In my quest to develop a greater understanding of the concept of mindfulness, I stumbled upon Thich Nhat Hanh and his teachings. A Vietnamese monk and a distinguished Zen master, Hanh is the author of many great books including ‘Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life’ and ‘The Miracle of Mindfulness’. He is also a poet and a peace activist. In 1967, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King Jr. He is revered for his powerful teachings on mindfulness and how it can be used as a tool to create personal inner peace and peace on earth.
But you don’t have to be a Buddhist to appreciate Hanh’s teachings. I use his quotes for daily inspiration. They serve as a reminder on how to cultivate a healthier mind, a more mindful life and a happier existence. While often quite profound, his ideas are in essence simple and accessible to anyone. ‘Perfecting’ his concepts however, will be the challenge of my lifetime.
Here is a compilation of some of my favourite Thich Nhat Hanh quotes. What are yours?
“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.”
“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”
“It is not impermanence that makes us suffer. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent when they are not.”
“We have a lamp inside us. The oil of that lamp is our breathing, our steps, and our peaceful smile. Our practice is to light up the lamp.”
“To meditate with mindful breathing is to bring body and mind back to the present moment so that you do not miss your appointment with life.”
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
“When our heart is filled with loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity, its capacity becomes boundless, immeasurable. With such a vast heart, immense as the wide-open sea, suffering cannot overpower us, just as a small handful of salt cannot make a great river salty.”
“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”
“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”
“Do not fight against pain; do not fight against irritation or jealousy. Embrace them with great tenderness, as though you were embracing a little baby. Your anger is yourself, and you should not be violent toward it. The same thing goes for all your emotions.”
“Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.”
“Anxiety, the illness of our time, comes primarily from our inability to dwell in the present moment.”
“There are people moving around us who are consumed by their past, terrified of their future, and stuck in their anger and jealousy. They are not alive; they are just walking corpses.”
“You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.”
“To love our enemy is impossible. The moment we understand our enemy, we feel compassion towards him/her, and he/she is no longer our enemy.”
“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.”
“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.”
“The secret to happiness is happiness itself. Wherever we are, any time, we have the capacity to enjoy the sunshine, the presence of each other, the wonder of our breathing. We don’t have to travel anywhere else to do so. We can be in touch with these things right now.”
“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
~ Thich Nhat Hanh