The Zen master and one of the world's most beloved teachers returns with a concise, practical guide to understanding and developing our most powerful inner resource—silence—to help us find happiness, purpose, and peace.
Many people embark on a seemingly futile search for happiness, running as if there is somewhere else to get to, when the world they live in is full of wonder. To be alive is a miracle. Beauty calls to us every day, yet we rarely are in the position to listen. To hear the call of beauty and respond to it, we need silence.
Silence shows us how to find and maintain our equanimity amid the barrage of noise. Thich Nhat Hanh guides us on a path to cultivate calm even in the most chaotic places. This gift of silence doesn't require hours upon hours of silent meditation or an existing practice of any kind. Through careful breathing and mindfulness techniques he teaches us how to become truly present in the moment, to recognize the beauty surrounding us, and to find harmony. With mindfulness comes stillness—and the silence we need to come back to ourselves and discover who we are and what we truly want, the keys to happiness and well-being.
Each of Nhat Hanh's many books tweaks his simple but profound message mindfulness to address an acutely perceived need in contemporary society. Here the famed Vietnamese Zen master and activist (perhaps best known for Peace Is Every Step) addresses physical and mental noise, fostered in particular by dependence on technology smartphones, email, video games, television, social media. "Our need to be filled up with one thing or another all the time is the collective disease of human beings in our era," he writes. The alternative of cultivating inner silence addresses the hunger for real connection that electronic devices promise but fail to provide. Nhat Hanh's always inspiring wisdom is conveyed skillfully through clear explanations, stories, and practices. However, he includes a startling four pages on a Vietnamese colleague's self-immolation in the 1960s ("I tell this story not because I think you should do something this drastic, but simply to illustrate the power of silent action") that could be troubling for some who pick up this book for encouragement in the face of suffering or despair. The text's wide spacing and distracting pull quotes set in large type bump up the page count of a very short book. Despite these flaws, the book is a compelling presentation of Nhat Hanh's core teaching.