Thich Nhat Hanh Vs. Abraham Joshua Heschel
Thich Nhat Hanh and Abraham J. Heschel used their writing in order to educate outside people about their religions. They both addressed the importance of the human person, God or Ultimate Reality, and the world. These authors came from completely different parts of the world and have completely different beliefs in regards to their religion. Yet, so much is similar in their thoughts of being a devout or right practitioner of Buddhism or Judaism. In both of the readings a theme present throughout the books was the concept of suffering or embarrassment in order to achieve a higher state of life such as Nirvana (Buddhism) or Heaven (Judaism) and also the connection one has with the world. It is important to know where these authors came from and what shaped their views of life in order to understand their beliefs and their interpretation of their religion. Abraham J. Heschel was a Jewish Rabbi, a Holocaust survivor, and a civil rights activism in the U.S. He was well known for marching alongside Martin Luther during the black civil rights movement. He was also influential among the Christian and Catholic communities. Due to his experience during the Holocaust, he was very passionate about equality for everyone. Thich Naht Hanh was a Vietnamese Buddhist monk and poet. Thich Naht Hanh was a strong promoter of peace and knowing how to live in the present moment. He devoted a lot of his time in educating people of other religions about Buddhism, meditation and how to live mindfully through bringing the ancient practices of Buddhism into the world today and making it relatable to our lives today. Suffering and humility is something I saw throughout both books and even though the authors belonged to different religions they referred to it in similar ways. “Embarrassment is a response to the discovery that in living we either replenish or frustrate a wondrous expectation.” Heschel referred to the thought of suffering as “embarrassment”, to him it was seeing things and accepting your wrongdoings such as taking things in life for granted. Heschel also believed the humanity as a whole did not know what embarrassment was and that it was a problem because if someone did not experience the feeling they would not be able to look within themselves or understand others. If people felt embarrassed then they would have a sense of humbleness and have more appreciation for life because he believed that “the truth of being human is gratitude; its secret is appreciation.” He wanted people to appreciate the small things in life, yet, be able to look at the big picture of human existence and the world in harmony. “There is hardly a person who does not submit his soul to the beauty parlor, who does not employ the make-up of vanity in order to belie his embarrassment. It is only before God that we all stand naked.” Heschel also discusses how we, as humans, try to cover up our mistakes or try to cover up our suffering but God is the only person that truly knows what we are going through. I found this easy to relate to because humans refuse to show failure and weakness; we run away from becoming subjects of pain and suffering. On the other hand, Heschel believed the opposite of what our mentality is set on, he saw weaknesses and failure as a way of becoming visible to God or closer to Him. In order to become present in God’s eyes, we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable and let God see our true colors. Also, Heschel was trying to open our eyes to the fact that being weak is not something we should be ashamed of, instead, we should turn our weaknesses into our strengths in order for us to continue practicing our religion. “…the other road sign is revealed in the lives of those who would rather suffer than bear falsehood, who would rather be exposed to torture and living in jail than to remain silent in the face of lies, blasphemy, and injustice”...
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