Living Buddha, Living Christ. Finished 9-8-16, rating 4/5, religion, 208 pages, pub. 1995
“When you touch someone who authentically represents a tradition, you not only touch his or her tradition, you also touch your own. This quality is essential for dialogue. When participants are willing to learn from each other, dialogue takes place just by their being together. When those who represent a spiritual tradition embody the essence of their tradition, just the way they walk, sit, and smile speaks volumes about the tradition.” Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh, page 7
I love Thich Nhat Hanh. I’m a Christian and not interested in becoming a Buddhist (although he claims that if you are an enlightened Christian you are also and Enlightened Buddhist and vice versa) but I feel his views on the world and the practical ways that we can become more in tune with the universe and God are worth practicing. I completely marked up my book with notes.
This one was the more difficult of his books I’ve read. I learned about the specifics of Buddhism in this one and I’m confused on some points. Hanh studied Christianity and Jesus’s life and he equates much in the two religions. Some of these points I saw to be true and some I thought were a stretch, but I find it rare that people experience Jesus in the same way even as Christians so I can’t fault him in his thoughtful insights.
If you are familiar with Thich Nhat Hanh then I think you will like it. His chapter on the peaceful heart made my own jump around in happiness! If you would like a beginner’s course on Buddhism then I think you will learn something here. I also think Christians will recognize the truth in much of what he says although I might start with one of his other books on mindfulness first.
I’ll leave you with some of the passages I marked.
“Nonviolence does not mean non-action. Nonviolence means we act with love and compassion.”
“Before every meal, a monk or nun recites the Five Contemplations: “This food is the gift of the whole universe-the earth, the sky, and much hard work. May we live in a way that is worthy of this food. May we transform our unskillful states of mind, especially that of greed. May we eat only foods that nourish us and prevent illness. May we accept this food for the realization of the way of understanding and love.” (think of what you would decide not to eat if this was your prayer?)
Professor Hans Kung has said, “Until there is peace between religions, there can be no peace in the world.” People kill and are killed because they cling too tightly to their own beliefs and ideologies. When we believe that ours is the only faith that contains the truth, violence and suffering will surely be the result”…”Do not think the knowledge you presently possess in changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be open to receive others’ viewpoints.” To me, this is the most essential practice of peace.
6 thoughts on “Living Buddha, Living Christ by Thich Nhat Hanh”
Glad you enjoyed this one. As a Christian, I believe we can learn much from others.
I’m a Christian, but I love this guy 🙂 I remember taking a religion class at community college for fun and my worldview changed. It’s important to know about your own faith, but until you see it in the context of world history you’re really dealing with incomplete information. (and by ‘you’ I don’t mean you personally)
I like the prayer before meals. And I have to wonder if any narrow-minded people read books like this. It’s hard to disagree with the passages you marked. I’ll look for one of his books on mindfulness. Thanks!
That’s a good point, Mary! People who cling tightly to their own ideology will probably not read this. I do think that starting with one of his mindfulness books is a great introduction and could soften hearts to recognize the truth common in all religions.
I’ve been meaning to read some of his books. This sounds interesting.