10 Thich Nhat Hanh Quotes on Truth, Peace, and Compassion

Thich Nhat HanhIt’s the 87th birthday of Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, author of more than 100 books, including Being Peace, Peace is Every Step, and Living Buddha, Living Christ. Devoted to social justice, Thich Nhat Hanh was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967. Here are ten of his best quotes on reality, peace, and the cessation of suffering:

“My actions are my only true belongings.”

“Our own life has to be our message.”

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

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

“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.”

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

“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.”

“The problem is whether we are determined to go in the direction of compassion or not. If we are, then can we reduce the suffering to a minimum? If I lose my direction, I have to look for the North Star, and I go to the north. That does not mean I expect to arrive at the North Star. I just want to go in that direction.”

“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. ”

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  • Hi Matt,

    What an amazing list of quotes. TNH has always been one of my favorite wise men.

    Thank you for sharing with us.

  • Stacey Abel

    This man IS Peace.