Last week I attended Claude Anshin Thomas veterans’ retreat at Omega and found myself completely transformed.
Here are some of his teachings from my notes – as I wrote them. Some are direct quotes and a few are paraphrased. There are some real gems in is teachings so I am sharing:
The Cost of War
PTSD – Central injuries are moral and social. Establish Safety and security, create a language of feelings to express the inexpressible. Establish safety, sobriety, self care, spiritual discipline. You can’t change your thoughts to change your life, you must change your life to change your thoughts. The real work of how we come to terms with the cost of war is spiritual.
For veterans returning: establish a living community where people have a shared experience. The longer we put off dealing with the cost of military service the more profound the unaddressed issues become. There is no escaping, time does not heal all wounds. Memory is a fluid experience, it changes over time. Be cautious of holding onto absolute fact. You come to learn your experience through the sharing of it. There is a fear that in speaking it, it will be diminished. This can trap you in a cycle of suffering. Minimizing, justifying, rationalizing to avoid the truth of the experience. An essential element to working consciously with our experience is disciplined spiritual practice. Be careful not to become identified as a wounded victim. Do not minimize and do not inflate. Be rooted in self reflection. When thoughts and feelings come together, they form perceptions. We hold our perceptions to be absolute fact. Mindful breathing creates an anchor or reference point to identify those perceptions.
“It doesn’t matter what I think, what I say, what I believe. it matters what I do”. Practice mindful breathing, mindful eating, mindful walking. Deep listening and mindful speech. If we are living intensely in the now, all things manifest right here. Within us exists the entire universe. “As I am the world becomes”. We are all enlightened, what prevents us from living our enlightened nature is our attachment to our conditioning. We are the light at the tip of the candle. Through our transformation we can shine light on the real cost of war.
The roots of war are not external, they are within us. Active non-violence in thought, speech and action. Healing is not the absence of suffering, it is living in a conscious way with the experience. These tools will yield results. It works if you work it. Meditation is a process, not an event. It’s all about patience, acceptance and surrender. Be at peace with our own unpeacefulness.
“May we exist in muddy water with purity like the lotus. Thus we bow to Buddha.”
“Life and death are of supreme importance. Time swiftly passes by and opportunity is lost. Each of us should strive to awaken. Take heed. Do not squander your life.”
“As I breathe in I know I’m breathing in. As I breathe out, I know I’m breathing out.”
“This food is the gift of the whole universe: the earth, the sky and much hard work.
· May we live in a way that makes us worthy to receive it.
· May we transform our own unskilled states of mind and learn to eat with moderation.
· May we take only foods that nourish us and prevent illness.
· We accept this food so that we may realize the path of understanding and love.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh
For more information or to donate check out: