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Ep. 12: The Price of Peace

Listen to this episode on Spotify here, or Apple Podcasts here. 

The key points in this "speaking":

  • Great joy and great pain/ grief are equally dangerous to the ego.

  • There's a gap between the "I am" and the "I think I am." Forgetting this gap is the origin of suffering.

  • Grief is allowing a person to be present in their absence—without control or containment. This can be a testament to love, but only if it is allowed to do its work, without clinging.

  • How/ Why do we blame a person who has died? One of the stages of grief: we want to make another responsible, no matter how absurd, so as to preserve the logic of the story. All stories require guilty parties.

  • But grief eludes narrative intelligibility, pain necessarily resists sense-making.

  • The same happens on a political scale. We tell easy stories to contain grief, pain, or evil. But any movement that universalizes another group of people is refusing to accept reality, and all universalization is dehumanization.

  • If you truly want peace, inward and outward, resist the impulse to see categories rather than individual human beings (and events, and sensations). Pay attention to the particular.

  • If we don't think the oppressor can change (or want them to), then we don't truly want peace. We must be open to forgiveness if we desire reconciliation.

  • We need revolutionary movements that tell the truth in simplicity, without a trace of self-deception, that acknowledge their limitations, that don't waver in the face of the oppressor's lies, and yet that allow for the world to radically change, that allow for the oppressor to change their minds.

  • Live a life without closure, and your compassion will broaden you, stretch you, widen the walls of your flesh until you're able to receive the unthinkable joy and the unthinkable pain.


Thicht Nhat Han's "Please Call Me by my True Names," in poem form here, and song form here.


Is there a relationship or event in your life that you are struggling to make sense of, to leave behind? Write down the situation, how it is affecting you, and why you want to let it go.

Sit with the person or the event until it's distilled into a feeling. Sit with the feeling. Feel its contours in your body. After sitting with the feeling for as long as you feel necessary (if you don't know what's "necessary," try for at least 5-10 minutes to start with), go back to your journal and address this question: how does the relationship or event feel now? What more would need to happen (if anything) for you to let it go?

Listener Insights: 

Is it possible to live a life without closure?

If you want your insights to be shared (with your name or anonymously), comment on this blog post, email me, or answer the Spotify questions attached to the episode.

19 views2 comments


Unknown member
Nov 29, 2023

This is excellent philosophic therapy! (And deeper than much if not most conventional psychotherapy. I loved Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Being Peace” which he wrote to convey the absolute necessity of inner peace along with whole hearted acceptance - and love - of the ‘other” as the precondition for any external, world peace. Beautifully written too.

Sondra Charbadze
Sondra Charbadze
Nov 29, 2023
Replying to

Thank you for this comment! And I will add that book to my to-read list. Thich Nhat Hanh has such a soothing style.

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