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15 Calming Quotes From Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh

Vietnamese monk Thích Nhất Hạnh, who passed away on January 22, 2022 at the age of 95, was one of the foremost teachers of Zen Buddhism, mindfulness, and meditation. Having joined a monastery at age 16 in 1942, the spiritual leader spent most of his life studying, practicing, and spreading the Buddhist principles of nonviolence and awareness. He was an author, poet, artist, and peace activist with a gift for distilling ancient Buddhist philosophies into accessible daily practices. His teachings helped people all around the world to slow down, catch their breath, and enjoy the present moment.

Over the course of his long life, Thích Nhất Hạnh wrote more than 70 books and founded several Buddhist movements and organizations, most notably the Plum Village monastery and mindfulness center in southern France. During the Vietnam War, he developed a practice of “engaged Buddhism,” which unites personal spirituality and social action, inspiring people to demonstrate against war, rebuild villages, provide medical treatment, and advocate for human rights.

These actions led to his exile from his home country for 39 years, during which he traveled the world spreading the message of peace and love. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called Thích Nhất Hạnh “an apostle of peace and nonviolence” when he nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1967.

In his nineties, Thích Nhất Hạnh returned to his native country to live at the monastery where he was first ordained as a teen, in the central Vietnam city of Huế. His work continues to inspire, offering a simple and inviting approach to meditation and Buddhism. His equanimous and caring style is evident in these 15 calming quotes from the Zen master’s life’s work.

Breathing in, I calm my body. Breathing out, I smile.
"Being Peace"

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You can see everything in the universe in one tangerine. When you peel it and smell it, it’s wonderful. You can take your time eating a tangerine and be very happy.
"Peace Is Every Step"

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Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.
"Peace Is Every Step"

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From time to time we look at each other and smile. It is the smile of awareness. It proves that we are happy; that we are alive.
"The Path of Emancipation"

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Sitting is an art. The art of resting first. It’s very important that we learn how to rest.
"Sitting, Resting, and Not Worrying"

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If we set aside time each day to be in a peaceful environment, to walk in nature, or even just to look at a flower or the sky, then that beauty will penetrate us and feed our love and our joy.
"How to Love"

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Our breath is also like a wave, gently rocking us into a deep peace. In this state of rest, our body and mind can release their burdens. A lot of healing happens just by letting go and sinking into this state of total relaxation.
"Buddha Mind, Buddha Body"

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If we take good care of ourselves, we help everyone.
"How to Love"

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Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.
"Present Moment Wonderful Moment"

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We are safe … Come with me and be in the present moment.
"Reconciliation"

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The first exercise is to identify the in-breath and out-breath. Breathing in, I know this is my in-breath. Breathing out, I know this is my out-breath.
"Chanting from the Heart"

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Love is treating your heart with a great deal of tenderness, with understanding, love, and compassion.
"You Are Here"

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Go back and take care of yourself.
"Reconciliation"

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Every day we are engaged in a miracle … a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.
"The Miracle of Mindfulness"

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Sitting also can be very enjoyable. Sitting and doing nothing. Just enjoying your sitting, enjoying your breathing. Feel that you are alive.
"Sitting, Resting, and Not Worrying"

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Featured image credit:  Hindustan Times / Contributor/ via Getty Images

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About the Author
Julia Travers
Julia Travers is a writer, artist and teacher.
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