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No Death, No Fear

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  4,361 ratings  ·  250 reviews
With hard-won wisdom and refreshing insight, Thich Nhat Hanh confronts a subject that has been contemplated by Buddhist monks and nuns for twenty-five-hundred years—and a question that has been pondered by almost anyone who has ever lived: What is death? In No Death, No Fear, the acclaimed teacher and poet examines our concepts of death, fear, and the very nature of existe ...more
Paperback, 208 pages
Published August 5th 2003 by Riverhead Books (first published August 5th 2002)
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Dec 28, 2012 rated it liked it
Well, it has happened. I have reached the point in my life where death lurks closer and reaches out more frequently. This is not a happy topic; not many of us are calm in the face of it. But I am nearing 50 as my parents approach 80. "Guess who died?" has become a conversational staple with a huge cast of players. I think back to the neighbors I grew up with...and most of the adults of my childhood are gone. I have lost friends and classmates and colleagues. And then there are the celebrity deat ...more
Donna Quesada
May 31, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: my-5-star-50
I use the charming stories in this book for my own classes. Of all the books on my bookshelf about Buddhism and emptiness, this is the one I turn to when I need to come back home. Simply told, clearly described, and gently narrated, the charming stories that enhance the main body of the book convey the beauty of this changing universe that we are all a part of. By "looking deeply," we see the miracle that is right before us. We see that although it is ever-changing and forever unfolding into som ...more
Karen Hogan
May 30, 2020 rated it really liked it
"This body is not me, I am not caught in a body, I am life without boundaries, I have never been born, I will never die." This is the mantra behind this very enlightening book by the peaceful and lovely Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh. On the mornings I don't work, I try to start off my day by reading books about God and Spirituality. I believe there are a thousand ways to God, and that's why every religion has something profound and often similar to offer on my spiritual journey. I will definite ...more
Oct 20, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I've never read a "self-help" spiritual book before. I read several books on how to cope with coming out back in the day, but this was the first non-Christian text to cross my path. I am kinda speechless.

The thoughts and actions that are presented in No Death, No Fear are universal. Hanh is a famous Buddhist monk, known for providing training in mindfulness and spirituality.

I am not gonna comment heavily on the writing. I don't feel as if nitpicking on a book that covers this subject matter doe
Aug 17, 2008 rated it really liked it
Beautiful! I found that if I read a whole lot of chapters in one sitting as I usually do when I read, it seemed repetitive and could be viewed as not much different than dime-store self-help fodder as some Goodreads reviewers have noted. Instead, I discovered it's best to approach this as a book of meditations. Read one chapter, slowly, and let it resonate with you for a while before moving on. A chapter a day would be a good method. When taken in that context, the repetitive nature of his metap ...more
Jan 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spirituality
This book was amazing. Although I am familiar with Thich Nhat Hanh's work, I have never read a complete piece of his.

Given to me about 10 years ago after my father passed away suddenly, I am only completing it now. Funny how books come into your life, or you are able to sit down with them, at precisely the right moment.

Wow. It had a very natural flow to it and in the last chapter brings it full circle beautifully. There is no death, and therefore no fear. I am a practicing meditator and read qui
Fry (Evra) Morgan
Mar 07, 2017 rated it liked it
For once, I disagree with Hanh.
Not an intense dogmatic disagreement, but a gentle difference in personal perspective.

"Our greatest fear is that when we die we will become nothing," states Hanh in the first couple of pages in chapter 1, "We believe that we are born of from nothing and that when we die we become nothing. And so we are filled with fear of annihilation."

I wholeheartedly reject the notion that death and the consequent non-existence are undesirable, albeit inevitable, occurrences. I
Dec 01, 2017 rated it really liked it
The book is filled with buddhist philosophy and it "drowns" you with reflections on life and death, while showcasing the practice of breathing.

All in all, I cannot imagine a better way to define death other than continuation. And I cannot see a better way of approaching life.
Apr 19, 2021 rated it liked it
This is the first book I've read by Thich Nhat Hanh. I liked it; there is much to meditate on here and the author is obviously devout, calm, lucid, loving, and lots of other positive adjectives.
I won't repeat the praise described by other reviewers, or the criticisms (mainly repetitiveness) of others. Instead, I'd like to focus on one main problem I have with the book, which may be more a reflection of my impoverished spiritual state than anything else.

I don't believe that the author justified h
Feb 06, 2018 rated it liked it
I'm not sure I buy it.

It's fairly repetitive - in a way, it's effective, because it allows you time for the ideas to sink in and not just be words, and they certainly sound like just words, like just playing with language. That's part of the message, true, although it's hard not to be put off by it. He completely neglects defining anything, which I guess suits the philosophy, but to say that because a cloud becomes rain therefore the cloud IS the rain or because a paper cannot be without the fo
Patience Thomas
Feb 04, 2011 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended by a teacher who responded to my interest in gaining more acceptance of death. This book was reassuring that death is not the end but a continuation much like birth. For us to be fully present and be at peace with ourselves life is more dooable. There is no need to worry or regret by just living where we are in the here and now. Thich Khat Hahn writes that everything continues but in different forms thus there is no ending. Are we the same person that we were when we we ...more
Stef A.
Apr 15, 2011 rated it really liked it
My grandmother was recently diagnosed with cancer. Learning of her illness brought up many feelings of worry, fear & anxiety concerning death & impermanence. I would recommend this book to anyone struggling with those same fears, or to anyone who is suffering the loss of a loved one. The insight is calming & deep.
Kirtida Gautam
Dec 25, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: chakra-6
Very good book, but I was expecting something different.
I gave 3 starts because it was expectation mismatch.
Michael Chrobak
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
I’ve always found great solace in reading books like this, books that provide a paradigm shift without being stuffy or overly preaching in nature. A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle was by far one of my favorites. I just find them hard to review for whatever reason. Perhaps because there is no ‘storyline’ or characters to discuss, and perhaps because the style of writing is so different from fiction writers. Either way, I hope I do this book the justice it deserves.
The best part about the concepts dis
Phil Calandra
Aug 10, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is an excellent analysis of the life, death and the nature of existence. By means of meditation, various parables and life situation metaphors, the author adeptly explains how the traditional views of existence are misguided. Notwithstanding the foregoing, Buddhism may be the most challenging of all philosophies. The views of "no birth," "no death," and "no-self" are very difficult to understand and accept for most people. There appears little constellation over the loss of one's individual ...more
Elsa Mark
Jan 02, 2021 rated it really liked it
Once Siri started suggesting to open Instagram and Messages “upon first pickup” based on my data I realized it probably wasn’t the best thing to start scrolling as soon as I wake up. My dad gave me this book from his pretty sizable Buddhist book collection and it seemed like a great, easy “pickup” kind of read that I could grab first thing in the morning. A very digestible introduction to Buddhist core beliefs and practices, “No Death, No Fear” guides the reader through the acceptance of loss wi ...more
Steve H
May 17, 2018 rated it liked it
Shelves: religion, 294, buddhism, grief
Easy to understand, somewhat repetitive lessons on Buddhist ideas of impermanence and wholeness. I say "easy to understand," in that the examples make a lot of sense when I'm listening to them, but they're hard to wrap the head around in the long-term, and I'd have a hard time explaining the concepts to others without having to use the very examples given in this book. ...more
Sarah Vortman
Jun 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Thay's words found their way to me when I was grieving the passing of my two beloved dogs. They lifted me up and gave me hope and peace in the present and I am forever changed because of them. ...more
Cass Vogel
Jan 21, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Actually very helpful!!!
Feb 04, 2021 rated it really liked it
very helpful and comforting to me
Susan Wright
Mar 13, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Important Realizations

No matter where you are on your life journey this work is a wonderful offering. Beautifully written with compassion and truth.
Carole Martell
Life like a wave brought to light for those grieving and living alike.
Jun 03, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Since losing my son, this has been the most-healing, most-approachable book I’ve come across in months. I highly recommend it for anybody grieving, or who knows somebody grieving, or will someday grieve for loved ones - in other words, this book is for everybody, and that means you.

It’s a quick, nourishing read.
Oct 06, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
I had been wishing to read one of Thich Nhat Hanh's books for about 2 years but that can be said for many, many books and there isn't always an obvious reason for why some title rises to the top of that stack. But in this case there is a fairly obvious reason: the recent death of my mother after a short but punishing struggle to stay in front of her cancer. This is the not the first book on death and/or grieving that I've explored in the past year; it is just the latest addition to that shelf. S ...more
Rachel Jackson
Mar 05, 2018 rated it did not like it
Thich Nhat Hahn's book No Death, No Fear is a book that was recommended to me by a Buddhist friend when I asked for books about Buddhist concepts of death and dying. Perhaps I was expecting too much, because the book was nothing like what I was hoping for and instead was a mess of vague, flowery (sometimes literally) statements of spirituality that I don't believe in and never will.

The entire book repeated the same tired mantras over and over again, but he didn't develop any of them to form and
Oct 23, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Simple language, simple parables teaching very complex precepts and concepts about death and the dying. Simple enough for an open mind to understand but often dismissed by the casual reader because of their simplicity. I find Hanh's writing clear, concise, thoughtful, simple and profound.
He is my teacher of choice and read him often.

Admittedly I may have been guilty of reading more than I practice. I first read this book two weeks before my son was diagnosed with terminal cancer. I read it at
Apr 17, 2015 rated it it was amazing
My first real dip into the Buddhist philosophies and I feel like I picked a good place to start. I found throughout that the book challenged the often ignored expectation that intellectual knowledge is somehow magically internalized. It offers practices for meditating on the ideas given to you so that you may learn the lessons on a real level beyond just intellectual pondering. The book isn't a self help, "read this and be free", cop out. This is wisdom, take it or leave it, but don't expect the ...more
Rich Baker
Apr 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
If I had read this book a year ago I probably would have stopped reading after the first little bit. To my brain it would have sounded like a bunch of nonsense language attempting to sound smart. But I've read a lot about meditation and philosophy and what not in the last year and this book really hit me hard. I still don't think I understood it as well as I would have liked, but the parts I did understand were awesome. We are infinite. We are merely manifestations. It's really cool. Highly reco ...more
Jan 02, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: thanatopsis
Thích Nhât Hahn has once again written another powerful book. Many of the things can be found in his other works and yes he does repeat things over and over throughout the book. I found it helpful since it helped remembering without having to keep flipping back like other books. He helps explain death by discussing impermanence, existance, and the idea that we are not born so therefor we cannot die. A wonderful book though one that is not for everybody.
May 07, 2008 rated it liked it
This is definitely not Thich Nhat Hanh's best book. One of my main gripes about his writing is how repetitious he is, and that's a big problem in this book.

I really do love the guy, so if you are new to his work and looking to read one of his books, I would recommend Being Peace or Peace is Every Step.
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Kein werden, kein vergehen. 1 7 Sep 21, 2008 09:23AM  

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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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“The day my mother died I wrote in my journal, "A serious misfortune of my life has arrived." I suffered for more than one year after the passing away of my mother. But one night, in the highlands of Vietnam, I was sleeping in the hut in my hermitage. I dreamed of my mother. I saw myself sitting with her, and we were having a wonderful talk. She looked young and beautiful, her hair flowing down. It was so pleasant to sit there and talk to her as if she had never died. When I woke up it was about two in the morning, and I felt very strongly that I had never lost my mother. The impression that my mother was still with me was very clear. I understood then that the idea of having lost my mother was just an idea. It was obvious in that moment that my mother is always alive in me.

I opened the door and went outside. The entire hillside was bathed in moonlight. It was a hill covered with tea plants, and my hut was set behind the temple halfway up. Walking slowly in the moonlight through the rows of tea plants, I noticed my mother was still with me. She was the moonlight caressing me as she had done so often, very tender, very sweet... wonderful! Each time my feet touched the earth I knew my mother was there with me. I knew this body was not mine but a living continuation of my mother and my father and my grandparents and great-grandparents. Of all my ancestors. Those feet that I saw as "my" feet were actually "our" feet. Together my mother and I were leaving footprints in the damp soil.

From that moment on, the idea that I had lost my mother no longer existed. All I had to do was look at the palm of my hand, feel the breeze on my face or the earth under my feet to remember that my mother is always with me, available at any time.”
“When you love someone, the best thing you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?” 80 likes
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