does not describe me fully
it is where to start

Saturday, February 20, 2010

*Peace Is Every Step* by Thich Nhat Hanh

During a recent challenge, as I confronted real fear, I happened to remember the above 134-page book. Someone recommended it to me a while back, but I had fairly quickly set it aside without reading it completely. Now, I found myself drawn to the words of its author, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, about whom the Dalai Lama has said, “He shows us the connection between personal, inner peace and peace on Earth.” By the time I finished reading the book, I found I could breathe again, even though the challenge was still not fully resolved. As I am grateful for the transformation this book facilitated in me, I thought I would share it with you.

Born in 1926, the author Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen master, poet, and peace activist whom Martin Luther King, Jr. nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Finding it necessary to seek asylum outside his native land, he has lived in France in his later years. In addition to promoting mindfulness practice through various means, he has published more than 100 books.

Peace Is Every Step was assembled by friends who used the author's lectures, published and unpublished writings, and informal conversations. The collection is arranged in three parts: 1. “Breathe! You Are Alive;” 2. “Transformation and Healing;” and 3. “Peace Is Every Step.” I suspect some will find the book’s lean style, maybe even its content, disappointing. I know I had to be ready before I could embrace the complexity behind its deceptive simplicity. When I did, the words became pellucid insights into existential truths. At the risk of stripping the book of its elegant intricacy, I share with you some favorite quotes:

  • The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.

  • Most of us are victims of a kind of living that is not mindful ….

  • When you begin to see that your enemy is suffering, that is the beginning of insight.

  • Understanding … intense suffering and realizing compassion in the midst of it, you become a joyful person, even if your life is very hard.

  • Peace is available in every moment, in every breath, in every step.


Nevine said...

I have never read this book, Judith. But your brief review has given me enough of a drive to want to read it, especially since it allowed you some insight into a personal challenge. I'm particularly intrigued with the quotes you shared. They are filled with truths that we simply do not stop to think over, especially when we are feeling stuck. Thank you for this review, Judith.


A Cuban In London said...

Great review. I quite liked this quote:

'The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.'

When people ask me: Are you happy? my usual answer is: No, I am satisfied. And that's the truth, I do have moments of pure elation (today, for instance, on my way to work, I was listening to Sinead O'Connor singing 'Thank You' and the rain was falling hard on my brollie, I love the combination of rain and music) but generally try to be satisfied with the life I have. Which to me is very, very rich.

Greetings from London.

Judith Mercado said...

Thank you, Cuban and Nevine, for your comments. Thanks always for stopping by and making the world seem like a smaller place.

Patricia O'Sullivan said...

This is just what I needed to read, Judith! Thanks for this.

Kathryn Magendie said...

Thank you for the birf-day wishes - in spanish!

Now I go read your post.... :)