Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh

Summary
  1. Beautifully written book which strongly advocates for mindfulness in everything we do – from washing our hands to how we interact with others. Thich Nhat Hanh uses beautiful examples from both Jesus’ and Buddha’s lives to reinforce his points.
Key Takeaways
  1. Reality is free from all notions and it is our duty to transcend words and concepts and be able to encounter reality
    1. “When our beliefs are based on our own direct experience of reality and not on notions offered by others, no one can remove these beliefs from us.”
    2. “Things cannot be described by concepts and words. They can only be encountered by direct experience.”
  2. Avoid attachment to present views
  3. Meditation – stopping, calming, looking deeply
  4. Dialogue and deep listening is vital – must first have peace within before can reach deeper levels or help others
  5. Buddhists aim to be mindful in every moment. Conscious breathing helps with this practice (mindful walking, eating, cleaning, reading, breathing, etc.)
  6. Most precious gifts we can offer others is our presence
  7. Our true home is in the present moment
  8. Being fully aware and present gives you a sense of gratitude
  9. Aim to be like Buddha and Christ where your life becomes your teaching, your sermon in action
  10. Living dharma – mindfulness manifested in daily life
  11. Can’t have true love without understanding and can’t understand without true love
  12. Must begin with self – aim to live as Buddha and Jesus lived
  13. Anger is hell
  14. Our enemy is not the other person, no matter what they have done
  15. Make your life prayer in action
  16. Can come to love our enemy only by understanding him
  17. Whatever happens to the body, happens to the mind and vice versa
  18. People today tend to lack the art of deep/mindful speaking and listening though we have more means of communication than ever before
  19. Mindful breathing – ability to be aware of and manage emotions. Being able to accurately and deeply know what we are sensing allows us to deal with it early and in a positive way before it manifests as anger, frustration, etc. “If we can learn ways to touch the peace, joy and happiness that are already there, we will become healthy and strong, and a resource for others.”
  20. Only compassion and understanding on a collective level can liberate us
  21. Practice the essence over the form
  22. Don’t allow notions or concepts be obstacles to development or realizing ultimate reality
  23. A life that is too comfortable makes spiritual growth more difficult
  24. One day of mindfulness per week is essential. Set aside any day to spend with loved ones, turn away from work/email/distractions and just be
  25. Best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment
  26. The concept of interbeing (non-self) is fascinating – everything is connected and made of elements from everything else – “a flower is made of all non-flower elements.”
    1. “To take good care of yourself and to take good care of living beings and the environment is the best way to love God. This love is possible when there is the understanding that you are not separate from other beings or the environment. This understanding cannot be merely intellectual. It must be experiential, the insight gained by deep touching and deep looking in a daily life or prayer, contemplation and meditation.”
  27. The Five Wonderful Precepts of Buddhism – reverence for life, generosity, responsible sexual behavior, speaking and listening deeply and ingesting only wholesome substances
  28. The Fourth Precept – not telling the truth, exaggerating, forked tongue (saying two different things to different people/parties), filthy language
  29. Be an island unto yourself – being able to find refuge wherever you are just by turning inwards is one of the most powerful tools one can possess
  30. “God made humans so that humans can become God.”
  31. “The ultimate dimension is a state of coolness, peace and joy. It is not a state to be attained after you “die.” You can touch the ultimate dimension right now by breathing, walking and drinking your tea in mindfulness.”
  32. “When we touch one thing with deep awareness, we touch everything.”
What I got out of it
  1. Mindfulness in all that we do and interbeing (everything is interconnected and impermanent which leads to the conclusion that we are all one) are two amazing concepts which should be central to one’s daily routine, life, meditation practice