Tributes to Thich Nhat Hanh

In his peaceful opposition to the Vietnam war, his support for Martin Luther King and most of all his dedication to sharing with others not only how mindfulness and compassion contribute to inner peace, but also how individuals cultivating peace of mind contributes to genuine world peace, the Venerable lived a truly meaningful life.

~His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama

The government hopes that the Plum Village community will continue the Zen master’s vision and aspiration for engaged Buddhism, and so contribute to the prosperity of society, and, together with the wider Buddhist community in Vietnam and abroad, promote peace in the world.

~ President Nguyen Xuan Phuc and Prime Minister Pham Minh Chinh of Vietnam

Thich Nhat Hanh is respected by many as the most influential spiritual leader. He showed his love for humankind through his actions. His teachings on happiness touched many hearts. His footsteps and words will continue to live on through the practices of the people.

~ Moon Jae-in, President of South Korea

Thich Nhat Hanh’s legacy is one of insight, compassion, and respect for our planet and for one another. His memory and teachings will continue to inspire the next generation of environmental and social activists in the enduring struggle to protect the Earth and its people

~ Al Gore, Former Vice President of the United States

Thich Nhat Hanh influenced me and so many others by blending his unique approach to mindfulness with a fierce commitment to social justice. When I invited him to visit the World Bank, he touched the lives of hundreds of staff members and even led them on a walking meditation through the busy streets of downtown Washington, DC.  He will be deeply missed but his legacy will live on through his many disciples in all corners of the world.

~ Jim Yong Kim, Former President of the World Bank

Thich Nhat Hanh was a lifelong peace advocate who taught that polarization can be overcome as we nurture tolerance, inclusiveness, and the understanding of our deep interconnection with all human beings.

~ Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations

Thay taught me that being a social activist is not separate from being a contemplative. Thanks to him, untold numbers of us opened our lives to the path of socially engaged Buddhism.

~ Roshi Joan Halifax, Abbot of the Upaya Institute and Zen Center

Having Thay as a brother and friend, was one of the greatest gifts in my life. At this time of grieving, I’d like to stretch out my hand to countless others who feel empty-handed at his passing and say: Let’s honor his legacy of Interbeing by joining hands worldwide, ready to carry on with renewed dedication to Thay’s work of peacemaking.

~ David Steindl-Rast, Catholic Benedictine monk, author, and lecturer

Thich Nhat Hanh… exemplified simplicity and humility.

He was one of the first people who helped me grapple with what mindfulness really meant. Many teachers try to focus on letting go of the mind. That’s such a daunting concept. But he emphasized mind-full-ness. These teachings had so many simple yet profound implications. They weren’t highly philosophical or abstract — rather grounded in reality. 

~ Father Richard Rohr – Franciscan friar, teacher, author and founder of the Center for Action and Contemplation

From Thay (“teacher,” in Vietnamese) I learned much but perhaps the most important was the skill of deep listening as an avenue to conflict resolution, helping to melt away countless political barriers in the negotiations. His insights and practices helped to open a new fertile space of collaboration through which governments were able to come to the historic agreement.

~ Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change and a student of Thich Nhat Hanh

The most venerable Thich Nhat Hanh was one of the most respected moral and spiritual figures of our times. Not only was he one of the most articulate and inspiring proponents of Buddhist teachings and practice, but he was also a beacon of truth in his nonviolent campaigning for human rights.

~ Matthieu Ricard, Buddhist monk and author

Thich Nhat Hanh had a dramatic influence on me. He once asked me, ‘What is more important, being successful or being happy?’ I thought ‘both!’ But he said, ‘You have to choose—you can be a victim of your success but you can never be a victim of your happiness.’

~ Marc Benioff, Salesforce CEO

Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings and practices transformed my life. Millions of people have been touched by his wisdom. Mindfulness is more powerful than nuclear energy.

~ Alejandro González Iñárritu, Academy Award-winning director

Thich Nhat Hanh was the most influential Buddhist teacher of the past fifty years. In addition to promoting mindfulness, his ability to present Buddhist insights and practices in clear, accessible, and heartfelt language greatly increased the number of people exposed to Buddhism. Thich Nhat Hanh’s legacy will continue to shape Buddhism’s present and future.

~ Jeff Wilson, Professor of Religious Studies and East Asian Studies, Renison University College, and author of Mindful America: The Mutual Transformation of Buddhist Meditation and American Culture

72 Micro-Seasons of Japan

There are many ways to think about the year, from the four seasons to the solstices, to holidays and yearly school traditions, to our everyday appointments and deadlines. In Japan, there are 72 micro-seasons that each connect around five days to happenings in the natural world…

The 72 milestones are smaller steps of change that reflect the rhythms of Japan’s ecosystems, but they also embrace the impermanence and constant change that can be applied to any ecosystem.

The 72 Seasons:


East wind melts the ice (Feb  4th – 8th)

Bush warblers start singing in the mountains (Feb 9th – 13th)

Fish emerge from the ice (Feb 14th – 18th)


Rain moistens the soil (Feb 19th – 23rd)

Mist starts to linger (Feb 24th – 28th)

Grass sprouts, trees bud (March 1st – 5th)


Hibernating insects surface (March 6th – 10th)

First peach blossoms (March 11th – 15th)

Caterpillars become butterflies (March 16th – 20th)


Sparrows start to nest (March 21st – 25th)

First cherry blossoms (March 26th – 30th)

Distant thunder (March 31st – April 4th)


Swallows return (April 5th – 9th)

Wild geese wild north (April 10th – 14th)

First rainbows (April 15th- 19th)


First reeds sprout (April 20th – 24th)

Last frost, rice seedlings grow (April 25th – 29th)

Peonies bloom (April 30th – May 4th)


Frogs start singing (May 5th – 9th)

Worms surface (May 10th – 14th)

Bamboo shoots sprout (May 15th – 20th)


Silkworms start feasting on mulberry leaves (May 21st -25th)

Safflowers bloom (May 26th – 30th)

Whats ripens and is harvested (May 31st – June 5th)


Praying mantises hatch (June 6th – 10th)

Rotten grass becomes fireflies (June 11th – 15th)

Plums turn yellow (June 16th – 20th)


Self-heal withers (June 21st – 26th)

Irises bloom (June 27th – July 1st)

Crow-dipper sprouts (July 2nd – 6th)


Warm winds blow (July 7th – 11th)

First lotus blossoms (July 12th – 16th)

Hawks learn to fly (July 17th – 22nd)


Paulownia trees produce seeds (July 23rd – 28th)

Earth is damp, air is humid (July 29th – August 2nd)

Great rains sometimes fall (August 3rd – 7th)


Cool winds blow (August 8th – 12th)

Evening cicadas sing (August 13th – 17th)

Thick fog descends (August 18th – 22nd)


Cotton flowers bloom (August 23rd – 27th)

Heat starts to die down (August 28th – September 1st)

Rice ripens (September 2nd – 7th)


Dew glistens white on grass (September 8th – 12th)

Wagtails sing (September 13th – 17th)

Swallows leave (September 18th – 22nd)


Thunder ceases (September 23rd – 27th)

Insects hole up underground (September 28th – October 2nd)

Farmers drain fields (October 3rd – 7th)


Wild geese return (October 8th – 12th)

Chrysanthemums bloom (October 13th – 17th)

Crickets chirp around the door (October 18th – 22nd)


First frost (October 23rd – 27th)

Light rains sometimes fall (October 28th – November 1st)

Maple leaves and ivy turn yellow (November 2nd – 6th)


Camelias bloom (November 7th – 11th)

Land starts to freeze (November 12th – 16th)

Daffodils bloom (November 17th – 21st)


Rainbows hide (November 22nd – 26th)

North wind blows the leaves from the trees (November 27th – December 1st)

Tachibana citrus tree leaves start to turn yellow (December 2nd – 6th)


Cold sets in, winter begins (December 7th – 11th)

Bears start hibernating in their dens (December 12th – 16th)

Salmons gather and swim upstream (December 17th – 21st)


Self-heal sprouts (December 22nd – 26th)

Deer shed antlers (December 27th – 31st)

Wheat sprouts under snow (January 1st – 4th)


Parsley flourishes (January 5th – 9th)

Springs thaw (January 10th – 14th)

Pheasants start to call (January 15th – 19th)


Butterburs bud (January 20th – 24th)

Ice thickens on streams (January 25th – 29th)

Hens start to lay eggs (January 30th – February 3rd)

Thich Nhat Hanh on “Right Speech”

Thich Nhat Hanh on “Right Speech”:

“Sometimes we speak clumsily and create internal knots in others. Then we say, ‘I was just telling the truth.’ It may be the truth, but if our way of speaking causes unnecessary suffering, it is not Right Speech.

The truth must be presented in ways that others can accept. Words that damage or destroy are not Right Speech.

Before you speak, understand the person you are speaking to. Consider each word carefully before you say anything, so that your speech is ‘Right’ in both form and content.”

~ Thich Nhat Hanh

Himeji Castle (姫路城)

Himeji Castle is a hilltop Japanese castle complex situated in the city of Himeji which is located in the Hyōgo Prefecture of Japan. The castle is regarded as the finest surviving example of prototypical Japanese castle architecture, comprising a network of 83 buildings with advanced defensive systems from the feudal period.

Himeji Castle, also known as White Heron Castle (Shirasagijo) due to its elegant, white appearance, is widely considered as Japan’s most spectacular castle for its imposing size and beauty and its well preserved, complex castle grounds. The castle is both a national treasure and a world heritage site. Unlike many other Japanese castles, it was never destroyed by war, earthquake or fire and survives to this day as one of the country’s twelve original castles. The castle recently underwent extensive renovation over several years and was fully re-opened to the public in 2015.

Himeji Castle lies at a strategic point along the western approach to the former capital city of Kyoto. The first fortifications built on the site were completed in the 1400s, and were gradually enlarged over the centuries by the various clans who ruled over the region. The castle complex as it survives today is over 400 years old and was completed in 1609. It is made up of over eighty buildings spread across multiple baileys, which are connected by a series of gates and winding paths.

K Coffee – Yamatokoriyama, Japan

K Coffee opened in February 2014. It grew originally out of “Art Festival Hanarart”, an art festival which was held in Yamatokoriyama in 2013 with the aim of using art to bring vitality to the region. During the festival, Mr. Kazuya Mori opened up a coffee shop at the old gas station where the current shop now stands.

The “goldfish phone box” was set up as one of the artworks displayed at the festival. After the art festival was over, there were plans to clear away both the coffee shop and the phone box; however, Mr. Mori had taken a liking to the place, and started direct negotiations to rent the spot. Most people living in the area apparently were of the opinion “a coffee shop will never work in this location”; however, Mr. Mori was determined to take up the challenge. He went ahead with the plan, and K Coffee was inaugurated as an official business.

What makes this literal hole-in-the-wall so well known is their peculiar fish tank out front. It’s an old school phone booth filled to the top with water and goldfish.

Buddha Park of Ravangla

The Buddha Park of Ravangla, also known as Tathagata Tsal, is situated near Ravangla in South Sikkim district of the Indian state of Sikkim. It was constructed between 2006 and 2013, and features a 130-foot-high statue of the Buddha, erected to mark the 2550th anniversary of the birth of Gautama Buddha, as its main attraction. The statue, built of 60 tonnes of copper, is an example of repousse work. Mount Narsing forms the backdrop to the statue.

The site was chosen within the larger religious complex of Rabong Monastery, itself a centuries-old place of pilgrimage. Also nearby is Ralang Monastery, a key monastery in Tibetan Buddhism. Built and installed through the joint efforts of the government and people of Sikkim, the statue was consecrated on 25 March 2013 by the 14th Dalai Lama. The Buddhist circuit of the park was built under a state government project, intended to boost pilgrimage and tourism to the region. The Cho Djo lake is located within the complex, surrounded by forest. The park has a tranquil setting with spacious pathways, and there is a Buddhist conclave, a meditation centre and a museum with a spiral gallery.

Battle of Sekigahara

October 21, 1600,…421 years ago, the great Battle of Sekigahara was fought and won by the Tokugawa.

Sekigahara was the greatest, most violent and decisive samurai field battle in history.

Japan had long been at civil war until brought under the rule of first Oda Nobunaga, and upon his death at the hands of a traitorous general, that of Toyotomi Hideyoshi, who completed the unification of Japan and brought unknown peace. However, following Hideyoshi’s death, a power struggle emerged between those loyal to the Toyotomi, and the second most powerful warlord, Tokugawa Ieyasu. With Hideyoshi gone, Ieyasu made moves that brought the ire of a number of his contemporaries, and soon the entire country was divided into two great armies, East and West. Leading the loyalist cause was Ishida Mitsunari, a samurai, but not of the warrior faction, but the administrative faction.

Both sides hurried to take strategically vital highways and castles. These attacks and sieges culminated in the decisive Battle of Sekigahara that took place on the morning of Saturday October 21, 1600. Over 160,000 troops had filled the 2x2km wide basin between the mountains that divided Japan into east and west at Sekigahara.

The battle lasted just over six hours but saw the deaths of an estimated 30,000 samurai, the destruction of a number of noble families and the creation of the Tokugawa Shogunate that was to rule Japan for 260 years of relative peace. The loyalist Western forces, despite having commenced with superior numbers, the higher ground and excellent battle formations, were defeated as a number of Western troops defected midway, turning the tide of the battle.

Victory was claimed by Tokugawa Ieyasu and his Eastern coalition forces. Victory at Sekigahara changed Japan’s history forever, leading to the Tokugawa or Edo period, during which Japan was at relative peace for 260 years.