With the passing of Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen Buddhist monk and peace campaigner who brought mindfulness to the West, the world has lost another mentor. Every time we lose someone who helps us live and act in accordance with our highest good, it is a tremendous loss to the world. Martin Luther King. Nelson Mandela. Bishop Desmond Tutu. Thich Nhat Hanh. Orest Bedrij. Although they are no longer on this earthly plane, their inspiration lives on.
Mentors are very important to me. They inspire me to be better in every way. I celebrate their life, I praise their presence and spirit, and I integrate their teachings into the core of my being, so that I can become what God intended me to be.
Thich Nhat Hanh and What Inner Peace is Really All About
In 1975, following the end of the Vietnam war, thousands of people fled from the victorious communist forces by sailing to neighboring countries. When these so called “boat people” attempted to land in Singapore, the police pushed them back out to sea, where many died.
In 1978, Thich Nhat Hanh went to Singapore for a conference on religion and peace. By working with fishermen, he helped get provisions to those at sea and smuggle refugees ashore. He then took them to the French embassy compound so that the next morning they could surrender to the police and enter the country officially.
When he was arrested and threatened with deportation, hundreds were put in peril. He reflected, “If I could not be peaceful in the midst of danger, the peace I might realize in easier times would not mean anything.”
Despite the pressure, Thich Nhat Hanh and his colleagues practiced walking meditation, and came up with the idea of asking the French ambassador to write a letter for them to take to the prime minister, Lee Kuan Yew. After a cabinet meeting, they were granted 10 more days, which they used to complete the operation.
His book, True Love, a practice for Awakening the Heart is a favorite of mine. The following are a couple of lines from the book that I reflect upon and that help me become a better version of myself:
“We must bring a revolution in our own way of living our everyday lives, because our happiness, our lives, are within ourselves.” (pg. 11)
On deep listening, “So if we love someone, we should train in being able to listen. By listening with calm and understanding, we can ease the pain and suffering of another person.” (pg. 57)
“I wish for all of you to have a brother or sister who is a serious practitioner of the Dharma, a spiritual friend who possesses solidarity, joy, freedom, understanding, and love.” (pg. 102) For me, this provides a partner in prayer, and is an essential part of growth, support, inspiration, and guidance.
Remember, we are human, but we are capable of being Divine. Thank you, Thich Nhat Hanh, for your gifts to the world. I will continue to be inspired by you.
Orest Bedrij: “You Make a Life by How You Serve”
A great mentor who may be lesser known but who has been a teacher and source of inspiration to me is Orest Bedrij, the brilliant Ukrainian physicist and author of Celebrate Your Divinity, The Nature of God and the Theory of Everything.
Orest researched and wrote extensively on the intersection of physics and the philosophy of ultimate reality and meaning.
I believe this is a book that everyone should own and read a little of each day. “It is a visionary work of monumental proportions; a masterpiece of man’s highest thoughts and insights.”~ Prof. Peter Kotzer, President of the Washington Natural Philosophy Institute.
Orest unveils in his work the Cosmic Consciousness of humanity, the peace that passes all understanding, and the development of spiritual insight by way of direct access to God’s essential nature of the universal “1” and timelessness.
After Orest ascended, one of his daughters, Chrystyna Bedrij, wrote, “We are celebrating his miracle life and his holy of holiness by asking ourselves what He would wish for most — peace, love, purity of heart, kindness, compassion and to be the Perfections of the most High. We are wishing on his star a fantastic voyage and glorious new adventures. Blessings from the Highest. We love you. Thank you for your prayers, light, friendship and love. He’s good and he loves and thanks you dearly. 🌟💜♾”
I was fortunate to meet Orest a few years ago in New York, along with his wife Oksana, his daughters Roxanna and Chrystyna, and Barbara, who was responsible for our meeting.
That moment in time that I spent with Orest was very special to me, and I believe for all of us there. Orest and his wife Oksana were Ukrainian Catholic Holocaust survivors and he shared with me many stories of human love that he witnessed throughout the most difficult times anyone could ever imagine. “There is no greater love than for a person to lay down his or her life for the sake of another.” ~John 15:13
Because I lived in a (Franciscan) Ukrainian Byzantine-Rite monastery for several years, I knew many of the liturgical melodies, even though I hadn’t sung/prayed them in almost 40 years. We all sat together singing and praying, and for a moment, I felt transported to a timeless place of pure love and peace. Orest then went around the room and laid his hands on each of us and recited silent prayers. I keep copies of his book, Celebrate Your Divinity in my office and at home. I highlight it and underline passages that I read over and over again. It is a treasure of spiritual enlightenment for all.
In his most recent book, Your Miracle After Miracle Life, Orest wrote,“Christianity has been revealed, it has not been understood or lived.” Reading that simple statement makes me contemplate how it is up to each and every one of us to live in pursuit of Truth, Beauty and Love.
“We must recognize that human life is sacred, it must be venerated and celebrated.” ~Orest Bedrij
The Kingdom of God is Within You
In my last email exchange with Orest, he wrote, “When you read my new book, Your Miracle After Miracle Life: Celebrate Your Essence, Celebrate Your Eternity, you will get a better view of the prayer situation.”
Christianity is a mystery religion (Eph 1.9-10, 3.8-11, Col 1:25-27, Rev 1:20). The gospels were written in Aramaic and Greek, not Latin. In the Greek writings, mystery (“musterion”) represents a mystery, secret doctrine, hidden idea, revealed only to the initiated.
The term “mysticism” has ancient Greek origins referring to the understanding and decoding of the hidden or ultimate truth. In the contemporary era, mysticism has attained a narrow meaning as the aim at the union with God or the Absolute. Mysticism can be found in each and every religious tradition including aboriginal traditions and shamanism. A “mystic” is one who seeks to decode and understand the mystery of the absolute by synchronizing, self-surrender, and contemplation by way of the Absolute Light of Certainty.
“When the mystery of realizing that the Mystic is one with the Divine is revealed to you, you will understand that you are no other than God – the Kingdom of God is within you – I AM that I AM.”
“Infused contemplation is a little more advanced level of prayer.
Your daily life (every thought, every action) is the icing on the cake.”
Blessings and love, Orest
I am forever grateful for the gift of Orest and his enduring inspiration to me and to the world.
Only from the place of sacred wholeness and reverence can we begin the work of healing, of bringing the world back into balance. The world will surely miss these two healing spirits. May we all take a moment to reflect on their lives.
 Thich Nhat Hanh obituary, Jan. 23, 2022, https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2022/jan/23/thich-nhat-hanh-obituary
 Llewellyn Vaughan-Lee, “Introduction,” in Spiritual Ecology: The Cry of the Earth, 2nd ed. (Point Reyes, CA: The Golden Sufi Center, 2013, 2016), v, vi.