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Thomas Merton and Thích Nhất Hạnh

Thích Nhất Hạnh

Thomas Merton and Thích Nhất Hạnh
Thomas Merton and Thích Nhất Hạnh

Thích Nhất Hạnh, Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet, and peace activist, living in the Plum Village Monastery in the Dordogne region in the South of France, last week experienced a severe brain haemorrhage and was brought to hospital where he remains in critical but stable condition.

A litany for peace of his is found in A New Zealand Prayer Book He Karakia Mihinare o Aotearoa (page 163). The Oxford Book of Prayer (pages 306-7) dates this litany to 1976. Here it is as found in the Prayer Book:

Let us be at peace within ourselves.


Let us accept that we are profoundly loved
and need never be afraid.


Let us be aware of the source of being
that is common to us all
and to all living creatures.


Let us be filled with the presence of the great compassion
towards ourselves and towards all living beings.


Realising that we are all nourished
from the same source of life,
may we so live that others be not deprived
of air, food, water, shelter, or the chance to live.


Let us pray that we ourselves cease to be
a cause of suffering to one another.


With humility let us pray for the establishment
of peace in our hearts and on earth.

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16 thoughts on “Thích Nhất Hạnh”

  1. That prayer doesn’t even mention God so it looks like a generic tantra that anyone of any persuasion could recite to anything they perceive as god. It has, in my view, no place in a Christian prayer book and smacks of spiritualist mumbo jumbo. We need Christ as without Him death awaits. Being a Buddhist peace activist and good bloke counts for nothing.

    1. Just to be clear about the process of putting that into our Prayer Book, Brown. The Commission set up by the church drew on wide resources. It was debated then passed by General Synod unanimously across all three houses (bishops, clergy, laity). Then debated and passed by all diocesan synods in NZ, again voting in three houses. Then debated and passed again by General Synod (you are getting the picture). Then left ‘on the table’ for anyone to object (which not a single person did for this litany). So I guess your view on its having no place in a Prayer Book is a minority position. Blessings.

  2. Hmmmmm, looks to me like carrying out a throough “process” still does not put God in the prayer.

    Who is the pray praying too? Jesus taught us in Matthew 6:9-13 to address God and to praise him.

    Sorry but I believe what Jesus said in John 14:6 and therefore agree with Brown.

    I guess that also makes me one of your “minorities” but that is ok as I know I will not be fooled by flimsy “prays” such as this.

    May the Lord Bless you.

    1. Thanks, Shaz. Is it an issue for you that the word ‘God’ is also missing from the Song of Solomon. Should we remove it from the Bible? Many have happily removed other books. Blessings.

  3. While this litany does not explicitly mention God or Christ, it sounds a lot like many series of biddings used in many Christian churches and answered in silent congregational prayer, and I still can’t help but hear an awful lot of Christ Jesus in it, when I read its contents and break it down into further simplicity:

    Be at peace.

    Know that you are loved.

    Be aware that all living creatures share the same source of being with you.

    Be merciful and empathetic toward all.

    Don’t be selfish and share what you have for the common good.

    Don’t cause others pain.

    Be humble in pursuing peace, both inwardly and outwardly.

    Hmmm… That all sounds pretty darn gospel to me… The very stuff Christ Jesus said and beckoned us to be and to do.

    Christ Jesus sure does seem to be present in those words “subliminally,” if not “explicitly.” And I have a sneaking suspicion that God is more pleased with those who behave more like his Christ, but don’t believe in him for some reason (they never heard the gospel, or it was presented to them by missionaries who failed to give a good Christian example by dominating their land and exploiting their people and resources with haughtiness and disrespect), than with those who utter “God” and “Christ” at every possible turn, but don’t live up to his gospel mandate to love neighbor, love enemy and treat others the same way one wants to be treated.

    Not without reason did Christ Jesus cry out: “Why do you keep calling me ‘Lord, Lord!’ when you don’t do what I say?” (Luke 6:46).

    So maybe we ought to look a bit more deeply for Christ in others, whether or not they are Christians, in how they treat others and live their lives in relation to the world around them, rather than rush to snap judgements.

    At the very least, Thích Nhất Hạnh (my apologies if the diacritic marks don’t reproduce correctly) is a very sick man now, and in that we ought to be able to see Christ in him, for Jesus did tell us that we would find him in the hungry, the thirsty, the naked, the homeless, the sick and the jailed — and how we treat them is how we treat him (Matthew 25:31-46).

    1. Thanks, Gregory. We are on the same page in this, as clearly is the church here. Just as (reflecting a recent comment I placed on this thread) I find God in the Song of Solomon although the word ‘God’ is never mentioned. I regularly find God in places where the name ‘God’ is not used, and I also regularly wonder what God thinks in places that use God’s name incessantly. I think Jesus was not dissimilar. Blessings.

  4. No Bosco, that is being silly. There are several areas in the Bible where the word “God” is not mentioned, nor is it required as the Bible IS the word of God.

    My comments were about the above prayer. I see my question has gone unanswered, does this mean you do not know who the prayer is directed too.

    Clearly not God, as he is not addressed or praised, nor is it prayed in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom lived, died, rose and ascended as the ultimate sacrifice to save us mere men.

    May the Lord Bless you.

    1. Shaz, there is nothing ‘silly’ about noting that the Song of Solomon does not contain the word ‘God’, and if you want to make a point you are clearly welcome to do so without moving into ad hominems. The Song of Solomon is not an ‘area’ of the Bible – it is a whole book. It is you who are describing the litany as a prayer directed to someone. The litany is clearly addressed to the community, that should be obvious from the repeated, “Let us… Let us… Let us…” Some will use this as a bidding in a more subjunctive sense. There are a variety of resources in the Prayer Book – not everything in it is addressed to God, not everything in it is prayer. I hope that helps. Blessings.

  5. Thank you for posting this beautiful litany. How wonderful that it is included in your Prayer Book. I am sure you are praying for Thich Nhat Hanh, as we are over here on the other side of the world. “Blessed are the peacemakers,” said our Lord, and if ever there was a peacemaker, this man is one.

  6. I love this prayer
    God love it when I pray this prayer
    God loves it when I lead the people of God as they worship, and pray and praise .

    Thanks for adding some more context for me.

  7. A popular religious song in the 1970’s and 1980’s was used in worship throughout my childhood. Written by Colin Gibson, I did note that it was never explain who was being spoken about. The words “He came singing love, and lived singing love, he died singing love” (and so on). Because God, Jesus, Holy Spirit, Trinity wasn’t mentioned, didn’t mean it wasn’t clear who we were singing about; and it didn’t mean it wasn’t worship.

  8. I have just become aware of these comments on the prayer. It seems to be connected to your posts on apophatic theology recently.

    These are my thoughts. Brian McLaren has called Buddhism a sister religion to Christianity. Much of the Sermon on the Mount sounds like a series of Buddhist mantras. For example, “Don’t worry about tomorrow. It will take care of itself. You have enough to worry about today.”(Matthew 6:34, CEV) I think Jesus came to lead people into truth. He is more concerned that we heed what we taught than that we attend a lot of religious services mindlessly.

    Others, Gandhi, Tolstoy have paid much closer attention to what Jesus taught than many evangelical Christians. Because we are so addicted to judgementalism (even on pages like this) Jesus was so emphatic in Matthew 7:1. And it was a Jewess who taught me that even approval (of one person or theological position over another) is forbidden by the same passage.
    Thank you for continuing to challenge and stimulate us, Bosco.

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