“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.”
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 Life, Reconciliation: 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
Photo: elephant archives
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