If you’re into meditation and mindfulness, there’s a good chance you will have heard some Thich Nhat Hanh quotes and insights.
One of the most influential Buddhists of modern times, Thich Nhat Hanh (pronounced Teek Nyaht Hahn) was a world-revered monk, peace activist, zen master, and spiritual teacher, who inspired generations to better living before his passing in 2022.
Considered the “father of engaged Buddhism,” – a movement uniting mindfulness with social and political activism, the life of Thich Nhat Hanh was a mesmerizing kaleidoscope of peace and action.
This included such triumphs as world-changing reconciliation action during the Vietnam War (which led to his Nobel Prize nomination by Martin Luther King Jr in 1967), the founding of the Van Hanh Buddhist University in Saigon, and the School of Youth for Social Service (SYSS), helping to establish schools, healthcare facilities and housing in 1960’s Vietnam.
And somehow, amidst all of these incredible accomplishments, Thich Nhat Hanh also authored over 100 best-selling books and countless more poems.
As you could imagine, each is mottled with phrases of immense wisdom and clarity. We’ve scoured them and collected our favorite Thich Nhat Hanh quotes below. We hope they bring you peace!
Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes on Love
“Love is not a kind of prison. True love gives us a lot of space.” – in How to Love
“Love has no meaning without understanding” – in The Art of Mindful Living: How to Bring Love, Compassion, and Inner Peace into Your Daily Life
“The more you understand, the more you love; the more you love, the more you understand.” ― in How to Love
“Often, we get crushes on others not because we truly love and understand them, but to distract ourselves from our suffering. When we learn to love and understand ourselves and have true compassion for ourselves, then we can truly love and understand another person.”― How to Love
“In true love, there is no pride.” – in Anger: Buddhist Wisdom for Cooling the Flames
“Without suffering, we do not have the opportunity to cultivate compassion and understanding; and without understanding, there can be no true love.” – You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment
Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes on Presence and Mindfulness
“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” – in Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life
“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.”
“Only this actual moment is life.” – The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation
“If in our daily life we can smile, if we can be peaceful and happy, not only we, but everyone will profit from it. This is the most basic kind of peace work.” – Being Peace
“It is my conviction that there is no way to peace – peace is the way.”– The Art of Power
“Man is present in all things, and all things are present in man.” – in Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet
“My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground on which I stand.” – in Understanding Our Mind: 50 Verses on Buddhist Psychology
“When our beliefs are based on our own direct experience of reality and not on notions offered by others, no one can remove these beliefs from us.” – in Living Buddha, Living Christ
“Life is available only in the present. That is why we should walk in such a way that every step can bring us to the here and the now.” – in True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart
“What you are looking for is already in you…You already are everything you are seeking.” – in You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment
Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes on Dealing With Negative Emotions
“We “kill” our anger by smiling to it, holding it gently, looking deeply to understand its roots and transforming it with understanding and compassion.” – in How to Fight
“Hell is a matter of everyday life, like the Kingdom of God. The choice is yours.” – in You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment
“The source of suffering is a false belief in permanence and the existence of separate selves.” – in Old Path White Clouds: Walking in the Footsteps of the Buddha
“The main cause of your suffering is the seed of anger in you, because it has been watered too often, by yourself and by other people.” ― in Anger: Buddhist Wisdom for Cooling the Flames
“The main affliction of our modern civilization is that we don’t know how to handle the suffering inside us and we try to cover it up with all kinds of consumption.” – in No Mud, No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering
When a person’s speech is full of anger, it is because he or she suffers deeply.” – in Anger: Buddhist Wisdom for Cooling the Flames
“You have to realize that happiness is not something you find at the end of the road. You have to understand that it is here, now.” – in You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment
Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes on Food
“Spend time with your food; every minute of your meal should be happy. Not many people have the time and the opportunity to sit down and enjoy a meal like that. We are very fortunate.” – How to Eat
“Eating is not only nourishing for the body, but also for the mind.” – in How to Eat
“May we eat only foods that nourish us and prevent illness… May we accept this food for the realization of the way of understanding and love.” – in Living Buddha, Living Christ
“A few years ago, I asked some children, “What is the purpose of eating breakfast? One boy replied, “To get energy for the day.” Another said, “The purpose of eating breakfast is to eat breakfast.” I think the second child is more correct.” – How to Eat
“Live every moment of your life deeply, and while walking, eating, drinking, and looking at the morning star, you touch the ultimate dimension.” – The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching
“Don’t chew your worries, your fear, or your anger. If you chew your planning and your anxiety, it’s difficult to feel grateful for each piece of food. Just chew your food.” – in How to Eat
“Meditation practice is also a kind of food because it nourishes us.” – in How to Eat
Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes on Change
“Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible.” – Going Home: Jesus and Buddha as Brothers
“It is not impermanence that makes us suffer. What makes us suffer is wanting things to be permanent when they are not.” – in The Pocket Thich Nhat Hanh
“When we know that the person we love is impermanent, we will cherish our beloved all the more. Impermanence teaches us to respect and value every moment and all the precious things around us and inside of us.” – in The Pocket Thich Nhat Hanh
“Long live impermanence. Thanks to impermanence, we can change suffering into joy.” – in The Pocket Thich Nhat Hanh
“No argument, no reasoning, no blame, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.” – in Being Peace
“There is no single entity whose identity is changeless. All things are constantly changing. Nothing endures forever or contains a changeless element called a “self.” – in Thundering Silence: Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Catch a Snake
Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes on Relationships and Communication
“A true partner or friend is one who encourages you to look deep inside yourself for the beauty and love you’ve been seeking.” – in How to Love
“The Three Kinds of Pride are: (1) thinking I am better than the other(s); (2) thinking I am worse than the other(s); and (3) thinking I am just as good as the other(s).” – in The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching
“Compassionate listening is a very deep practice. You listen not to judge or to blame. You listen just because you want the other person to suffer less.”― Anger: Buddhist Wisdom for Cooling the Flames
“But a lot of our thinking is caught up in dwelling on the past, trying to control the future, generating misperceptions, and worrying about what others are thinking.” ― in The Art of Communicating
“Usually when we hear or read something new, we just compare it to our own ideas. If it is the same, we accept it and say that it is correct. If it is not, we say it is incorrect. In either case, we learn nothing.” – in The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching
“Who are you who has taken my suffering as your suffering, my happiness as your happiness, my life and death as your life and death?”- in The Heart Of Buddha’s Teaching
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