Thich Nhat Hanh
By: Sister Annabel Laity
"Life exists only in the present moment. To lose the present is to lose life." This is the simple, potent message of Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, an immeasurably gifted mindfulness teacher. Exiled from his homeland for his work for peace during the Vietnam War, Thay (teacher), as he is known to his friends, has spread his practice of "present moment, wonderful moment" and "socially engaged Buddhism" around the world via his books that have been translated into 22 languages. A gentle introduction here fills in some of the biographical details of his life shaped by his homeland, a country long full of strife. This slender anthology that draws from 22 sources is a natural addition to Orbis's Modern Spiritual Masters series featuring Bonhoeffer, Weil, Chardin and Merton. Hanh belongs in this company because he is perhaps unsurpassed in quietly and easily teaching life's deeper lasting realities: available peace and inner truth. To read him is never again to eat a tangerine, nor view roses and garbage, in the same old way. The essence of his vital message, so accessible for non-Buddhists and Buddhists alike, is in virtually every paragraph of this skillfully edited collection. It is the consummate newcomer's primer, as well as a satisfying capstone for those familiar with Hanh's voice. (Apr.)Forecast: As Thich Nhat Hanh gains popularity in the United States, bookstore shelves are increasingly filled with titles by and about the exiled Vietnamese Buddhist monk. Still, there is room for this title, which is a brief, accessible distillation of his teachings. Orbis will sell the book through Buddhist retreat centers and nontraditional outlets as well as bookstores."--Publishers Weekly
"Considering the huge number of books that beloved Buddhist master Thich Nhat Hanh has put out, we really need a "best of" collection. Here we have it, in Thich Nhat Hanh: Essential Writings, which brings together snippets from Nhat Hanh's poetry, his Christian-Buddhist dialogues, his introductions to Buddhist sutras, and of course, his own well-spoken takes on core Buddhist ideas. If there is one word that sums up Nhat Hahn's Buddhism, it is "interbeing," the name he gave to his own monastic order. Being fully present in the moment is mindfulness, and interdependence tells how all things are intimately connected, the understanding of which encourages us to engage the world at every moment. Sister Annabel Laity, a master in her own right who has received transmission from Nhat Hanh, provides a brief but illuminating biography of Nhat Hanh for this collection, along with insightful introductions to each of the chapters. Themes that order the chapters are those that run through all of Nhat Hahn's teachings: mindfulness, compassion, delicate attention to detail, patience, and forgiveness. For those interested in this Zen monk's life and works, Essential Writings is essential reading." --Brian Bruya
Zen master, poet, monk and peace advocate, Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk who has lived in exile in France for 30 years. Through his writings and retreats he has helped countless people of all religious backgrounds to live mindfully in the present moment, to uproot sources of anger and distrust, and to achieve relationships of love and understanding.
Sister Annabel Laity, a Buddhist nun and Dharma teacher, is Abbey of the Green Mountain Dharma Center in Vermont, headquarters of the United Buddhist Church in the United States.
Also by Thich Naht Hanh: The Raft Is Not the Shore