A Tribute to Life and Teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh

This was not the post I intended to write today. Over the weekend, I learned that beloved Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh passed away, and I felt compelled to write this reflection.

My introduction to the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh was through his book, Peace is Every Step. I remember reading it during a particularly difficult part of my life in 2017. 

I think it was my very first book on Mindfulness and it launched a several year journey into my formal study culminating with my Mindfulness Meditation Teacher Certification in January of 2021. I'm re-reading it now, with fresh eyes.

There are two  profound quotes that I often refer to during my busy day. The first started me thinking about what is was that I was doing, which clearly lead me into the Seven Mindful Questions.

1.  "We have a tendency to think in terms of doing and not in terms of being. We think that when we are not doing anything, we are wasting our time.

But that is not true. Our time is first of all for us to be.

To be what? To be alive, to be peaceful, to be joyful, to be loving. And that is what the world needs most."

I learned busyness from my mother. If I wasn't doing something, she would "encourage" me to get off my a$$. From this I learned to be valued for what I was doing. I went through intensive soul searching to find how rewarding just being truly is.

2. "When you walk, arrive with every step. That is Walking Meditation. There's nothing else to it."

When I needed to heal all the raw emotions I was feeling, I walked. And I walked, and I walked. Not to arrive anywhere. Just walked for the sake of walking. It was a form of meditation, and soon afterwards I had confirmation with this quote from him. For me, a walking meditation is a form of moving my body, to get out of my head, and process every emotion that wants to be felt. 

And I felt a shift. A profound shift in the way that I relate to others. We are human beings, having a human experience, in a human body, and we all go through stuff. I have a deeper level of compassion for myself and for others.

I disagreed vehemently with Thich Nhat Hanh about his views on Christianity. But I never walked in his shoes; I never experienced repression or discrimination in the way that he did. I came to the realization that he was very much entitled to the way he felt about Christianity and that I could still learn about peace and mindfulness from him, which he embodied.

The profound impact that Mindfulness has had on my life and my purpose for being, started with that book and took off in a direction I never would have dreamed of when I was first reading it.

I am grateful for his book Peace is Every Step, as it launched my personal healing journey. I am grateful for his views on being a human being and not a human doing. I am grateful for the recognition that Walking is a form a Meditation and it can be healing. Thank you Thich Nhat Hanh for your impact on my life. Rest in Peace.

Thich Nhat Hanh, October 11, 1926 -- January 22, 2022.


You can read more about the life and teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh at www.plumvillage.org


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