A Bundle of Joy and Peace: 21 Inspiring Quotations from Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh

Respected and dearly loved Zen master, poet, champion of peace, and human rights activist, Thich Nhat Hanh teaches us to touch peace with every breath.

You don’t have to be a Buddhist to appreciate the universal truths contained within these uplifting quotations.  Use these inspirational seeds as daily reminders to tap into love, compassion, and wisdom every step of the way.

Seeds of Inspiration

  • “We do not need to escape reality to harness the joy and peace that is possible with every breath we take—the power of mindfulness can heal us from the suffering caused by the many stresses that surround us.”
  • “If we are able to look deeply into our suffering and embrace it tenderly, great compassion can be born.”
  • “True power comes from within. What we seek, we already have.”

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A Sensational Taste of Awareness

How often – if ever – do you eat mindfully with full awareness?

These days, many of us are busy reading email, texting, or consuming blog posts while we eat.  Multi-tasking at meals is not beneficial for optimal digestion.  It also makes our life feel stressed and crammed and diminishes the richness to be experienced in each moment.

For those of us who have forgotten, this is an exquisite primer in eating with awareness:

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Sneaking Up On Willy-Nilly Consumption

Gift - Over ConsumptionBeth Terry – the amazing plastic-less advocate – has a brother named Will.

Will is a “normal guy and not some tree-hugging freak.”

He says he’s a slacker by nature. But he clearly loves his sister and he’s proud of her too.

As time moved on, he couldn’t help but fall under the spell of her plastic-free passion.

Remarkably, he’s now standing up and confronting his own plastic consumption. He’s searing a hole through his irrational beliefs that have allowed him to consume plastic willy-nilly.

But he needs help. Its’ not easy. He can’t go plastic-less overnight. He needs to sneak up on mindful consumption. So he’s asked Beth to come up with 3-5 of the most important and high impact ways to reduce his plastic usage.

Bravo, Will. You have guts.  And an awesome sister too.

Fostering Understanding and Acceptance

Let’s face it – most of us are like Will. Even if you are a card-carrying green living, plastic-less, minimalist, vegan activist right now, chances are you were once like Will.

It’s not easy to be green.  It’s not easy to suddenly engage in mindful consumption.  It’s not easy to be different in a culture that lures you into competitiveness and a sense of scarcity through Black Friday mega-deals.  How do we support and help each other? How do we avoid righteousness and arrogance?  Because people change through receiving love, not hate.

I’m not 100% pure myself by any means, but I’m willing to keep training to become better.  In the meantime, I want to foster understanding and acceptance instead of judging people for their current choices.

Reflection: Nourishment and Healing

This week’s reflection is one way to train in mindful consumption.  It is one of the Five Mindfulness Trainings from Thich Nhat Hanh called “Nourishment and Healing.”

What’s the real point of conscious consumption?  It deeply nourishes your body, mind, and spirit. It makes you happier.  At the same time, it nourishes and heals the planet. It’s a win-win for all.

“The practice of mindful consumption and mindful eating is the object of the Fifth Mindfulness Training. The Fifth Training is the way out of the difficult situation our world is in. When we practice the Fifth Training, we recognize exactly what to consume in order to keep our bodies, our minds, and the Earth healthy and not cause suffering for ourselves and for others. Mindful consumption is the way to heal ourselves and to heal the world.”

Nourishment and Healing – The Fifth Mindfulness Training

“Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.”

from The World We Have, A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology by Thich Nhat Hanh

Yep, Thich Nhat Hanh is suggesting a few huge leaps.  What, no alcohol!

As a start, this passage is simply food for thought, something to reflect upon.  Later, you might enjoy reading it – or the parts that resonate for you – regularly as a way remind yourself of the main point and to help you gradually train in mindful consumption.  Or you might like to read Oprah’s Interview with Thich Nhat Hanh to give you more of a feel for his beauty and approach.

I realize for a guy like Will, this might sound exotic. He just needs it straight.  But I hope this quote might inspire and resonate for some of you.

Will, thanks for helping me to remember what it’s like to make new changes. I will definitely be thinking of ways I can make it easier for others.

I would love to hear your thoughts about supporting each other and about the Fifth Mindfulness Training.  Does it resonate for you?

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Thanks for reading. If you liked this article, please share the link with others.  Thanks so much,  Sandra

The World We Have by Thich Nhat Hanh

Buddhist meditation master Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh

The World We Have is a startling and potent book.

With no holds barred, Thich Nhat Hanh and Alan Weisman paint a precise and disturbing picture of the perils we face as a species. They are not afraid to tell the truth:  complete destruction of the planet is a likely outcome if we continue blindly on our current course.

Despite the dark possibilities, reading this book – I’m halfway through – leaves me in a state of sublime joy.

Why? Thich Nhat Hanh illuminates the secret to complete transformation of the environmental crisis. He tells us that the choice lies squarely in our hands.

With his bright and gentle spirit, Thich Nhat Hanh kindly shows us how to transcend the fear, anger, and despair that wells up within with each new environmental disaster.  He encourages us to embrace our interconnectedness and deeply accept impermanence as the basis for finding inner peace and planetary harmony.

Most remarkably, Thich Nhat Hanh gives us the magic key – the one that has the power to turn the environmental crisis on its head.

The secret is this – the simple yet effective practice of mindfulness.

Don’t let the word “Buddhist” in the title fool you.  The ideas and principles presented in The World We Have are universal and apply to all of us.

Sunday Reflection: Waking Up to Our Impact

For this week’s reflection, I’ve chosen the following quotes from the World We Have, A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology. These quotations remind us up to look deeply at our own actions and impact they have on the planet.

“The bells of mindfulness are calling out to us, trying to wake up up, reminding us to look deeply at our impact on the planet.”

“The bells of mindfulness are sounding. All over the Earth, we are experiencing floods, droughts, and massive wildfires. Sea ice is melting in the Arctic and hurricanes and heat waves are killing thousands. The forests are fast disappearing, the deserts are growing, species are becoming extinct every day, and yet we continue to consume, ignoring the ringing bells.”

“All of us know that our beautiful green planet is in danger. Our way of walking on the Earth has a great influence on animals and plants. Yet we act as if our daily lives have nothing to do with the condition of the world. 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. We have to hear the bells of mindfulness that are sounding all across our planet. We have to start learning how to live in a way that a future will be possible for our children and our grandchildren.”

Thich Nhat Hanh has coined the term “mindful consumption.” When we consume mindfully, he says,

“…we recognize exactly what to consume and what not to consume in order to keep our bodies, our minds, and the Earth healthy and not cause suffering for ourselves and for others. Mindful consumption is the way to heal ourselves and to heal the world. As a spiritual family and as the human family, we can all help avert global warming by following this practice.”

This is an enlightening and encouraging book that covers a great deal of territory beyond mindful consumption alone.  I recommend it highly and wish everyone would read it.

What are your thoughts about applying mindfulness to consumption?  Would you like to share a tip with us on your own efforts toward mindful consumption?

Stay Tuned: My review of Be Love Now, The Path of the Heart by Ram Dass will be up on Wednesday, Nov. 10.

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