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Thich Nhat Hanh's Buddhism

johnathanjohnathan ICBICanada Veteran
edited February 15 in Buddhism Basics

What can each of you share to help others understand what TNH's Buddhism is and how it differs from other forms of Buddhism.

I have read peace is every step. What other books by TNH or anyone any else would you recommend to help others learn/practice his form of Buddhism.

Comments

  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator

    Living Buddha, Living Christ. TNH's Buddhism is heavily influenced, and intrinsically connected to The Essence of Christ's Ministry.

    BunksAlex
  • The Heart of Buddha's Teaching: Transforming suffering into peace joy and liberation

    AlexrocalaDavid
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran
    edited February 15

    His book “Old Path White Clouds” is a classic! Recounts the life of the Buddha directly from the Suttas but in chronological order.

    Can highly recommend it.

    SuraShineDavid
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    Is there a name for Thich Nhat Hanh's Buddhism?

    Would it be Thien Buddhism of the Plum Village Tradition?

  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    He practices Zen yeah?

    SuraShinelobster
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    He practices an engaged type of Zen but has called himself non sectarian.

  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    @Bunks said:
    He practices Zen yeah?

    Thien is Vietnamese Zen, but TNH has added some aspects of Theravada to his style of zen. He has removed Zazen and instead teaches mindfulness meditation in everyday activities. So Shikantaza is removed too.

    Bunks
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    I watched his film at the cinema last year - Walk with Me.

    Not my cup of tea but each to their own.

    lobster
  • I thought his books excellent. Deep understanding. 💗

    Sadly I was completely unimpressed with his senior students and him as Zen practitioners. It is certainly too late to practice and teach Dharma for him and potentially them to become liberated without more intense guidance. Maybe that was never the intent. Kind, pacifist, socially engaged tree huggers are certainly a good thing. Celebrity partial Dharma? Yes. Has mindfulness led to the goal of Buddhism. Not in this case.

    Personally I prefer a completely enlightening transmission ... Just so you know. 👁

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    I’m also a fan of TNH. The simplicity of his approach is that he first focuses on mindfulness and the breath, the ease of practice, peace and walking meditation. There is a lot of calmness in his teaching. During retreats (many of which are on YouTube) he will talk about deeper subjects such as no-self.

    I also like how his engaged type of Buddhism works. I last saw a video of a retreat where he had invited a number of Israelis and Palestinians to Plum Village, and he worked with them in various sessions to bring them together. Beautiful.

    As far as reading is concerned I can heartily recommend The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching and No Mud, No Lotus. I’ve never yet regretted getting a book of his, I am currently reading No Death, No Fear.

    AlexBunksDavid
  • SuraShineSuraShine South Australia Explorer
    edited February 16

    I've only ever found one of his books to compare Buddhism and Christianity (Living Buddha Living Christ) and that was probably more for a "bridging" explanation. As a Catholic I certainly found the comparison helpful when first exploring Buddhism. All the other books of his I've read don't mention it. I have his book on the Heart Suttas. I have also got "True Love" and "Peace is Every Step"

    I would say TNH is Vietnamese Zen and a monk minus a lot of the jargon. He's very helpful for newbies IMO.

    AlexlobsterDavidrocala
  • @Bunks said:
    I watched his film at the cinema last year - Walk with Me.

    Not my cup of tea but each to their own.

    I only managed to watch a few minutes ... 🥱

    Social, ethical, virtuous inspiring behaviour and words are a great and much need service. However just being good (sila) is a small step. Just as some people need a slap more than huggies ... and sleep walking ...

    The important thing is finding a teaching, sangha and direction that will wake us ... That is our intent, practice and means ...

    BunksZenshinDavid
  • ShimShim Veteran

    @lobster said: Sadly I was completely unimpressed with his senior students and him as Zen practitioners. It is certainly too late to practice and teach Dharma for him and potentially them to become liberated without more intense guidance. Maybe that was never the intent. Kind, pacifist, socially engaged tree huggers are certainly a good thing. Celebrity partial Dharma? Yes. Has mindfulness led to the goal of Buddhism. Not in this case.

    I agree. TNH himself seems like a trustworthy teacher with great understanding but I too have a hard time connecting to anything produced by his sangha since they just seem to recycle his words and do "nice things" like sing songs and have tea in the garden. I'm sure the reality is more complex but also this seems to be the image they market themselves with so I have my doubts. It is still a good approach for some people and situations.

    I've also read his journal, Fragrant Palm Leaves and it gives a bit more nuanced picture of him. I've also watched videos from the Israeli-Palestinian retreat a few times, all of that is good stuff. No doubt a wise man. His teachings are also very approachable to anyone, which I do appreciate.

    AlexBunkslobster
  • AlexAlex UK Veteran

    Singing songs and having tea in the garden sounds rather Zen to me 🙏

    There’s joy for sure.

    And simplicity.

    Perhaps they’re more in tune than we might give them credit for........

    johnathanBunksSuraShineDavid
  • AlexAlex UK Veteran
    edited February 17


    These are consecutive quotes I just came across whilst reading ‘The Art of Living’ by TNH

    SuraShine
  • federicafederica Seeker of the clear blue sky... Its better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to speak out and remove all doubt Moderator
    edited February 17

    @Alex said: Perhaps they’re more in tune than we might give them credit for........

    ...or perhaps they're singing from a slightly different hymn sheet....

    Alex
  • AlexAlex UK Veteran
    edited February 18

    @federica I think all of the hymn sheets within ‘Buddhism’ are different.......TNH still holds a note rather superbly though.......and he’s no less authentic.

    BunksSuraShineDavid
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran
    edited February 18

    @Jeffrey @Alex @Kerome

    Thanks for the Book suggestion of The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching. I just purchased it and looking just at the index it looks to cover a lot of what I was hoping to study from TNH's perspective.

    I think his simplicity is very appealing to me due to not having access to a local Sangha. Without a teacher, simple is key. Perhaps in time I might find myself in closer proximity to a physical Sangha and move into a deeper practice but for now I think his method and teachings are what I need to move me along my path.

    AlexSuraShinelobster
  • AlexAlex UK Veteran

    Good stuff @johnathan I’m with you on all counts 👍

    johnathanlobster
  • AlexAlex UK Veteran

    @Zenshin 100%👍

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    If you find Thich Nhat Hanh a little too simplistic, I would recommend trying Ajahn Chah. There is a big book of his dharma talks available for free on the internet, it’s very good, and in terms of complexity a lot of it is between TNH and more dense practitioners.

    AlexBunksadamcrossleyコチシカ
  • SuraShineSuraShine South Australia Explorer

    Simplistic is not a bad thing. I wonder sometimes if some people think they are learning something special/important/better because it's convoluted? I've seen it in all walks of life during my life - school, work, private life..... As I've gotten older, I have certainly come to appreciate and even seek out, simplicity.

    YMMV

    AlexlobsteradamcrossleyDavid
  • johnathanjohnathan ICBI Canada Veteran

    @Kerome
    I enjoy Ajhan Chah's teachings (from what I have read in Jack Kornfield's book on 12 Buddhist teachers). I will definately look for the online writings you recommended.

    Alex
  • AlexAlex UK Veteran

    @Kerome I haven’t come across Ajman Chah, will investigate, thank you.

  • lobsterlobster Veteran
    edited February 19

    No doubt a wise man.

    No doubt. Definitely one of Oprahs better 'spiritual guesties'. @Zenshin said it well ... 💗🙏🏽🌈

    Bunks
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited October 21

    Truth be told, Thich Nhat Hanh seems to have an excellent understanding and the fruit to show it. He teaches us how to be happy right now and reminds us that emptiness is not nothingness and so nothing to fear. True self is non-self and the middle way between being and non-being is interbeing. No birth, no death.

    A few books of his have been mentioned and as far as I've read, they're all great.

    One I would recommend for those who think his understanding is in any way sub par is The Other Shore. He does his translation of the Heart Sutra and clears up some quite common misconceptions. Reading it by itself is revealing but to read it in the book with his commentary is just awesome.

    I love that he uses and goes by the Theravada teachings to make sense of the Heart Sutra like Nagarjuna did when addressing emptiness. Except with Thay, he makes sure there's no mistaking the way for nihilism.

    And the way he came up with "interbeing" to describe non-self, impermanence and dependent origination is just brilliant.

    SuraShine
  • BunksBunks Australia Veteran

    @David said:
    Truth be told, Thich Nhat Hanh seems to have an excellent understanding and the fruit to show it. He teaches us how to be happy right now and reminds us that emptiness is not nothingness and so nothing to fear. True self is non-self and the middle way between being and non-being is interbeing. No birth, no death.

    A few books of his have been mentioned and as far as I've read, they're all great.

    One I would recommend for those who think his understanding is in any way sub par is The Other Shore. He does his translation of the Heart Sutra and clears up some quite common misconceptions. Reading it by itself is revealing but to read it in the book with his commentary is just awesome.

    I love that he uses and goes by the Theravada teachings to make sense of the Heart Sutra like Nagarjuna did when addressing emptiness. Except with Thay, he makes sure there's no mistaking the way for nihilism.

    And the way he came up with "interbeing" to describe non-self, impermanence and dependent origination is just brilliant.

    I haven't read or followed TNH a lot but I really enjoyed "Old Path White Clouds" Not sure if you've checked it out @David

    https://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/Thich Nhat Hanh - Old Path White Clouds.pdf

    David
  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    There is a fair amount of retreat material on YouTube from Thich Nhat Hanh, in addition to the books hearing him speak to a group of dharma students is very inspiring. He was one of my first contacts in Buddhism and I have always rated him highly.

    BunksDavid
  • コチシカコチシカ Berlin, Germany Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    If you find Thich Nhat Hanh a little too simplistic, I would recommend trying Ajahn Chah. There is a big book of his dharma talks available for free on the internet, it’s very good, and in terms of complexity a lot of it is between TNH and more dense practitioners.

    I'm reading this mastodon right now! So delicious! Really!

    Next...will be Thich Nhat Hanh's commentary on the Heart Sutra :)

    DavidKerome
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited October 21

    @Bunks said:

    @David said:
    Truth be told, Thich Nhat Hanh seems to have an excellent understanding and the fruit to show it. He teaches us how to be happy right now and reminds us that emptiness is not nothingness and so nothing to fear. True self is non-self and the middle way between being and non-being is interbeing. No birth, no death.

    A few books of his have been mentioned and as far as I've read, they're all great.

    One I would recommend for those who think his understanding is in any way sub par is The Other Shore. He does his translation of the Heart Sutra and clears up some quite common misconceptions. Reading it by itself is revealing but to read it in the book with his commentary is just awesome.

    I love that he uses and goes by the Theravada teachings to make sense of the Heart Sutra like Nagarjuna did when addressing emptiness. Except with Thay, he makes sure there's no mistaking the way for nihilism.

    And the way he came up with "interbeing" to describe non-self, impermanence and dependent origination is just brilliant.

    I haven't read or followed TNH a lot but I really enjoyed "Old Path White Clouds" Not sure if you've checked it out @David

    https://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/Thich Nhat Hanh - Old Path White Clouds.pdf

    Yes, I read that not long ago. Very much enjoyed it. Once I finished that I went on to The Novice which is written as a story like Old Path White Clouds but it's about Quan Am Thi Kinh which is the Vietnamese Kuan Yin, the female version of Chenrezig and the Bodhissatva of Compassion, Avalokitesvara.

    Another great read packed with insight while probably less than half as long as Old Path White Clouds.

    The Other Shore is very good though. It puts the Heart Sutra in the context of Interbeing and more than does it justice.

    Superb even.

    Bunks
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @Kerome said:
    There is a fair amount of retreat material on YouTube from Thich Nhat Hanh, in addition to the books hearing him speak to a group of dharma students is very inspiring. He was one of my first contacts in Buddhism and I have always rated him highly.

    He was my first swim in the sea of dharma not counting Alan Watts. I was not in clear states of mind while listening to Alan but I still credit him with pointing me in the right direction. The first book by Thay I got was Zen Keys. That was almost 30 years ago. I probably should have taken proper refuge a long time ago.

    lobster
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @コチシカ said:

    @Kerome said:
    If you find Thich Nhat Hanh a little too simplistic, I would recommend trying Ajahn Chah. There is a big book of his dharma talks available for free on the internet, it’s very good, and in terms of complexity a lot of it is between TNH and more dense practitioners.

    I'm reading this mastodon right now! So delicious! Really!

    Next...will be Thich Nhat Hanh's commentary on the Heart Sutra :)

    Nice. You can find his Heart Sutra online but the commentary in The Other Shore really drives it home.

  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited October 21

    @Shim said:

    @lobster said: Sadly I was completely unimpressed with his senior students and him as Zen practitioners. It is certainly too late to practice and teach Dharma for him and potentially them to become liberated without more intense guidance. Maybe that was never the intent. Kind, pacifist, socially engaged tree huggers are certainly a good thing. Celebrity partial Dharma? Yes. Has mindfulness led to the goal of Buddhism. Not in this case.

    I agree. TNH himself seems like a trustworthy teacher with great understanding but I too have a hard time connecting to anything produced by his sangha since they just seem to recycle his words and do "nice things" like sing songs and have tea in the garden. I'm sure the reality is more complex but also this seems to be the image they market themselves with so I have my doubts. It is still a good approach for some people and situations.

    I've also read his journal, Fragrant Palm Leaves and it gives a bit more nuanced picture of him. I've also watched videos from the Israeli-Palestinian retreat a few times, all of that is good stuff. No doubt a wise man. His teachings are also very approachable to anyone, which I do appreciate.

    Have you read up on how the Order of Interbeing got started? They have seen and overcome many forms of adversity and violence. They are all about social change and work hard to allieve suffering. That they are happy doing it is only a testament to their strength, resolve and yes, understanding.

    If you get a chance to read anything by Sister Chan Khong, I would recommend it.

    Engaged Buddhism is responsible Buddhism.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    Thich Nhat Hanh’s page on Lions Roar is also a great resource, many good articles in the links.

    https://www.lionsroar.com/thich-nhat-hanh/

    DavidBunks
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited October 21

    This is what those happy monks are up to these days. May not be as fun as tea in the garden but they are still smiling.

    Quite the flood and we can donate to help if we can afford to. Thay is there and he is ok, just an fyi.

    コチシカlobsterSuraShine
  • コチシカコチシカ Berlin, Germany Veteran

    Today I had an argument -again, as usual for the last year and a half with my flatmate- and it is always around the same issue: cleanliness, rubbish, rotten food, passivity towards cleaning duties from one flatmate.

    I mentioned how this was so pointless if we thought how privileged we are from our point of view. But I feel disappointed as how I kept trying to make her realise, when it makes no sense. The relationship is now really bad. I would like to know TNH view on this: conflict resolution ( @David @Kerome , maybe you know a good piece of reading / video?) I know he visited Martin Luther King and faced bigger problems such as the anti-buddhist repression in South Vietnam.

    I'm right now watching this. The great Marshall Rosenberg. Sometimes though, even though I try to follow Buddhism, I feel it is too idealistic. Then I sense this is just wrong view. I'm the one just falling into these traps! But how to keep calm when the other just ignores your pleas for help and the observance of communal habitability standards set by the other two people she lives with?

    Now I see this flood and those monks smiling and I realise. What a sickness dwells across these walls..

    Like TNH said in a Google talk, we treat our heart -and may I add, other hearts- so poorly. These behaviours, stress.... how we allow the environment and others affect us.

    Anyways...the video is here....

    David
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran
    edited October 21

    @コチシカ

    The above link may not be too helpful unless your flatmate views your living arrangement like it's a sangha but I found it interesting.

    Edit: the link won't work but if you google the Order of Interbeing Conflict Resolution Guide therea an interesting download.

    Your situation may get maddening at times but it is a temporary situation. You cannot control anybody else, all you can control is what you do. Why let the actions of another give you a hard time?

    I would recommend the book Creating True Peace. You can get it new for 20 bucks Canadian or a Kindle version for 17.

    And of course, there are probably loads of talks about interpersonal conflict on youtube.

    コチシカ
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    Also for those interested, there is a Plum Village app.
    I love it.

    コチシカKerome
  • VastmindVastmind Memphis, TN Veteran
    edited October 22

    @David said: If you get a chance to read anything by Sister Chan Khong, I would recommend it.

    Ditto

    I attended a retreat at Magnolia Grove one year when she and Thay did a visit...her guided meditation was the best I've ever done!!!

    David
  • DavidDavid some guy Veteran

    @Vastmind said:
    @David said: If you get a chance to read anything by Sister Chan Khong, I would recommend it.

    Ditto

    I attended a retreat at Magnolia Grove one year when she and Thay did a visit...her guided meditation was the best I've ever done!!!

    She has some recorded on the Plum Village app that are really nice.

  • SuraShineSuraShine South Australia Explorer

    @コチシカ said:

    Next...will be Thich Nhat Hanh's commentary on the Heart Sutra :)

    This is one of, if not the favourite of my TNH books. I hope you find it as illuminating as I do.

  • KeromeKerome Love, love is mystery The Continent Veteran

    @コチシカ said:

    @Kerome said:
    If you find Thich Nhat Hanh a little too simplistic, I would recommend trying Ajahn Chah. There is a big book of his dharma talks available for free on the internet, it’s very good, and in terms of complexity a lot of it is between TNH and more dense practitioners.

    I'm reading this mastodon right now! So delicious! Really!

    Next...will be Thich Nhat Hanh's commentary on the Heart Sutra :)

    What I really liked about Ajahn Chah’s dhamma talks is that he puts a lot of emphasis on learning from first principles. For instance he said that during his long period as a young monk he didn’t read many books but instead he spent time observing his own heart.

  • コチシカコチシカ Berlin, Germany Veteran
    edited October 26

    @Kerome ,

    Ajahn Chah's teachings are beautiful and simple. Instead of reading vast tomes in depth, we can cultivate sila through following the precepts; through meditation, we gain samadhi; and through study and following the other two together we obtain insight. They are all intertwined.

    I have to say that my introduction to Buddhism -apart from Rinzai and those huge joints that made me question even the domino's pizza man- has mostly been thanks to Ajahn Sona and other Western students of Ajahn Chah.

    Alex
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