About the book

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.  Goodreads

Year published:  1990

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Quotes from the book


Peace is Every Step (Thich Nhat Hanh)

The practice of peace is one of the most essential of human actions

  • Peace is based on respect for life, the spirit of reverence for life.
  • The practice of peace and reconciliation is one of the most vital and artistic of human actions.

Peace is in the current moment

  • Know that life can only be found in the present moment.
  • Peace is every step.
  • If we are not fully ourselves, truly in the present moment, we miss everything.
  • The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it.
  • Only the present moment contains life.

Hope can be important, but it is for the future

  • Hope is important because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear. If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can bear a hardship today.
  • Western civilization places so much emphasis on the idea of hope that we sacrifice the present moment. Hope is for the future. It cannot help us discover joy, peace, or enlightenment in the present moment.
  • Since we cling to our hope in the future, we do not focus our energies and capabilities on the present moment.

We can find moments of peace in each step we take

  • In the West, we are very goal oriented. We know where we want to go, and we are very directed in getting there. This may be useful, but often we forget to enjoy ourselves along the route.
  • If we are aware of our lifestyle, our way of consuming, of looking at things, we will know how to make peace right in the moment we are alive.
  • Peace is present right here and now, in ourselves and in everything we do and see. Every breath we take, every step we take, can be filled with peace, joy, and serenity. The question is whether or not we are in touch with it. We need only to be awake, alive in the present moment.
  • We are very good at preparing to live, but not very good at living. We know how to sacrifice ten years for a diploma, and we are willing to work very hard to get a job, a car, a house, and so on. But we have difficulty remembering that we are alive in the present moment, the only moment there is for us to be alive.

True love requires an understanding of the one we love

  • No blame, no reasoning, no argument, just understanding. If you understand, and you show that you understand, you can love, and the situation will change.
  • The essence of love and compassion is understanding, the ability to recognize the physical, material, and psychological suffering of others, to put ourselves inside the skin of the other.
  • If our love is only a will to possess, it is not love. If we only think of ourselves, if we know only our own needs and ignore the needs of the other person, we cannot love. We must look deeply in order to see and understand the needs, aspirations, and suffering of the person we love. This is the ground of real love. You cannot resist loving another person when you really understand him or her.
  • True love needs understanding. With understanding, the one we love will certainly flower.
  • We will not just say, I love him very much, but instead, I will do something so that he will suffer less. The mind of compassion is truly present when it is effective in removing another person’s suffering.

Through an awareness of the present moment, we gain our freedom

  • Freedom is not given to us by anyone; we have to cultivate it ourselves. It is a daily practice… No one can prevent you from being aware of each step you take or each breath in and breath out.
  • Sometimes it is better not to talk about art by using the word art. If we just act with awareness and integrity, our art will flower, and we don’t have to talk about it at all.
  • Whether we are in the city, the countryside, or the wilderness, we need to sustain ourselves by choosing our surroundings carefully and nourishing our awareness in each moment.
  • Practicing mindfulness enables us to become a real person. When we are a real person, we see real people around us, and life is present in all its richness.