Thich Nhat Hanh’s translation and commentary for a Buddhist text that has been long considered one of the three key books for monastic meditation practitioners
For monks, nuns, or laypeople, this text from the days of early Buddhism in China calls on us to wake up and live an authentic life dedicated to spiritual ideals. The Admonitions and Encouraging Words of Master Guishan is offered to new monks and nuns at the time of their ordination together with books on monastic codes of conduct, and it remains a companion and guide throughout their career.
The importance of Master Guishan’s Classical Chinese text cannot be underestimated. Although it is addressed to monks, it is suitable for anyone who seeks to awaken and live with clarity and intention. Thich Nhat Hanh gives a timely commentary based on his lived experience of guiding several generations of monastic and lay students on their path of practice. The text and commentary have been translated from Vietnamese into English by Bhikshuni True Virtue (Sister Annabel Laity), Thich Nhat Hanh’s first Western monastic disciple.
From Master Guishan: “Your parents give you birth, but your spiritual friends help you grow. Living with wise friends is like walking in the mist; your clothes will be permeated with moisture. If you spend all your time with foolish people, your judgment will keep going astray, and you will continue creating trouble for yourself and others. If these words are challenging, even insulting, let them be an encouragement for you to change.”
From the Commentary: “Awakened understanding cannot be obtained from books, even from the words of the Buddha. Awakened understanding is the fruit of practice. Don’t struggle, just be aware of each step and each breath, and you will have peace. Don’t wait until you become a Dharma teacher. As a novice, you can be very happy.”
Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the most revered and influential spiritual teachers in the world today. Born in Vietnam in 1926, he became a Zen Buddhist monk at the age of sixteen. Over seven decades of teaching, he has published more than 100 books, which have sold more than four million copies in the United States alone. Exiled from Vietnam in 1966 for promoting peace, his teachings on Buddhism as a path to social and political transformation are responsible for bringing the mindfulness movement to Western culture. He established the international Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism in France, now the largest Buddhist monastery in Europe, and the heart of a growing community of practice centers around the world. He lives in Hue in Central Vietnam.