In my library… « True Love » Thich Nhat Hanh [English]

Hi awakened friend !

In this post, I try to present you the wonderful book of Tich Nhat Hanh, famous Zen monk.

Because we don’t have enough hours in a day to read all the great books in this world and because sometimes, we need to come back to an old reading, I decided to create this article like a reading notes so that you don’t only have my point of view but the most important quotes, outlines and lessons given by the author.

« True Love »

A practice for awakening the heart

by Thich Nhat Hanh (1)



 In this little treasure, Tich Nhat Hanh, the renowned Zen monk, offers timeless insight into the nature of real love. With simplicity, warmth, and directness, he explores the four key aspects of love as described in the Buddhist tradition : lovingkindness, compassion, joy, and freedom – explaining how to experience them in our day-to-day lives. He also emphasizes that in order to love in a real way, we must first learn how to be fully present in our lives, and he offers simple techniques from the Buddhist tradition that anyone can use to establish the conditions of love.

   True Love features a transformative practice for generating love that consists of expressimg four key intentions in our relationships. […] In True Love Tich Nhat Hanh also stirringly explains how we can bring love to bear on our own pain, fear, and negativity.

1. The four aspects of love

  • « Maitri » = loving-kindness/benevolence → ability to bring love and happiness to the person you love

How ? Having time for deep looking and understanding

  • « Karuna » = compassion → ability to ease the pain of another person

How ? Understanding ⇔ Meditation

  • « Mudita » = joy → if there is no joy, it’s not true love
  • « Upeksha » = equanimity/freedom = love a person in a way that s/he feels free inside and outside


2. The four mantras

  • Love is being there

« Being rich is an obstacle to loving. When you are rich, you want to continue to be rich, and so you end up devoting all you time, all your energy in your daily life, to staying rich […] The most precious gift you can give to the one you love is your true presence. »

How ? Mindful breathing & meditation

1rst Mantra : « Dear one, I am really here fore you »

  • Recognizing the presence of the other

« Recognize the presence of the person you love several times each day […] To be loved is to be recognized »

2nd Mantra : « Dear one, I know that you are here, and it makes me very happy« 

  • Being there when someone is suffering

3rd Mantra : « Dear one, I know that you are suffering, that is why I am here for you« 

  • Overcoming pride

4th Mantra : « Dear one, I am suffering, please help« 

How ? Take pride off & communicate with the person

3. Deep listening

 » Internal formation » is created when we say something that makes another person suffer. I repeated every day, this person becomes a bomb of suffering.

In this situation, be the person that practice deep listening every day by meditation.

« Train in being able to listen »


As Thich Nhat Hanh says : When somebody tells you something, do not say anything, breath deeply and open your heart.

4. Learning to speak with love again

This point concern speaking or writing

5. Restoring peace within yourself

« The object of your practice should first of all be yourself. Your love for the other, your ability to love another person, depends on your ability to love yourself. »


The 5 skandhas (= aggregates) :

  • Form = the body
  • Sensations
  • Perceptions → look deeply into their nature in order to understand
  • Mental formations
  • Consciousness

6. The energy of mindfulness = smrti

Meditation → looking the pain face to face

If anger seeds grow inside us, do not try to remove it, make grow seeds of another energy (the energy of peace of love, of serenity …)

7. Caring for our pain

« I know that you are there my pain. I am taking care of you now »

Thich Naht Hanh advises to take refuge in a Sangha : community where brothers & sisters in the dharma practice the cultivation of mindfulness daily. It helps to feel surrounded by people that are in the same energy than us.


The principle of non-duality

« The gardener […] is constantly on the alert to save the materials because he knows how to transform them into compost and then transform that compost into flowers and vegetables. »

In nature, there is no waste, in our mind there is no good or bad thoughts, good or bad sensations. There are just what they are.

8) Reconciliation

Practice of non violence : « Breathing in – I know that you are there. Breathing out – thank you for being there. »

→ This practice helps to reconnect to the whole body by practice of scanning

« It is only through a precise view of your territory that you can manage actually to do something and restore harmony and order there – among the forms, the sensations, the perceptions, the mental formations and consciousness – knowledge« 

9) Coming to life again

 » Mindfulness is the practice that consists in bringing the body and the mind back to the present moment, and every time we practice that, we come back to life again. »

« When we walk without mindfulness, we sacrifice the present moment to some destination somewhere – we are not alive. »


10) Telephone meditation

The author suggests to practice mindfulness before answering to the phone :

The phone rings  Breathing in – I am calming myself, Breathing  out – I am smiling → Go to the phone in the style of walking meditation.

If you’re the caller : « I am determined to practice deep listening. I am determined to practice loving speech. »

11) Everybody should practice mindfulness

Advantages :

  • Relief
  • Peace
  • Well-being
  • Joy
  • Better relations with others
  • Being en example for other humans (especially politicians)
  • And so much more…

« Thinking prevents us from living deeply in the present moment in our everyday life. »

12) Getting rid of our concepts

Be a wave in the ocean, live your life of wave. The water is the essence of the wave as « nirvana is the foundation of our being ». Nirvana = extinction (of all emotions : birth, death, being, non being…).


« If you meet the Buddha on your way, you must kill him. »

A zen master

→ He means kill the notion of Buddha

 » For the buddhists, to be or not to be is not really the question. The true question is whether we have enough concentration, enough mindfulness, enough practice to touch the foundation of being that is nirvana. »

« Nirvana is not something that we should search for, because we are Nirvana. »


Thank you for reading this article until the end. I hope you enjoyed it !

See you soon !

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