Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes:
—> Breathing mindfully, you are already finding a refuge in your breath, and you become aware of what’s going on in your body, your feelings, your perceptions, your mental formations, and your consciousness. In Buddhism, these are known as the five skandhas (“aggregates”), or elements, that make up what we call a person. —> Suppose you are in the desert, and you only have one glass of muddy water. You have to transform the muddy water into clear water to drink, you cannot just throw it away. So you let it settle for a while, and clear water will appear. In the same way, we have to convert anger into some kind of energy that is more constructive, because anger is you. Without anger you have nothing left. That is the work of meditation. —> Only by looking deeply into the nature can you find the way out. —> It only takes one breath to return to your home. —> Cultivate solidity. You are somebody; you are something. You are a positive factor for your family, for society, for the world. You have to recover yourself, to be yourself. You have to become solid again. You can practice solidity in everyday life. Every step, every breath you take should help you become more solid. When you have solidity, freedom is there too. —> If we can model the ability to embody nonfear and nonattachment, it is more precious than any money or material wealth. Fear spoils our lives and makes us miserable. We cling to objects and people, like a drowning person clings to any object that floats by. By practicing nonattachment and sharing this wisdom with others, we give the gift of nonfear. Everything is impermanent. This moment passes. The object of our craving walks away, but we can know happiness is always possible —> If we can model the ability to embody nonfear and nonattachment, it is more precious than any money or material wealth. Fear spoils our lives and makes us miserable. We cling to objects and people, like a drowning person clings to any object that floats by. By practicing nonattachment and sharing this wisdom with others, we give the gift of nonfear. Everything is impermanent. This moment passes. The object of our craving walks away, but we can know happiness is always possible —> Anger is rooted in our lack of understanding of ourselves and of the causes, deep-seated as well as immediate, that brought about this unpleasant state of affairs. Anger is also rooted in desire, pride, agitation, and suspicion. The primary roots of our anger are in ourselves. Our environment and other people are only secondary. —> Home is the place where loneliness disappears. —> When we succeed in surviving strong emotions, we experience a more solid peace of mind. —> Breath remains the vehicle to unite body and mind and to open the gate to wisdom. —> Poison cannot penetrate the hand that is free of wounds. —> That’s partly because many of us believe that happiness is not possible in the here and now. We think we need to struggle now so that we will be happy in the future. So we postpone happiness and try to run into the future and attain the conditions of happiness that we don’t have now. —> When you drink whiskey, learn to drink it with mindfulness. “Drinking whiskey, I know that it is whiskey I am drinking.” This is the approach that I would recommend. I am not telling you to absolutely stop drinking. I propose that you drink your whiskey mindfully, and I am sure that if you drink this way for a few weeks, you will stop drinking alcohol. Drinking your whiskey mindfully, you will recognize what is taking place in you—in your body, in your liver, in your relationships, in the world, and so on. When your mindfulness becomes strong, you will just stop.
—> the more freedom you have, the more happiness you have. —> Each time we find ourselves dispersed and find it difficult to gain control of ourselves by different means, the method of watching the breath should always be used. —> Happiness is impermanent, like everything else. In order for happiness to be extended and renewed, you have to learn how to feed your happiness. Nothing can survive without food, including happiness; your happiness can die if you don’t know how to nourish it. If you cut a flower but you don’t put it in some water, the flower will wilt in a few hours. Even if happiness is already manifesting, we have to continue to nourish it. —> If you can recognize and accept your pain without running away from it, you will discover that although pain is there, joy can also be there at the same time. —> Aimlessness does not mean doing nothing. It means not putting something in front of you to chase after. When we remove the objects of our craving and desires, we discover that happiness and freedom are available to us right here in the present moment. —> When people say, “Don’t just sit there, do something,” they’re urging you to act. But if the quality of your being is poor—if you don’t have enough peace, understanding, and equanimity, if you still have a lot of anger and worries—then your actions will also be poor. —> Admonish yourself strongly. Scrutinize yourself deeply. —> When we see that some suffering or some pain is coming up, we don’t try to run away from it. In fact, we have to go back and take care of it. —> Ask yourself, “Who can I make smile this morning?” This is the art of creating happiness. —> Mindfulness isn’t something we practice only in the meditation hall; we also practice in the kitchen, in the garden, or when we’re on the telephone, driving the car, or washing the dishes. —> Anger is just an energy, and all energies can be transformed. Meditation is the art of using one kind of energy to transform another. —> If your house is on fire, the most urgent thing to do is to go back and try to put out the fire, not to run after the person you believe to be the arsonist. If you run after the person you suspect has burned your house, your house will burn down while you are chasing him or her. That is not wise. You must go back and put out the fire. So when you are angry, if you continue to interact with or argue with the other person, if you try to punish her, you are acting exactly like someone who runs after the arsonist while everything goes up in flames. —> Nothing can heal anger except compassion. —> If we can relax when our strong emotions come, then we don’t pass fear on to our children and to future generations. —> Where there is anger, apply loving kindness. Where there is evil, offer good. Where there is stinginess, be generous. Where there are lies, be truthful.
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—> We have to learn the art of stopping – stopping our thinking, our habit energies, our forgetfulness, the strong emotions that rule us. When an emotion rushes through us like a storm, we have no peace. We turn on the TV and then we turn it off. We pick up a book and then we put it down. How can we stop this state of agitation? How How can we stop our fear, despair, anger, and craving? We can stop by practicing mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful smiling, and deep looking in order to understand. When we are mindful, touching deeply the present moment, the fruits are always understanding, acceptance, love, and the desire to relieve suffering and bring joy. —> There are many ways to tell the truth. It is an art. —> What most people call power Buddhists call cravings. The five cravings are for wealth, fame, sex, fancy food, and lots of sleep. In Buddhism, we speak of the five true powers, five kinds of energy. The five powers are faith, diligence, mindfulness, concentration, and insight. The five powers are the foundation of real happiness; they are based on concrete practices —> Calming allows us to rest, and resting is a precondition for healing. —> If you take a handful of salt and pour it into a small bowl of water, the water in the bowl will be too salty to drink. But if you pour the same amount of salt into a large river, people will still be able to drink the river’s water. If your heart is small, one unjust word or act will make you suffer. But if your heart is large, if you have understanding and compassion, that word or deed will not have the power to make you suffer —> Imagine two astronauts go to the moon, and while they’re there, there’s an accident and their ship can’t take them back to Earth. They have only enough oxygen for two days. There is no hope of someone coming from Earth in time to rescue them. They have only two days to live. If you were to ask them at that moment, “What is your deepest wish?” they would answer, “To be back home walking on our beautiful planet Earth.” That would be enough for them; they wouldn’t want anything else. They wouldn’t think of being the head of a large corporation, a famous celebrity, or the president of the United States. They wouldn’t want anything but to be back here—walking on Earth, enjoying every step, listening to the sounds of nature, or holding the hand of their beloved while contemplating the moon at night. We should live every day like people who have just been rescued from dying on the moon. We are on Earth now, and we need to enjoy walking on this precious, beautiful planet. Zen Master Linji said, “The miracle is not to walk on water or fire. The miracle is to walk on the earth.” I cherish that teaching. I enjoy just walking, even in busy places like airports and railway stations. Walking like that, with each step caressing our Mother Earth, we can inspire other people to do the same. We can enjoy every minute of our lives. —> 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. —> The reality is that we are safe and we have the capacity to enjoy the wonders of life in the present moment. When we recognize that our suffering is based on images instead of current reality, then living happily in the present moment becomes possible right away. —> When you produce a thought that is full of understanding, forgiveness, and compassion, that thought will immediately have a healing effect on both your physical and mental health and on those around you. If you think a thought that is full of judgment and anger, that thought will immediately poison your body and mind and the people around you. —> Buddha taught, “Breathing in, I recognize my feeling. Breathing out, I calm my feeling.” If you practice this, not only will your feeling be calmed down but the energy of mindfulness will also help you see into the nature and roots of your anger. Mindfulness helps you be concentrated and look deeply. This is true meditation. The insight will come after some time of practice. You will see the truth about yourself and the truth about the person who you thought to be the cause of your suffering. This insight will release you from your anger and transform the roots of anger in you. —> Nonhuman animals instinctively know that stopping is the best way to get healed. —> If I don’t understand you, I may be angry at you, all the time. We are not capable of understanding each other, and that is the main source of human suffering. —> As long as fear is in us, happiness cannot be perfect. —> Dear friends, do you know that you are lucky people? You don’t have any cows to lose. —> So if we love someone, we should train in being able to listen. By listening with calm and understanding, we can ease the suffering of another person. —> That is why I don’t believe much in what Mr. Descartes said: “I think, therefore I am.” I think, therefore I’m lost in my thinking. I’m not there. —> Why wander all over the world looking for something you already have? You are already the richest person on Earth. —> In daily life, you are in the habit of running because you think happiness is impossible in the present. This is a habit that was handed down to you by your ancestors, by your parents. Happiness does not seem possible to you in the here and now, so you look for it in the distant future. The practice consists of stopping that habit of running. —> When the Buddha was asked, “Sir, what do you and your monks practice?” he replied, “We sit, we walk, and we eat.” The questioner continued, “But sir, everyone sits, walks, and eats,” and the Buddha told him, “When we sit, we know we are sitting. When we walk, we know we are walking. When we eat, we know we are eating. —> Pay no attention to harsh words uttered by others. —> Live the actual moment. Only this actual moment is life. Don’t be attached to the future. Don’t worry about things you have to do. Don’t think about getting up or taking off to do anything. Don’t think about “departing”. —> We can condition our bodies and minds to happiness with the five practices of letting go, inviting positive seeds, mindfulness, concentration, and insight. —> Letting go takes a lot of courage sometimes. But once you let go, happiness comes very quickly. You won’t have to go around search for it. —> Then meditate on your perceptions. The Buddha observed, “The person who suffers most in this world is the person who has many wrong perceptions, and most of our perceptions are erroneous.” You see a snake in the dark and you panic, but when your friend shines a light on it, you see that it is only a rope. You have to know which wrong perceptions cause you to suffer. Please write beautifully the sentence, “Are you sure?” on a piece of paper and tape it to your wall. Love meditation helps you learn to look with clarity and serenity in order to improve the way you perceive. —> Self-understanding is crucial for understanding another person; self-love is crucial for loving others. When you’ve understood your suffering, you suffer less, and you are capable of understanding another person’s suffering much more easily. When you can recognize the suffering in the other person and see how that suffering came about, compassion arises. You no longer have the desire to punish or blame the other person. You can listen deeply, and when you speak there is compassion and understanding in your speech. The person with whom you’re speaking will feel much more comfortable, because there is understanding and love in your voice. —> Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice. —> When we recognize that we have a habit of replaying old events and reacting to new events as if they were the old ones, we can begin to notice when that habit energy comes up. We can then gently remind ourselves that we have another choice. We can look at the moment as it is, a fresh moment, and leave the past for a time when we can look at it compassionately. —> Anywhere we go, we will have our self with us; we cannot escape ourselves. —> Every person is a world to explore. —> Buddhism teaches that joy and happiness arise from letting go. Please sit down and take an inventory of your life. There are things you’ve been hanging on to that really are not useful and deprive you of your freedom. Find the courage to let them go. —> The only way to ease our fear and be truly happy is to acknowledge our fear and look deeply at its source. Instead of trying to escape from our fear, we can invite it up to our awareness and look at it clearly and deeply. —> When an unpleasant feeling, physical or mental, arises in him, the wise man does not worry, complain, weep, pound his chest, pull his hair, torture his body and mind, or faint. He calmly observes his feeling and is aware that it is only a feeling. He knows that he is not the feeling, and he is not caught by the feeling. Therefore, the pain cannot bind him. When he has a painful physical feeling, he knows that there is a painful physical feeling. He does not lose his calmness, does not worry, does not fear, and does not complain. Thus the feeling remains a painful physical feeling, and it is not able to grow and ravage his whole being.
—> Some people do not even want to look at a person when the person is alive, but when the person dies they write eloquent obituaries and make offerings of flowers. At that point the person has died and cannot really enjoy the fragrance of the flowers anymore. If we really understood and remembered that life was impermanent, we would do everything we could to make the other person happy right here and right now.
—> But unmindful consumption always makes things worse. —> Words and thoughts concerning compassionate action that are not put into practice are like beautiful flowers that are colorful but have no fragrance. —> The function of mindfulness is, first, to recognize the suffering and then to take care of the suffering. The work of mindfulness is first to recognize the suffering and second to embrace it. A mother taking care of a crying baby naturally will take the child into her arms without suppressing, judging it, or ignoring the crying. Mindfulness is like that mother, recognizing and embracing suffering without judgement. —> When a person’s speech is full of anger, it is because he or she suffers deeply. —> The most precious inheritance that parents can give their children is their own happiness. Our parents may be able to leave us money, houses, and land, but they may not be happy people. If we have happy parents, we have received the richest inheritance of all. —> If you are irritated you cannot listen. You have to know how to breath mindfully, embrace your irritation and transform it. Offer ONLY understand and compassion to your partner or child – This is the true practice of love. —> To take good care of ourselves, we must go back and take care of the wounded child inside of us. You have to practice going back to your wounded child every day. You have to embrace him or her terderly, like a big brother or a big sister. You have to talk to him, talk to her. And you can write a letter to the Little child in you, of two or three pages, to that you recognize his or her presence, and will do everything you can to heal his or her wounds. —> Don’t do any task in order to get it over with. Resolve to do each job in a relaxed way, with all your attention. Enjoy and be one with your work. —> When you look deeply into your anger, you will see that the person you call your enemy is also suffering. As soon as you see that, the capacity of accepting and having compassion for them is there. —> When we are angry, what do we usually do? We shout, scream, and try to blame someone else for our problems. But looking at anger with the eyes of impermanence, we can stop and breathe. Angry at each other in the ultimate dimension, we close our eyes and look deeply. We try to see three hundred years into the future. What will you be like? What will I be like? Where will you be? Where will I be? We need only to breathe in and out, look at our future and at the other person’s future. Looking at the future, we see that the other person is very precious to us. When we know we can lose them at any moment, we are no longer angry. We want to embrace her or him and say: “How wonderful, you are still alive. I am so happy. How could I be angry with you? Both of us have to die someday, and while we are still alive and together it is foolish to be angry at each other.” The reason we are foolish enough to make ourselves suffer and make the other person suffer is that we forget that we and the other person are impermanent. Someday when we die we will lose all our possessions, our power, our family, everything. Our freedom, peace, and joy in the present moment is the most important thing we have. —> If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. —> Love needs to be nurtured and fed to survive; and our suffering also survives because we enable and feed it. We ruminate on suffering, regret, and sorrow. We chew on them, swallow them, bring them back up, and eat them again and again. If we’re feeding our suffering while we’re walking, working, eating, or talking, we are making ourselves victims of the ghosts of the past, of the future, or our worries in the present. We’re not living our lives. —> You have to learn how to help a wounded child while still practicing mindful breathing. You should not allow yourself to get lost in action. Action should be meditation at the same time. —> Peace can exist only in the present moment. It is rid iculous to say “Wait until I finish this, then I will be free to live in peace.” What is “this”? A diploma, a job, a house, the payment of a debt? If yo u th ink that way, peace will never come. There is always another “this” that will follow the present one. If you are not living in peace at this moment, you will never be able to. If you truly want to be at peace, you must be at peace right now. Otherwise, there is only “the hope of peace some day. —> Breathing in, I’m aware of the painful feeling in me. Breathing out, I’m aware of the painful feeling in me.” This is an art. We have to learn it, because most of us don’t like to be with our pain. We’re afraid of being overwhelmed by the pain, so we always seek to run away from it. There’s loneliness, fear, anger, and despair in us. Mostly we try to cover it up by consuming. There are those of us who go and look for something to eat. Others turn on the television. In fact, many people do both at the same time. And even if the TV program isn’t interesting at all, we don’t have the courage to turn it off, because if we turn it off, we have to go back to ourselves and encounter the pain inside. The marketplace provides us with many items to help us in our effort to avoid the suffering inside.
—> What you are looking for is already in you…You already are everything you are seeking. —> We talk about social service, service to the people, service to humanity, service to others who are far away, helping to bring peace to the world – but often we forget that it is the very people around us that we must live for first of all. If you cannot serve your wife or husband or child or parent – how are you going to serve society? If you cannot make your own child happy, how do you expect to be able to make anyone else happy? If all our friends in the peace movement or of service communities of any kind do not love and help each other, whom can we love and help? —> Be Yourself. Life is precious as it is. All the elements for your happiness are already here. There is no need to run, strive, search, or struggle. Just Be. —> I will practice coming back to the present moment…not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past or letting anxieties, fears, or cravings pull me out… —> Just by breathing deeply on your anger, you will calm it. You are being mindful of your anger, not suppressing it…touching it with the energy of mindfulness. You are not denying it at all. When I speak about this to psychotherapists, I have some difficulty. When I say that anger makes us suffer, they take it to mean that anger is something negative to be removed. But I always say that anger is an organic thing, like love. Anger can become love. Our compost can become a rose. If we know how to take care of our compost…Anger is the same. It can be negative when we do not know how to handle it, but if we know how to handle our anger, it can be very positive. We do not need to throw anything away,” (50). —> 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. —> There is no way to happiness. —> Know that life can only be found in the —> We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive. —> 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. —> 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. —> 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. —> Happiness does not come from consumption of things. —> If we can’t wash the dishes, the chances are we won’t be able to drink our tea either. While drinking the cup of tea, we will only be thinking of other things, barely aware of the cup in our hands. Thus we are sucked away into the future -and we are incapable of actually living one minute of life. —> Your breathing should flow gracefully, like a river, like a watersnake crossing the water, and not like a chain of rugged mountains or the gallop of a horse. To master our breath is to be in control of our bodies and minds. Each time we find ourselves dispersed and find it difficult to gain control of ourselves by different means, the method of watching the breath should always be used. —> A human being is like a television set with millions of channels…. We cannot let just one channel dominate us. We have the seed of everything in us, and we have to recover our own sovereignty. —> Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on things, they are transformed. —> You must be completely awake in the present to enjoy the tea. Only in the awareness of the present, can your hands feel the pleasant warmth of the cup. Only in the present, can you savor the aroma, taste the sweetness, appreciate the delicacy. If you are ruminating about the past, or worrying about the future, you will completely miss the experience of enjoying the cup of tea. You will look down at the cup, and the tea will be gone. Life is like that. If you are not fully present, you will look around and it will be gone. You will have missed the feel, the aroma, the delicacy and beauty of life. It will seem to be speeding past you. The past is finished. Learn from it and let it go. The future is not even here yet. Plan for it, but do not waste your time worrying about it. Worrying is worthless. When you stop ruminating about what has already happened, when you stop worrying about what might never happen, then you will be in the present moment.Then you will begin to experience joy in life. —> I am inviting you to go deeper, to learn and to practice so that you become someone who has a great capacity for being solid, calm, and without fear, because our society needs people like you who have these qualities, and your children, our children, need people like you, in order to go on, in order to become solid, and calm, and without fear. —> It is possible to live twenty-four hours a day in a state of love. Every movement, every glance, every thought, and every word can be infused with love. —> Anxiety, the illness of our time, comes primarily from our inability to dwell in the present moment. —> We have negative mental habits that come up over and over again. One of the most significant negative habits we should be aware of is that of constantly allowing our mind to run off into the future. Perhaps we got this from our parents. Carried away by our worries, we’re unable to live fully and happily in the present. Deep down, we believe we can’t really be happy just yet—that we still have a few more boxes to be checked off before we can really enjoy life. We speculate, dream, strategize, and plan for these “conditions of happiness” we want to have in the future; and we continually chase after that future, even while we sleep. We may have fears about the future because we don’t know how it’s going to turn out, and these worries and anxieties keep us from enjoying being here now. —> I would not look upon anger as something foreign to me that I have to fight… I have to deal with my anger with care, with love, with tenderness, with nonviolence. —> Those who are without compassion cannot see what is seen with the eyes of compassion. —> Attachment to views is the greatest impediment to the spiritual path. —> If you look deeply into the palm of your hand, you will see your parents and all generations of your ancestors. All of them are alive in this moment. Each is present in your body. You are the continuation of each of these people. —> If you crave acceptance and recognition and try to change yourself to fit what other people want you to be, you will suffer all your life. True happiness and true power lie in understanding yourself, accepting yourself, having confidence in yourself. —> Root out the violence in your life, and learn to live compassionately and mindfully. Seek peace. When you have peace within, real peace with others is possible. —> To dwell in the here and now does not mean you never think about the past or responsibly plan for the future. The idea is simply not to allow yourself to get lost in regrets about the past or worries about the future. If you are firmly grounded in the present moment, the past can be an object of inquiry, the object of your mindfulness and concentration. You can attain many insights by looking into the past. But you are still grounded in the present moment. —> When we are mindful, deeply in touch with the present moment, our understanding of what is going on deepens, and we begin to be filled with acceptance, joy, peace and love. —> If you love someone, the greatest gift you can give them is your presence. —> When you say something really unkind, when you do something in retaliation your anger increases. You make the other person suffer, and he will try hard to say or to do something back to get relief from his suffering. That is how conflict escalates. —> The source of love is deep in us and we can help others realize a lot of happiness. One word, one action, one thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring that person joy. —> The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it. (21) —> For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them. —> Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today. —> You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free. —> Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment. —> Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy. —> 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. —> To be beautiful means to be yourself. You don’t need to be accepted by others. You need to accept yourself. —> Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger, anxiety, or possessions – we cannot be free. —> People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar. —> People usually consider walking on water or in thin air a miracle. But I think the real miracle is not to walk either on water or in thin air, but to walk on earth. Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child—our own two eyes. All is a miracle. —> When you plant lettuce, if it does not grow well, you don’t blame the lettuce. You look for reasons it is not doing well. It may need fertilizer, or more water, or less sun. You never blame the lettuce. Yet if we have problems with our friends or family, we blame the other person. But if we know how to take care of them, they will grow well, like the lettuce. Blaming has no positive effect at all, nor does trying to persuade using reason and argument. That is my experience. 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 —> Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor. —> Smile, Breathe, and Go Slowly —> Many people think excitement is happiness…. But when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace. —> The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don’t wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy.