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A Voice in the Wilderness

As nightfall does not come at once, neither does oppression. In both instances, there's a twilight where everything remains seemingly unchanged, and it is in such twilight that we must be aware of change in the air, however slight, lest we become unwitting victims of the darkness. -- William O. Douglas

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Thich Nhat Hanh - Creating True Peace

I recently completed reading Thich Nhat Hanh's book, Creating True Peace in February of this year. I must say, it is one of the most profound books I have ever chanced upon.

Thich Nhat Hanh (pronounced Tick-Naught-Hawn) is a Buddhist Monk who was exiled from his homeland back in the mid-seventies when the Vietnam War was raging and anyone who spoke out against it was treated with suspicion and labeled by both sides as either a tratior, a seditionist and/or a Communist - anything but a pacifist.

This wonderfully kind man now resides in France where he has founded a Buddhist commune called Plum Village.

He has authored numerous books and offers teachings on Buddhism. Two of my favorite books he wrote are Anger, and Meditations on Love - both books are highly recommended. You can find many of his lectures and teachings on the internet. I am tempted to summarize the book and maybe go into a detailed analysis of it but it is a relatively short read - 206 pages, a very fast read - and offers far better treatment of the subject than anything I could do here. Suffice it to say, Creating True Peace is one of those books you will want to hang on to for the rest of your life because it is simple and direct. Without shame, Thich Nhat Hanh demonstrates Creating True Peace takes far greater courage than the alternative. The message that comes from this Buddhist Philosopher's perspective is simple; peace is available to anyone who seeks it.

As a Roman Catholic, I am quite intrigued at the similarity of Thich Nhat Hanh's musings and the teachings of Jesus of Nazareth. When I was younger, I would have avoided such a book simply because I thought it would be in direct opposition to my core beliefs and my religious upbringing. Nothing could be further from the truth.

My life experience is, God or the Supreme Being, Creator - or whatever other description one might choose to describe this supernatural force exists. We know this implicitly; none of us has ever physically experienced it through our five senses. I am convinced God is far too big to be limited by any one particular religion - much as we would like to, we cannot put parenthesis on the creative force responsible for the Universe.

I think it is more than mere coincidence that concepts of good and evil - at least in my limited world view - seem to be universal. Consequently, I think God reaches out and communicates to us in ways which we might understand. I am quite fond of this saying;

"When you speak to a person in your language, you have made an acquaintance. When you speak to that same person in his/her language, you have made a friend."

I believe God reaches out to us with a language of the familiar - tailored to each of our unique life experiences. He communicates with us in the language of a kindred spirit. As such, to the Scientist, he reaches out with the language of science. To the Bedouin, he reaches out with the constructs familiar to a Bedouin. I could go on but I think you get the picture.

At any rate, I hope you do pick up this book because it's author has tapped into that mysterious energy of the Universe. What he has to say about it is enlightening - in no way threatening – that is, unless you are a hater.


Note: You can click on the bold-faced words in this post for links that take you to sites directly related to the high-lighted topics and offer more details than I can write about here. I'm trying to keep these posts short.


At Wed Jun 29, 03:41:00 PM MDT, Blogger Paul said...

J, more "synchronicity" I guess.

I'd mentioned that unpublished book manuscript. It's very experiential, not at all research-oriented. But T.H. Hanh's, The Miracle of Mindfulness is one of the books on the one page bibliography. Had a big impact on me.

I like Buddhism a lot. Raised Catholic, I was completely unaware that a contemplative or meditative dimension of Catholicism even existed until I was 23 and visited a monastery at my aunt's suggestion!

I think this is true of Christianity in general - that the ritual and dogma have been emphasized at the expense of its equally ancient contemplative tradition. Actually, more ancient, if you count Jesus, whom one suspects knew his religion from the inside out!

So I think the influx of Buddhist writings is a great thing for making us mindful of aspects of our own faith that we may have been overlooking, as well as showing how deeply and closely the world's religious traditions are linked.

I think of myself as much more of a word-guy than a picture-guy, but I really like the quality and variety of pictures you post, as well as your writing.

At Wed Jun 29, 10:05:00 PM MDT, Blogger Just call me T said...


How nice of you to share this book with us all. I went online and ordered it after reading your post. I have many books already on meditation but alas none so far has kept my attention, perhaps Thich will. I once saw a show about ancient Buddhist that could meditate so deeply that they could lower their heart rate. The meditative state brought them to the center of their thinking and beliefs. This meditation was so intense that one (I wish I could remember his name) they think actually passed on during his meditation. They found the mummified priest still in the crouched position. That is the kind of meditation that I would love to achieve; not to the point of dying mind you, but the ability to control ones self inside and out.
I will be quite interested in his writings J, and will be practicing his style of changing anger into peace. It would be a blessing if I could learn to do this.

Soft love,

At Thu Jun 30, 12:06:00 AM MDT, Blogger The Voice said...


This man's words reach me like no other. I think he is a mystic. He speaks so profoundly and yet makes what he has to say seem so understandable - even simple. I purchased a CD, The Art of Mindful Living with his voice - very calming.

Many years ago, I read a book called The Lost Years of Jesus, where the author proposed that Jesus actually sojourned to the Far East in the years of his absence. As i recall there is even some reference to him in some obscure scrolls. I do not know if his is apocryphal or in fact reality but it is fascinating. Of course my logical mind would like to believe that he was in fact there - my spiritual mind leans toward synchronicity and the notion that goodness and upright-ness are universal concepts that reach across Humanity.

I am glad you have read him and I am certain you will agree his words are easy to understand and accept.


You are really going to like this book because it simply passes the test of logic. Moreover, aside from the rational appeals Thich Nhat Hanh makes, his Humanity is unmistakably genuine. I hope this book brings you as much comfort as it has for me. I am excited to find out how you like it.

Thanks for your posts folks

At Fri Jul 01, 11:48:00 PM MDT, Blogger tannia g. robles said...

I need a spiritual revival right now so I think destiny/the cosmos/God sent me to your blog tonight. Thanks for the suggestion, it might just be what I need right about now.


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