Thich Nhat Hanh : Peace is Every Step !

One of the best known and most respected Zen masters in the world today. A poet & peace and human rights activist, Thich Nhat Hanh (called Thây by his students) has led an extraordinary life. Born in central Vietnam in 1926 he joined the monkshood at the age of sixteen. The Vietnam War confronted the monasteries with the question of whether to adhere to the contemplative life and remain meditating in the monasteries, or to help the villagers suffering under bombings and other devastation of the war. Nhat Hanh was one of those who chose to do both, helping to found the "engaged Buddhism" movement. His life has since been dedicated to the work of inner transformation for the benefit of individuals and society.

In Saigon in the early 60s, Thich Nhat Hanh founded the School of Youth Social Service, a grass-roots relief organization that rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, resettled homeless families, and organized agricultural cooperatives. Rallying some 10,000 student volunteers, the SYSS based its work on the Buddhist principles of non-violence and compassionate action. Despite government denunciation of his activity, Nhat Hanh also founded a Buddhist University, a publishing house, and an influential peace activist magazine in Vietnam.

After visiting the U.S. and Europe in 1966 on a peace mission, he was banned from returning to Vietnam in 1966. On subsequent travels to the U.S., he made the case for peace to federal and Pentagon officials including Robert McNamara. He may have changed the course of U.S. history when he persuaded Martin Luther King, Jr. to oppose the Vietnam War publicly, and so helped to galvanize the peace movement. The following year, King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Subsequently, Nhat Hanh led the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks.

In 1982 he founded Plum Village, a Buddhist community in exile in France, where he continues his work to alleviate suffering of refugees, boat people, political prisoners, and hungry families in Vietnam and throughout the Third World. He has also received recognition for his work with Vietnam veterans, meditation retreats, and his prolific writings on meditation, mindfulness, and peace. He has published some 85 titles of accessible poems, prose, and prayers, with more than 40 in English, including the best selling Call Me by My True Names, Peace Is Every Step, Being Peace, Touching Peace, Living Buddha Living Christ, Teachings on Love, The Path of Emancipation, and Anger. In September 2001, just a few days after the suicide terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, he addressed the issues of non-violence and forgiveness in a memorable speech at Riverside Church in New York City. In September of 2003 he addressed members of the US Congress, leading them through a two-day retreat.

Thich Nhat Hanh continues to live in Plum Village in the meditation community he founded, where he teaches, writes, and gardens; and he leads retreats worldwide on "the art of mindful living."


Thich Nhat Hanh's key teaching is that, through mindfulness, we can learn to live in the present moment instead of in the past and in the future. Dwelling in the present moment is, according to Nhat Hanh, the only way to truly develop peace, both in one's self and in the world.

Writing to Thich Nhat Hanh ...

If you'd like to write a letter to Thich Nhat Hanh, you can mail it to one of his addresses in Plum Village or send your letter to [email protected] This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and we will forward your letter to Thich Nhat Hanh.

How do you pronounce Thich Nhat Hanh?

The English pronunciation is: Tik · N'yat · Hawn

However since Vietnamese is a tonal language, this is only a close approximation for how one would pronounce it in Vietnamese. (His name is sometimes misspelled as Thich Nhat Hahn, Thich Nhat Han, and Thich Nat Han.)

By his students he is affectionately known as Thay (pronounced "Tay" or "Tie"), which is Vietnamese for "teacher."

An Excerpt from Mindfulness of Ourselves Mindfulness of Others by Thich Nhat Hanh ...

Let us enjoy our breathing.
Breathing in ... I feel I am alive.
Breathing out ... I smile to life.
To Life… smiling to life

Anger. There's a seed of anger in every one of us. There is also a seed of fear, a seed of despair. And when the seed of anger manifests, we should know how to recognize it, how to embrace it, and how to bring [ourselves] relief. When the seed of fear manifests itself as energy in the upper level of our consciousness, we should be able to recognize it, to embrace it tenderly, and to transform it. And the agent of transformation and healing is called mindfulness.

Mindfulness is another kind of energy that is in us in the form of a seed also. If we know how to practice mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful smiling, then we should be able to touch the seed of mindfulness in us and transform it into a zone of energy. And with that energy of mindfulness, we can recognize our anger, our fear, our despair. We practice recognizing and embracing.

When a mother working in the kitchen hears the cries of her baby, she puts anything she is holding down and goes to the room of the baby, picks the baby up and holds the baby dearly in her arms. We do exactly the same thing when the seed of anger and fear manifest in us; our fear, our anger is our baby. Let us not try to suppress and to fight our fear and our anger. Let us recognize its presence; let us embrace it tenderly like a mother embracing her baby.

When a mother embraces her baby, the energy of tenderness begins to penetrate into the body of the baby. The mother does not know, yet, what is the cause of the suffering of the baby, but the fact that she is holding the baby tenderly can already help. The energy of tenderness and compassion in a mother begins to penetrate into the body of the baby, and the baby gets some relief right away. The baby may stop crying. And if the mother knows how to continue the practice of holding the baby mindfully, tenderly, she will be able to discover the cause of the suffering of the baby.

When the seed of anger is watered, when the seed of fear is watered, whether by yourself or by another person or by the mass media ... because the mass media in this country has watered a lot the seed of anger and fear in us ... We should know how to recognize, embrace and bring relief to our anger and our fear.

The attitude is the attitude of non-duality, non-violence. Our fear, our anger are not our enemies; they are us. We have to treat our fear, our anger in a most non-violent way, the most non-dualistic way, like we are treating our own baby. So if you are a good practitioner of meditation, you will know exactly what to do when the seed of anger is watered and begins to manifest in the upper level of your consciousness. With the practice of mindful breathing or mindful walking, you generate the energy of mindfulness, and exactly with that energy, you can recognize the energy of anger, of fear in you.

Anger is… energy number one. By practicing mindful breathing or mindful walking, we generate the energy number two: the energy of mindfulness. We call it in Buddhist terms: mindfulness of anger. Mindfulness is always mindfulness of something. When you drink your water mindfully, that is called mindfulness of drinking. When you eat mindfully, that is called mindfulness of eating. When you breathe mindfully, in and out, that is called mindfulness of breathing. When you walk mindfully, it is called mindfulness of walking.

So, when you recognize your anger, embrace your anger tenderly with that energy of mindfulness, it is called mindfulness of anger, mindfulness of despair, mindfulness of fear. We should be able to learn and help the young people to learn how to do it. It's very important.

The Buddha offers us very concrete and simple exercises in order to become mindful. The first exercise on mindful breathing is: Breathing in ... I know I am breathing in. Breathing out ... I know I am breathing out. You can reduce the length of the sentence to one word. In. Out. While you are breathing in, you just recognize that this is your in breath, and you use the word, in. And you are wholly concentrated on your in breath. Nothing else.

You become your in breath. You're not thinking of anything. You're not thinking of the past, of the future, of your projects. You release everything. You just follow your in breath, and you become one with your in breath. And the energy of mindfulness is generated together with the energy of concentration.

Peace is Every Step : Meditation in Action (DVD)

Peace is Every Step : The Path Of Mindfulness (Book)

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