One cold, winter evening I returned home from a walk in the hills, and I found that all the doors and windows in my hermitage had blown open. When I had left earlier, I hadn’t secured them, and the cold wind had blown through the house, opened the windows, and scattered the papers from my desk all over the room. Immediately, I closed the doors and windows, lit a lamp, picked up the papers, and arranged them neatly on my desk. Then I started a fire in the fireplace, and soon the crackling logs brought warmth back to the room.
Sometimes in a crowd we feel tired, cold, and lonely. We may wish to withdraw to be by ourselves and become one again, as I did when I closed the windows and sat by the fire, protected from the damp, cold wind. Our senses are our windows to the world, and sometimes the wind blows through them and disturbs everything within us. Some of us leave our windows open all the time, allowing the sights and sounds of the world to invade us, penetrate us, and expose our sad, troubled selves. We feel so cold, lonely, and afraid. Do you ever find yourself watching an awful TV program, unable to turn it off? The raucous noises, explosions of gunfire, are upsetting. Yet you don’t get up and turn it off. Why do you torture yourself in this way? Don’t you want to close your windows? Are you frightened of solitude – the emptiness and loneliness you may find when you face yourself alone?
Watching a bad TV program, we become the TV program. We are what we feel and perceive. If we are angry, we are the anger. If we are in love, we are love. If we look at the snow covered mountain peak, we are the mountain. We can do anything we want to, so why do we open our windows to bad TV programs made by sensationalist producers in search of easy money, programs that made our hearts pound, our fist tightened, and leave us exhausted? Who allows such TV programs to be made and seen by even the very young? We do! We are too undemanding, too ready to watch whatever is on the screen, too lonely, lazy, or board to create our own lives. We turn on the TV and leave it on, allowing someone else to guide us, shape us, and destroy us. Losing ourselves in this way is leaving our fate in the hands of others who may not be acting responsibly. We must be aware of which programs do harm to our nervous systems, minds, and hearts, and which programs benefit us.
… excerpt from Peace is Every Step by Thich Nhat Hanh…