The news can’t have escaped your notice. Buddhist Zen teacher, monk, writer and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh died last month in Vietnam at the age of 95. The inspirer has several monasteries of which Plum Village in France is the most famous. In this blog we will lovingly tell you a bit more about him and his wise lessons on loving. This way, your Valentine’s Day is sure to be memorable!
Thich Nhat Hanh is known to us in the West primarily as a peace activist and as the man who brought mindfulness to the West. A very special man if you ask us. He wrote more than a hundred books on mindfulness and meditation and was seen as the second highest figure within Buddhism, after the Dalai Lama. Also in our own country, even today, in many places people meditate in groups in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh. Certainly not just anyone…
An apostle of peace
His commitment as a peace activist really took shape during the Vietnam War. Here he met Martin Luther King, whom he persuaded to speak out against war. Immediately after the outbreak of war, Nhat Hanh organized one of the larger nonviolent resistance movements of our time. This movement was based on the principles of none other than Ghandi. In fact, because of this, Thich Nhat Hanh was eventually nominated by Martin Luther King as a candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize. Martin Luther King described him as an “apostle of peace and non-violence”. A great and well-deserved compliment!
Learning about love
In France, he later founded a Buddhist community near Bordeaux. He also founded monasteries in other cities, including New York, Paris, Hong Kong, Australia, and in his home country of Vietnam. For the past ten years he has traveled the world giving lectures and retreats. Many people he has inspired, including us. His gentleness and modesty, his great commitment to society and the fact that he lives out what he says, make Nhat Hanh loved by many. He knows how to explain the essence of the Buddhist teachings in simple terms, which you can directly link to the practice of daily life.
In his book “Learning about Love” he shares his meditations on the theme of love. He tells about old and new stories from the Buddhist tradition, describes exercises in meditation and attention and tells how we can deal with the joy and pain that love can cause. According to him the art is in living attentively.
We would like to share one of his beautiful poems with you. Do you feel the love flowing already?
Bowing to the Buddha
When we bow to the Buddha, we may imagine the Buddha sitting on the altar, but he is not there; the Buddha is in our heart.
The Buddha is the ability to be fully present in the here and now, to be awakened, loving and accepting.
Thich Nhat Hanh believes that peace within is peace in the world. It is a call from him not to be paralyzed by the suffering and all the injustices we encounter every day, near or far. You can also see it as an invitation to take self-care seriously in your mission to a better world. After all, what do you have to offer if your heart is a stone and you can’t find peace in your head? The monk tells us: ”Take it easy and take good care of yourself. Only then can you contribute something to the people around you and thus the greater whole.”
But you will also find his wise teachings in Metta meditation. This form of meditation is also part of the Buddhist tradition. It is even one of the most important meditation techniques in Buddhism. In the West, this technique has been detached from the religious side of Buddhism and converted into practical exercises for obtaining a calm mind. Perfect to try every now and then in your busy life!
By practicing this form of meditation you learn how to quiet your restless thoughts and ideas and therefore experience more calmness. It is the ultimate, but sometimes confrontational, meditation to come back to yourself. But how do you apply all this knowledge in your daily life? Of course we know that in your busy life it is not always easy to find the silence in yourself and to be fully relaxed. Fortunately, yoga classes can contribute to this in a relatively short time! And such a class can of course also be followed from your warm home. That is sometimes so relaxing between all those rain showers. And of course the aftercare is at least as important as your yoga session itself. Put on something nice from our loungewear collection, and you will feel almost as zen as a monk!