Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh, poet, gardener and tireless advocate of peace, offers us a new lesson in everyday wisdom which is open to all, regardless of our origin or faith. You may enjoy Thich Nhat Hanh’s first book in English, The Miracle of Mindfulness (1975), his classic Peace is Every Step, or his Google talk.

The Miracle of Mindfulness helped put the word “Mindfulness” in the English dictionary; Thich Nhat Hanh is still the most eloquent exponent of mindfulness teachings. Peace is Every Step is an inspirational book—reading a page or two before you sit down to meditate will energize your practice. His Google talk may leave you wishing for more.

Here are some quotes as well as some first hand reminiscences:

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over.  He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.”

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

“I have a musical background, and I soon found myself setting Thich Nhat Hanh’s poems to music. Call Me By My True Names, Thich Nhat Hanh’s book of poetry, soon became my constant companion. In that book, a different facet of his personality emerges: in his poems, he is no longer speaking in a didactic voice, but with the voice of birds and flowers, with the voice of inspiration. I was to discover all over again in composing songs what I learned in meditation about the mind. I learned to make friends with my unconscious mind, and allow it to come up with melodies, and guide it gently along to sing its songs to Thich Nhat Hanh’s words. It was a lesson in listening, in being open to inspiration, and in learning to use the conscious and the unconscious sides of the mind to work together in harmony.” (Joseph Emet)

“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering.  Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.” 

“Thich Nhat Hanh, called Thay (teacher) by his students is inspiring to meet. His calm serenity makes way to a beaming smile in an instant. He embodies the practice of mindfulness in every moment. During the Nectar of Immortality transmission ceremonies Thay was very happy to transmit the lamp of wisdom to some 40 students. He wrote a poem of insight for each of us. This is mine. I recite it daily:

Dwelling peacefully in the present moment
Day and night, maintain the true force of mindfulness alive
Mind and body are one
Produce peace in every step.”  (Chantal Jacques)

“When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. 

It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. 

Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. 

No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change”