Saturday, August 25, 2012

Treasuring Thich Nhat Hanh

The living teacher who has most influenced my own writing and teaching over the last twenty or thirty years is almost certainly Vietnamese-born poet, writer, Zen Buddhist monk and consummate peace maker, Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh.

Through his many books, but most of all through the steadfast example of his own life, this courageous man has brought a depth of understanding about peace - and our unconditional need for it - to countless thousands, if not millions.

Jane Goodall discusses earlier on this website his The Miracle of Mindfulness. This title is accurate: we do create miracles when we realize our power to see life as it is, to see our strengths and shortcomings as they are, to see how inevitably we hurt or support other people - and to act accordingly. Please don't be distracted by the apparent simplicity of what he writes. It is simple; its consequences are profound.

Here are some quotes from just a few of his many books that may act for you as a loving reminder or prompt (like the ring of a meditation bell). I have no words adequate to say how grateful I am for the clarity, simplicity and truth of his teachings.

From Living Buddha, Living Christ: "The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. When our mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers... When you are really there, showing your loving-kindness and understanding, the energy of the Holy Spirit is in you."

From Peace is Every Step: "Peace is based on respect for life, the spirit of reverence for life... The roots of war are in the way we live our daily lives... Practising nonviolence is first of all to become nonviolence. Then when a difficult situation presents itself, we will react in a way that will help the situation...  Every morning, when we wake up, we have twenty-four brand new hours to live. What a precious gift! We have the capacity to live in a way that these twenty-four hours will bring peace, joy and happiness to ourselves and others. Peace is present right here and now...The question is whether or not we are in touch with it."

From Anger: Buddhist Wisdom for Calming the Flames: "Demonstrate that [you]have the capacity to see the suffering in the other person... [Increasing your outrage only increases your suffering.] Self-love is the foundation for your capacity to love the other person. If you don't take good care of yourself, if you are not happy, if you are not peaceful, you cannot make the other person happy. You cannot help the other person; you cannot live. Your capacity for loving another person depends entirely on your capacity for loving yourself, for taking care of yourself.    ...When you are angry, and you suffer, please go back and inspect very deeply the content, the nature of your perceptions. If you are capable of removing the wrong perception, peace and happiness will be restored to you."

I have added links above to make it easy to purchase these books but they are also available from our other bookstore affiliates. Each book is truly a treasure: to be read many times - in order to be lived. "Twenty-four brand new hours are before me... I vow to look at all beings through the eyes of compassion."


  1. At the moment my reading list is full of material that is impacting me most necessarily. That said, Thich Nhat Hanh is crossing my reading radar screen reasonably frequently and my curiosity is rising. Some of these quotes sent shivers down my spine. That's usually significant.

  2. Hello Julie! I would love you to explore the possibilities that this great peace-maker opens up for us all. And when you have read one or two of his books, do please report back.