Eyes of Compassion: Learning from Thich Nhat Hanh

“This appreciative portrait of a humble, devout leader should hold appeal across spiritual denominations.” — Publishers Weekly

Book: Eyes of Compassion: Learning from Thich Nhat Hanh by Jim Forest
Eyes of Compassion: Learning from Thich Nhat Hanh by Jim Forest

Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the world’s most influential and revered spiritual teachers. When Jim Forest met him in the mid-1960s, he was a little-known Vietnamese Zen monk touring the United States on behalf of the cause of peace in his homeland. Jim was asked to accompany him on his travels and speaking engagements and later lived with “Thay” (Vietnamese for teacher) in France. An enduring friendship emerged in which Jim learned, through conversations and daily life, about Nhat Hanh’s teachings on “mindfulness,” “interbeing,” and the inner peace that is necessary for promoting world peace. Jim Forest’s intimate portrait, which includes photos and other illustrations, some of them by Thich Nhat Hanh, is a unique introduction to the life and teachings of a modern spiritual master.

“A beautiful door into the life and vision of our friend Thich Nhat Hanh, one of the greatest peacemakers and spiritual teachers in history. This well-told, intimate look into his early life inspires us to deepen in mindfulness and nonviolence, see through the eyes of compassion, and live, like Thay, from now on, in the present moment of peace.”— Rev. John Dear

“Jim Forest, highly regarded Christian peace activist and well-known author, presents Zen Buddhist Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s core spiritual teachings from up close and personal, out of their many years of friendship and collaboration toward building a more peaceful, more compassionate world for all of us.” — Ruben L.F. Habito

“A moving memoir of another, roiling historical era and the influence of a Buddhist monk on a devout Christian, both of whom remain authentic voices for peace rooted in spiritual practice. Theirs are important voices these harsh times. In our harsh times, Jim Forest’s moving memoir of Thich Nhat Hanh is a gentle reminder of more placid ways of effecting change and of the continuing importance of the lives and writing of both men. In prose, poetry, and pictures this important record of a friendship is a gift to those seeking the “moon” of peace to which Thich Nhat Hanh’s and Jim Forest’s lives point. Highly recommended.” — Bonnie Thurston

“This exquisite and surprising book by Jim Forest brings us directly into the whole and remarkable life of the great Vietnamese teacher Thich Nhat Hanh. I read it with deep joy, as Forest’s words made me feel as though I had walked alongside Thay since his early years. It is full of dharma, tenderness, intimacy, and wisdom.” — Roshi Joan Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center

“Many of the recollections and anecdotes that Jim shares in this memoir are familiar to me, as I was either present at conversations or had similar encounters with Thay’s teaching. Those were rare years, darkened by the war’s ongoing devastation, and yet also blessed by a certain smallness. Thay had not yet become internationally renowned as a Zen teacher. He was, in fact, reluctant to even teach Buddhist practice to Westerners, expressing the thought that people might better benefit by renewing their own ancestral traditions. Yet visitors, Vietnamese as well as French and American, were always reminded to practice mindfulness. The breath, Thay pointed out, is available to everyone from any tradition…. Some of my most enduring memories of that time are when Jim Forest and his family came for visits. There was always thoughtful, serious discussion. But there was also playful teasing, and after we moved to Fontvannes, walks in fields of sunflowers and plucking ears of baby corn in a neighboring farmer’s field to make sweet soup. And singing, always singing.” — Mobi Warren