the war. No matter what the political allegiance of a victim, they would help him or her, and for this they were persecuted by the Vietnamese gov- ernment and communists alike. On June 1, 1965, Thich Nhat Hanh wrote a letter to Martin Luther King, Jr. in which he compared the struggle for peace in Vietnam to the civil rights movement in America and 53 SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2014