I wrote to Martin Luther King a letter on June 1, 1965. And exactly one year after that I met him in Chicago in a press conference. In the letter I wrote to Martin Luther King, I said that man is not our enemy. No human being is our enemy. Our enemy is our hate, violence, fear, discrimination, ignorance. That's true enemy. Our enemy is not man.
There was the first time we attend the dialogue with the Christian leader, the leader of the civil right movement. And we had to agree with each other that we are not enemies to each others. There were American soldiers who came to Vietnam to kill and to be killed. They were not truly enemies. The true enemies were the misunderstanding, the wrong perceptions, hate, fear, anger.
In order to help a man, you have to help him or her to remove these elements from within. And I said that in the peace movement in Vietnam, we have that insight. Both communists and anti-communists, if they kill each other, because they had ideas about happiness, about the future that were different. And it is these ideas, these convictions that had led them killing brothers by brothers.
And I told him in the letter that in the civil right movement, there must be, or there may be that kind of insight that we are not struggling against other human beings. We struggle, we fight only the negative elements in men, which is the discrimination, injustice and fear. And I told him that if there are monks who burn themselves alive, that's not truly violence. Because we were caught in a war situation, where the voice of people can not be heard even from the inside, not only from the outside of the country.
So, the press, radio, television belonging to the warring parties, they don't speak our hope, our insight. So, in order for the world outside to know that we do not, we did not want the war, we have to burn ourselves so that the message can get across. And burning ourselves like that is the act of compassion, not the act of despair or violence. And when Jesus allowed himself to be crucified as the son of God, the son of man, he knew but he accepted that. And that is not the act of despair but of love.
So, there must be that kind of the communion between two communities, two sangha to collaborate. Because we intended to work together with his sangha, Martin Luther King's sangha. So, one, exactly one (editor?) we met in Chicago. And during the meeting of talk about these kinds of things, the real enemy, the man is not our enemy. And we should not operate on the basis of hate, anger but on compassion. And after that, we came out against the war in Vietnam.
And even people in his movement were afraid of that. He didn't ??? of that but he was very courageous. He had seen the truth. He got the insight that man is not our enemy. So, the war. American soldiers in Vietnam had been told before they come that Buddhist monks may be guerillas in disguise and they should not trust Buddhist monks. That is why many of us were killed out of suspicions and ???. And we know that it is ignorance, wrong perceptions under foundations of act. And in order to keep that insight alive so that compassion be maintained, we have to practice. Otherwise, you will be carried away by anger, fear and frustration.
So, we had a campaign to end the war in Vietnam. In the United States, there was a fellowship of reconciliation that was held at ??? , New York. And they sent people to Vietnam and contacted us. And we collaborated with them. And we started a campaign called the "Stop the killing!". And we stood on the ground that man is not our enemy. Our enemy is the misunderstanding, suspicion and so on.
So, if Thich Nhat Hanh and Martin Luther King hold hands and walk together, you can see that Buddha and Jesus are walking together. And I have written a book with a title, "Coming home". Jesus and Buddha are brothers. So, your practice should be on that line. Because the insight can bring you peace, insight, happiness, and you know where to go. And there is no more confusion if you have got the insight. And non-discrimination becomes something real, not just a talking.
This Thay's teaching is still very useful for the world peace in this century. Especially President Hollande and Islamic State leaders must listen to it very carefully and deeply.