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The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation

4.32 of 5 stars 4.32  ·  rating details  ·  5,792 ratings  ·  231 reviews
In The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching, Thich Nhat Hanh introduces us to the core teachings of Buddhism and shows us that the Buddha's teachings are accessible and applicable to our daily lives. With poetry and clarity, Nhat Hanh imparts comforting wisdom about the nature of suffering and its role in creating compassion, love, and joy--all qualities of enlightenment. Coveri ...more
Paperback, 294 pages
Published June 8th 1999 by Broadway Books (first published May 1st 1998)
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First, I want to make a distinction between what I’d like to call ‘cultural Buddhism’ and ‘secular Buddhism’. Secular Buddhism, much like secular Christianity, is a distilled version of cultural Buddhism made to fit the vogues of our society. Offensive elements are purged, unreasonable stories and precepts dismissed, and what you have left is a perfectly digestible form of the original that now can be taught as an elective for school credit. Cultural Buddhism, as I’ve deemed it, is Buddhism as r ...more
Mary Overton
"Let us look at a wave on the surface of the ocean. A wave is a wave. It has a beginning and an end. It might be high or low, more or less beautiful than other waves. But a wave is, at the same time, water. Water is the ground of being of the wave. It is important that a wave knows that she is water, and not just a wave. We, too, live our life as an individual. We believe that we have a beginning and an end, that we are separate from other living beings. That is why the Buddha advised us to look ...more
Laura Cowan
I've read a few books on Buddhism before, but none have been so beautifully articulate or compassionate as this book by Thich Nhat Hanh. I love how he weaves a few of his own poems into the text to illustrate certain principles and experiences, because he is a phenomenal poet. It really is his explanation of how certain lines of Buddhist thought have become altered from earlier versions, and how different practices intersect and contain each other's ideas that really sets this apart. I read it t ...more
Clif Brittain
I loved this book. I think I love Buddhism, but please, please, please, don't make me take a test on it.

When I decided I wanted to know more about Buddhism, it was because of my developing interest in yoga. I can't tell you how exactly Buddhism is related to yoga, but it surely is. First of all, I find no need for faith in yoga or Buddhism. It works. I practice yoga, I feel better. I practice Buddhist principles, I feel better. No faith involved.

Compare this with Judaism. You believe in God? Pro
If you're looking for an erudite, comprehensive overview of mainstream Buddhist thought, "The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching" is an adequate choice, but prepare for a long, hard slog. Thich Nhat Hanh is at his best when he's telling stories from his own life— his time in Vietnam during the war, or stories about the Buddhist community he started in France. Unfortunately, most of the book isn't told from his personal point of view— it's an academic rundown of major Buddhist ideas (and endlessly li ...more
I have been savoring this book for some time, and was lucky to have it with me while trapped on planes and in airports and on an overnight detour to Detroit--Hanh's teachings didn't quite transform the ordeal into great spiritual practice, but they did vastly improve the experience. Many of his other books can be read almost as a philosophy of Buddhism; here he explains the basic religious tenets in depth (and with more clarity than I'd previously encountered in introductory texts). While not qu ...more
Nicholas Whyte

A book by a prominent Buddhist monk outlining key teachings of Buddhism. I started off rather liking it as an approach to mindfulness and how to process suffering and the good things about life. But after he Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, I started to get a bit irritated with the constant discovery of new lists of important spiritual things, from the Two Truths up to the Twelve Links of Interdependent Co-Arising; it seems to me that over-descr
Ankur Banerjee
This book by Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh goes into a lot of the background from the later-life teachings of the Buddha such as the Lotus Sutra, so in a way, it's more about what the Zen school of Buddhism or Mahayana sects in general teach. Concepts are well-explained with copious footnotes, and it remembers the Indian roots of Buddhism throwing in Sanskrit / Pali terms in addition to Japanese and Chinese terms.

But while the book is easy to read, it often overwhelms the reader with
James Langer
I first picked up this book when I was going through an identity crisis in the seventh or eight grade. Many books have made me think, many books have changed my opinions before, but the Heart of the Buddha's Teachings has been the only book to change my life. I remember the very day when I read a passage from this piece and it was like a great awakening.
Jessamyn Smallenburg
The tag line of this book is "Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation." In Part I, the author writes about the Four Noble Truths. The First Noble Truth is Suffering (dukkha), the recognition that suffering is ever-present in our lives. The Second Noble Truth is the origin, roots, nature, creation, or arising (samudaya) of suffering. The Third Noble Truth is the cessation of suffering, which is achieved by refraining from doing the things that cause us to suffer. The Fourth Noble T ...more
this is a very useful book for me, helping to clarify exactly what is the difference between religious and philosophical texts, what I like about Buddhist thought, what I learn, what I generally do not note. as far as difference: ethical assertions within a metaphysical superstructure, referring often to texts or authorities or stories, is religion, exploration of said superstructure, of metaphysics, argument, referring often to other philosophical texts, is philosophy...

there are a lot of numbe
What should we think when on the one hand Buddhism tells us that life is suffering and on the other we are told to enjoy life's every moment? Loved around the world for his simple, straightforward explanations of Buddhism, Thich Nhat Hanh has finally turned his hand to the very core of Buddhism and conundrums such as this. In the traditional way, Thich Nhat Hanh takes up the core teachings one by one--the Four Noble Truths, the Noble Eightfold Path, the Twelve Links of Interdependent Co-Arising- ...more
I started to read this book for my meditation class at the community college, but it became more than an assignment for me. The beginning shook me up because of the reference to "allowing the Buddha to enter your heart"-- it sounded a little close to Christianity. But I took a chance and got past that first chapter. I really like the way the Venerable Monk teaches the basics of Buddhism in this volume. He doesn't stop at the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, which can be expounded on exp ...more
An absolute "must read" for newcomers to Buddhism as well as those who have practiced for many years. Thich Nhat Hanh breaks down some of the most basic concepts of Buddhism by way of analogies, stories, concrete examples, and comparisons, making the concepts accessible to anyone. He is respectful of other perspectives and sects of Buddhism and has written the book with complete awareness of the present day and Buddhism's relevance to it. I've been a Buddhist all my life and this one will defini ...more
Jessica Zu
This is the books we read at the study group of "Exploring Buddhism" at East West Crossings. I like this book very much. In particular, the way Thich Naht Hahn's comment on the Buddha today may as well be a Sangha, a community of meditators who are already treading on the path of liberation. His understanding of the dependent co-arising (Paticca Samupada) is also deep, there is no need to abandon our mind and body, no need to run away from this world, we simply need to transform them with love a ...more
Tim Niland
I don't put much stock in religion, but there are some aspects of Buddhist philosophy that are comforting and thoughtful during this difficult time. Hahn is a Vietnamese monk, persecuted during the war in the 1960's, he would travel and study at Princeton, impressing Martin Luther King so deeply that he recommended him for the Nobel Peace Prize. In this book, Hahn interprets the Buddha's teaching for a modern western audience, he introduces ideas like the four noble truths and the noble eightfol ...more
In a relatively compact book Nhat Than knows how to explain some essential thoughta of Buddhism. It introduces the fundamental principles (the four noble truths, etc) and goes into quite some detail when presenting them. Most of the times Nhat Than knows how to maintain an objective point of view, though at times stressing what is important in his interpretation. This makes a quite direct approach on the topic possible, and due to this he is able to present the reader with an abundance of inform ...more
A nice introduction to the basics of Buddhism. Thich Nhat Hanh makes concepts simple and easy to understand for those unfamiliar with Buddhism and lays out the basics in a clear fashion. If you're looking for some of the finer details, this probably isn't the book for you, but for a nice overview, this is a great place to start. I'd highly recommend this to beginners due to its simplicity and knack of getting basic concepts across.
Very interesting read/overview of Buddhist thought and teachings of the Suttas.

Highly repetitive throughout the entire book. This could have been about 100-150 pages shorter and as equally fulfilling and worthwhile. Too many references to Hanh's other writings that it almost promotes buying the others. This is good as a beginners guide to Buddhism, especially in America, but for more in-depth analysis, teachings, and presentation, you must keep searching.

Although it is quite a paradox to find
Andrew McKee
Great book. Not recommended for a beginner getting into Buddhist concepts and practice. This was a lot of information, you could spend years just reflecting and practicing on one chapter. Some really beautiful prose at times, found some passages that really resonated with me and helped me think in a more positive way about some things in life.
Ummm ok. I must've lent this one to my ex-boyfriend because I just found his list of contacts in it from when I first suggested he go to an AA meeting. Appropriate bookmark? You bet.

Anyway, I must have gotten this when I was nineteen and knew everything because now I'm too afraid to even crack it open. Those noble truths'll get ya.
Arizona Mildman
An exact journey through the four noble truths and the eightfold path in a way that only Thich Nhat Hanh can teach. Simplicity and eloquence are his best qualities. From someone who has studied as a Buddhist Monk for almost seventy years and it shows. He defines in detail without complications and questions left unasked.
I took a really long time to read this book. I seem to only be able to read books while simultaneously reading other books. But it feels like all the books inform and converse with each other in my brain when I do this. Thich Nhat Hanh is such a great writer! I can see why people all talk about his books. I'm sad to hear that his health is not so good right now. Ah, but his book...was a great introduction for me to Buddha's teachings. I get the sense that these teachings have all been filtered t ...more
This book took me 14 months to complete due to the density of the subject matter covered. I was able to read the first two parts of the book on The Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path in reasonably quick order. When starting to read the Other Basic Buddhist Teachings I had to put it down due to inability to grasp the subject matter effectively. In the following months I absorbed dharma talks on youtube and in audiobooks. I was pleasantly surprised that when I picked the book up I was now ab ...more
Amergin O'Kai
The best primer I've found on the core Buddhist teachings. This one stays on the "reading yet again" shelf because I'm constantly going back to it to keep firmly rooted in the basics.
This book changed my life.
This was the first real book on Buddhism I ever read, and the concept of "Right Livlihood" changed my life - sort of a "right book at the right time" thing (I mean, things aren't always super great, but I think my attitude and decision making improved somewhat ... ). I am forever grateful to Hanh, and return to this book often, because my memory is terrible and I am a lazy reader. The eightfold path has become one of those things it feels silly for me not to follow. I'm returning to his books ag ...more
A great introduction to Buddhist teachings, one objective of which is to live each day with more mindfulness. Key to achieving this goal is understanding the connection we have to each other and everything in our environment. Among other things, the author outlines the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path to Well-being, tools which help one live life with more awareness and meaning. Better understanding of the heart of Buddha's teaching brings wisdom, appreciation, compassion, enlighte ...more
Yes, as others have noted, there is a surfeit of lists. But, if those are the heart of the Buddha's teachings, then those are the heart of the Buddha's teachings. I realized about a third of the way in that I should start keeping my own lists, if I wanted to make sense of the book and retain anything. Lists are useful mnemonics in the long-term, but soporific in the short-term.

This is an overview of the central concepts of Buddhism written by a Buddhist monk who understands both the East and the
Yousaf Shaikh
Admittedly I purchased this book, based solely on the number of positive reviews on Amazon. It was my first insight into Buddhism.

I found the book very in-depth and for the most part, a bit too deep and philosophical. I was tempted a few times to just file this under "F" for Fuggedaboutit but I stuck to it and didn't give into those temptations. :)

But the more I read this book, the more I realized it's one of those books where you'll pick up something new each time you read it (for me, anyways).
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Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is a global spiritual leader, poet and peace activist, revered throughout the world for his powerful teachings and bestselling writings on mindfulness and peace.

His key teaching is that, through mindfulness, we can learn to live happily in the present moment—the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world.

Thich Nhat Hanh has published over 100 ti
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“Letting go gives us freedom, and freedom is the only condition for happiness. If, in our heart, we still cling to anything - anger, anxiety, or possessions - we cannot be free.” 593 likes
“The seed of suffering in you may be strong, but don't wait until you have no more suffering before allowing yourself to be happy.” 512 likes
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