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One Buddha Is Not Enough


By Thich Nhat Hanh and the Four Fold Sangha of Monks, Nuns, and Laypeople



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Excerpt

Smiling Incense: Sitting with Anger and Other Strong Emotions
Brother Phap Dung

My family came to live in the U.S. when I was eight or nine years old. When I was little, I grew up in Vietnam. We lived next to a big river. Below our house was a boat dock. My friends and I used to climb down there and pretend it was our hiding place. There were no parents, no adults who knew this place, and we'd just have adventures under this dock. Many young people love to have places like that, it that seem to be their own world. We'd watch the fish; there were many wonderful fish. There was a pole in the water, and the little fish liked to swim around the pole. I grew up in the city, but because it was on a river there were elements of nature as well.

I grew up in the time right after the Vietnam war. Many families, many young children, lived in an environment that was quite frightening. Sometimes we had to run very quickly out of our house because someone had thrown a grenade inside. My grandma would wet a towel and put it over our mouth when we ran outside. These were memories I grew up with, so they're still in me. Once in a while my father would put me on the front of his motorcycle and he'd take me far, far away to the beach area. We lived in the city of Danang in central Vietnam, and they have beautiful beaches there. My dad loved to ride his motorcycle along that beach. I remember the long stretches of beach and the long roads.

I remember our journey to escape from Vietnam when I was a young boy. We were first taken to a little shack. We knew something was going to happen because for several weeks before that, we'd had to give away all our toys because we couldn't take anything with us. I had a tricycle that I gave away to my friend who lived near by. I remember putting all our toys in a box and having to give it away. So I knew something was happening but I didn't know what. I knew we must be going far, because each of us--my dad, mom, me and everybody--could only take a little sac. I remember that my grandma sewed little things into our clothes. Now my family tells me it was gold. Since we couldn't take any money with us, my grandma made these little gold things and slipped them into our clothing so that wherever we ended up, we would survive at least for a while.