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)

Shunryu Suzuki On Bowing in Zen

“By bowing we are giving up ourselves. To give up ourselves means to give up our dualistic ideas. So there is no difference between zazen [meditation] practice and bowing.

Usually to bow means to pay our respects to something which is more worthy of respect than ourselves. But when you bow to Buddha you should have no idea of Buddha, you just become one with Buddha, you are already Buddha himself.

When you become one with Buddha, one with everything that exists, you find the true meaning of being. When you forget all your dualistic ideas, everything becomes your teacher, and everything can be the object of worship.

When everything exists within your big mind, all dualistic relationships drop away. There is no distinction between heaven and earth, man and woman, teacher and disciple.

Sometimes a man bows to a woman; sometimes a woman bows to a man. Sometimes the disciple bows to the master; sometimes the master bows to the disciple. Sometimes the master and disciple bow together to Buddha. Sometimes we may bow to cats and dogs.

In your big mind, everything has the same value. Everything is Buddha himself. You see something or hear a sound, and there you have everything just as it is. In your practice you should accept everything as it is, giving to each thing the same respect given to a Buddha. Here there is Buddhahood. Then Buddha bows to Buddha, and you bow to yourself. This is the true bow.”

~ Shunryu Suzuki, Zen Mind, Beginner’s Mind

Mindfulness Movement in Mental Health

Mindfulness Movement

The principles of mindful movement are the same as any other mindfulness practice. We aim to bring our full attention to the present moment to experience the here and now. We bring our awareness to our movement and focus on our breath or the way our body feels as it moves. When our mind wanders, we bring our attention back to the practice, to our breath, to our body.

4 Types of Mindful Movement

1. Breathing exercises are different from when we observe our breath at rest during seated meditation. Instead, we connect with our body by purposefully elongating our breaths to calm our parasympathetic nervous system, or shorten our breaths for short periods of time to refresh and refocus.

2. A walking meditation can be a simple and effective way to explore mindful movement. The biggest difference between a walking meditation and going for a walk as we usually would is that when we’re practicing meditation, we aren’t aiming to go anywhere. Instead, we walk slowly and try to bring our full awareness to the act of walking. That can look like focusing on our breath, or feeling the ground beneath our feet as one step turns into the next. When our mind wanders, we bring it back to the sensations of the moment.

3. Stretching and yoga can help us release tension, stiffness, and heavy emotions. When our bodies don’t move, they don’t feel good, and neither do our minds. Taking a moment to let go of the day’s distractions, getting away from the desk or couch, and engaging in gentle movement can help us boost our energy, focus, and resilience.

4. If you’re looking to blow off steam, working out is another opportunity for mindfulness. Getting exercise can be a great way to tune in to our body, synchronize our breath, and be in the moment, all while building strength and nourishing our muscles.

The Eight Branches of Chinese Medicine

The Eight Branches of Chinese Medicine

Meditation: As long ago as the fifth century B.C.E., Taoists practiced meditation as a tool for cultivating inner peace. There is always an aspect of the mind that is quiet, calm, and present; however, it can be masked by thoughts, stories, and emotions that pull us out of the present moment. The mind can be like a toddler, running around from place to place, with an attention span of about one minute. It can easily switch from one emotion to the next. Meditation is not simply the practice of stopping all this chaos and quieting the mind; rather, it is the building of awareness about the mind’s habitual nature and the reduction of its distractions.

Exercise: Moving our bodies daily is vital to our overall well-being. Physical activity also moves our blood and cleanses our organs. Tai chi and qigong are both ancient forms of exercise used in Chinese medicine for the cultivation of energy. When visiting east Asian countries, you will see groups of people coming together to practice these movements every day. Even if you don’t know these two ancient practices, walking, running, swimming, dancing, hiking, playing sports, and even stretching are all wonderful forms of exercise.

Nutrition: Food is like medicine. It can nourish us to our very bones, bring us back from illness, and give us a tremendous amount of energy for living.  Many of us are getting sick. Returning to natural, unprocessed, whole foods that match your constitution, align with the season, and support you through any imbalances you may be experiencing is the most direct way to find balance. Through this lens, each meal provides an opportunity to heal from the inside out and to prevent illness rather than be vulnerable to it.

Cosmology: Cosmology refers to the foundation of any spiritual tradition that reveals the core beliefs of how we human beings came to exist and what helps us to thrive. In Taoist cosmology, human beings are not seen as separate from the natural world but rather as a manifestation and integral part of it. Therefore, to cultivate a state of balance, we must look to the natural world around us and mimic the rhythms and cycles we see.

Fang Shui: Just as we can benefit from finding balance inside ourselves by meditating, exercising, and eating a diet that is aligned with nature, we can benefit from creating a similar balance outside ourselves. This is called feng shui, and it encompasses the practice of enhancing health through the environmental balancing of the home, office, garden, and other sacred spaces.

Bodywork: Touch is vital to our overall health. The physical practice of being touched in a therapeutic way allows us to relax deeply and experience the release of tension on all levels. Bodywork gifts us with a number of amazing endorphins (feel-good hormones) most especially, oxytocin.

Herbal Medicine: Chinese herbal medicine has been around for thousands of years as a vital tool for maintaining health throughout the life cycles and seasons. Eating medicinal plants from the earth allows us to be in direct relationship with the earth. In addition to a diet that is in sync with our nature, herbal medicine can target specific health imbalances and enhance the healing benefits of meals.

Acupuncture: The final branch of Chinese medicine is also the newest of the eight (though still more than two thousand years old)—the practice of acupuncture. Acupuncture is the art of inserting very fine, sterile needles just under the skin in strategic places to nourish, calm, or otherwise direct the movement of energy. This ancient art form has been found not only to reduce pain but to influence myriad systems in the body, mind, and spirit. From anxiety to leaky gut syndrome to depression to inflammation, acupuncture treats us on many levels. While this practice can certainly address everyday imbalances, I have found it to be most beneficial when used as a tool for prevention.

Source: Everyday Chinese Medicine.