Last summer, I visited Taize, in France.  I spent two weeks there, living and working alongside the other hundreds of people from all over the world, who had visited this isolated monastic community to work, pray and spend time together.  I spent my second week in silence, and one of the books I took with me was Thomas Merton’s “Contemplative Prayer” – flicking through one morning I found a set of prayers by the Zen Buddhist Tich Nhat Hanh, who had written the forward for this beautiful, challenging, inspiring book.  I spent an afternoon gently working through these prayers.  I found considering myself, those I love and those I find less easy to reconcile myself with equally, patiently and with eyes of love at first a challenging, difficult experience, but ultimately liberating – for a short while, I was that bit freer from the weight of prejudice.

For each prayer, first consider the words in relation to yourself, then the person you like, then the person you love, then the person you are neutral to, and finally the person who makes you suffer when you think of.  

Then you can practice “May they be . . .” beginning with the group, the people, the nation, or the species you like, then the one you love, then the one that is neutral to you, and finally the one you suffer the most when you think of.

May I be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit.
May he/she be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit.
May they be peaceful, happy, and light in body and spirit.

May I be free from injury. May I live in safety.
May he/she be free…
May they be free…

May I be free from disturbance, fear, anxiety, and worry.
May he/she be free…
May they be free…

May I learn to look at myself with the eyes of understanding and love.
May he/she learn…
May they learn…

May I be able to recognize and touch the seeds of joy and happiness in myself.
May he/she be able…
May they be able…

May I learn to identify and see the sources of anger, craving, and delusion in myself.
May he/she learn…
May they learn…

May I know how to nourish the seeds of joy in myself every day.
May he/she know…
May they know…

May I be able to live fresh, solid, and free.
May he/she be able…
May they be able…

May I be free from attachment and aversion, but not be indifferent.
May he/she be free…
May they be free…

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