When you think of the teachers who’ve had the greatest impact on your life, who comes to mind?
For me, it’s the calm, the humble, the patient—the people who not only imparted useful life lessons but also embodied their message with their grace and equanimity. People I was fortunate enough to know personally, like my grandmother, and others I never met that brought me clarity and peace from afar, like the inimitable Thich Nhat Hanh.
Thay, as his students called him, was a Vietnamese Zen monk, author, poet, peacemaker, and founder of the “engaged Buddhism” movement—the act of leveraging our personal healing to help transform the world.
Known as the “father of mindfulness,” Thay had a gift for helping others liberate themselves from their afflictions and find joy in the present.
His message was simple: that mindfulness, practiced in both the ordinary moments and the extraordinarily hard ones, can help us understand the roots of our suffering and transform our pain. And that this is the key to serving others—because we can only help the people around us if we first help ourselves.
Whether you’re already familiar with Thay’s teachings or you’re looking for new tools to help free your mind, I have a feeling you’ll appreciate this free gift from Sounds True: Living Without Stress or Fear, an audio series of Thich Nhat Hanh dharma talks.
May his words soothe you, support you, and help you find peace so you can help bring peace to the world.
I leave you with ten of my favorite Thich Nhat Hanh quotes:
“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 possession—we cannot be free.”
“I come here empty-handed, and I go empty-handed. My actions are my only true belongings.”
“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”
“To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
“We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.”
“Our notions about happiness entrap us. We forget that they are just ideas. Our idea of happiness can prevent us from actually being happy. We fail to see the opportunity for joy that is right in front of us when we are caught in a belief that happiness should take a particular form.”
“Even though things are not as we would like, we can still be content, knowing we are trying our best and will continue to do so.”
“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.”
“There is the mud, and there is the lotus that grows out of the mud. We need the mud in order to make the lotus.”
“If you take a handful of salt and pour it into a small bowl of water, the water in the bowl will be too salty to drink. But if you pour the same amount of salt into a large river, people will still be able to drink the river’s water. If your heart is small, one unjust word or act will make you suffer. But if your heart is large, if you have understanding and compassion, that word or deed will not have the power to make you suffer.”