in ,

100 Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes (Suffering, Happiness and Letting Go)

Ever heard of Thich Nhat Hanh? If you haven’t, he is a master Buddhist teacher who is renowned for his amazing wisdom on self-compassion, mindfulness and peace.

After spending time in the US, he realized that many people were suffering under the misguided belief that attachment and material items lead to happiness. He sought to teach people a more meaningful way of existence that involves embracing the present moment and enriching the amount of love in our lives.

He truly is a wonderful Zen master that has changed a countless number of people’s lives. Here are my most favorite quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh. I hope they inspire you as much as they inspire me!

On the Present Moment

“Breathing in, I calm body and mind. Breathing out, I smile. Dwelling in the present moment I know this is the only moment.”

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis on which the world earth revolves – slowly, evenly, without rushing toward the future.”

“I promise myself that I will enjoy every minute of the day that is given me to live.”

“The mind can go in a thousand directions, but on this beautiful path, I walk in peace. With each step, the wind blows. With each step, a flower blooms.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“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.”

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.”

“Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. Every breath we take, every step we take, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.”

“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.”

“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.”

“We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.”

“Breathing in, there is only the present moment.
Breathing out, it is a wonderful moment.”

Thich Nhat Hanh talks more about the present moment in his book, You Are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment.

On Suffering

“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.”

“People have a hard time letting go of their suffering. Out of a fear of the unknown, they prefer suffering that is familiar.”

“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.”

“Suffering is not enough. Life is both dreadful and wonderful…How can I smile when I am filled with so much sorrow? It is natural–you need to smile to your sorrow because you are more than your sorrow.”

“If you suffer and make your loved ones suffer, there is nothing that can justify your desire.”

ADVERTISEMENT

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

“Some people live as though they are already dead. There are people moving around us who are consumed by their past, terrified of their future, and stuck in their anger and jealousy. They are not alive; they are just walking corpses.”

“In modern society most of us don’t want to be in touch with ourselves; we want to be in touch with other things like religion, sports, politics, a book – we want to forget ourselves. Anytime we have leisure, we want to invite something else to enter us, opening ourselves to the television and telling the television to come and colonize us.”

“Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes before suffering. Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world. Find ways to be with those who are suffering by all means, including personal contact and visits, images, sounds. By such means, …awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world. If we get in touch with the suffering of the world, and are moved by that suffering, we may come forward to help the people who are suffering.”

“We will not just say, “I love him very much,” but instead, “I will do something so that he will suffer less.” The mind of compassion is truly present when it is effective in removing another person’s suffering.”

“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.”

ADVERTISEMENT

On Acceptance and Letting Go

“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.”

“For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.”

“Smile, breathe and go slowly.”

“When you are born a lotus flower, be a beautiful lotus flower, don’t try to be a magnolia flower. 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.”

“Because of your smile, you make life more beautiful.”

ADVERTISEMENT

On How Lucky we are to be Alive

“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.”

“Because you are alive, everything is possible.”

“Waking up this morning, I smile. Twenty-four brand new hours are before me. I vow to live fully in each moment and to look at all beings with eyes of compassion.”

“We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”

“I promise myself that I will enjoy every minute of the day that is given me to live.”

“The wave does not need to die to become water. She is already water.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“Around us, life bursts with miracles–a glass of water, a ray of sunshine, a leaf, a caterpillar, a flower, laughter, raindrops. If you live in awareness, it is easy to see miracles everywhere. Each human being is a multiplicity of miracles. Eyes that see thousands of colors, shapes, and forms; ears that hear a bee flying or a thunderclap; a brain that ponders a speck of dust as easily as the entire cosmos; a heart that beats in rhythm with the heartbeat of all beings. When we are tired and feel discouraged by life’s daily struggles, we may not notice these miracles, but they are always there.”

“The true miracle is not walking on water or walking in air, but simply walking on this earth.”

“If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.”

On Understanding

“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”

“Understanding means throwing away your knowledge.”

On Happiness

“Many people think excitement is happiness…. But when you are excited you are not peaceful. True happiness is based on peace.”

ADVERTISEMENT

“Our notions about happiness entrap us. We forget that they are just ideas. Our idea of happiness can prevent us from actually being happy. We fail to see the opportunity for joy that is right in front of us when we are caught in a belief that happiness should take a particular form.”

“Happiness does not come from consumption of things.”

On Love

“Through my love for you, I want to express my love for the whole cosmos, the whole of humanity, and all beings. By living with you, I want to learn to love everyone and all species. If I succeed in loving you, I will be able to love everyone and all species on Earth… This is the real message of love.”

“If you love someone but rarely make yourself available to him or her, that is not true love.”

“You must love in such a way that the person you love feels free.”

“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.”

“If you love someone, the greatest gift you can give them is your presence.”

“In true love, you attain freedom.”

“If our love is only a will to possess, it is not love.”

“A real love letter is made of insight, understanding, and compassion. Otherwise it’s not a love letter. A true love letter can produce a transformation in the other person, and therefore in the world. But before it produces a transformation in the other person, it has to produce a transformation within us. Some letters may take the whole of our lifetime to write.”

“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.”


(We just released a new eBook: The Art of Resilience: A Practical Guide to Developing Mental Toughness. We highlight 20 of the most resilient people in the world and break down what traits they have in common. We then equip you with 10 resilience-building tools that you can start using today–in your personal life or professional career. Check it out here.)


On Hope

“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.”

On The Future

“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.”

“Please don’t wait until the doctors tell you that you are going to have a baby to begin to take care of it. It is already there. Whatever you are, whatever you do, your baby will get it. Anything you eat, any worries that are on your mind will be for him or her. Can you tell me that you cannot smile? Think of the baby, and smile for him, for her, for the future generations. Please don’t tell me that a smile and your sorrow just don’t go together. It’s your sorrow, but what about your baby? It’s not his sorrow, its not her sorrow.”

On Health

“Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos — the trees, the clouds, everything.”

On Learning

“The secret of Buddhism is to remove all ideas, all concepts, in order for the truth to have a chance to penetrate, to reveal itself.”

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

“Attachment to views is the greatest impediment to the spiritual path.”

“I am determined to practice deep listening. I am determined to practice loving speech.”

“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.”

“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.”

On Meditation & Mindfulness

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.”

“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.”

“Feelings, whether of compassion or irritation, should be welcomed, recognized, and treated on an absolutely equal basis; because both are ourselves. The tangerine I am eating is me. The mustard greens I am planting are me. I plant with all my heart and mind. I clean this teapot with the kind of attention I would have were I giving the baby Buddha or Jesus a bath. Nothing should be treated more carefully than anything else. In mindfulness, compassion, irritation, mustard green plant, and teapot are all sacred.”

“The most precious gift we can offer anyone is our attention. When mindfulness embraces those we love, they will bloom like flowers.”

“Breath is the bridge which connects life to consciousness, which unites your body to your thoughts. Whenever your mind becomes scattered, use your breath as the means to take hold of your mind again.”

“In mindfulness one is not only restful and happy, but alert and awake. Meditation is not evasion; it is a serene encounter with reality.”

“From time to time, to remind ourselves to relax and be peaceful, we may wish to set aside some time for a retreat, a day of mindfulness, when we can walk slowly, smile, drink tea with a friend, enjoy being together as if we are the happiest people on Earth.”

“If you touch one thing with deep awareness, you touch everything.”

“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.”

“Life can be found only in the present moment. 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.”

On Actions

“My actions are my only true belongings. I cannot escape the consequences of my actions. My actions are the ground on which I stand.”

“Our own life has to be our message.”

“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.”

“At any moment, you have a choice, that either leads you closer to your spirit or further away from it.”

“Every thought you produce, anything you say, any action you do, it bears your signature.”

On Perspective

“I have noticed that people are dealing too much with the negative, with what is wrong. … Why not try the other way, to look into the patient and see positive things, to just touch those things and make them bloom?”

“Sometimes your joy is the source of your smile, but sometimes your smile can be the source of your joy.”

“To think in terms of either pessimism or optimism oversimplifies the truth. The problem is to see reality as it is.”

“Awareness is like the sun. When it shines on things, they are transformed.”

On Eating Meat

“By eating meat we share the responsibility of climate change, the destruction of our forests, and the poisoning of our air and water. The simple act of becoming a vegetarian will make a difference in the health of our planet.”

“Being vegetarian here also means that we do not consume dairy and egg products, because they are products of the meat industry. If we stop consuming, they will stop producing. Only collective awakening can create enough determination for action.”

On Conflict & Peace

“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.”

“We often think of peace as the absence of war, that if powerful countries would reduce their weapon arsenals, we could have peace. But if we look deeply into the weapons, we see our own minds- our own prejudices, fears and ignorance. Even if we transport all the bombs to the moon, the roots of war and the roots of bombs are still there, in our hearts and minds, and sooner or later we will make new bombs. To work for peace is to uproot war from ourselves and from the hearts of men and women. To prepare for war, to give millions of men and women the opportunity to practice killing day and night in their hearts, is to plant millions of seeds of violence, anger, frustration, and fear that will be passed on for generations to come.”

“It is my conviction that there is no way to peace – peace is the way.”

“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.”

“When we walk like (we are rushing), we print anxiety and sorrow on the earth. We have to walk in a way that we only print peace and serenity on the earth… Be aware of the contact between your feet and the earth. Walk as if you are kissing the earth with your feet.”

“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.”

“Until there is peace between religions, there can be no peace in the world.”

“Each moment is a chance for us to make peace with the world, to make peace possible for the world, to make happiness possible for the world.”

“We who have touched war have a duty to bring the truth about war to those who have not had a direct experience of it. We are the light at the tip of the candle. It is really hot, but it has the power of shining and illuminating. If we practice mindfulness, we will know how to look deeply into the nature of war and, with our insight, wake people up so that together we can avoid repeating the same horrors again and again.”

On The Secret of Buddhism

“The secret of Buddhism is to remove all ideas, all concepts, in order for the truth to have a chance to penetrate, to reveal itself.”

“There is no enlightenment outside of daily life.”

“Enlightenment is always there. Small enlightenment will bring great enlightenment. If you breathe in and are aware that you are alive—that you can touch the miracle of being alive—then that is a kind of enlightenment”

On Change

“Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible.”

“In true dialogue, both sides are willing to change.”

On Greed

“Being rich is an obstacle to loving. When you are rich, you want to continue to be rich, and so you end up devoting all your time, all your energy, in your daily life to stay rich.”

On Experiencing All Emotions

“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.”

“An oak tree is an oak tree. That is all it has to do. If an oak tree is less than an oak tree, then we are all in trouble.”

“This body is not me; I am not caught in this body, I am life without boundaries, I have never been born and I have never died. Over there the wide ocean and the sky with many galaxies All manifests from the basis of consciousness. Since beginningless time I have always been free. Birth and death are only a door through which we go in and out. Birth and death are only a game of hide-and-seek. So smile to me and take my hand and wave good-bye. Tomorrow we shall meet again or even before. We shall always be meeting again at the true source, Always meeting again on the myriad paths of life.”

 

 

 

More people like you...

… are supporting independent media and education platforms like Ideapod. Unlike many other media organizations, we have decided to make our writing free and accessible to all.

We have a vision of a world where power is returned to the people. Where individuals are inspired to break through limiting paradigms to find their own sources of creativity.

This is as much an inner-journey as it is about changing the world. That’s why our writing ranges from personal development to world issues.

We need your support to continue doing what we do. If you find value in the articles you’re reading, please consider becoming a Prime member for as little as $4 monthly. You’ll experience Ideapod without advertisements and get special access to new products. Most importantly, you’ll be supporting a platform seeking to bring power back to within the people.

Thank you.

Be the first to comment on this article at Ideapod Discussions

75 enlightening Eckhart Tolle quotes that will blow your mind

Albert Einstein reveals the one universal force that gives meaning to life