52 in 52 Book Summaries

Book Summary: Silence by Thich Nhat Hanh

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Silence: The Power of Quiet in a World Full of Noise by Thich Nhat Hanh

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The Essence

Prolific Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh addresses the vital procedures to monitoring and modifying our reality—it’s all about silence. Silence is undervalued. Our minds our nonstop, bouncing from thought to thought with no sign of stopping. All of this noise is constantly shaping us, drawing us into patterns of suffering. But with silence, we can being to see the space between the noises, and discover who we really are and what we aim to become. This practical guide shares the tools for rediscovering our greatest potential.

Silence Summary Journal Entry:

This is my book summary of Silence by Thich Nhat Hanh. My notes are a reflection of the journal write up above. Written informally, the notes contain a mesh of quotes and my own thoughts on the book. The Journal write up also includes important messages and crucial passages from the book.

  • The Four Nutriments:
    • Edible Food: What we eat affects how we feel. Often, we eat something not because we are hungry, but to console ourselves or to distract ourselves from uncomfortable feelings.
    • Sense Impressions: What we take in with our senses and our mind. We tend to use sensory food as a way to run away from right now. In those moments we run away from ourselves and cover up the suffering inside.
    • Volition: Our primary intentions and motivation. It feeds us and gives us purpose. We need space to act with intention. Volition is a tremendous source of energy. But it must come from the heart. Find meaning in things far grander than yourself, it will fuel your motivation to relieve suffering.
    • Consciousness; both individual and collective: Every one of us has the capacity to love, forgive understand, and to be compassionate. Toxic elements when consumed are like the rudiment process; chewed and used later. Collectively when we surround ourselves with people who gossip, complain, and are constantly critical, we absorb these toxins. Silence and space in one’s life cannot be achieved along by no one. Be conscious of what and who you surround yourself with.
  • Silence is essential. “We need silence, just as much as we need air, just as much as plant need If our minds are crowded with words and thoughts; there is no space for us.”
  • Our need to be filled with one thing after another and another all the time is a collective disease of all human beings; let’s work to cure it.
  • Store Consciousness: The lower part of our mind; the basement of the house. The bulk of our mental life.
  • Mind Consciousness: The upper part of our mind; the living room. What comes up or arises can be thought of as the guest of our consciousness.
  • The seeds of our mind are stored in the basement, and whenever one is stimulated it manifests on the level of mind consciousness. Seeds of anger, fear, and distress can be planted in the basement early on in our development. When unwholesome seeds are stimulated; it can take over our living room like an unwelcomed guest. Practice what Buddhism calls The Practice of Diligence. Do not water seed of hatred or craving, be mindful: chose to instead selectively water the plants or joy, love, and compassion.
  • Nonstop thinking plagues us. People do not seem to be able to live without the “Sound Track.” As soon as they’re alone or even with their coworkers or their loved ones right in front of them—they try to fill up the tiniest bit of open mind space right away.
  • Practice deep listening. Next time someone asks you a question, don’t answer right away. Receive the question or sharing and let it penetrate you so that the speaker feels that he or she has really been listened to.
  • 2 Dimensions of solitude:
  1. Physically alone
  2. Being able to be yourself and stay centered even in the midst of a group setting.
  • What is the most precious thing we can give to one another? Our presence. This contributes to the collective energy of mindfulness and peace.
  • When confronted with suffering we must:
    • Recognize → Embrace→ Transform
      Reminiscent of a type of cognitive reappraisal, our suffering must be identified, accepted and modified. When modified, we either, eliminate, change, or accept the suffering.
  • If we NEVER suffer, there is no basis or impetus for developing understanding and compassion. Suffering is very important. We have to learn to recognize and even embrace suffering as our awareness of it helps us grow—the experience is imperative.
  • Goals are great. We can have wishes, hopes, and aim—none of this is counter to the Buddha’s teaching. But we shouldn’t allow it to become something that prevents us from living happily right here, right now.
  • Find your quiet space. Your first priority should be to find your own quiet space inside so you can learn more about yourself; broaden the understanding of your suffering.
  • “The island of self”: You are always with yourself; you cannot lose yourself. Be present. This place within yourself is the core of your awareness and not any of the nutriments we are aware of. Experience and observation are separate, yet connected.

Something special that I took from this book. I carry with me every day. Thank you Thich Nhat Hanh for words powerful enough to change my reality.

Kiante note card quote
"Waking up this morning I smile. Twenty-four brand- new hours are before me. I vow to live them deeply and learn to look at everything around me with the eye of compassion."

Reading Recommendations

If you liked what you saw. Here are 3 titles that I recommend based on what discussed in Silence.

1. Mindfulness in Plain English by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

2. Wherever You Go, There You Are: Mindfulness Meditation in Everyday Life by Jon Kabat-Zinn

3. Mindfulness: A Practical Guide to Awakening by Joseph Goldstein

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