Thích Nhất Hạnh
Thích Nhất Hạnh (born as Nguyễn Xuân Bảo; 11 October 1926 – 22 January 2022) was an expatriate Vietnamese Buddhist monk, peace activist, and prolific author in both Vietnamese and English. Nhất Hạnh is most commonly referred to as Thích Nhất Hạnh, in which the Vietnamese title Thích (釋), derived from "Thích Ca" or "Thích Già" (釋迦) and applied to all Vietnamese Buddhist monks and nuns, means "of the Shakya (Shakyamuni Buddha) clan".
- When I was in Vietnam, so many of our villages were being bombed. Along with my monastic brothers and sisters, I had to decide what to do. Should we continue to practice in our monasteries, or should we leave the meditation halls in order to help the people who were suffering under the bombs? After careful reflection, we decided to do both—to go out and help people and to do so in mindfulness. We called it engaged Buddhism. Mindfulness must be engaged. Once there is seeing, there must be acting. …We must be aware of the real problems of the world. Then, with mindfulness, we will know what to do and what not to do to be of help. p. 91
- Peace is every step: The path of mindfulness in everyday life. (1991)
- Birds' songs express joy, beauty, and purity, and evoke in us vitality and love. So many beings in the universe love us unconditionally. The trees, the water, and the air don't ask anything of us; they just love us. Even though we need this kind of love, we continue to destroy them. By destroying the animals, the air, and the trees, we are destroying ourselves.
- Love in Action: Writings on Nonviolent Social Change (1993), p. 131
- If you see someone who is trying to shoot, to destroy, you have to do your best in order to prevent him or her to do so. You must. But you must do it out of your compassion, of your willingness to protect, and not out of anger. That is the key. If you need to use force, you have to use it, but you have to make sure that you act out of compassion and a willingness to protect, not out of anger.
- PBS interview (2003)
- When you understand the roots of anger in yourself and in the other, your mind will enjoy true peace, joy and lightness
- Teachings on Love (2005) Full Circle Publishing ISBN 81-7621-167-2
- When you feel anger arising, remember to return to your breathing and follow it. The other person may see that you are practicing, and she may even apologize.
- Teachings on Love (2005) Full Circle Publishing ISBN 81-7621-167-2
- Your first love has no beginning or end. Your first love is not your first love, and it is not your last. It is just love. It is one with everything.
- Cultivating the Mind of Love (2005) Full Circle Publishing ISBN 81-216-0676-4
- The quality of our life
depends on the quality
of the seeds
that lie deep in our consciousness.
- Understanding Our Mind (2006) Parallax Press ISBN 978-81-7223-796-7
- The present moment
contains past and future.
The secret of transformation,
is in the way we handle this very moment.
- Understanding Our Mind (2006) Parallax Press ISBN 978-81-7223-796-7
- Seeds can produce seeds
Seeds can produce formations.
Formations can produce seeds.
Formations can produce formations.
- Understanding Our Mind (2006) Parallax Press ISBN 978-81-7223-796-7
- Undoubtedly, even for enlightened men, however determined they may be, it is very difficult to go against the system. The question posed today is what must we do to prevent ourselves from being taken over by the system? Engaging in political or economic conflict does not seem to be the answer.
- Zen Keys (1994), p. 150
- One included all, and all were contained in one.
- Old Path White Clouds : Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha (1991) Parallax Press ISBN 81-216-0675-6
- The leaf and his body were one. Neither possessed a separate permanent self. Neither could exist independently from the rest of the universe.
- Old Path White Clouds : Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha (1991)
- Contemplating the bowl, it is possible to see the interdependent elements which give rise to the bowl.
- Old Path White Clouds : Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha (1991) Parallax Press ISBN 81-216-0675-6
- Freedom from suffering is a great happiness.
- The Buddha also counseled the monks and nuns to avoid wasting any precious time by engaging in idle conversation, oversleeping, pursuing fame and recognition, chasing after desires, spending time with people of poor character, and being satisfied with only a shallow understanding of the teaching.
- The same clouds that Buddha had seen were in the sky. Each serene step brought to life the old path and white clouds of the Buddha. The path of Buddha was beneath his very feet.
- Venerable Svasti and the young buffalo boys were rivers that flowed from that source. Wherever the rivers flowed, the Buddha would be there.
- If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. If we really know how to live, what better way to start the day than with a smile? Our smile affirms our awareness and determination to live in peace and joy. The source of a true smile is an awakened mind.
- Peace Is Every Step : The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life (1992) Bantam reissue ISBN 0553351397
- The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now.
- Touching Peace (1992), p. 1. Parallax Press ISBN 0-938077-57-0
- In order to rally people, governments need enemies. They want us to be afraid, to hate, so we will rally behind them. And if they do not have a real enemy, they will invent one in order to mobilize us.
- Quoted in Engaged Buddhist Reader: Ten Years of Engaged Buddhist Publishing (1996) by Arnold Kotler, p. 106
- To think in terms of either pessimism or optimism oversimplifies the truth. The problem is to see reality as it is. A pessimistic attitude can never create the calm and serene smile which blossoms on the lips of Bodhisattvas and all those who obtain the way.
- The Miracle of Mindfulness (1999)
- Reality is reality. It transcends every concept. There is no concept which can adequately describe it, not even the concept of interdependence.
- The Miracle of Mindfulness (1999)
- Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the whole earth revolves—slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life.
- The Miracle of Mindfulness (1999)
- It's wonderful to be alive and to walk on earth.
- Talk at Stonehill College (2002)
- You are a miracle, and everything you touch could be a miracle.
- Episode of the National Public Radio program Speaking of Faith : "Brother Thay: A Radio Pilgrimage with Thich Nhat Hanh" (2003)
- If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people.
- Quoted in A Lifetime of Peace : Essential Writings by and About Thich Nhat Hanh (2003) edited by Jennifer Schwamm Willis, p. 141
- We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize. 
- As quoted in Visions from Earth (2004) by James Miller
- Children understand very well that in each woman, in each man, in each child, there is capacity of waking up, of understanding, and of loving. Many children have told me that they cannot show me anyone who does not have this capacity. Some people allow it to develop, and some do not, but everyone has it. This capacity of waking up, of being aware of what is going on in your feelings, in your body, in your perceptions, in the world, is called Buddha nature, the capacity of understanding and loving. Smiling is very important. If we are not able to smile, then the world will not have peace. It is not by going out for a demonstration against nuclear missiles that we can bring about peace. It is with our capacity of smiling, breathing, and being peace that we can make peace.
- Being Peace (2005)
- Your true home is in the here and the now. It is not limited by time, space, nationality, or race. Your true home is not an abstract idea. It is something you can touch and live in every moment. With mindfulness and concentration, the energies of the Buddha, you can find your true home in the full relaxation of your mind and body in the present moment. No one can take it away from you. Other people can occupy your country, they can even put you in prison, but they cannot take away your true home and your freedom.
- "Returning Home", Shambhala Sun (March 2006)
- Mr. President, I think that if you could allow yourself to cry like I did this morning, you will also feel much better. It is our brothers that we kill over there. They are our brothers, God tells us so, and we also know it. They may not see us as brothers because of their anger, their misunderstanding, and their discrimination. But with some awakening, we can see things in a different way, and this will allow us to respond differently to the situation. I trust God in you; I trust Buddha nature in you.
- Letter to President G.W. Bush, (8 August 2006) Retrieved from: http://plumvillage.org/letters-from-thay/letter-to-president-g-w-bush-august-8-2006/
- We are committed to respecting the right of others to be different, to choose what to believe and how to decide. We will, however, learn to help others let go of and transform fanaticism and narrowness through loving speech and compassionate dialogue” p. 104
- Chanting from the heart: Buddhist ceremonies and daily practices (2007)
- Going vegetarian may be the most effective way to fight global warming. Buddhist practitioners have practiced vegetarianism over the last 2000 years. We are vegetarian with the intention to nourish our compassion towards the animals. Now we also know that we eat vegetarian in order to protect the earth...
- "Letter from Thay", Blue Cliff Monastery (12 October 2007)
- Love is the capacity to take care, to protect, to nourish. If you are not capable of generating that kind of energy toward yourself — if you are not capable of taking care of yourself, of nourishing yourself, of protecting yourself — it is very difficult to take care of another person.
Being Peace (1987)
- Life is filled with suffering, but it is also filled with many wonders, such as the blue sky, the sunshine, and the eyes of a baby. To suffer is not enough. We must also be in touch with the wonders of life. They are within us and all around us, everywhere, anytime.
- If we are not happy, if we are not peaceful, we can't share peace and happiness with others, even those we love, those who live under the same roof. If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace.
- We are so busy we hardly have time to look at the people we love, even in our own household, and to look at ourselves. Society is organized in a way that even when we have some leisure time, we don't know how to use it to get back in touch with ourselves. We have millions of ways to lose this precious time-we turn on the TV, or pick up the telephone, or start the car and go somewhere. We are not used to being with ourselves, and we act as if we don't like ourselves and are trying to escape from ourselves.
- Meditation is to be aware of what is going on-in our bodies, in our feelings, in our minds, and in the world. Each day 40,000 children die of hunger. The superpowers now have more than 50,000 nuclear warheads, enough to destroy our planet many times. Yet the sunrise is beautiful, and the rose that bloomed this morning along the wall is a miracle. Life is both dreadful and wonderful. To practice meditation is to be in touch with both aspects. Please do not think we must be solemn in order to meditate. In fact, to meditate well, we have to smile a lot.
- If a child smiles, if an adult smiles, that is very important. If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.
- From time to time, to remind ourselves to relax, to be peaceful, we may wish to set aside some time for a retreat, a day of mindfulness, when we can walk slowly, smile, drink tea with a friend, enjoy being together as if we are the happiest people on Earth. This is not a retreat, it is a treat.
- During walking meditation, during kitchen and garden work, during sitting meditation, all day long, we can practice smiling. At first you may find it difficult to smile, and we have to think about why. Smiling means that we are ourselves, that we have sovereignty over ourselves, that we are not drowned in forgetfulness. This kind of smile can be seen on the faces of Buddhas and bodhisattvas.
- I would like to offer one short poem you can recite from time to time, while breathing and smiling:
- Breathing in, I calm my body.
- Breathing out, I smile.
- Dwelling in the present moment
- I know this is a wonderful moment.
- "Breathing in, I calm my body." Reciting this line is like drinking a glass of ice water-you feel the cold, the freshness, permeate your body. When I breathe in and recite this line, I actually feel the breathing calming my body, calming my mind. "Breathing out, I smile." You know the effect of a smile. A smile can relax hundreds of muscles in your face, and relax your nervous system. A smile makes you master of yourself. That is why the Buddhas and bodhisattvas are always smiling. When you smile, you realize the wonder of the smile.
- We tend to be alive in the future, not now. We say, "Wait until I finish school and get my Ph.D. degree, and then I will be really alive." When we have it, and it wasn't easy to get, we say to ourselves, "I have to wait until I have a job in order to be really alive." And then after the job, a car. After the car, a house. We are not capable of being alive in the present moment. We tend to postpone being alive to the future, the distant future, we don't know when. Now is not the moment to be alive. We may never be alive at all in our entire life. Therefore, the technique, if we have to speak of a technique, is to be in the present moment, to be aware that we are here and now, and the only moment to be alive is the present moment.
- Even though life is hard, even though it is sometimes difficult to smile, we have to try. Just as when we wish each other "Good morning," it must be a real "Good morning." Recently, one friend asked me, "How can I force myself to smile when I am filled with sorrow? It isn't natural." I told her she must be able to smile to her sorrow, because we are more than our sorrow. A human being is like a television set with millions of channels. If we turn the Buddha on, we are the Buddha. If we turn sorrow on, we are sorrow. If we turn a smile on, we really are the smile. We can't let just one channel dominate us.
- The Buddha said, "Sometime, somewhere you take something to be the truth. If you cling to it so much, when the truth comes in person and knocks at your door, you will not open it." Guarding knowledge is not a good way to understand. Understanding means to throw away your knowledge. You have to be able to transcend your knowledge the way people climb a ladder. If you are on the fifth step of a ladder and think that you are very high, there is no hope for you to climb to the sixth. The technique is to release. The Buddhist way of understanding is always letting go of our views and knowledge in order to transcend. This is the most important teaching.
- If you are a mountain climber or someone who enjoys the countryside, or the green forest, you know that the forests are our lungs outside of our bodies. Yet we have been acting in a way that has allowed two million square miles of forest land to be destroyed by acid rain. We are imprisoned in our small selves, thinking only of the comfortable conditions for this small self, while we destroy our large self.
- One day I suddenly saw that the sun is my heart, my heart outside of this body. If my body's heart ceases to function I cannot survive; but if the sun, my other heart, ceases to function, I will also die immediately. We should be able to be our true self. That means we should be able to be the river, we should be able to be the forest, we should be able to be a citizen of any country in the world. We must do this to understand, and to have hope for the future. That is the nondualistic way of seeing.
- During the war in Vietnam, we young Buddhists organized ourselves to help victims of the war rebuild villages that had been destroyed by the bombs. Many of us died during service, not only because of the bombs and the bullets, but because of the people who suspected us of being on the other side. We were able to understand the suffering of both sides, the communists and the anti-communists. We tried to be open to both, to understand this side and to understand that side, to be one with them. That is why we did not take a side, even though the whole world took sides. We tried to tell people our perception of the situation: that we wanted to stop the fighting. But the bombs were so loud. Sometimes we had to burn ourselves alive to get the message across, but even then the world couldn't hear us.
- There is a lot of anger, frustration, and misunderstanding in the peace movement. The peace movement can write very good protest letters, but they are not yet able to write a love letter. We need to learn to write a letter to the Congress or to the president of the United States that they will want to read, and not just throw away. The way you speak, the kind of understanding, the kind of language you use should not turn people off. The president is a person like any of us.
- If you want to have a statue or a painting of a Buddha, please be choosy. Many times I see Buddhas who are not relaxed and peaceful. The artists who make them do not practice breathing, smiling. Be choosy if you ask a Buddha to come home. A Buddha should be smiling, happy, beautiful, for the sake of our children. If they look at the Buddha and don't feel refreshed and happy, then it is not a good statue. If you don't find a beautiful Buddha, wait, and have a flower instead. A flower is a Buddha. A flower has Buddha nature.
- I know of families where children go into a room like that after breakfast, sit down and breathe ten times, in-out-one, in-out-two, in-out-three, ten times, and then they go to school. This is a very beautiful practice. If your child doesn't wish to breathe ten times, how about three times? Beginning the day with being a Buddha is a very nice way to start the day.
- If we are a Buddha in the morning and we try to nourish the Buddha throughout the day, we may be able to come home at the end of a day with a smile - the Buddha is still there. When you become agitated, you do not have to do or say anything. Just follow your breathing and walk slowly into that room. The "room" for breathing also symbolizes our own inner Buddha Land, so we can enter it whenever we need to, even if we are not at home.
- I have a friend who, whenever he becomes agitated, enters the breathing room in his home. He sits down respectfully, breathes in and out three times, invites the bell to sound, and recites the gatha. Immediately he feels better. If he needs to sit longer, he stays there. From time to time, while his wife is preparing dinner, she hears the sound of the bell, and it reminds her to be mindful in her work. At such times, she deeply appreciates her husband. "He is so wonderful, quite different from others. He knows how to deal with anger." If she has been irritated, her own resentment subsides. Sometimes she stops cutting vegetables and goes into the breathing room to sit with him. This picture is so lovely, more beautiful than an expensive painting.
- Doing things in this way has a good effect on everyone, teaching by example, not just with words. When your child is agitated, you don't have to say, "Go to that room!" You can take his or her hand and walk together into the room for breathing, and sit quietly together. This is the best education for peace. It is really beautiful to begin the day by being a Buddha. Each time we feel ourselves about to leave our Buddha, we can sit and breathe until we return to our true self.
- There are three things I can recommend to you: arranging to have a breathing room in your home, a room for meditation; practicing breathing, sitting, for a few minutes every morning at home with your children; and going out for a slow walking meditation with your children before going to sleep, just ten minutes is enough. These things are very important. They can change our civilization.
The Sun My Heart (1996)
- "The Sun My Heart" in Engaged Buddhist Reader (1996) edited by Arnold Kotler, p. 162
- We have to remember that our body is not limited to what lies within the boundary of our skin. Our body is much more immense. We know that if our heart stops beating, the flow of our life will stop, but we do not take the time to notice the many things outside of our bodies that are equally essential for our survival. If the ozone layer around our Earth were to disappear for even an instant, we would die. If the sun were to stop shining, the flow of our life would stop. The sun is our second heart, our heart outside of our body. It gives all life on Earth the warmth necessary for existence. Plants live thanks to the sun. Their leaves absorb the sun's energy, along with carbon dioxide from the air, to produce food for the tree, the flower, the plankton. And thanks to plants, we and other animals can live. All of us—people, animals, plants, and minerals—"consume" the sun, directly and indirectly. We cannot begin to describe all the effects of the sun, that great heart outside of our body.
When we look at green vegetables, we should know that it is the sun that is green and not just the vegetables. The green color in the leaves of the vegetables is due to the presence of the sun. Without the sun, no living being could survive. Without sun, water, air, and soil, there would be no vegetables. The vegetables are the coming-together of many conditions near and far.
- There is no phenomenon in the universe that does not intimately concern us, from a pebble resting at the bottom of the ocean, to the movement of a galaxy millions of light years away. Walt Whitman said, "I believe a blade of grass is no less than the journey-work of the stars...." These words are not philosophy. They come from the depths of his soul. He also said, "I am large, I contain multitudes." This might be called a meditation on "interfacing endlessly interwoven." All phenomena are interdependent. When we think of a speck of dust, a flower, or a human being, our thinking cannot break loose from the idea of unity, of one, of calculation. We see a line drawn between one and many, one and not one. But if we truly realize the interdependent nature of the dust, the flower, and the human being, we see that unity cannot exist without diversity. Unity and diversity interpenetrate each other freely. Unity is diversity, and diversity is unity. This is the principle of interbeing.
- If you are a mountain climber or someone who enjoys the countryside or the forest, you know that forests are our lungs outside of our bodies. Yet we have been acting in a way that has allowed millions of square miles of land to be deforested, and we have also destroyed the air, the rivers, and parts of the ozone layer. We are imprisoned in our small selves, thinking only of some comfortable conditions for this small self, while we destroy our large self. If we want to change the situation, we must begin by being our true selves. To be our true selves means we have to be the forest, the river, and the ozone layer. If we visualize ourselves as the forest, we will experience the hopes and fears of the trees. If we don't do this, the forests will die, and we will lose our chance for peace. When we understand that we inter-are with the trees, we will know that it is up to us to make an effort to keep the trees alive.
- We should bow deeply before the orchid and the snail and join our palms reverently before the monarch butterfly and the magnolia tree. The feeling of respect for all species will help us recognize the noblest nature in ourselves.
- All life is impermanent. We are all children of the Earth, and, at some time, she will take us back to herself again. We are continually arising from Mother Earth, being nurtured by her, and then returning to her. Like us, plants are born, live for a period of time, and then return to the Earth. When they decompose, they fertilize our gardens. Living vegetables and decomposing vegetables are part of the same reality. Without one, the other cannot be. After six months, compost becomes fresh vegetables again. Plants and the Earth rely on each other. Whether the Earth is fresh, beautiful, and green, or arid and parched depends on the plants.
It also depends on us. Our way of walking on the Earth has a great influence on animals and plants. We have killed so many animals and plants and destroyed their environments. Many are now extinct. In turn, our environment is now harming us. We are like sleepwalkers, not knowing what we are doing or where we are heading. Whether we can wake up or not depends on whether we can walk mindfully on our Mother Earth. The future of all life, including our own, depends on our mindful steps.
- The statement "The future of all life, including our own, depends on our mindful steps." and much of the theme of this essay also occur later in his writings, including The World We Have : A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology (2008), Ch. 1 : The Bells of Mindfulness, p. 3
- Birds' songs express joy, beauty, and purity, and evoke in us vitality and love. So many beings in the universe love us unconditionally. The trees, the water, and the air don't ask anything of us; they just love us. Even though we need this kind of love, we continue to destroy them. By destroying the animals, the air, and the trees, we are destroying ourselves. We must learn to practice unconditional love for all beings so that the animals, the air, the trees, and the minerals can continue to be themselves.
Our ecology should be a deep ecology—not only deep, but universal. There is pollution in our consciousness. Television, films, and newspapers are forms of pollution for us and our children. They sow seeds of violence and anxiety in us and pollute our consciousness, just as we destroy our environment by farming with chemicals, clear-cutting the trees, and polluting the water. We need to protect the ecology of the Earth and the ecology of the mind, or this kind of violence and recklessness will spill over into even more areas of life.
- Our Earth, our green beautiful Earth is in danger, and all of us know it. Yet we act as if our daily lives have nothing to do with the situation of the world. If the Earth were your body, you would be able to feel many areas where she is suffering. Many people are aware of the world's suffering, and their hearts are filled with compassion. They know what needs to be done, and they engage in political, social, and environmental work to try to change things. But after a period of intense involvement, they become discouraged, because they lack the strength needed to sustain a life of action. Real strength is not in power, money, or weapons, but in deep, inner peace. If we change our daily lives—the way we think, speak, and act—we change the world. The best way to take care of the environment is to take care of the environmentalist.
- Self, person, living being, and life span are four notions that prevent us from seeing reality.
Life is one. We do not need to slice it into pieces and call this or that piece a "self." What we call a self is made only of non-self elements. When we look at a flower, for example, we may think that it is different from "non-flower" things. But when we look more deeply, we see that everything in the cosmos is in that flower. Without all of the non-flower elements — sunshine, clouds, earth, minerals, heat, rivers, and consciousness — a flower cannot be. That is why the Buddha teaches that the self does not exist. We have to discard all distinctions between self and non-self.
- We think that we have been alive since a certain point in time and that prior to that moment, our life did not exist. This distinction between life and non-life is not correct. Life is made of death, and death is made of life. We have to accept death; it makes life possible. The cells in our body are dying every day, but we never think to organize funerals for them. The death of one cell allows for the birth of another. Life and death are two aspects of the same reality. We must learn to die peacefully so that others may live. This deep meditation brings forth non-fear, non-anger, and non-despair, the strengths we need for our work. With non-fear, even when we see that a problem is huge, we will not burn out. We will know how to make small, steady steps. If those who work to protect the environment contemplate these four notions, they will know how to be and how to act.
- The tenth penetration is, "All times penetrate one time. One time penetrates all times — past, present, and future. In one second, you can find the past, present, and future." In the past, you can see the present and the future. In the present, you can find the past and future. In the future, you can find the past and present. They "inter-contain" each other. Space contains time, time contains space. In the teaching of interpenetration, one determines the other, the other determines this one. When we realize our nature of interbeing, we will stop blaming and killing, because we know that we inter-are.
- Thích Nhất Hạnh here quotes and interprets the "Ten Penetrations" of the Avatamsaka Sutra
- Interpenetration is an important teaching, but it still suggests that things outside of one another penetrate into each other. Interbeing is a step forward. We are already inside, so we don't have to enter. In contemporary nuclear physics, people talk about implicit order and explicit order. In the explicit order, things exist outside of each other — the table outside of the flower, the sunshine outside of the cypress tree. In the implicit order, we see that they are inside each other — the sunshine inside the cypress tree. Interbeing is the implicit order. To practice mindfulness and to look deeply into the nature of things is to discover the true nature of interbeing. There we find peace and develop the strength to be in touch with everything. With this understanding, we can easily sustain the work of loving and caring for the Earth and for each other for a long time.
The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation (1999)
- People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don't even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle.
- Page 12
- Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.
- Page 15
- To think in terms of either pessimism or optimism oversimplifies the truth. The problem is to see reality as it is.
- Page 52
- Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves. The tangerine I am eating is me. The mustard greens I am planting are me. I plant with all my heart and mind. I clean this teapot with the kind of attention I would have were I giving the baby Buddha or Jesus a bath. Nothing should be treated more carefully than anything else. In mindfulness, compassion, irritation, mustard green plant, and teapot are all sacred.
- Page 61
Quotes about Nhat Hanh
- He has immense presence and both personal and Buddhist authority. If there is a candidate for "Living Buddha" on earth today, it is Thich Nhat Hanh.
- Richard Baker, as quoted in Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers (2000)
- He oversees several retreat centers in America and Europe where his disciples engage in the practice of a "New Age"-style Zen and rituals created by him that do not have any affinity with or any foundation in traditional Vietnamese Buddhist practices.
- A great spiritual leader whose influence can help us find a living peace in everything we do. Thich Nhat Hanh's words connect inner peace with the need for peace in the world in a compelling way.
- Natalie Goldberg, author of Wild Mind
- [Thich Nhat Hanh] shows us the connection between personal inner peace and peace on earth.
- Tenzin Gyatso, 14th Dalai Lama in "Anger", in Wisdom For Cooling the Flames
- Another great teacher of mine (even though we have not met) is the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh. And he says in The Raft Is Not the Shore that "great humans bring with them something like a hallowed atmosphere, and when we seek them out, then we feel peace, we feel love, we feel courage." His words appropriately define what it was like for me to be in the presence of Paulo. I spend hours alone with him, talking, listening to music, eating ice cream at my favorite cafe. Seriously, Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that a certain milieu is born at the same time as a great teacher. And he says: “When you [the teacher] come and stay one hour with us, you bring that milieu...It is as though you bring a candle into the room. The candle is there; there is a kind of light-zone you bring in. When a sage is there and you sit near him, you feel light, you feel peace.”
- bell hooks, Teaching to Transgress: Education as the Practice of Freedom (1994)
- One of the things he says is that we don't know how to feel peace. We don't understand the joy that is peace. We think that it's boring. And that is an aesthetic and a social perception. He is dealing with many of these same problems we are facing, and I just know he has some answers.
- 1991 interview in Conversations with Maxine Hong Kingston (1998)
- Thich Nhat Hanh is a real poet.
- Robert Lowell, quoted in Fragrant Palm Leaves: Journals, 1962-1966 (1999)
- Our actions are our only true belongings, counsels Thich Nhat Hanh.
- Cherríe Moraga A Xicana Codex of Changing Consciousness (2011)
- Thich Nhat Hanh writes with the voice of the Buddha.
- Sogyal Rimpoche, quoted in Fragrant Palm Leaves: Journals, 1962-1966 (1999)
- Thích Nhất Hạnh is an influential religious innovator, who has actively adapted and transformed Buddhist ideas and practices to make them more suitable for Western religious markets. He has succeeded admirably: he is undoubtably one of the best-known and most popular Buddhist leaders in the world today, and his notion of "mindfulness" has spread far beyond the limits of religion proper, to the point it has become a buzzword used regularly in lifestyle magazines and management courses. … Nevertheless, the statement that Thích Nhất Hạnh's ideas "do not have any affinity with or any foundation in traditional Vietnamese Buddhist practices" is arguably too simplistic. In particular, his notion of "engaged Buddhism" … reflects a longer tradition of Buddhist social and political activism, in Vietnam and elsewhere in Asia.
- Aike P. Rots (in response to remarks in 1998 of A. W. Barber and C. Nguyen), in "Re-Enchantment Restricted: Popular Buddhism and Politics in Vietnam Today", in Buddhist Modernities: Re-inventing Tradition in the Globalizing Modern World (2017) edited by Hanna Havnevik, Ute Hüsken, Mark Teeuwen, Vladimir Tikhonov, Koen Wellens
- May we let the sadness come and teach us how to live. Let it be the mud for the lotus, as Thay [Thich Nhat Hanh] says. Let us sit with it and let it pass through us so that it might be transformed to something like love.
Nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize
- Martin Luther King Jr.'s letter of nomination of Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize (25 January 1967) at Hartford-HWP Archives
- I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize than this gentle Buddhist monk from Vietnam.
This would be a notably auspicious year for you to bestow your Prize on the Venerable Nhat Hanh. Here is an apostle of peace and non-violence, cruelly separated from his own people while they are oppressed by a vicious war which has grown to threaten the sanity and security of the entire world.
- I know Thich Nhat Hanh, and am privileged to call him my friend...
- Thich Nhat Hanh offers a way out of this nightmare, a solution acceptable to rational leaders. He has traveled the world, counseling statesmen, religious leaders, scholars and writers, and enlisting their support. His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.
|Modern Buddhist writers 19th century to date
|Theravada / Vipassana movement
|B. R. Ambedkar • Ṭhānissaro Bhikkhu • Ajahn Chah • Anagarika Dharmapala • Joseph Goldstein • Henepola Gunaratana • Noah Levine • Nyanaponika Thera
|Daisaku Ikeda • Yin Shun • Alfred Bloom
|Pema Chödrön • Kelsang Gyatso • Tenzin Gyatso • Matthieu Ricard • Robert Thurman • Chögyam Trungpa
|Taisen Deshimaru • Thích Nhất Hạnh • Philip Kapleau • D. T. Suzuki • Han Yong-un • Hsing Yun
|Other and Secular Buddhism
|Stephen Batchelor • Robert Wright
|Lokesh Chandra • Walter Evans-Wentz • Richard Gombrich • Thomas Rhys Davids
|Non-Buddhists influenced by Buddhism
|Edwin Arnold • Helena Blavatsky • Fritjof Capra • Leonard Cohen • Alexandra David-Néel • Hermann Hesse • Carl Jung • Jon Kabat-Zinn • Friedrich Nietzsche • Henry Steel Olcott • Rajneesh • Helena Roerich • J. D. Salinger • Arthur Schopenhauer • Gary Snyder • Alan Watts • Alfred North Whitehead
- Profile at Parallax.org
- Profile at dharmamemphis.com
- Profile at Seaox.com
- Buddhist Masters and their Organizations
- SpiritSight.com - Excerpts from selected Thich Nhat Hanh books
- Questions and Answers by Thich Nhat Hanh
- ShambhalaSun Magazine (do a search on "Thich Nhat Hanh" for a list of previous articles)
- Speaking of Faith (Downloadable Public Radio broadcast about the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh)
Official websites for Thich Nhat Hanh and the Order of Interbeing
- Plum Village - Thich Nhat Hanh's main monastery and practice center, located about 85 km east of Bordeaux, France
- Deer Park Monastery - located in Escondido, California
- I Am Home - Community of Mindful Living; home of the "Mindfulness Bell" magazine with news, articles, and talks by Thich Nhat Hanh and other Order of Interbeing members