Thich Nhat Hanh On The Power Of Compassion

Quotes from an interview of Thich Nhat Hanh on

“If you are filled with anger, you create more suffering for yourself than for the other person. When you are inhabited by the energy of anger, you want to punish, you want to destroy. That is why those who are wise do not want to say anything or do anything while the anger is still in them. So you try to bring peace into yourself first. When you are calm, when you are lucid, you will see that the other person is a victim of confusion, of hate, of violence transmitted by society, by parents, by friends, by the environment. When you are able to see that, your anger is no longer there.”

“Forgiveness will not be possible until compassion is born in our heart. Even if you want to forgive, you cannot forgive. In order to be compassionate, you have to understand why the other person has done that to you and your people. You have to see that they are victims of their own confusion, their own worldview, their own grieving, their own discrimination, their own lack of understanding and compassion.”

“You have to be very compassionate in order not to get angry when you listen to the other person, because their speech may be full of condemnation, blame, judgment, and so on.

If you don’t nourish compassion in you, you cannot listen very long. You say, “I listen to him only with one purpose, to give him a chance to empty his heart. I am doing charity work.” But compassion will protect you from anger, and that is why compassion is the antidote for anger. With compassion, you can relate to other people. Without compassion, you are cut off.

If you master the art of listening deeply and of compassion, you can open the heart of the other person. If you know how to convey your feelings that are inside you through loving speech, you can help the other person understand you. That is why in order to re-establish communication, in order for forgiveness to be possible, you should learn to practice these two wonderful things — compassionate listening and the language of loving speech.”

Please go here to read the interview in full


  1. He is a true sage, isn’t he? (I’m assuming he’s still alive, at 94yo.) This is something I need to work on…my anger. I know I can’t show compassion for everyone (Nazis, Trump and his puppets, etc), but I can begin closer to home, with my friends and relatives. Thanks for this post, Lesley!

    Liked by 2 people

    • He’s wonderful and, yes, still alive at the age of 94. He suffered a massive stroke in 2014 and, after many years in exile, he was allowed to return to Vietnam to the monastery where he was ordained when he was 16.
      I think starting close to home is a good place for us all to start. With the examples you’ve given, it’s very much beyond my capability too.
      Thank you, Sabishi!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Exactly so! I am up against intense conditioning, so I keep working on expanding every day. Some days I get it and some days I’m in the dark. Being human is amazingly challenging. Take care of you.

    Liked by 1 person

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