Prophet, civil rights activist, and Baptist pastor Martin Luther King, Jr. first met prophet, peace activist, and Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh in 1966. They then became close friends and allies in that turbulent decade. Two years later, Dr. King was shot and killed in Memphis.

Author Marc Andrus has learned a great deal from both men and goes into helpful detail about their teachings. Some of this book is written as a result of interviews to which Andrus had access while in Vietnam to visit Thich Nhat Hanh, who lives there now in the monastery he first entered as a boy. Andrus quotes one of these, from 2014, in which Thich Nhat Hanh remembers:

“I was in New York when I heard the news of his assassination; I was devastated. I could not eat; I could not sleep. I made a deep vow to continue building what he called ‘the Beloved Community,’ not only for myself but for him also. I have done what I promised to Martin Luther King, Jr.”

“Beloved Community” is defined slowly in these pages. The author undertakes a pilgrimage of meaning, seeking to understand both the gift of this special friendship and how the love, bond, and dedication to reconciliation they shared might be duplicated by ordinary people living in our day.

“The Beloved Community is a community not only in which all are inclined and all are at peace with one another, but also one in which each being in the community is connected to every other being…. For King, it meant that each part of the whole, and the whole itself, suffers when even the smallest, seemingly most insignificant part suffers.”

In the process of writing a biography of the special friendship of Dr. King and Thich Nhat Hahn, Andrus also mentions other teachers of peace and justice, nonviolence and reconciliation, including Congressman John Lewis, Dr. Vincent Harding, Fannie Lou Hamer, Abraham Joshua Heschel, Thomas Berry, Rosa Parks, A.J. Muste, Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche, and Howard Thurman.

Andrus says, “I have come to believe that a way to fulfilling our deepest desire — the desire of the universe, the desire to connect — does exist. This healing way can be called repairing the Beloved Community.”

The book concludes with Andrus calling on individuals, communities, and organizations to make the changes necessary to create Beloved Community Circles to find meaning and reconciliation where they live.