Why Thich Nhat Hanh is the Shit

“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.”
-Thich Nhat Hanh

Though many Mush readers may be unaware of his efforts towards world peace, Thich Nhat Hanh is the shit. As a Buddhist monk he has spent the majority of his 83 years on this planet living in poverty and simplicity, all for the sake of understanding. While tons of us go out and smoke weed and suddenly get why John Lennon was so cool, few of us pro-peace hooligans ever expose ourselves to the writings and wisdom of true experts on the subject. Though revered by locals in his native Vietnam as a true voice of the people, Nhat Hanh's return to his homeland has been negated by the Vietnamese government's continued ban on his literature and peaceful protests. Thus perhaps the most pious and humble man to ever come from this war-torn nation has been unable to return for the last 37 years. If you think Lennon's shit against the Vietnam war was code, this guy shits flowers all of him. Thich Nhat Hanh is a homie, and you are failing in your harmonic stoner lifestyle if you avoid his quaint though wise teachings. Such a homie in fact that in 1967, Martin Luther King, Jr. (winner of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize) nominated him for the Noble Peace Prize, sending this letter to the Nobel Committee in Norway (yes, I said Norway. For those of you who think you know everything, the Nobel Peace Prize is in fact not from Sweden, and its bestowing is decided by a committee of five individuals elected by the Norwegian Parliament. These were the wishes of Alfred Nobel, a Swede, who founded the prize with his assets gained through his invention of dynamite)....so anyways, here's the letter:

January 25, 1967

The Nobel Institute
Drammesnsveien 19


As the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate of 1964, I now have the pleasure of proposing to you the name of Thich Nhat Hanh for that award in 1967.

I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize than this gentle Buddhist monk from Vietnam.

This would be a notably auspicious year for you to bestow your Prize on the Venerable Nhat Hanh. Here is an apostle of peace and non-violence, cruelly separated from his own people while they are oppressed by a vicious war which has grown to threaten the sanity and security of the entire world.

Because no honor is more respected than the Nobel Peace Prize, conferring the Prize on Nhat Hanh would itself be a most generous act of peace. It would remind all nations that men of good will stand ready to lead warring elements out of an abyss of hatred and destruction. It would re-awaken men to the teaching of beauty and love found in peace. It would help to revive hopes for a new order of justice and harmony.

I know Thich Nhat Hanh, and am privileged to call him my friend. Let me share with you some things I know about him. You will find in this single human being an awesome range of abilities and interests.

He is a holy man, for he is humble and devout. He is a scholar of immense intellectual capacity. The author of ten published volumes, he is also a poet of superb clarity and human compassion. His academic discipline is the Philosophy of Religion, of which he is Professor at Van Hanh, the Buddhist University he helped found in Saigon. He directs the Institute for Social Studies at this University. This amazing man also is editor of Thien My, an influential Buddhist weekly publication. And he is Director of Youth for Social Service, a Vietnamese institution which trains young people for the peaceable rehabilitation of their country.

Thich Nhat Hanh today is virtually homeless and stateless. If he were to return to Vietnam, which he passionately wishes to do, his life would be in great peril. He is the victim of a particularly brutal exile because he proposes to carry his advocacy of peace to his own people. What a tragic commentary this is on the existing situation in Vietnam and those who perpetuate it.

The history of Vietnam is filled with chapters of exploitation by outside powers and corrupted men of wealth, until even now the Vietnamese are harshly ruled, ill-fed, poorly housed, and burdened by all the hardships and terrors of modern warfare.

Thich Nhat Hanh offers a way out of this nightmare, a solution acceptable to rational leaders. He has traveled the world, counseling statesmen, religious leaders, scholars and writers, and enlisting their support. His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.

I respectfully recommend to you that you invest his cause with the acknowledged grandeur of the Nobel Peace Prize of 1967. Thich Nhat Hanh would bear this honor with grace and humility.


Martin Luther King, Jr.

Powerful stuff. I'd like to end with another powerful insight from Thich Nhat Hanh:

“Drink your tea slowly and reverently, as if it is the axis
on which the world earth revolves - slowly, evenly, without
rushing toward the future. Live the actual moment.
Only this moment is life.”

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