Eight Vows to My Spiritual Ancestor: Martin Luther King, Jr.
Thich Nhat Hanh was nominated for the Nobel Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr.. Quotes by Dr. King, Jr., Vows by Heather Lyn Mann
With this practice of deep looking into gifts given to me by my spiritual ancestor, Dr. King, I make these vows to embody his teachings in my daily life and actions.
1. Embrace Justice “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” Inspired by Dr. King, and aware of the systemic unfairness and cruelty baked into our policies, institutions, and relationships, I vow to name, heal, and transform the injustices in me, in my life and within my reach.
2. Wake to this Present Moment “We are now faced with the fact that tomorrow is today. We are confronted with the fierce urgency of now. In this unfolding conundrum of life and history, there is such a thing as being too late. This is no time for apathy or complacency.” Inspired by Dr. King, and aware that life is only available in the very here and now, I vow to diligently observe life as it unfolds, see the potential for healing that is present in each moment, and honor the power of this moment to transform both the past and future through my skillful thoughts, speech, and actions.
3. Speak Out “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.” Inspired by Dr. King, and aware of the ‘beneficial regret’ I feel about my past ignorance, indifference, complacency, and silence, I vow to find my voice and speak truthful and healing words that bring wellbeing and justice to all people, animals, plants, and minerals— even when doing so may threaten my safety.
4. Practice Nonviolence
“The way of acquiescence leads to moral and spiritual suicide. The way of violence leads to bitternessin the survivors and brutality in the destroyers. But the way of nonviolence leads to redemption and thecreation of beloved community.”
Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and aware of my deep aspiration to ‘be peace,’ I vow to deepen my understanding, skills, and practice of Nonviolence toward myself, my relationships, and between people, societies, nations, and the earth.
5. Build Community
“Resistance and nonviolence are not in themselves good. There is another element that must be presentin our struggle that then makes our resistance and nonviolence truly meaningful. That element is reconciliation. Our ultimate end must be the creation of the beloved community.” “The end is the creation of the beloved community. It is this type of spirit and this type of love that can transform opposers into friends.”
Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and aware that my happiness is inter-dependent with the happiness of humans and non-humans everywhere, I vow to build beloved community by committing to a path of daily action that redeems and reclaims my membership in the human family, cultivates reconciliation in myrelationships—even those that are deeply challenging—and helps others do the same.
6. Forgive & Love
“We must develop and maintain the capacity to forgive. He who is devoid of the power to forgive is devoid of the power to love ... The degree to which we are able to forgive determines the degree to which we are able to love our enemies.”
“Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and aware of my deep aspiration to be a light in the world, I vow to understand and transform my hate by looking deeply into its causes and conditions; practice forgiveness toward those who cause harm to myself, others, and the earth; and cultivate love towards all people and beings by seeing their capacity for enlightenment.
7. Commit to Service
“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is, ‘What are you doing for others?”
Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and aware of and humbled by my unearned privilege, I vow to livelightly on the earth, to take less so others might have more, and to joyfully devote my time, skills, and material resources to the healthy continuation of all people, animals, plants, and minerals—especially to those who have been or who are oppressed and exploited.
8. Cultivate Courage“If you can’t fly, then run. If you can’t run, then walk. If you can’t walk, then crawl; but whatever you do,you have to keep moving forward.”
Inspired by Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., and fully aware that I’ve inherited a fear of pain and death, I vow to cultivate fearlessness on behalf of myself, all beings, and the earth by looking deeply into the reality of Non-self, Inter-being, and my true birthless/deathless nature; understanding my actions are my only continuation;and undertaking Right Action in each moment and for as long as possible.