Thich Nhat Hanh

One of the best known and most respected Zen masters in the world today, poet, and peace and human rights activist, Thich Nhat Hanh (called Thây by his students) has led an extraordinary life. Born in central Vietnam in 1926 he joined the monkshood at the age of sixteen. The Vietnam War confronted the monasteries with the question of whether to adhere to the contemplative life and remain meditating in the monasteries, or to help the villagers suffering under bombings and other devastation of the war. Nhat Hanh was one of those who chose to do both, helping to found the "engaged Buddhism" movement. His life has since been dedicated to the work of inner transformation for the benefit of individuals and society.

In Saigon in the early 60s, Thich Nhat Hanh founded the School of Youth Social Service, a grass-roots relief organization that rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, resettled homeless families, and organized agricultural cooperatives. Rallying some 10,000 student volunteers, the SYSS based its work on the Buddhist principles of non-violence and compassionate action. Despite government denunciation of his activity, Nhat Hanh also founded a Buddhist University, a publishing house, and an influential peace activist magazine in Vietnam.

After visiting the U.S. and Europe in 1966 on a peace mission, he was banned from returning to Vietnam in 1966. On subsequent travels to the U.S., he made the case for peace to federal and Pentagon officials including Robert McNamara. He may have changed the course of U.S. history when he persuaded Martin Luther King, Jr. to oppose the Vietnam War publicly, and so helped to galvanize the peace movement. The following year, King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Subsequently, Nhat Hanh led the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks.

In 1982 he founded Plum Village, a Buddhist community in exile in France, where he continues his work to alleviate suffering of refugees, boat people, political prisoners, and hungry families in Vietnam and throughout the Third World. He has also received recognition for his work with Vietnam veterans, meditation retreats, and his prolific writings on meditation, mindfulness, and peace. He has published some 85 titles of accessible poems, prose, and prayers, with more than 40 in English, including the best selling Call Me by My True Names, Peace Is Every Step, Being Peace, Touching Peace, Living Buddha Living Christ, Teachings on Love, The Path of Emancipation, and Anger. In September 2001, just a few days after the suicide terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center, he addressed the issues of non-violence and forgiveness in a memorable speech at Riverside Church in New York City. In September of 2003 he addressed members of the US Congress, leading them through a two-day retreat.

Thich Nhat Hanh continues to live in Plum Village in the meditation community he founded, where he teaches, writes, and gardens; and he leads retreats worldwide on "the art of mindful living." (

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Simple Reminders by Thich Nhat Hanh

Amazing Quotes by Thich Nhat Hanh

The most precious gift we can offer others is our presence. by @thichnhathanh (41)

Smile, breathe and go slowly. by @thichnhathanh (71)

If you think that peace and happiness are somewhere else and you run after them, you will never arrive. by @thichnhathanh (18)

Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. by @thichnhathanh (28)

People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar. by @thichnhathanh (-2)

Enlightenment is always there. Small enlightenment will bring great enlightenment. by @thichnhathanh (18)

Many people are alive but don't touch the miracle of being alive. by @thichnhathanh (35)

It is possible to live happily in the here and now. by @thichnhathanh (49)

People suffer because they are caught in their views. As soon as we release those views, we are free and we don't suffer anymore. by @thichnhathanh (-7)

Mindfulness helps you go home to the present. by @thichnhathanh (55)

Life is available only in the present. by @thichnhathanh (62)

When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. by @thichnhathanh (31)

To be loved means to be recognized as existing. by @thichnhathanh (53)

Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature. by @thichnhathanh (12)

We have to continue to learn. We have to be open. And we have to be ready to release our knowledge in order to come to a higher understanding of reality. by @thichnhathanh (-31)

We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize. by @thichnhathanh (32)

Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. by @thichnhathanh (20)

Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. by @thichnhathanh (1)

Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful. by @thichnhathanh (48)

If our love is only a will to possess, it is not love. by @thichnhathanh (46)

Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life. by @thichnhathanh (-63)