On not coming home a martyr


“I know of families where children, after breakfast, go into that room [the room for mindful breathing he advocates setting up in every home], sit down and breathe for 10 times … in, out, 1, in, out, 2, in, out … and then they go off to school. This is a very beautiful practice. Can you do that? Each morning? If you don’t wish to breathe 10 times, how about 3 times?

[audience laughs]

That’s a beautiful thing to do.  Because, before starting your school day, you invoke the buddha-to-be in yourself. Beginning the day with being a buddha is a very nice way of doing that … So if a parent would like the children to do it, then the parent should do it themselves. Start the day by being a buddha. In that way, we have the chance of not being a martyr at the end of the day.

[audience laughs]

After a day of hard work, we might become a martyr. Therefore, we should be careful to be a buddha in the morning and try to nourish the buddha throughout the day. And how wonderful if you go home with a smile, the buddha is still there. Mummy will be very glad if Daddy comes home as a buddha … “

~ From Being Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh


Image: Detail from the “Good night” quilt made by Mary Jane Hannaford (1840-1930) featuring a couple with the caption, “Unhappy Honeymoon”. Mary Jane was born in England and arrived in Australia as a two-year old. Though unmarried, “Mary Jane had a daughter, Emily, in 1869 and went on to have nine grandchildren …” She made this quilt when she was 81 for one of her grandchildren, Dudley, when he was 11. She must have been an extraordinary woman to bear and raise a child without being married in the 1870s. Maybe she’s depicting her views of the risks of marriage in this little vignette. The quilt features in an exhibition at NGV Australia.


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