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

4.32  ·  Rating Details ·  7,953 Ratings  ·  325 Reviews
“If there is a candidate for ‘Living Buddha’ on earth today, it is Thich Nhat Hanh.”
                                                                                                 – Richard Baker-roshi
In The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching, now with added material and new insights, Thich Nhat Hanh introduces us to the core teachings of Buddhism and shows us that the Buddh
Paperback, 294 pages
Published June 8th 1999 by Broadway Books (first published May 1998)
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P I do not think the question can be answered in a quick and simple manner.

The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy,…more
I do not think the question can be answered in a quick and simple manner.

The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching: Transforming Suffering into Peace, Joy, and Liberation does talk about Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism so reading it is a good start.

Another good article I found is this one:

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Oct 18, 2010 Chris rated it really liked it
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
Aug 15, 2009 Jake rated it it was ok
Shelves: buddhism
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
Clif Brittain
Dec 24, 2009 Clif Brittain rated it it was amazing
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
Aug 19, 2015 Carol rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lucid and helpful with great presentation of Noble Eightfold Path especially.
Thoroughly enjoyed reading it and am incorporating parts of it in my meditation.
Jun 08, 2008 Suzy rated it it was amazing
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
the gift
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, ontological arguments, referring often to texts or authorities or stories, is religion. conceptual exploration of said superstructure, of metaphysics, of arguments, referring often to other philosophical texts, is ...more
Nicholas Whyte
Jun 16, 2012 Nicholas Whyte rated it liked it

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
Oct 20, 2012 Ankur Banerjee rated it really liked it
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
Bharath Ramakrishnan
Mar 25, 2017 Bharath Ramakrishnan rated it really liked it
This is an excellent book to read to understand the core fundamentals of Buddhism. It covers the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path, in a good amount of detail. It also goes further than that, drawing on key concepts which are common to most variants of Buddhism.

I liked the fact on how Thich Nhat Hanh emphasizes the need for depth in life - developing it by living the values, the Buddha taught and practised. Mindfulness is expectedly a strong theme throughout the book.

The only aspect whi
Jakob Masic
Jan 19, 2016 Jakob Masic rated it really liked it
I consider myself a spiritual person. And have for as long as I remember being alive, wanted to stay away from religion, any religion. Reading about Buddhism, I truly recognized myself, and the way I live my life inside the faith and practises.
What I like most is the here and now way of living.
Through meditation and living mindfully, is what I believe to be the most important qualities for any soul to practice. In order to understand the here and now, is all that really matters.
As I read more
Adding this one to the list of "books that have changed my life." This is an excellent, clearly-written explanation of major tenets of Zen Buddhism. My only complaint is the use of terms without definitions. For some unfamiliar terms, definitions are provided late in the text, while others go completely unexplained. Overall, though, a lovely and important read.
James Langer
Feb 21, 2009 James Langer rated it it was amazing
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.
Joshua Buhs
May 06, 2013 Joshua Buhs rated it it was amazing
Shelves: b12, non-fiction
Still the best book on Buddhism that I have read.

The first two sections are the best, providing a nice overview of the ideas at the heart--as it were--of Buddhist philosophy. Thay certainly has his axes to grind. He is of the opinion that Buddhist practice should emphasize joy, not suffering--suffering is something to get beyond; and to emphasize the immanence of nirvana, rather than putting it off for the after life (or after lives).

He provides textual support for his take. I am not enough of a
Jessamyn Smallenburg
Jun 24, 2010 Jessamyn Smallenburg rated it really liked it
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
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
Gautam Pai
Jan 20, 2017 Gautam Pai rated it really liked it
Please buy this book on to support my work.

Intensely peaceful. Thich Nhat Hanh who is often called as the current Buddha is a master of explaining the core of Buddhist teaching. I myself have been interested in Buddhism from a long time since I'm an atheist and this book quenched my thirst.

Buddhism is not a religion. It's a way of life. You can belong to any religion and still follow the Buddhist principles. The main Buddhist principles are the four noble truths which dea
Nov 02, 2007 Vanessa rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 07, 2014 Zach rated it really liked it
This is really a great book.

personally, I do not care for TNH's style, many of his metaphors, and some of his interpretations of basic Dharma concepts (things like calling Nirvana "well-being") do not sit with me particularly well.

That said, I think most of my gripe with the book is really just that, not liking the style superficially. It's a really excellent, fairly detailed and concise, but also easy to read book on Mahayana Buddhist concepts.

I would recommend it to anyone who is getting into
Sep 08, 2007 Angineeki rated it it was amazing
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
Michael Buchanan
Nov 18, 2016 Michael Buchanan rated it really liked it
A concise overview of the basics of Buddhism.
I would have liked a few more examples and metaphors. We get a lot of repetition of "everything is one" and "be present."
I struggle with the concept that being present equals happiness.
I struggle with the idea that our wandering thoughts are problematic. How else do we come up with ideas?
I struggle with not thinking of past and future. It's fun to reminisce with friends.
Goals are thoughts of the future arent they? What's wrong with ambition?
The bo
Jessica Zu
Aug 04, 2011 Jessica Zu rated it it was amazing
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
Jun 04, 2011 Jordan rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, buddhism, own
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.
Andrew McKee
Nov 12, 2010 Andrew McKee rated it it was amazing
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.
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.
Joseph P.
Oct 15, 2015 Joseph P. rated it it was amazing
This is the book that I have probably read most in my life. It came at a time when i was first getting interested in spirituality and i constantly re-read it, especially in times of hardship. Thich Nhat Hanh writes in a very peaceful and eloquent manner. His words bring peace of mind and stillness to the reader. I highly recommend this book to any person and all different ages of people.
Sep 22, 2009 suzy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Amergin Ó 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.
Jun 17, 2015 Jeannette rated it liked it
Shelves: abandoned
Have read part of this and expect I'll continue dipping into it in the coming months and years. But it doesn't feel right to have it on my Currently Reading list...
Jan 05, 2016 Joelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A thorough and very easy to digest review, in depth, of the teachings of the Buddha. Thay delivers here...illuminating the path with clarity.
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Thích Nhất Hạnh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet and peace activist who now lives in southwest France where he was in exile for many years. Born Nguyễn Xuân Bảo, Thích Nhất Hạnh joined a Zen (Vietnamese: Thiền) monastery at the age of 16, and studied Buddhism as a novitiate. Upon his ordination as a monk in 1949, he assumed the Dharma name Thích Nhất Hạnh. Thích is an honorary ...more
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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.” 901 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.” 595 likes
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