Thich Nhat Hanh has taught four generations of Buddhist monks and nuns in Vietnam and the West as well as thousands of lay practitioners. This eight-part paperback contains guidelines, reminders, and poems used in monastic training. These practices reveal the importance of maintaining mindfulness, cultivating compassion and loving kindness, and increasing wisdom every day.

Gathas are short poems, often learned by heart, which help monks and nuns to live with the fullness and beauty of the present moment. While washing their hands, they say "Water flows over these hands. May I use them skillfully, to preserve our precious planet." While cleaning the bathroom, they say, "How wonderful to scrub and clean. Day by day, my heart and mind grow clearer."

The Ten Novice Precepts and the teachings on Mindful Manners have been updated by Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Community from 400-year-old Chinese texts; the Encouraging Words of Master Guishan date from the ninth century. They emphasize protecting life, the value of equanimity, studying sutras and other books, sharing a room, leading retreats, and much more. Thich Nhat Hanh's talk for young monks and nuns lifts up the fruits of practice as awakened understanding, peace, freedom, generosity, fearlessness, and love. "Stepping into Freedom" presents a cogent primer on the essentials of Buddhist practice.