Two questions about Thich Nhat Hanh and Engaged Buddhism and Christianity

A reader writes:

Appreciated your piece yesterday on the CAC daily readings email. I too discovered Thich Nhat Hanh during a time of struggle and change and was immediately struck by the simplicity and readability of his books, their exoteric truths.

Around the same time, I read Merton’s Asian Journals, which recounted his similar spiritual path.
As you have noted, we have to keep learning, relearning, expanding our spirituality. That which kept me sane yesterday may not do so today. And in reading of other traditions other than the one in which I was raised, I can gain new insights into what makes this life a thing to be cherished rather than something I hope to be rescued (raptured?) from.
Huston Smith shared with me a comment in one of our correspondences, that “Mystics of all climes speak the same language.” That answer to the question I posed now seems obvious – it is inconceivable that they would do otherwise. But they are of course limited by language to express the divine as it reveals itself to them, and so too often their efforts are misunderstood (or their own efforts to convert the experience into an art form or writing gets lost in the translation).
On this last point, I return to Thich Nhat Hanh and his accessibility. As a poet, and as a non-english speaker originally, I think he had the rare gift of being able to choose each word carefully, deliberately, and express his thoughts succinctly.
And so that you, Rohr, Thich Nhat Hanh, Merton were on the same spiritual journey isn’t that surprising to me. To borrow from Aldous Huxley’s “This I Believe” essay, once we are able to “de-eclipse the light’ within blocked by our egos, we are all mystics, speaking the same language and walking the same path – at least during those brief moments of “de-eclipse,” when the divine in all is able to be see with the eyes of a child.
Another reader asked this question:
I follow the CAC Daily Meditations and attended the Wild Goose Festival last summer.  Like Richard Rohr, you have a unique ability to distill faith into clear and relatable concepts and I am so glad that the two of you have come together at the CAC.
I loved the inclusion of Thick Naht Hanh’s full 14 precepts for engaged Buddhism in today’s meditation and was sad that all 14 of your precepts for a just and generous Christianity were not included.  A Google search did not reveal them either – even on your own website.  I could, of course, buy the book referenced in the footnotes and probably will (I have read a couple of your books already and loved them) but I would think that such great messaging for progressive Christianity should be readily available to all seekers of a just and inclusive Christianity.  Perhaps this lack of availability is a restriction by your publisher and if so, that’s really a shame because it’s the message that matters and this message is important enough to be available to all just as Thick Naht Hanh’s is.

Thank you for your work and witness,

Thanks for this question! Here they are …

14 Precepts of Just and Generous Christianity

Christianity isnt the only religion that loses its way from time to time. Thats why every religious community has prophetic voices who arise and call for spiritual migration. Thich Nhat Hanh has been such a voice in his tradition, calling for Buddhists to embrace an engaged Buddhism. Ive taken his 14 Precepts of Engaged Buddhismand adapted them for Just and Generous Christianity.

1.  Humility: Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Christian ones. Christian systems of thought are guiding means, a pathway rather than a destination.

2. Lifelong Learning: Do not think the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow minded and bound to present views. Be open to the Holy Spirit and practice childlike humility, demonstrating curiosity about othersviewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.

3.  Gentleness: Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education. However, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrow-mindedness, and be ready to gently and humbly share what gives you life whenever it is appropriate.

4.  Compassion: Do not avoid suffering or close your eyes before suffering. Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world. Find ways to be with those who are suffering and to be an agent of comfort and healing. Awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world. And do the same regarding joy, so you can weep with those who weep and rejoice with those who rejoice.

5.  Generosity: Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not take as the aim of your life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure. Live simply and share time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.

6.  Love: Do not maintain anger or hatred. Learn to penetrate and transform them when they are still seeds in your consciousness. As soon as they arise, turn your heart toward God in order to see and understand the nature of your hatred, so it will not be translated into word or deed. Make love your highest goal.

7.  Serenity: Do not lose yourself in dispersion and in your surroundings. Dwell in the presence and peace of God to come back to what is happening in the present moment. Be in touch with what is wondrous, refreshing, and healing both inside and around you. Plant seeds of joy, peace, and understanding in yourself in order to facilitate the work of transformation in the depths of your consciousness.

8.  Reconciliation: Be careful with your words. Do not utter words that can create discord and cause the community to break. Make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

9. Communication: Do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest or to impress people. Do not utter words that cause division and hatred. Do not spread news that you do not know to be certain. Do not criticize or condemn things of which you are not sure. Always speak truthfully and constructively. Have the courage to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may threaten your own safety.

10.  Justice: Do not use your faith community for personal gain or profit, or politicize it for partisan ends. A faith community, however, should take a clear stand against oppression and injustice and should strive to change unjust and unhealthy situations without being manipulated or controlled by outside forces or interests.

11. Vocation: Do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. Do not invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to live. Select a vocation that helps realize your ideal of compassion.

12.  Non-violence: Do not kill and do no harm, and do not stand by when others seek to do so. Find creative, just, and nonviolent ways to prevent or end conflicts and to promote and strengthen peace.

13.  Property: Possess nothing that should belong to others. Respect the property of others, but prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth.

14.  Body: Do not mistreat your body. Learn to treat it with respect. Practice self-control. Sexual expression should not take place without love and corresponding commitment. In sexual relations, be aware of future suffering that may be caused. To preserve the happiness of others, respect the rights and commitments of others. Be fully aware of the responsibility of bringing new lives into the world. Be aware of the ways your body connects you to all creation, and be grateful for every meal, every heartbeat, and every breath.

These principles are found in my book The Great Spiritual Migration.