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By Georgia Morris
Lately I’ve been searching for peace. I’m not sure if I’m doing it right – aren’t I supposed to let peace come to me? – but I’m going for it anyway. I’m seeking something that will help me slow my fast jumps to anger and unnecessary stress. I’m seeking wisdom along the way to my best and most peaceful self. While I have not read his apparently 100+ books, I have been seeing Thích Nhất Hạnh (pronounced [tʰǐk ɲə̌t hâːˀɲ] quotes shared on mindfulness blogs and sites a lot recently. If the teacher appears when the student is ready, then Thích Nhất Hạnh has come at just the right time.
According to various websites, including his own, Thích Nhất Hạnh is one of the best known and most respected Zen masters in the world today. He is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk with a global network of 600+ monks and nuns who help him create educational programs for peace and positive change. He is also a poet, and peace and human rights activist and a global spiritual leader, revered around the world for his powerful teachings and bestselling writings on mindfulness and peace.
He is so zen, but also such a bad ass. He founded six monasteries and dozens of practice centers in America and Europe, as well as over 1,000 local mindfulness practice communities, known as ‘sanghas’. He was active in peace negotiations during the Vietnam War. Martin Luther King called him “an Apostle of peace and nonviolence.” He continues to actively support peace movements by promoting non-violent solutions to conflict.
What I’m seeing so far is that Thích Nhất Hạnh’s is a big believer and teacher of mindfulness. His main goal seems to be helping people learn how to live happily in the present moment, because he believes this is the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world.
While I’ve got so much more to learn, just about life in general, the whole thing, really, I’ve definitely got more to learn specifically about Thích Nhất Hạnh. But on the way, I’ll use Thích Nhất Hạnh’s wisdom to get me through. Here are 15 of my favorite quotes of his (so far).
1. 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.
2. Life is available only in the present moment.
3. If we have too many worries, fears, and doubts, we have no room for living and loving. We need to practice letting go.
4. Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free.
5. My actions are my only true belongings.
6. May our heart’s garden of awakening bloom with hundreds of flowers.
7. Let one embrace his own truth and devote himself to its fulfillment.
8. Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.
9. Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.
10. I promise myself that I will enjoy every minute of the day that is given me to live.
11. Because you are alive, everything is possible.
12. Be like the earth. When the rain comes, the earth simply opens up to the rain and soaks it all in.
13. Understanding is like water flowing in a stream. Wisdom and knowledge are solid and can block our understanding.
14. Through my love for you, I want to express my love for the whole cosmos, the whole of humanity, and all beings. By living with you, I want to learn to love everyone and all species. If I succeed in loving you, I will be able to love everyone and all species on Earth… This is the real message of love.
15. Using your intelligence and your compassion, you’ll be able to find your way out of any difficulty that arises in daily life. This gives you greater confidence in your own capability, making you even more solid.
16. Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.
17. Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.
18. When you are a young person, you are like a young creek, and you meet many rocks, many obstacles and difficulties on your way. You hurry to get past these obstacles and get to the ocean. But as the creek moves down through the fields, it becomes larges and calmer and it can enjoy the reflection of the sky. It’s wonderful. You will arrive at the sea anyway so enjoy the journey. Enjoy the sunshine, the sunset, the moon, the birds, the trees, and the many beauties along the way. Taste every moment of your daily life.
19. You have to learn how to help a wounded child while still practicing mindful breathing. You should not allow yourself to get lost in action. Action should be meditation at the same time.
20. You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.