Book Summary – The book Being Peace, written by Vietnamese Buddhist Thich Nhat Hahn, is a book about finding the peace in life. The book provides simple thoughts, provided the readers with a reading material which is easily read and easily understood, enabling for the easier ways for the people to apply it to their daily lives. The book Being Peace features seven different chapters, each chapter interrelated with the other chapters and provides supporting ideas so that after reading the book, the entire message of the book is easily absorbed and easily put into practice.
The chapters that divide the book start with the first chapter which is entitled ‘Suffering is Not Enough,’ followed by the second chapter ‘The Three Gems. ’ The third and the fourth chapters are ‘Feelings and Perceptions’ and ‘The Heart of Practice,’ specifically, followed by ‘Working for Peace,’ ‘Interbeing’ and ‘Meditation in Daily Life’ which are the fifth, sixth and last chapters of the book. Many consider this book as a very good book to start for those who are interested in getting started with Buddhism and its important tenets, starting with the finding of inner peace.
The book was about Nhat Hanh’s lecturing as it was about his exposition about what he learned from personal experience. Nhat Hahn uses this book so that the readers can start with the proper mindset that can assist them in their future endeavors in reaching the calmness of the mind and body which is necessary for meditation and prayer for those who are pursuing Buddhism. The content of the book Being Peace are direct and indirect excerpts based on what happened in the life of Thich Nhat Hahn.
The book emphasizes on the right things to do so that the life being lived in this lifetime while a mortal in the planet is well spend, with well spent, Nhat Hahn is pertaining to the characteristics of the life spent pursuing and achieving happiness through calmness, natural beauty of earth, and without attachment towards worldly or earthly material possessions that corrupts the spirit and distracts the mind.
And while this book is one of the many different works of the author who is an activist as well as a monk that focuses on finding peace and happiness for oneself, the equally important and equally significant aspect of the book is the focus of the teaching of Thich Nhat Hahn about the need for global peace.
Nhat Hahn discussed in the book about the capability of the rest of the world to wage several wars more, about the capability of the rest of the world to destroy earth not just once but many times, using the breadth of weapons of mass destruction available to them in just one lifetime, about the role of humans to alter this path and eventually, about the role of inner peace in every individual which will pave the way for the creation of a bigger sense of peace.
Nhat Hahn was always prophesising about the instability of the world not because of complex political set up, but simply because of the inability of the rest of the world to refocus on what it needs to accomplish, and that is to find the inner peace residing in every man’s heart. If he would have his way, Nhat Hahn would like everyone to have a chance to see through the dimness surrounding the life of those living on the edge today.
Through the lessons written with simplicity and yet with powerful impact in this book, Nhat Hahn was able to simplify the problems and ailments of the present world and provide a solution. And that is the search and maintenance of inner peace. Aside from teaching about inner peace, the book Being Peace is also Nhat Hahn’s way of letting the world know that each and everyone has a responsibility to the rest of the world in making the world revert collectively to the pursuit of peace on a global and on a personal level.
Nhat Hahn’s work Being Peace is not just like any other Buddhist reading because Nhat Hahn was talking about things that have very significant impact in the daily lives of everyone, with very simple solutions that might actually work if given the chance. The book was also teaching the readers about meditation. Here in this book, Nhat Hahn challenged the old concept meditation. The author was trying to imply that the act of meditation is actually not by simply sitting in the corner, shutting one’s eyes and staying immobilized for quite some time.
For Nhat Hahn, the true essence of meditation is finding the peace and direction in one’s heart and using this newfound sense of peace and direction so that a person can make a positive contribution to the society through non violent activism and through the propagation of the ideals of inner peace and the finding of inner beauty. Meditation, according to the book, is the improvement of the level of one’s own sense of spirituality as well as sensitivity that leads to human compassion gained through the understanding of human sufferings and contributing active actions to alleviate this situation.
The book Being Peace is as much a book about peace of the inner self as much as it is about the peace of the world, in a global scale, peace not just from wars and acts of violence but also peace from the occurrence of things that makes the lives of many people difficult and full of suffering. How the book affects me in a personally – The book made a very personal impact on me because the book was a tool that allowed me to get in touch with my own personal issues, sort these issues and find a way for me start understanding the essence of living a happy and peaceful life and how to do it.
Despite the fact that the book was considered a good starter book for those who are inclined to study and live Buddhism, I found out through the reading of the book that there is no such limitation when it comes to being fully capable of understanding and celebrating a beautiful feeling of happiness and understanding. The lessons in the book are lessons that were connected to my consciousness and emotional being in a way that a teacher’s lesson on life would affect me.
The book talks to the readers with a very intimate and personal tone that the reader is both reading and listening at the same time, and that was the reason why there is the presence of the feeling of tranquillity and understanding. The first chapter of the book is where I found most of the lessons that stayed with me even now. In the first chapter ‘Suffering is Not Enough’, Nhat Hanh was trying to point out the fact that people can sometimes see the bad side of life and fail to see the good side of life, which is not the way a person should live.
Nhat Hahn advises the readers about nurturing the ability to be able to find the simple little beautiful things that should be enough to be a source of a happy feeling. For Nhat Hanh, this is one of the many different sources of a happy feeling, which will ultimately pave the way towards living a peaceful life. “If we are not happy, we are not peaceful, we can’t share peace and happiness with others, even those we love, those who live under the same roof (Hahn 13). ”
This was a very simple and practical approach towards teaching people the folly of their very hectic lifestyles and how they are missing out on the real happiness that can be found simply by just looking around. The other chapters of the book were also very enlightening, but it is in the first chapter and the lessons I have lifted from that particular chapter is where I find my mind wandering over and over again. Maybe it is because the lessons in this chapter were all very applicable in my current situation.
Reading the first chapter, I was already bombarded by lessons that were very simple and yet for some reasons I was not able to think about it or had the chance to see things in the manner by which Nhat Hahn projected things through the book. Insights I have gained from the book that will help me live a more relax and happier life – There are many insights that I have gained by reading the book. First, I have learned to be more conscious in the effort to find even the simple forms of happiness. Second, I have learned about the importance of finding a source for inner peace.
Third, I was able to take a look at life in a different perspective. Lastly, I was able to convince myself that life and the world, despite its many negative aspects is still a beautiful place to be. Like most of the rest of the world, the focus of my life was purely those which serves as guarantees for my physical existence – studying, maintaining peer contact, getting in touch with the rest of the world through modern day technologies and the pursuit of artificial happiness found in activities that I thought were sources of happiness like playing video games and watching movies or television shows.
After reading the book, I realized that there were simple forms of happiness that can be experienced, even without the aid or assistance of money or technology. It was a very exciting feeling that left me exhilarated but not tired, sufficiently contented and not anxiously looking for something tangible or material in life to posses or own. Inner peace, and the search and enjoyment of this particular aspect of life, is another thing that I became more conscious of after reading the book.
The book reminds the readers about how some of the structures of the daily human life actually allows each and everyone of us the chance to always reconnect with ourselves and with each other, and that the failure to do so was attributed to the ever diminishing consciousness of the people for this particular need. As what Nhat Hahn said in the book “We are so busy we hardly have time to look at the people we love, even in our own household, and to look at ourselves. Society is organized in a way that even when we have some leisure time, we don’t know how to use it to get back in touch with ourselves (Hahn 14).
The book also enabled me to see life in a different perspective and convince myself that this is a beautiful world and this is a beautiful life. Prior to reading the book, all I read are news about bombings, death and hostility, and it created a picture in my mind which is very disturbing and very unsettling. The book of Nhat Hahn enabled me to erase the previous haunting memories of a very grim life and highlighted the sources of true and simple beauty that Nhat Hahn believes as the first step to inner peace as well as global, world wide peace.