Lucidly and beautifully written, Peace Is Every Step contains commentaries and meditations, personal anecdotes and stories from Nhat Hanh’s experiences as a peace activist, teacher, and community leader. It begins where the reader already is—in the kitchen, office, driving a car, walking a part—and shows how deep meditative presence is available now. Nhat Hanh provides exercises to increase our awareness of our own body and mind through conscious breathing, which can bring immediate joy and peace. Nhat Hanh also shows how to be aware of relationships with others and of the world around us, its beauty and also its pollution and injustices. the deceptively simple practices of Peace Is Every Step encourage the reader to work for peace in the world as he or she continues to work on sustaining inner peace by turning the “mindless” into the mindFUL.
In the rush of modern life, we tend to lose touch with the peace that is available in each moment. World-renowned Zen master, spiritual leader, and author Thich Nhat Hanh shows us how to make positive use of the very situations that usually pressure and antagonize us. For him a ringing telephone can be a signal to call us back to our true selves. Dirty dishes, red lights, and traffic jams are spiritual friends on the path to “mindfulness”—the process of keeping our consciousness alive to our present experience and reality. The most profound satisfactions, the deepest feelings of joy and completeness lie as close at hand as our next aware breath and the smile we can form right now.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s writing is deceptive in its subtlety. He’ll go on and on with stories about tree-hugging or metaphors involving raw potatoes; he’ll tell you how to eat mindfully, even how to breathe and walk; he’ll suggest looking closely at a flower and to see the sun as your heart. As the Zen teacher Richard Baker commented, however, Nhat Hanh is “a cross between a cloud, a snail, and piece of heavy machinery.” Sooner or later, it begins to sink in that Nhat Hanh is conveying a depth of psychology and a world outlook that require nothing less than a complete paradigm shift. Through his cute stories and compassionate admonitions, he gradually builds up to his philosophy of interbeing, the notion that none of us is separately, but rather that we inter-are. The ramifications are explosive. How can we mindlessly and selfishly pursue our individual ends, when we are inextricably bound up with everyone and everything else? We see an enemy not as focus of anger but as a human with a complex history, who could be us if we had the same history. Suffice it to say, that after reading Peace Is Every Step, you’ll never look at a plastic bag the same way again, and you may even develop a penchant for hugging trees.