Thich Nhat Hanh on suffering

This is a part of an interview Oprah had with Thich Nhat Hanh, a Buddhist monk, who’s teachings in my opinion are of the same essence as teachings of Eckhart Tolle. This is quite a large article and I wanted to post portions of it that especially resonate with me at this time. Here is a link to the whole article Oprah Talks to Thich Nhat Hanh. To see other posts of excerpts from this article you can go to this link.
I understand Thich Nhat Hanh’s answers so much better not that I am doing The Work. The Work showed me how to go into suffering, the actual steps, how to see it for what it is – a reality, God’s will, a lesson, an opportunity.
Thich Nhat Hanh sais: “Holding our suffering, looking deeply into it, we find a way to happiness” – I was not entirely clear on how to actually do it, what does he mean by holding it, looking into it. In my experience, Katie in her “The Work”  offers a clear step by step or should I say answer by answer, solution on how to actually find way to your happiness in daily life.

Oprah: You use the word suffering a lot. I think many people think suffering is dire starvation or poverty. But when you speak of suffering, you mean what?
Nhat Hanh: I mean the fear, the anger, the despair, the anxiety in us. If you know how to deal with that, then you’ll be able to handle problems of war and poverty and conflicts. If we have fear and despair in us, we cannot remove the suffering in society.
Oprah: The nature of Buddhism, as I understand it, is to believe that we are all pure and radiant at our core. And yet we see around us so much evidence that people are not acting from a place of purity and radiance. How do we reconcile that?
Nhat Hanh: Well, happiness and suffering support each other. To be is to inter-be. It’s like the left and the right. If the left is not there, the right cannot be there. The same is true with suffering and happiness, good and evil. In every one of us there are good seeds and bad. We have the seed of brotherhood, love, compassion, insight. But we have also the seed of anger, hate, dissent.
Oprah: That’s the nature of being human.
Nhat Hanh: Yes. There is the mud, and there is the lotus that grows out of the mud. We need the mud in order to make the lotus.
Oprah: Can’t have one without the other.
Nhat Hanh: Yes. You can only recognize your happiness against the background of suffering. If you have not suffered hunger, you do not appreciate having something to eat. If you have not gone through a war, you don’t know the value of peace. That is why we should not try to run away from one thing after another thing. Holding our suffering, looking deeply into it, we find a way to happiness.

  1. And the Gryphon said to Alice: “It’s all his fancy, that. He ain’t got no sorrow you know, come on!”
    And the Christ said to his disciples: “The kingdom of the father is spread upon the earth but men do not see it.”
    Suffering is a thing of the ego.


  2. “Holding our suffering, looking deeply into it, we find a way to happiness.”
    I hope you’re letting happiness “arise” as you look deep into your own suffering caused by that “bump” in your road.
    Here’s some loving kindness heading in your direction.
    Wants some more?
    Just close your eyes, Take a few deep breaths.
    You know how to breath don’t you? Just take in all the Positive Love you can, let it sit a spell, then let out any Negativity.
    You got it . . . Now try that twice a day, and call me in the morning if needbe . . .
    michael j
    Good to see you again.


    • Michael, Thank you so much for visiting and for your helpful words of advise and encouragement. Every time i read the line: “Here’s some loving kindness heading in your direction.
      It makes me smile. I love this. Thank you again.


  3. Great interview. His insight about not being able to feel happiness unless you feel suffering is very thought provoking. You may enjoy the book “When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times” by Pema Chodron. She is a Buddhist woman who writes about fear and power. It is an amazing book!


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