“Peace and happiness are available, he [Thich] reminds us, if we can only quiet our distracted thinking long enough to come back to the present moment and notice the blue sky, the child’s smile, the beautiful sunrise.” [from the Introduction by Arnold Kotler]

“We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living.”

“This small book is offered as a bell of mindfulness, a reminder that happiness is possible only in the present moment.”

“Our smile affirms our awareness and determination to live in peace and joy.  The source of a true smile is an awakened mind.”

“When I see someone smile, I know immediately that he or she is dwelling in awareness.”

[conscious breathing] “Breathing in, I know that I am breathing in.”  And as you breath out, say, “Breathing out, I know that I am breathing out.”

“Our breathing is the link between our body and our mind.”

“Breathe, you are alive!”  Just breathing and smiling can make us very happy, because when we breathe consciously we recover ourselves completely and encounter life in the present moment.”

“Our appointment with life is in the present moment.”

“The past is gone, the future is not yet here.  If we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.”

“We must be very careful to protect our fate and our peace.”

“Every time we get back in touch with ourselves, the conditions become favorable for us to encounter life in the present moment.”

“Bells are beautiful, and they can wake us up.”

“Practicing mindfulness enables us to become a real person.  When we are a real person, we see real people around us, and life is present in all its richness.”

“When I hold a bowl of rice or a piece of bread, I know that I am fortunate, and I feel compassion for all those who have no food to eat and are without friends or family.  This is a deep practice.”

“So, while eating, we should refrain from discussing subjects that can destroy our awareness of our family and the food.”

“You become a bodhisattva, helping a living being become enlightened.  Children, in particular, are very capable of practicing mindfulness and reminding others to do the same.”

“Walking meditation is really to enjoy the walking – walking not in order to arrive, but just to walk.”

“When we are able to take one step peacefully and happily, we are working for the cause of peace and happiness for the whole of humankind.”

“Everytime we call something by its name, we make it more real, like saying the name of a friend.”

“Each step we take will create a cool breeze, refreshing our body and mind.  Every step makes a flower bloom under our feet.  We can do it only if we do not think of the future or the past, if we know that life can only be found in the present moment.”

“Practicing meditation is to go back to the present moment in order to encounter the flower, the blue sky, the child.  Happiness is available.”

“While we practice walking meditation, we do not try to arrive anywhere…we do not sit in order to attain a goal…Whether we are eating a tangerine, drinking a cup of tea, or walking meditation, we should do it in a way that is ‘aimless.”

“By taking good care of the present moment, we take good care of the future.  Working for peace in the future is to work for peace in the present moment.”

“Hope becomes a kind of obstacle.  If you can refrain from hoping, you can bring yourself entirely into the present moment and discover the joy that is already here.”

“The practice of peace and reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions.”

“Mindful observation is based on the principle of “non-duality”:  our feeling is not separate from us or caused merely by something outside us; our feeling is us, and for the moment we are that feeling.”

“The first step in dealing with feelings is to recognize each feeling as it arises…The second step is to become one with the feeling…The third step is to calm the feeling…The fourth step is to release the feeling, to let it go…The fifth step is to look deeply…As soon as we understand the causes and nature of our feelings, they begin to transform themselves.”

“We need the insight and non-dual [not two] vision of the organic gardener with regard to our anger.  We need not be afraid of it or reject it…If we know how to accept our anger, we already have some peace and joy…When we understand the nature, the roots, of our anger, we will be freed from it.”

“The absence of clear understanding is the basis for every knot.”

“Because we want to avoid suffering, we create defense mechanisms that deny the existence of these negative feelings and give us the impression we have peace within ourselves.”

“If we want to live in peace and happiness with a person, we have to see the suchness of that person…We do not expect a person always to be a flower.  We have to understand his or her garbage as well.”

“Most of us are victims of a kind of living that is not mindful, and the practice of mindful living, of meditation, can stop these kinds of suffering and end the transmission of such sorrow to our children and grandchildren.”

“Every time we practice mindful living, we plant healthy seeds and strengthen the healthy seeds already in us.”

“We should learn to ask, “What’s not wrong?” and be in touch with that.”

“No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding.  If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.”

“To develop understanding, you have to practice looking at all living beings with the eyes of compassion.  When you understand, you cannot help but love.  And when you love, you naturally act in a way that can relieve the suffering of people.”

“The mind of compassion is truly present when its effective in removing another person’s suffering.”

“Once we understand the reasons he has acted badly, our bitterness towards him will vanish, and we will long for him to suffer less.”

“We call it engaged Buddhism.  Mindfulness must be engaged.  Once there is seeing, there must be acting.”

“We have to inter-be with every other thing.  This sheet of paper is, because everything else is.”

“Real strength is not in power, money, or weapons, but in deep, inner peace.”

“To comprehend something means to pick it up and be one with it.  There is no other way to understand something.  In Buddhism, we call this kind of understanding “non-duality.” Not two.”

“We need the vision of inter-being – we belong to each other; we cannot cut reality into pieces.  The well-being of “this” is the well-being of “that,” so we have to do things together.  Every side is “our side”; there is no evil side.”

“There is no phenomenon in the universe that does not intimately concern us, from a pebble resting at the bottom of the ocean, to the movement of a galaxy millions of light-years away.”

“We need harmony, we need peace.  Peace is based on respect for life, the spirit of reverence for life.”

“When you begin to see that our enemy is suffering, that is the beginning of insight.”

“Our world does not lack people willing to throw themselves into action.  What we need are people who are capable of loving, of not taking sides so that they can embrace the whole of reality.”

“There is nothing to chase after.  We can go back to ourselves, enjoy our breathing, our smiling, ourselves, and our beautiful environment.”

Copyright 1991 Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich website: https://plumvillage.org/about/thich-nhat-hanh/
PHOTO:  CYRUS MCCRIMMON VIA GETTY IMAGES

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