In this early work by poet, Zen master, and peacemaker Thich Nhat Hanh, he teaches us the essentials of practicing peace in a violent, restless, and troubled world. This collection of talks to American peace activists and students of meditation is edited by Arnold Kotler and also contains delightful illustrations by Mayumi Oda. Thich Nhat Hanh says:

If we are peaceful, if we are happy,
we can blossom like a flower,
and everyone in our family,
our entire society,
will benefit from our peace.

In the first chapter, this Zen master points out that recognizing suffering is not enough, we must also be in touch with "the wonders of life." This can be accomplished by something as basic as smiling. Most of us tend to overlook this kind of expression as something nice but not essential. Thich Nhat Hanh makes his point clear: "Smiling is very important. If we are not able to smile, then the world will not have peace. It is not by going out for a demonstration against nuclear missiles that we can bring about peace. It is with our capacity of smiling, breathing, and being peace that we can make peace."

In other chapters, the author discusses meditation, the concept of interbeing, the three gems, how to deal with anger, and using gathas as ways to focus the mind. Within our homes and communities, we can practice being peace through breathing between phone calls, walking meditation between business meetings, and sensing our connections with others while working to save hungry children or war victims. These talks catch the simple elegance of Thich Nhat Hanh's engaged Buddhism.

Try a Spiritual Practice on Being Present