Compassionate Listening – Mindful Meditation

We lost a great zen master January 22, 2022 at 95 years old. His name was Thich Nhat Hanh. A Vietnamese Buddhist monk, peace activist, author, poet, teacher and founder of Plum Village Tradition, Thich Nhat Hanh was also knows as the “father of mindfulness” and coined the term “engaged Buddhism”. 

Thich Nhat Hanh was exiled from Vietnam in the 1960s after expressing opposition to the war. He traveled internationally, conducting retreats and talks about the Buddhist way. As an activist for peace and ecology, he inspired millions to conduct themselves in nonviolent ways and promoted solutions to conflict. 

He raised awareness for the interconnectedness of all elements of nature and refrained from the consumption of animal products to send a message of peace and respect for all sentient beings on this planet. 

Martin Luther King nominated Thich Nhat Hanh for the Nobel peace prize and called him “an apostle of peace and non-violence”. 

Oprah did an in depth interview with him on compassionate deep listening. Here is a 3-minute clip on that interview:

Fearless Soul came up with 12 of the top inspirational quotes from Thich Naht Hanh on mindful living here:

Here are some of my favorite thoughts from Thich Naht Hanh:

On treating others: 

“When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over.”

On listening: 

“Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person. You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty his heart.”

On letting go: 

“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything – anger. Anxiety, or possessions—we cannot be free.” From his book: The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation.

On breathing: 

“Feelings come and go like clouds in a windy sky. Conscious breathing is my anchor.” From his book: Stepping into Freedom: An Introduction to Buddhist Monastic Training.

On making time for loved ones:

“If you love someone, but rarely make yourself available to him or her, that is not true love.” From his book: Living Buddha, Living Christ.

On actions:

“My actions are my only true belongings.” From his book: Understanding Our Mind: 50 Verses on Buddhist Psychology,

On being in the present:

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.” From his book: Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Link to a 14-minute mindful meditation given by Thich Naht Hanh

On death:

“This body is not me.

I am not limited by this body.

I am life without boundaries. 

I have never been born,

and I shall never die. 

Look at the ocean and the sky filled with stars, 

manifestations from the wondrous true mind.

Since before time, I have been free. 

Birth and death are only doors through which we pass,

sacred thresholds on our journey.

Birth and death are a game of hide-and-seek.

So laugh with me,

hold my hand,

let us say good-bye, 

say good-bye, to meet again soon.

We meet today.

We will meet again tomorrow.

We will meet at the source every moment.

We meet each other in all forms of life.”

—Thich Nhat Hanh

I hope this great leader inspires you as he has done for me and millions of other around the globe. 

Lisa Schneiderman is a UO member who helps people raise awareness for causes and positive messages that uplift humanity to a higher state of being.

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