Culture of Imagination

connecting spirituality to everyday life

Tag: Thich Nhat Hanh

Silence is Essential – 8 quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book – Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise

download (17)1. Silence is essential

“Silence is essential. We need silence, just as much as we need air, just as much as plants need light. If our minds are crowded with words and thoughts, there is no space for us.”

2. Colored by perception

“To let go implies to let go of something. The something that we’re holding on to may simply be a creation of our mind, an illusory perception of something, and not the reality of the thing itself. Everything is an object of our mind and is colored by our perception. You get an idea, and before you realize it, you’ve become stuck in that idea. You may get scared because of that idea you’re believing in. You might even get sick because of it. Perhaps that idea brings you a lot of unhappiness and worries, and you would like to be free. But it’s not enough that you want to be free. You have to give yourself enough space and quiet to become free.”

3. Time is life

“Many people cannot allow themselves the time to sit and do nothing but breathe. They consider it to be uneconomical or a luxury. People say ‘time is money.’ But time is much more than money. Time is life. The simple practice of sitting quietly on a regular basis can be profoundly healing. Stopping and sitting is a good way to focus on mindful breathing and nothing else.”

4. Developing understanding and compassion

“If we never suffer, there is no basis or impetus for developing understanding and compassion. Suffering is very important. We have to learn to recognize and even embrace suffering, as our awareness of it helps us grow.”

5. Sincerity and mindfulness

“With sincerity and mindfulness, we can express our desire to begin anew.”

6. Protect our peace

“But we can always make the choice to protect our peace. That doesn’t mean shutting all our windows all of the time, for there are many miracles in the world we call ‘outside.’ Open your windows to these miracles. But look at any one of them with the light of awareness. Even while sitting beside a clear, flowing stream, listening to beautiful music, or watching an excellent movie, don’t entrust yourself entirely to the stream, the music, or the film. Continue to be aware of yourself and your breathing. With the sun of awareness shining in you, you can avoid most dangers – and you will experience the stream of being purer, the music more harmonious, and the soul of the artist completely visible in the film.”

7. If we listen from the mind of silence

“If we listen from the mind of silence, every birdsong and every whispering of the pine branches in the wind will speak to us.”

8. The eyes of compassion

“Waking up this morning I smile. Twenty-four brand-new hours are before me. I vow to live them deeply and learn to look at everything around me with the eyes of compassion.”

Do you believe silence is essential to life?

Purchase Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise

Come Home To Yourself – 10 quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book – Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise

download (17)1. Deep listening leads to understanding

“If we want to be more connected to others, we don’t need to text them more; we need to listen to them more. Deep listening leads to understanding. Understanding leads to greater connection. The way to listen more deeply is not simply to try harder. Rather, it is to take time in practice that starts with silence – that is, with quieting our internal Radio Non-Stop Thinking.”

2. Breathing mindfully

“Breathing mindfully and becoming aware of your responses to people and events around you is a deep practice. Instead of reacting, instead of even thinking, you allow yourself just to be. You practice mindfulness to be with your breath, your steps, the trees, the flowers, the blue sky, and the sunshine.”

3. A wonderful lightness and freedom

“Not talking, by itself, already can bring a significant degree of peace. If we can also offer ourselves the deeper silence of not thinking, we can find, in that quiet, a wonderful lightness and freedom.”

4. Listen deeply to yourself

“You can spend your whole life listening to internal and external messages without ever hearing the voice of your deepest desire… If you have the space and silence to listen deeply to yourself, you may find within you a strong desire to help other people, to bring love and compassion to others, to create positive transformation in the world…”

5. Beauty and silence

“All the sounds around us and all the thoughts that we’re constantly replaying in our minds can be thought of as a kind of food. We’re familiar with edible food, the kind of food we physically chew and swallow. But that’s not the only kind of food we humans consume; it’s just one kind. What we read, our conversations, the shows we watch, the online games we play, and our worries, thoughts, and anxieties are all food. No wonder we often don’t have space in our consciousness for beauty and silence: we are constantly filling up on so many other kinds of food.”

6. When you ask the question, “Who am I?”

“When you ask the question, ‘Who am I?’ – if you have enough time and concentration – you may find some surprising answers…”

7. Most of us don’t feel settled or quiet

“Even if we are not talking with others, reading, listening to the radio, watching television, or interacting online, most of us don’t feel settled or quiet. This is because we’re still tuned to an internal radio station, Radio NST (Non-Stop-Thinking).”

8. Hurrying, noise, or confusion

“If your daily life is full of hurrying, noise, or confusion, it’s easy to forget to be aware of the wholesome and supportive elements that are all around you, such as the fresh air, the sun, and the trees.”

9. If we listen from the mind of silence

“If we listen from the mind of silence, every birdsong and every whispering of the pine branches in the wind will speak to us.”

10. Come home to yourself

“With the act of breathing in mindfully, you go inside. Your body is breathing; and your body is your home. In each breath, you can come home to yourself.”

Have you practiced coming home to yourself?

My new book The Mystical Imagination: Seeing the Sacredness of All of Life (2015) is finally done! It is available on kindle and paperback!

“Our crowded, overly-consumed, hyper-active, digitally-addicted lifestyle is draining the life out of us. We are desperate to transcend the chaos and find a better way to live. We need a mystical imagination. Get ready to be transported into the depths of meaning as Votava breaks open the contemplative path and shows you how to live your life to the fullest.” Phileena Heuertz, author of Pilgrimage of a Soul: Contemplative Spirituality for the Active Life and founding partner, Gravity, a Center for Contemplative Activism

My first book The Communal Imagination: Finding a Way to Share Life Together (2014) is available on kindle and paperback also!

“Inside everyone there is a longing for community, to love and be loved. We are made in the image of a communal God. But in our hyper-mobile, individualistic, cluttered world… community is an endangered thing. And community is like working out – it takes work, sweat, discipline…  without that our muscles atrophy. Everybody wants to be fit, but not too many people want to do the work to get there. Mark’s book is sort of a workout manual, helping you rediscover your communal muscles and start building them up slowly. It is an invitation to live deep in a shallow world.”  Shane Claiborne, author and activist

Our True Home – 10 quotes from Thich Naht Hanh’s book – Touching Peace: Practicing the Art of Mindful Living

41V1AmMt-lL._SX326_BO1,204,203,200_1. What is wonderful and refreshing

“We pay so much attention to what is wrong, why not notice what is wonderful and refreshing?”

2. Flowers and garbage

“When we look deeply into ourselves, we see both flowers and garbage. Each of us has anger, hatred, depression, racial discrimination, and many other kinds of garbage in us, but there is no need for us to be afraid. In the way that a gardener knows how to transform compost into flowers, we can learn the art of transforming anger, depression, and racial discrimination into love and understanding. This is the work of meditation.”

3. If you are afraid of your fear

“If you are afraid of your fear, it may overwhelm you. But if you invite it up calmly and smile at it in mindfulness, it will lose some of its strength…”

4. The practice of mindfulness

“The practice of mindfulness is the practice of love itself…”

5. Unmindful speech and the inability to listen

“Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am determined to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain and will not criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I am determined to make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.”

6. Our capacity of being aware

“Mindfulness is something we can believe in. It is our capacity of being aware of what is going on in the present moment. To believe in mindfulness is safe, and not at all abstract…”

7. To live each moment of life deeply

“Meditation is to live each moment of life deeply…”

8. We do not practice to escape

“Meditation is not to avoid problems or run away from difficulties. We do not practice to escape. We practice to have enough strength to confront problems effectively. To do this, we must be calm, fresh, and solid. That is why we need to practice the art of stopping. When we learn to stop, we become more calm, and our mind becomes clearer, like clear water after the particles of mud have settled. Sitting quietly, just breathing in and out, we develop strength, concentration, and clarity…”

9. Touching life in the present moment

“Many of us, although alive, are not really alive, because we are not able to touch life in the present moment…”

10. A matter of practice

“Our true home is in the present moment. To live in the present moment is a miracle. The miracle is not to walk on water. The miracle is to walk on the green Earth in the present moment, to appreciate the peace and beauty that are available now. Peace is all around us – in the world and in nature – and within us – in our bodies and spirits. Once we learn to touch this peace, we will be healed and transformed. It is not a matter of faith; it is a matter of practice. We need only to find ways to bring our body and mind back to the present moment so we can touch what is refreshing, healing, and wondrous.”

Which quote do you like the best?

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Nonattachment and Nonfear – 6 quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book – How To Love

51dsB9JVlLL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_1. Rest in your body

“If you can accept your body, then you have a chance to see your body as your home. You can rest in your body, settle in, relax, and feel joy and ease. If you don’t accept your body and your mind, you can’t be at home with yourself. You have to accept yourself as you are. This is a very important practice. As you practice building a home in yourself, you become more and more beautiful.”

2. We need to listen

“To know how to love someone, we have to understand them. To understand, we need to listen…”

3. To accept ourselves

“To love is, first of all, to accept ourselves as we actually are. The first practice of love is to know oneself… The practice of love meditation is not autosuggestion. We have to look deeply at our body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness. We can observe how much peace, happiness, and lightness we already have. We can notice whether we are anxious about accidents or misfortunes, and how much anger, irritation, fear, anxiety, or worry are still in us. As we become aware of the feelings in us, our self-understanding will deepen. We will see how our fears and lack of peace contribute to our unhappiness, and we will see the value of loving ourselves and cultivating a heart of compassion. Love will enter our thoughts, words, and actions.”  

4. Come home to yourself

“Once you know how to come home to yourself, then you can open your home to other people, because you have something to offer. The other person has to do exactly the same thing if they are to have something to offer you. Otherwise, they will have nothing to share but their loneliness, sickness, and suffering. This can’t help heal you at all. The other person has to heal themselves and get warm inside, so that they will feel better, at ease, and can share their home with you.”

5. Walk with true awareness of every step

“If you want to walk with true awareness of every step, without having a goal to get anywhere, happiness will arise naturally. You don’t need to look for happiness. When we’re in touch with the wonders of life, we become aware of the many conditions of happiness that are already there, and naturally we feel happy. The beauty around us brings us back to the present moment so we can let go of the planning and worries that preoccupy us… This is mindfulness; we become aware of what is happening now and we are in touch with the conditions of happiness that are there inside us and all around us.”

6. Nonattachment and nonfear

“One of the greatest gifts we can offer people is to embody nonattachment and nonfear. This is a true teaching, more precious than money or material resources. Many of us are very afraid, and this fear distorts our lives and makes us unhappy. We cling to objects and to people like a drowning person clings to a flouting log. Practicing to realize nondiscrimination, to see the interconnectedness and impermanence of all things, and to share this wisdom with others, we are giving the gift of nonfear. Everything is impermanent. This moment passes. That person walks away. Happiness is still possible.”

Which quote do you like the best?

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Healing Silence – 7 quotes from Thich Nhat Hanh’s book – Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise 

download (17)1. Learn more about yourself

“So each of us has a choice. You have a choice. Your thoughts can make you and the world around you suffer more or suffer less. If you want to create a more collegial, harmonious atmosphere in your… community, don’t start by trying to change other people. Your first priority should be to find your own quiet space inside so you can learn more about yourself. This includes getting to know and understand your own suffering. When your practice is solid and you’ve already harvested some of the sweet fruits of getting to know yourself, you can consider ways you can make more room to bring silence, deep looking, understanding, and compassion into your… community.”

2. The practice of mindfulness

“The surest way to give ourselves something really new – a feeling of being refreshed, of being happy, of being at ease – is by opening up the space within us for the practice of mindfulness.”

3. Having the space to listen with compassion

“Having the space to listen with compassion is essential to being a true friend…”

4. To manifest our true nature

“To manifest our true nature, we need to bring a stop to the constant internal conversation that takes up all the space in us…”

5. The suffering we have been hiding from

“The more often we’re able to practice coming home to ourselves, and the more time we spend in mindfulness, the more we are going to become aware of our own suffering. Even though mindful breathing and quiet do put us in touch with joy, they are also likely to bring us in contact with pain (especially at first) as we become more conscious of the suffering we have been hiding from.”

6. Healing silence

“We can’t find the peace of silence without stopping. Running faster and faster, pushing ourselves harder, will never bring it within our reach. We won’t find it anywhere but here. The moment we’re able to really stop, both the movement and the internal noise, we begin to find a healing silence. Silence is not a deprivation, an empty void. The more space we make for stillness and silence, the more we have to give both to ourselves and to others.”

7. Deep listening and mindful response

“Most of the time, our head is so full of thoughts that we have no space to listen to ourselves or anyone else. We have learned from our parents or in school that we have to remember lots of things, we have to retain a lot of words, notions, and concepts; and we think that this mental stockpile is useful for our life. But then when we try to have a genuine conversation with someone, we find it difficult to hear and understand the other person. Silence allows for deep listening and mindful response…”

Which quote do you like the best?

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