“Calligraphic Meditation: The Mindful Art of Thich Nhat Hanh” coming to New York this September — take a look here

Thich Nhat Hanh doing calligraphy in his hermitage in the south of France

While many thousands are eagerly anticipating peace advocate and Zen meditation master Thich Nhat Hanh’s Nourishing Great Togetherness tour of North America — which began this week in Ontario — New York City and its visitors are in for an added treat: the first-ever US exhibit of Hanh’s meditative calligraphy, hosted by Blue Cliff Monastery and ABC Home. Entitled “Calligraphic Meditation: The Mindful Art of Thich Nhat Hanh,” the exhibit will feature examples of his art that “[distill] ancient Buddhist teachings into simple phrases that resonate with our modern times, capturing and expressing [Hanh’s] lifetime of meditative insight, peace, and compassion.”

It’s estimated that Thich Nhat Hanh has created more than 10,000 pieces of calligraphy. This exhibit features a careful selection of the most poigant and memorable among them, from some of the earliest pieces he created in wartime Vietnam to his most recent contemplative expressions. “Calligraphic Meditation” opens September 7 at ABC Home, Deepak HomeBase, Mezzanine at 888 Broadway in Manhattan, and runs through December 31.

For Thich Nhat Hanh, the momentary, meditative process of preparing for a calligraphic piece — making tea; preparing ink with that same tea; mindfully taking one’s place; being fully present with ink, brush, paper, and mind — is imbued with as much significance as bringing to life the completed piece itself: [Read more, and see examples of Thich Nhat Hanh's calligraphy, with his explanations, after the jump.]

“In my calligraphy, there is ink, tea, breathing, mindfulness, and concentration. Writing calligraphy is a practice of meditation. I write the words or sentences that can remind people about the practice.

“If we just act with awareness and integrity, our art will flower, and we don’t have to talk about it at all. When we know how to be in peace, we find that art is a wonderful way to share our peacefulness.”

And yet, Thich Nhat Hanh has composed pith teachings to accompany some of his calligraphic art. We offer three of them here for you to contemplate:

"As practitioners, we know very well that without a sangha, we cannot go far. The sangha is our body and we are like the cells of the same organism (or drops of water in the same river). When we walk, we walk as one. When we sit, we sit as one. We practice collectively and move forward on our spiritual path as one body of water."


"Just breathing and becoming aware that we are still alive can bring us great happiness. When we breathe mindfully, we reclaim our territory of body and mind and we encounter life in the present moment."


"The lotus cannot be there without the mud. Likewise, happiness cannot be there without suffering. Looking deeply into our suffering, we gain an understanding of it, which enables happiness to have a chance to blossom. Thus, the lotus does not have to reject the mud, and the beauty of the lotus actually gives value to the mud."


Click here for more information about Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Calligraphic Meditation” exhibit, and here for the Nourishing Great Togetherness tour, which will feature talks and mindfulness retreats through the end of October in Toronto, Massachusetts, Mississippi, and California.”

To read “Amplifying mindful living with Thich Nhat Hanh’s calligraphies at ABC Home,” a statement about the exhibition by ABC Home CEO Paula Cole, click here (and scroll down).