27 Awakening Quotes from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh, affectionately known as “Thay”, was born in central Vietnam in 1926. Thich Nhat Hanh entered Tu Hieu Temple, in Hue city, as a novice monk at the age of sixteen. As a young bhikshu in the early 1950s he was actively engaged in the movement to renew Vietnamese Buddhism. He was one of the first bhikshus to study a secular subject at university in Saigon, and one of the first six monks to ride a bicycle. When war came to Vietnam, monks and nuns were confronted with the question of whether to adhere to the contemplative life and stay meditating in the monasteries, or to help those around them suffering under the bombings and turmoil of war. Thich Nhat Hanh was one of those who chose to do both, and in doing so founded the Engaged Buddhism movement, coining the term in his book Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire.

He has since been dedicated to the work of inner transformation for the benefit of individuals and society.

Global Leadership & Key Teaching

Zen Master Hanh is a global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist, revered throughout the world for his powerful teachings and bestselling writings on mindfulness and peace. His key teaching is that, through mindfulness, we can learn to live happily in the present moment—the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world.

He has published over 100 titles on meditation, mindfulness and Engaged Buddhism, as well as poems, children’s stories, and commentaries on ancient Buddhist texts. He has sold over three million books in America alone, some of the best-known include Being Peace, Peace Is Every Step, The Miracle of Mindfulness, The Art of Power, True Love and Anger.

In 1975 he established the Sweet Potato community near Paris, and in 1982 they moved to a much larger site in the south west of France, soon to be known as “Plum Village”.

Under Thich Nhat Hanh’s spiritual leadership Plum Village has grown from a small rural farmstead to what is now the West’s largest and most active Buddhist monastery, with over 200 resident monastics and up to 8,000 visitors every year, who come from around the world to learn “the art of mindful living.”

Thich Nhat Hanh has also founded Wake Up, a worldwide movement of thousands of young people training in these practices of mindful living, and he has launched an international Wake Up Schools program training teachers to teach mindfulness in schools in Europe, America and Asia.

Here are 27 awakening quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh that will help change your perspective on life. Keep them close to your heart:

  • “We have to learn to live our life as a human being deeply. We need to live each breath deeply so that we have peace, joy and freedom as we breathe.”
    • Most people are not conscious of their breath (fact).  Even those who go regularly to yoga and meditation classes ‘lose it’ when big life challenges come up.  Learn to take the time to breathe and connect deeply at the beginning and end of each day, before you get pulled along by the mainstream current of your own life..
  • “Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”
    • Most people walk with shoes.  Some even walk around with shoes in their homes.  The feet are our earthing connectors – and they are not only a powerful way to draw vital energy into the body but they give us a sense of rootendess in the ‘here and now’ so we are not blown about like a leaf in the wind
  • “Look at flowers, butterflies, trees, and children with the eyes of compassion. Compassion will change your life and make it wonderful.”
    • We too often look at the world through our conditioning, so our perception is overlaid with judgments about ourselves and others.  By focusing on the simplicity of life, we can start to peel away false beliefs and errors in our consciousness.
  • “When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending.”
    • Nobody causes another pain unless that person is in pain himself/herself.  If you look at abusers, they were often abused at some point in their past.  It is a vicious cycle.  How to break the cycle?  Understanding and compassion.
  • “Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”
    • Practising smiling more, and for no reason.  You don’t need a reason to smile, just the fact it will help elevate your mood and consciousness to the highest state possible is enough.
  • To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself.”
    • Self acceptance is something we struggle with because we weren’t loved enough as children – most of us had to prove ourselves to a world that demanded subservience.
  • “The energies of mindfulness, concentration and insight can liberate us from our anxiety and worries. We let go of the past and the future, and come in touch with the wonders of the present.”
    • The mind is stuck in a forward and back momentum of its own making, flitting from anxiety to worry to past to future and back again.  It is rarely here and now.
  • “Every one of us already has the seed of mindfulness. The practice is to cultivate it.”
    • This is true because each of us was born as an expression of the Great Spirit.  We are the seed and the fruit.
  • “Because you are alive, everything is possible.”
    • All possibilities exist inside of you, as untapped potential.
  • “Many people think excitement is happiness…. But when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace.”
    • Happiness based on external results – fame, power, money and so on is doomed to failure.
  • “While you are walking, smile and be in the here and now, and you will transform that place into paradise.”
    • Transforming your life into paradise is an internal process, an alchemical one.
  • “We will be more successful in all our endeavors if we can let go of the habit of running all the time, and take little pauses to relax and re-center ourselves. And we’ll also have a lot more joy in living.”
    • Most are operating at a ‘knee jerk’ level of reaction to continuous flow of thoughts and emotions bubbling up inside of them.
  • “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.”
    • Difficult moments arise to challenge us to find deeper inner resources.  However, we may not always be able to find an immediate solution.  Therefore hope remains a critical bridge to a brighter future.
  • “There are thousands of channels in our consciousness; it is up to us to choose the channel.”
    • What frequencies of thought are you attuned to?  What frequencies are you receiving?
  • “When we practice smiling peacefully and calmly, our peace can permeate the entire universe. The source of a true smile is an awakened mind.”
    • An awakened mind really means “no-mind”.
  • “When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?”
    • Our love is greedy, selfish and demanding – usually.  If we can just be still, our true nature will be there, not influenced by conditioning.
  •  “Your body is your first home. Breathing in, I arrive in my body. Breathing out, I am home.
    • When you breath in, your breath roots you to the body.  When you breath out, it is a death, a letting go – you really don’t know if you will breath in again, because that is determined by the Source of Love and Awareness, the Greater You.
  • “Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”
    • Peace is a feeling, cultivate it.  Try to understand – and then know – that you are an Eternal Soul, beyond life and death.
  • “Patience is the mark of true love. If you truly love someone, you will be more patient with that person.”
    • Anyone who has been in a conscious relationship will understand that challenges exist, because various levels of consciousness are being explored.  It is a deep process and many lesser thoughts and emotions need to be cleansed in the fire of love.  Patience is an off-shoot of unconditional love, just a mother rarely tires of the antics of her baby’s playful nature.
  • “You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.”
    • Freedom and love are synonymous.  You cannot cage a bird, and call it love.
  • “Meditation can help us embrace our worries, our fear, our anger; and that is very healing. We let our own natural capacity of healing do the work.”
    • Contrary to Western thought which tends to over analyse the fear, anger or habit, and thus magnify and perpetuate it, the Eastern way of holding the emotion and letting it go is much more natural, easier to do and achieves a much faster result.
  • “Life is not about getting to a certain place. Life is a path. Walking meditation is a way to practice walking without a goal or intention
    • Too many goals will make you a type-A wreck.  Relax and let go, trust the process of life.  Learn to enjoy the ride too.
  • “Our own life has to be our message.”
    • People will always look at your actions and your life – it is who you are that matters, not what you say.
  • “If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile and blossom like a flower, and everyone in our family, our entire society will benefit from our peace.”
    • Everyone can enjoy the blossoming of a flower.  It does not just affect one.
  • “Life is available only in the present moment.”
    • Too many people are not in the present moment.  They are so used to living vacuously in the past or the future, or through digital distraction, that they don’t even know it.
  • “We need enlightenment, not just individually but collectively, to save the planet. We need to awaken ourselves.”
    • This is true because the actions of our societies, leaders and governments all reflect the ‘mass consciousness’ of this planet.   The more enlightened we become, the more we will demand change that is harmonious for all sentient beings.
  • “Fear keeps us focused on the past or worried about the future. If we can acknowledge our fear, we can realize that right now we are okay. Right now, today, we are still alive, and our bodies are working marvelously. Our eyes can still see the beautiful sky. Our ears can still hear the voices of our loved ones.”
    • Take the time to tune in. Remember, the myriad problems you are experiencing with your health, money, relationships are all symptoms of your continuous disconnection from the Eternal Now.
July 13, 2018

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Jaime Tanna

Jaime Tanna is an international teacher and energy therapist specialising in the healing arts. As the visionary founder and director of Energy Therapy, Jaime is an experienced Spiritual Teacher/Mentor, Reiki Master, Yoga Teacher, Sound Healer and Intuitive, and brings a wide array of different skills to the healing table. Coming from a family of pharmacists and doctors, Jaime grew up with a strong allopathic model of the world but quickly saw the limitations of that paradigm. Today, with clients and students throughout the world, Jaime specialises in personal and spiritual development, yoga and meditation, and clearing and rebalancing the human energy field inspiring clients and students to connect to their deepest being to create a life lived on purpose, and with joy!

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