Why Thich Nhat Hanh Should Win the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize (& How We Can Help).

“Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice. No one can prevent you from being aware of each step you take or each breath in and breath out.” 

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr nominated Thich Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize, writing:

“I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of this prize than this gentle monk from Vietnam. He is an Apostle of Peace and Nonviolence. His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.”

(Read the entire letter here.)

Thich Nhat Hanh’s story is incredible, and it’s even more amazing that after facing such unimaginable political strife in his home country, he has become an internationally-respected and highly influential author, teacher and living model of compassion, peace and kindness. At age 87, he is still traveling and teaching all over the world.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s book, Living Buddha, Living Christ landed in my hands at the perfect moment (about 10 years ago, when I was on the mend from a spiritually-disorienting relationship with a conservative Christian).

It was one of those times when every word, every sentence, seemed to speak directly to my confused and broken heart. Reading that book at that exact moment saved my soul.

His writings are so simple, clear and practical. Any time I pick up a book by “Thay”—as he is known to his students—I fall in love all over again.

He has written over 100 books, and more than 40 have been published in English. Just in the past five years, some of his most intriguing titles include Savor: Mindful Eating, Mindful LifeReconciliation: Healing the Inner Child, You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment and The Art of Communicating,.

No one won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. A production company called Peace is the Way Films is spearheading a campaign to nominate Thay for the Nobel Peace Prize this year.

If you, too, have been affected by the powerful, peaceful teachings and writings of this humble Zen monk, here’s a list of ways we, individually, can help get him nominated. Power to the people! (But act fast… the deadline for letters to get to the Nobel committee, via snail mail, is February 1.)

If you haven’t (yet) experienced Thich Nhat Hanh’s awesomeness, here are seven favorite quotes to whet your appetite.

“Our own life has to be our message.”

“Compassionate listening is to help the other side suffer less. If we realize
that other people are the same people as we are, we are no longer angry at them.”

“We need enlightenment, not just individually but collectively, to save the planet. We need to awaken ourselves. We need to practice mindfulness if we want to have a future, if we want to save ourselves and the planet.”

“Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.”

“You carry Mother Earth within you. She is not outside of you. Mother Earth is not just your environment. In that insight of inter-being, it is possible to have real communication with the Earth, which is the highest form of prayer.”

“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.” 

“Breathe, smile and go slowly.”


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Editor: Rachel Nussbaum

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Heather Jun 24, 2015 11:40am

I totally disagree that Tich Nant Hanh should win the Nobel Peace Prize. While I am sure he is a fine poet – he offers absolutely no academic or theoretical substance in his writings in terms of a much needed social analysis upon which any meaningful type of reform can be built in what he terms as being 'socially engaged buddhism'. Mindfulness in itself will never accomplish anything – in its extreme form, such as a monasticism, it becomes form of escapism because it does challenge the exterior structures of oppression that all human beings have internalized. Although I think he is well-intended, I think he is quite naive. His positions on women are oppressive and anti-feminist. You have to engage in the complex analysis of political struggle, conflict and reform. It's the corrupt social structures of government, and the military and other forms of institutional oppression that need to be critiqued and revolutionized.

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Michelle Margaret Fajkus

Michelle Margaret is a heart-centered writer, teacher and creator of Yoga Freedom.

She has been a columnist on Elephant Journal since 2010 and has self-published inspiring books. She incorporates dharma, hatha, yin, mindfulness, chakras, chanting and pranayama into her teachings and practice. A former advertising copywriter and elementary school teacher, she is now a freelance writer and translator. Michelle learned yoga from a book at age 12 and started teaching at 22. She met the Buddha in California at 23 and has been a student of the dharma ever since. Michelle is now approaching her forties with grace and gratitude.

Join Michelle for a writing and yoga retreat this summer at magical Lake Atitlan in the western highlands of Guatemala! https://yogafreedom.org/group-retreats/