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Calming the Fearful Mind: A Zen Response to Terrorism + Last Steps: The Late Writings of Leo Tolstoy (Penguin Classics) + A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 130 pages
  • Publisher: Parallax Press; First Edition edition (August 17, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1888375515
  • ISBN-13: 978-1888375510
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #849,035 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


"I've spent a lot of time studying military affairs and this is one of the best and most balanced--as well as realistic--Buddhist treatments of military issues I've seen. I think Thay's combination of dharma and real world understanding is almost unparalleled in the Buddhist world."
—Melvin McLeod, Shambhala Sun

"Compassionate and inspiring collection."
Spirituality and Health, September 2005

"Thich Nhat Hanh is a master of living peace. This book reveals the secrets to liberating ourselves from fear. Outstanding!" —Arun Gandhi, M.K. Gandhi Institute for Nonviolence

More About the Author

Rachel Neumann has worked with a number of leading Buddhist
and mindfulness authors, including His Holiness the Dalai Llama, Sylvia Boorstein, Sulak Sivaraksa, and others. For the past ten years, she has been the primary editor for the bestselling author and Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh. Her writing focuses on the intersection of mindfulness, parenting, and the poli- tics of everyday life. She is a regular contributor to AlterNet and has written for various newspapers and magazines including Shambhala Sun, The Village Voice, and The Nation. Read her blog at

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By yogameister on September 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
i purchased this book today, 9/11/05 at a bookstore here in nyc. i'm not sure if it was placed on display by mistake as i've just read it is not to be released until october--but i am so thankful to have been able to read this today.

the memories of the attacks are so fresh today. i know that i've been ill at ease all day--sometimes struggling just to breathe. the simple act of opening this book has calmed me down.

thich nhat hanh, in his ever-gentle way, has reminded the reader that all too often we try to treat the symptoms and not the cause. by seeking out to destroy terrorists we are ignoring the root of the issue which, according to thay, are misunderstanding, fear, anger and hatred. i've seen so many "quick fixes" reported in the medical commmunity urging folks to take the newest pill to alleviate the pain rather than finding the source of the pain and treating it instead.

rather than attacking, he urges citizens to listen with compassion... to wait until we have calmed down before reacting... to try and understand where this behavior is coming from. he urges us to seek the roots and to act with compassion. and not once does he dismiss the severity of the situation. thay, having coming from war-torn vietnam and witnessing horrific examples of human cruelty, still recommends stopping and breathing before acting. it amazes me how his steadfast voice rings like a bell.

this is a slim volume, but one that is filled with wisdom. thich nhat hanh gently, yet firmly, reminds us to act wisely, compassionately and responsibly.

i turn to this teacher and his books often for much needed advice. this is one that i will return to again and again in these troubled times.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Grady Harp HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on November 19, 2005
Format: Paperback
Thich Nhat Hanh comes to this brief but soulfully turgid book by way of a long history of Buddhist thinking and practice, having witnessed the atrocities of the Vietnam war, absorbed the nihilistic effect of evil and electing to form conclaves of believers of peace and serenity in spiritual retreats in Northern California, Vermont and southern France. His response to the current climate of a globe drowning in terrorism is simple: turn thoughts to listening, hearing, understanding and stay calm and shun blowing things up!

'Misunderstanding, fear, anger, and hatred are the roots of terrorism. They cannot be located by the military...To uproot terrorism, we need to begin by looking into our hearts.' His quiet wisdom is disarming. He advocates, no, pleads with us to listen to and hear and study the Muslim ideology to better understand the conflict in Iraq, a conflict as unwinable as that in Vietnam. His discussion of the concept of suicide bombings in contrast to the self-immolations of the monks in Vietnam who elected to symbolize their beliefs by sacrificing their own lives is poignant: suicide protest is a form of communication but one that results in the global observers refusing to listen, to react instead in fear and in rage. To that end Hanh directs his recurring plea to listen to those who make even such dire statements, that only by truly listening to the motivation and the passion that drives such acts can we understand and react out of learning.

'America has been overwhelmed by fear'. Hanh suggests that fear can be exchanged for insight through the act of deeply listening to those whom we seem to oppose. 'In the war with Vietnam, the Americans had the intention to save Vietnam from Communism.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on November 3, 2006
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book addresses a much needed gap in the literary marketplace, namely, how one is to live in the modern atmosphere of fear, hatred, mistrust, and constant enmity. TNH's response is that it is untenable, undesirable, and that we must change ourselves in order to meet the demands of our age. This book strikes right at the root of terrorism, which is, as with all forms of violence, suffering, and despair. When we cease listening, and refuse to engage in dialogue, we have given in to despair, and the cycle of violence continues apace. TNH worked in Vietnam during the War, for peace, and learnt much from his experiences. He applies those lessons here. A must read for anyone who is at a loss regarding how to function amidst this so-called "clash of civilizations", as some have framed it. An answer to the Greed, Hatred, and Delusion that is wracking the globe right now. Wonderful, heartwarming, courageous stuff.
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I've used this wonderful little book in a variety of college classes since it first appeared three years ago, and every time I reread it and discuss it with my students, I discover something new in it. Like all of Thich Nhat Hanh's writings, Calming the Fearful Mind can be (unintentionally) deceptive. The simplicity of its style can come across to the careless or antagonistic reader as simple-mindedness. But a closer scrutiny reveals a definite line of argumentation running throughout the entire book.

Nhat Hanh's claim is that the purveyors of violence in our world suffer from ill-being, and that their violence is a reflection of their interior pain. If we want to do something to lessen violence, we need to treat rather than retaliate, and this involves, minimally, deep listening on our part. Deep listening in turn requires mindfulness (nonjudgmental awareness not only of what the speaker is saying, but also of my own reactions to it), patience, and compassion. How different the world might be today, suggests Nhat Hanh, had there been a mindful response to 9/11.

But of course it's not only terrorists who suffer from ill-being. Most of us do as well. So Nhat Hanh offers advice on how both individuals and societies can be more mindful of our own dis-ease, both how it's generated and how to overcome it. In the commonsensical way so characteristic of Buddhist psychology, Nhat Hanh suggests that a great deal of who we are is dependent on the foods we eat. If we improve our diet, we improve our interior states, which in turn can't help but affect our behavior in the world.

According to Nhat Hanh, we feed on four "nutriments": edibles, sensations, volitions, and ideas.
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