Thich Nhat Hanh in 1997

Thích Nhất Hạnh’s first online chat, 1997

In 1997, I had been active online for several years and practicing for about two years. I had very little local community in Valdosta, Georgia, yet found some connections online in AOL chat rooms. I had been working on my anger issues and had found much guidance and perspective in  Thích Nhất Hạnh’s book  Peace is Every Step.

When I heard that he was appearing in his very first online chat on October 31, 1997, I made certain to be there. I did not ask any questions, however several people I had chatted with in other rooms did ask questions. There is an edited version of this chat that was placed online, and I copy the entire unedited version below.

OnlineHost: Thich Nhat Hanh, who is widely
OnlineHost: regarded as the world’s foremost
OnlineHost: Buddhist teacher and writer, is
OnlineHost: rarely interviewed. He has never
OnlineHost: appeared in an online forum.
OnlineHost: The Book Report is honored to
OnlineHost: present Thich Nhat Hanh.
OnlineHost: The event will begin at 8PM ET.
VNania4: (5)who is marlene t?
N031650: (5)Well…..who is he?
OnlineHost: Thich Nhat Hanh, who is widely
OnlineHost: regarded as the world’s foremost
OnlineHost: Buddhist teacher and writer, is
OnlineHost: rarely interviewed. He has never
OnlineHost: appeared in an online forum.
OnlineHost: The Book Report is honored to
OnlineHost: present Thich Nhat Hanh.
OnlineHost: The event will begin at 8PM ET.
OnlineHost: To get another glimpse of
OnlineHost: Thich Nhat Hanh, check out his
OnlineHost: website at: http://www.parallax.org
OnlineHost: Thich Nhat Hanh, who is widely
OnlineHost: regarded as the world’s foremost
OnlineHost: Buddhist teacher and writer, is
OnlineHost: rarely interviewed. He has never
OnlineHost: appeared in an online forum.
OnlineHost: The Book Report is honored to
OnlineHost: present Thich Nhat Hanh.
OnlineHost: The event will begin at 8PM ET.
N031650: (5)Hi ThichNH 97……and welcome to AOL.
Spikes1997: (5)hello
Mamasqrrl: (5)namaste
REDNO88: (5)Hello
OnlineHost: Thich Nhat Hanh, who is widely
N031650: (5)Hi and welcome chatters, my name is Gus
OnlineHost: regarded as the world’s foremost
OnlineHost: Buddhist teacher and writer, is
OnlineHost: rarely interviewed. He has never
OnlineHost: appeared in an online forum.
OnlineHost: The Book Report is honored to
OnlineHost: present Thich Nhat Hanh.
OnlineHost: The event will begin at 8PM ET.
OnlineHost: To get another glimpse of
OnlineHost: Thich Nhat Hanh, check out his
OnlineHost: website at: http://www.parallax.org
Spikes1997: (5)nice web site!
N031650: (5)Online Host……wow!
N031650: (5)Spikes1997….where u from?
Spikes1997: (5)Jersey
N031650: (5)N031650@aol.com…email me
N031650: (5)Jersey………..American…..
OnlineHost: Jesse Kornbluth (BookpgJK) of
OnlineHost: The Book Report will be interviewing
OnlineHost: Thich Nhat Hanh tonight.
Marlene T: Good evening Jesse and Mr. Hanh, welcome.
N031650: (5)I am a Canadadian
Bookpg JK: Good evening, all.
N031650: (5)Good evening Book
DWeiss333: (5)Hi Book
Bookpg JK: What an honor to have Thich Naht Hanh with us.
N031650: (5)Are you our host for tonight?
N031650: (5)Yah……..
N031650: (5)It is a great honor…
Bookpg JK: This won’t be like ANY other chat you’ve ever been to.
N031650: (5)How come BookpgJK
N031650: (5)??
ThichNH 97: We invite people to sit comfortable on your chair
DWeiss333: (5)good, the others were severly lacking!
ThichNH 97: or on your cushion,
ThichNH 97: and feel there is a sangha surrounding you.
N031650: (5)Hi ThichNH 97……..how are you doing?
ThichNH 97: From time to time,
N031650: (5)sangaha…………..what’s that?
ThichNH 97: we will pause and enjoy breathing together
ThichNH 97: for 20 or 30 seconds.
ThichNH 97: Just pauseand enjoy our breathing
ThichNH 97: and feel that we are together.
ThichNH 97: Just breathing and smiling.
Bookpg JK: You speak and write SO MUCH about breathing.
Bookpg JK: You say: breathe mindfully at traffic lights.
Bookpg JK: Breath mindfully when the phone rings.
Bookpg JK: Why such importance on breathing?
N031650: (5)Yah……
N031650: (5)How come?
ThichNH 97: So that you still be yourself.
ThichNH 97: You establish in the present moment
Ab10169: (5)what is the meaning of awareness
ThichNH 97: and are totally present in the here and now — totally alive.
ThichNH 97: Because we have a tendency to lose ourselves in a book.
Bookpg JK: So many traditions not only tell us breathing is important,
Bookpg JK: they tell us how to breathe.
N031650: (5)Deeply….right…
Bookpg JK: Do you have “method?” or is it more about being conscious as we
breathe?
ThichNH 97: There are many methods.
N031650: (5)In my class………I take a special class, we form a
concentration ora
DWeiss333: (5)I’m here, now
ThichNH 97: The method for mindful breathing is simply
ThichNH 97: that you are aware of your in breath and out breath.
ThichNH 97: Your mindful breathing might be very present.
ThichNH 97: It helps bring your mind and your body back together.
ThichNH 97: It produces your full presence in the here and now.
Bookpg JK: So many people think religion is HEAVy.
Bookpg JK: You say: In every image, the Buddha is SMILING.
Bookpg JK: Is happiness attainable for us mere mortals?
Ab10169: (5)in my religious person class we are studing you right now,and the
main question is your de
Ab10169: (5)finittion of awareness
ThichNH 97: The Buddha confirmed that it is possible to live happily in the
here and the now —
ThichNH 97: even if you still have lots of pain and sorrow within yourself.
ThichNH 97: Mindful breathing helps you become fully alive.
ThichNH 97: And when you are really there, you can touch all the wonders of
life
ThichNH 97: that are available in this very moment.
ThichNH 97: For your enhoyment…
ThichNH 97: for your nourishment…
ThichNH 97: and for your healing.
ThichNH 97: ‘$????
Question: I’m very familiar with you, and happy to see you trying such a
method of communication.
Question: What got you to try it?
ThichNH 97: Arnold Kotler and Jesse Kornbluth suggested it.
ThichNH 97: And I am curious — I wanted to try it.
ThichNH 97: And I’m aware that many of you are here —
ThichNH 97: and I feel wonderful.
Question: I am on the path, and I feel enlightened, but I have never
“officially” received
Question: transmission from a master. How can I know or does it even matter?
ThichNH 97: If you have got enlightenment, transmission has been made
ThichNH 97: in one way or another.
Gsulli: (5)Don’t you agree that centering yourself is more difficult in the
Western world?
ThichNH 97: Transmission may take place without a form.
Question: how do you deal with stress…right on the spot…in the stressful
situation
N031650: (5)Gsuli…..he can’t here you?
ThichNH 97: Go back to the here and the now,
ThichNH 97: and touch the things that are positive in that moment.
ThichNH 97: Your stress is only one element in the whole picture.
ThichNH 97: Enjoy your breathing, and acknowledge your stress —
ThichNH 97: and then SMILE to it.
Bookpg JK: You often have said….
Bookpg JK: if you want to be happy and peaceful,
REDNO88: (5)click the “interact” box to ask question
Absolut992: (5)who is that dude that is supposed to be here
Bookpg JK: assume those attitudes — even if you feel lousy.
Bookpg JK: It’s like choosing a channel on a TV.
Bookpg JK: We decide what we want to feel, and then we feel it.
Bookpg JK: Sounds too EASY!!!!
ThichNH 97: You have a seed of peace and joy in the depth of your
consciousness.
ThichNH 97: If you train yourself to touch these seeds within you,
ThichNH 97: theywill manifest themselves as energy of peace and joy.
DWeiss333: (5)I’ll buy that
ThichNH 97: And you might get help from a co-practitioner
ThichNH 97: because he can help you touch this seed of peace and joy.
ThichNH 97: If you do it every day, these seeds will grow.
ThichNH 97: And it will become easier and easier to touch them
ThichNH 97: and to invite them to become positive energies in your daily
life.
Question: I am a Buddhist and I strive for the goals of equanimity and
unattachment as a way of
Question: freeing mysel from ego, do you think it’s possible for a person to
find equanimity and yet
Question: remain “IN LOVE” with his wife or lover?
ThichNH 97: True love is the capacity to offer joy and to remove afflictions
ThichNH 97: in the person you love.
ThichNH 97: Maitri is the capacity to offer happiness.
ThichNH 97: Karuna is the capacity to transform suffering.
ThichNH 97: If you know how to look deeply into the person you love,
ThichNH 97: you will understand his/her situation
ThichNH 97: difficulties, sufferings and their deepest aspiration
ThichNH 97: With that kind of insight, you will beable to practice both of
these forms of love
ThichNH 97: and this practice goes perfectly with equanimity and freedom.
LuminaLamb: (5)psst…i just came on….who are we listening to?
Bookpg JK: In your new book, TEACHINGS ON LOVE,
Bookpg JK: your quote the Buddha:
Pooh52061: (5)Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh
Bookpg JK: All the virtuous actionsd we have done are not equal to love
meditation.
DWeiss333: (5)Hi Lum-
Bookpg JK: What IS Love Meditation?
ThichNH 97: Love meditation is to practice looking deeply,
ThichNH 97: to understand the suffering, the difficulties and aspirations
ThichNH 97: of the person you love in order to offer her/him true happiness.
ThichNH 97: And true freedom.
ThichNH 97: Your intention to love is not enough.
Firedup326: (5)hi jay
ThichNH 97: You have to train yourself in the practice of looking deeply.
ThichNH 97: Looking deeply is meditation itself.
Question: Thank you so much for sharing with us… Please suggest the best
Yoga to practice for
Question: one who is dealing with a life threatening illness… Thank you!
ThichNH 97: I invite you to breathe with me….
ThichNH 97: Let us enjoy our breathing together….
ThichNH 97: Let us continue our mindful breathing
TELL B ONE: (5)greeting to all
RSwineh803: (5)Can the mind heal the body?
ThichNH 97: and become aware of the fact
ThichNH 97: that this body is not me.
ThichNH 97: I am much more than this body.
ThichNH 97: The space of 50 or 60 or 70 years is not my lifespan.
ThichNH 97: It is not true that I did not exist before I was born.
ThichNH 97: It is not true that I will no longer exist
ThichNH 97: after the disintegration of this body.
ThichNH 97: My ground of being is the reality of no birth, no death.
ThichNH 97: No coming, no going.
ThichNH 97: It is like water is the ground of being of a wave.
ThichNH 97: The wave might be afraid of being or non-being.
DWeiss333: (5)RSwine– I think the mind can heal the body & do more things
than we ever dreamed of
ThichNH 97: But if she knows thatshe is water,
ThichNH 97: she will lose all her fear.
ThichNH 97: Nothing is born…
ThichNH 97: nothing dies.
ThichNH 97: That is a statement made by the french scientist Lavoisier.
ThichNH 97: The Heart Sutra uses exactly the same terms.
DWeiss333: (5)I just gave birth a few months ago, something WAS born!
TELL B ONE: (5)where do all live come from ?
DWeiss333: (5)I’m in Mass
ThichNH 97: The day of your so-called death is truly a day of continuation.
ThichNH 97: Birth and death cannot really touch us.
TELL B ONE: (5)( life ) sorry
ThichNH 97: If you know that, you will be able to enjoy every second of your
daily life
ThichNH 97: even if you are in terminal illness.
Question: How do you feel about the internet, is this a tool that can bring
mankind toghter or
Question: divide us?
ThichNH 97: Please tell me — you know more than I do!!!
Question: Can you comment on out of body experiences?
Wacky81: (5)lkjhjljk
ThichNH 97: What we call body may not be just body.
ThichNH 97: We usually think that “body” is something other than mind,
ThichNH 97: completely different from mind.
ThichNH 97: But in the deeper Buddhist picture, thesame thing is manifest
ThichNH 97: sometimes as body and sometimes as mind.
ThichNH 97: It is like the elementary particular in nuclear physics —
ThichNH 97: sometimes it manifests itself as a wave,
Drm2Ski: (5)Hello
ThichNH 97: sometimes as a particle.
ThichNH 97: And that is why scientists like to use the word “wavicle” to mean
Pooh52061: (5)Hey Drm!
ThichNH 97: an elementary particle.
ThichNH 97: In Buddhism, the word “namarupa” is very much the same.
ThichNH 97: It means: both body and consciousness.
ThichNH 97: So let us just use the word “experience.”
ThichNH 97: “Out of body” might not be a propos. In the light of interbeing,
ThichNH 97: body is made of mind and mind of body.
Question: Do you believe all religions are right in some sense or another?
ThichNH 97: Religions are traditions.
ThichNH 97: And traditionsare like trees.
ThichNH 97: They must grow.
ThichNH 97: Sometimes we must prune the tree in order that it not be broken

ThichNH 97: there may be branches that are harmful to the tree.
ThichNH 97: We must take care of our religious tradition
ThichNH 97: to prevent it from creating obstacles for our genuine growth.
ThichNH 97: We have to renew our traditions
ThichNH 97: so that they can embody the true teaching and practice
ThichNH 97: to fit the real needs of the younger generation.
ThichNH 97: We are very much in need of tolerance…
ThichNH 97: of openness…
ThichNH 97: of learning mutually.
ThichNH 97: Therefore our religious tradition should be able to offer
opportunities for us
ThichNH 97: to meet these needs.
Question: One would think that Bhudda’s lifestyle would make a thin
person..why is he so often
Question: portrayed as a fat man?
ThichNH 97: Maybe because the artist who made these statues
ThichNH 97: was a fat person — and he thought a fat person is a happy
person.
ThichNH 97: We need artists who can offer us statues of the Buddha that
ThichNH 97: show him as smiling, happy and free — and not too fat!
Question: In meditation what is the difference between sensation and feeling?
Pooh52061: (5)I often think the Hoi Toi buddha referred to is to Buddhism
what Santa is to Christians…
ThichNH 97: Sensation comes first.
ThichNH 97: Feelings follow right after.
ThichNH 97: Feelings are born from sensation — but also from your previous
experiences.
ThichNH 97: It is important to look into the nature of your feelings.
Ell2kash: (5)What an honor to be able to “Talk” to a man of peace!
ThichNH 97: The feelings may not be the same after one or two minutes of
practice.
Pooh52061: (5)Amen Ell
TELL B ONE: (5)dose appearance matter?, as to what buddha look like or whats
in the heart?
ThichNH 97: Unpleasant feelings may be transformed into a pleasant feeling
ThichNH 97: — by looking, we getsome insight into its nature.
ThichNH 97: A neutral feeling needs only one minute of looking deeply
ThichNH 97: to be transformed into a pleasant feeling.
ThichNH 97: Meditators should learn to do this for their own nourishment and
transformation.
Question: I am quadreplegic. I suspect this is an opportunity for great
mindfulness but how do I
Question: get past the fear?
ThichNH 97: You tell yourself that fear is not helpful.
ThichNH 97: It is possible for you to get in touch with positive things
ThichNH 97: thatare there in the present moment.
ThichNH 97: Use your eyes to touch something beautiful.
ThichNH 97: Smile to it.
ThichNH 97: And realize that there are things like that
ThichNH 97: still available to you in this moment.
ThichNH 97: I would like to offer a poem of 4 lines about mindful breathing
ThichNH 97: Breathing in, I calm my body.
ThichNH 97: Breathing out, I smile.
ThichNH 97: Dwelling in the present moment,
ThichNH 97: I know this is the only moment available for me to live.
ThichNH 97: My friends may enjoy breathing in with the first line,
ThichNH 97: breathing out with the second
ThichNH 97: whie they do things like cooking and driving,
ThichNH 97: watering the vegetables and so on.
ThichNH 97: I hope to meet you again.
Bookpg JK: We are honored to have had you here
Marlene T: If you enjoyed this event and would like to discuss it further, go
to Keyword: TBR and
Marlene T: join others in The Book Story chat room.