© Paul Thoresen, Used By Permission
“Are you sure?” ― Thich Nhat Hanh, No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering
Cheri Maples: In those three words — ”Are you sure?” — Thay captures the Buddha’s teaching not to trust our perceptions because they are almost always wrong. As a police officer, asking “Are you sure?” helped me seek the wisdom Thay once said police officers need-the wisdom to know when to employ either “the gentle compassion of understanding” or “the fierce compassion of setting boundaries to protect others.”
When we act mindfully, we create “a sacred pause,” a phrase meant to describe that vital moment between the stimulus and response. And it is precisely at that moment that “Are you sure?” can halt the habit energy of hidden biases and misunderstandings that otherwise can lead to tragedy.
“Are you sure the guy I’ve stopped is going for a gun, or is it his driver’s license?”
“Are you sure the boy a witness says is armed really has a pistol, or is it a squirt gun?”
I bow to Thay in gratitude for capturing in three words such an important teaching, a teaching that benefits not just police officers, but all who seek to act with a compassion that is truly wise.