The Way Out Is In

By Plum Village

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This podcast series is aimed at helping us to transcend our fear and anger so that we can be more engaged in the world in a way that develops love and compassion. Thich Nhat Hanh’s calligraphy ‘The Way Out Is In” highlights that the way out of any difficulty is to look deeply within, gain insights and then put them into practice. The podcast is co-hosted by Brother Phap Huu, Thich Nhat Hanh's personal attendant for 17 years and the abbot of Plum Village's Upper Hamlet, and Jo Confino, who works at the intersection of personal transformation and systems change.

Episode Date
The Three Doors of Liberation (Episode #18)

Welcome to episode 18 of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, the presenters – Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay practitioner and journalist Jo Confino – delve deeply into Buddhist philosophy by discussing the teaching known as the Three Doors of Liberation (emptiness, signlessness, aimlessness), which is vital to understanding life and living it well.  

Together, they go through each of the three doors, discovering and explaining the corresponding concepts, sharing their own experiences of these deep teachings and how to apply them in daily life.   

Brother Phap Huu shares on the topics of ways to train ourselves to practice emptiness (even in success), signlessness, and aimlessness; Zen stories; touching liberation in daily life; and meditating on our aims in life. 

In addition, Jo looks at the journey of stripping away individual selves, and recollects “the experience of the terror of nothingness”. He further muses on a day of mindfulness in the World Bank, and on not chasing life.

The episode ends with a short meditation on the Three Doors of Liberation, guided by Brother Phap Huu. 

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism: 

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation: 

List of resources 

Dharma Talks: ‘Three Doors of Liberation’

The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching

How To: ‘Begin Anew’ 

Dharma Talks: ‘Signlessness and Impermanence’ 



‘The Doors of Liberation’ 

Dharma Talks: ‘The Noble Eightfold Path’


“The First Door of Liberation is emptiness, shunyata. Emptiness always means empty of something. A cup is empty of water. A bowl is empty of soup. We are empty of a separate, independent self. We cannot be by ourselves alone. We can only inter-be with everything else in the cosmos. The practice is to nourish the insight into emptiness all day long. Wherever we go, we touch the nature of emptiness in everything we contact. We look deeply at the table, the blue sky, our friend, the mountain, the river, our anger, and our happiness and see that these are all empty of a separate self. When we touch these things deeply, we see the interbeing and interpenetrating nature of all that is. Emptiness does not mean nonexistence. It means Interdependent Co-Arising, impermanence, and nonself.”

“The Second Door of Liberation is signlessness, animitta. ‘Sign’ here means an appearance or the object of our perception. When we see something, a sign or image appears to us, and that is what is meant by ‘lakshana.’ If water, for example, is in a square container, its sign is ‘squareness.’ If in a round container, its sign is ‘roundness.’ When we open the freezer and take out some ice, the sign of that water is solid. Chemists call water ‘H₂O.’ The snow on the mountain and the steam rising from the kettle are also H₂O. Whether H₂O is round or square, liquid, gaseous, or solid depends on circumstances. Signs are instruments for our use, but they are not absolute truth, and they can mislead us. The Diamond Sutra says, ‘Wherever there is a sign, there is deception, illusion.’ Perceptions often tell us as much about the perceiver as the object of perception. Appearances can deceive.”

“The Third Door of Liberation is aimlessness, apranihita. There is nothing to do, nothing to realize, no program, no agenda. This is the Buddhist teaching about eschatology. Does the rose have to do something? No, the purpose of a rose is to be a rose. Your purpose is to be yourself. You don’t have to run anywhere to become someone else. You are wonderful just as you are. This teaching of the Buddha allows us to enjoy ourselves, the blue sky, and everything that is refreshing and healing in the present moment. 

“There is no need to put anything in front of us and run after it. We already have everything we are looking for, everything we want to become. We are already a Buddha so why not just take the hand of another Buddha and practice walking meditation? This is the teaching of the Avatamsaka Sutra. Be yourself. Life is precious as it is. All the elements for your happiness are already here. There is no need to run, strive, search, or struggle. Just be. Just being in the moment in this place is the deepest practice of meditation. Most people cannot believe that just walking as though you have nowhere to go is enough. They think that striving and competing are normal and necessary. Try practicing aimlessness for just five minutes, and you will see how happy you are during those five minutes.”

“What we discover in Buddhism is that once you have a lot of complexes, even superior or inferior, even equality, they come with a lot of suffering. And because of these notions that humans have – right, wrong, good, bad – we start to discriminate. And to practice Buddhism and to touch one of the doors of liberation is to see the emptiness of everything and is to help us be more free.”

“You are who you are, but you are made of everything. And because you have that insight, you are also free from your own ego.” 

“You cannot call a mountain a mountain until you see that it is not a mountain.”

“Practising signlessness, if you look at the mountain, it is made of rocks, dirt, soil, trees, and much, much more. And if you remove all of that, then suddenly the mountain is not there. That is the practice of seeing that the mountain is not a mountain. You are free from the sign that that is just a mountain; if you break it down, you see that it is all of these other elements. So this may be a meditation with which we can look into our own attachments, including to ourselves, like ‘I want to be like that for me to be happy.’ But is that image that we are creating for ourselves really happiness? Or is that just a sign that we have been educated to run after and to see as success? And so, if we break free from all these signs, we’ll become a little bit more free.” 

“Man is not our enemy. The enemy is ignorance. It is hatred. It is discrimination. So we have to help others recognize that so that they can transform too, because everyone has Buddha nature inside of them.”

“Part of the way we try to define ourselves as individuals is by making someone else the enemy, or wrong – because that feeds our need to be right and intelligent [etc].” 

“Happiness is a goal we should all touch in our daily life, because in true happiness you might realise that you don’t need more. What you have is more than enough. What you are is more than enough. And because you are fulfilled, you are at peace, you are free, you have time to love, you have time to be loved, you have time for the ones around you. Isn’t that success? Isn’t that happiness?” 

Dec 30, 2021
Wise Leadership (Episode #17)

Welcome to episode 17 of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, the presenters, Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay practitioner and journalist Jo Confino, are joined by special guest, entrepreneur and author Lindsay Levin, to discuss wise leadership and new ways of creating change and harmony in turbulent times. 

“Serial entrepreneur” Lindsay Levin founded Leaders’ Quest in 2001 as her “last startup”, to help leaders and companies align profit with purpose. Her work explores collective humanity through vulnerability and listening. She also launched the Leaders’ Quest Foundation to build leadership capacity in grassroots communities. 

Her passion for finding common ground between diverse perspectives and opposing voices prompted her to co-lead the launch of the alliance Future Stewards, after the Paris Climate Agreement. Her book, Invisible Giants: Changing the World One Step at a Time (2013), is a celebration of the everyday heroes who have inspired her to ask tough questions, and to strive to be the change she wants to see in the world.

Together, all three also talk about: the balance between urgency and patience; purpose; polarisation; and becoming agents of change. And: at a planetary level, how do we know when to slow down and when to speed up? 

Lindsay Levin further shares her relationship with the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village community, and about: working with leaders; dealing with competing interests and egos; spiritual values in the business world; self-awareness; tolerance in the climate movement; listening to others’ lives and widening circles of compassion; responsibility; the gap between cleverness and wisdom; ‘quests’; collective and individual development; planetary well-being; and honouring anger and grief. 

Brother Phap Huu talks about his own experience of dealing with disagreements in the community as abbot of Upper Hamlet, and shares stories about Thich Nhat Hanh as a leader. He also delves into the importance of listening in leadership; applying Buddhist teachings into daily life; bringing together conflicting parties; discriminative mindsets; inclusiveness; adapting to change; avoiding burnout; nourishing compassion; learning to be in stillness; and not postponing ‘simple opportunities’.

Jo shares the story of a company which lost its way after taking the space to create and reflect away from its staff. He delves into the pressure of short-termism; Indigenous insight into decision-making; and being observers of our own selves. And: is time money? 

All three share the simple routines they use to nourish themselves in what they do.

The episode ends with a short meditation on gratefulness, guided by Brother Phap Huu. 

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism: 

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation: 

List of resources 

Lindsay Levin 

Leaders’ Quest 

Future Stewards

‘Please Call Me by My True Names’ (song and poem) 

Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet 

Trần dynasty

Lý dynasty

Sister Chan Khong 

The opioid crisis 

The Great Acceleration 

Moore’s law

The TED Countdown Summit 

The secretary-general of the United Nations 


“Thay’s teachings are about the essence of life, and beautifully simple yet profound.”

“In our teachings of Buddhism, we say that we are seeds of everything. We are seeds of goodness, but also seeds of evil. And we have to help people see the goodness inside of them. Whatever suffering there is, we have to be there because we can be the light of hope.”

“Go into action and lead by example.”

“Thay created a day of mindfulness where we all come together as a community: we sit together, we listen to a teaching or have a sharing and sing songs, we cook for each other, we help each other relax. And for maybe six hours, we don’t talk about the work, because there’s a side of us that we have to nourish to keep our aspiration alive, and to continue the work that we aspire to do. This is what we call taking care of our well-being. And this is very important in the teachings of Buddhism.”

“There’s a beautiful simplicity to Thay’s teachings; remembering that it comes out of a deep, practiced understanding of suffering makes it applicable to any situation, to any of the challenges we may feel we’re facing. You are not [experiencing anything] harder than what he went through – and there’s a great power to that, which is very exciting.” 

“We learn to flow as a river. And the river is always moving. This image really helped me shed my ego, because Thay teaches us that we all need to learn to be a drop of water in this river. And because we are part of the river, there are moments when we can help lead at the front. And there are moments when we are in the middle, when we can help hold the front and back together; and sometimes we are at the back. The young can help push elders forward by using their voice, their aspirations, sharing with us, with the changes of the world. And so listening is very important for leadership and for growth.”

“One of the fundamental teachings in Buddhism is that man is not our enemy; it is ignorance, it is hatred, it is discrimination.”

“You change the world by how you show up, even in the hardest of circumstances, even in a very conflicted situation; how you turn up to that conversation or that situation changes the outcome. And maybe you can’t change everything, but you can change the outcome; that’s the nature of being interconnected, of living in this interconnected world. That’s the nature of interbeing.”

“For me, one of the [most important] images is that we’re all – I am, at least – a tiny grain of sand in this incredibly beautiful universe. But I want to be a good grain of sand. So how do I make the most of that opportunity?”

“If you’re not open, then you won’t be able to learn. You won’t be able to contribute because you’re not generous.”

“Thay teaches us that, ‘Sometimes we have to learn from our ancestors, and our ancestors include animals. When an animal gets hurt, what does he or she do? They know to stop hunting, to stop looking for a mate, and instead to rest, sleep for many days if needed, and to take care of the wound.’” 

“We have to let the surface of the water be still for it to really reflect.”

“The notion that time is money, I think we have to change that story. Time is life. I think that is the truth, because in our teaching of Buddhism, one of the core teachings of the Buddha is that this moment, here and now, carries the past and is building the future.”

“If we want peace in the world, we have to know how to cultivate peace in ourselves. If we want healing in the world, we have to also heal ourselves – or else we’re just going to keep running after an idea.”

“Peace in oneself, peace in the world: that sense of peace isn’t ‘I’ve solved everything’, but that I recognize what’s going on.”

“Looking at, admiring, and respecting the incredible wisdom of nature, and the intelligent life that is all around us and the rhythm that it follows, I find that immediately calming. You can sit and watch a tree very carefully and see the tree breathing because of how the branches or the leaves are moving. Just watch a leaf and see that. So that’s something that I can come back to at any time; no matter where I am, I can usually find some part of nature to touch.”

“We’re a clever species: we invent stuff. We fix stuff. We figure things out. We’ve harnessed science in so many ways. And so it’s easy to fool yourself into thinking that we are becoming ever, ever smarter. Well, we’re not, and we’re certainly not becoming ever wiser. If you were to plot our wisdom or our individual or collective development, it’s certainly not a graph that’s shooting off the top of the page. It’s more of a slow incline. And I think part of the urgency, pain, fear, and uniqueness that we’re feeling right now is because there’s a gap between how fast the world is changing – in many ways as a result of our actions, some of which have come from clever things that we figured out how to do, often with unintended consequences – and our own capacity, our inner wisdom, our ability to connect, to deeply appreciate our existence, what existence is, what it means to be alive, and what it means to be to be part of life.”

“I often talked to business leaders about this: you’re not going to be able to keep up by running faster. There is no way that, by running ever faster, you are going to catch the pace of change. So in response to that urgency, including urgency over dramatic issues, the importance of justice and planetary well-being and so forth, we actually, perversely, have to slow down. We have to develop the capacity for reflection, for introspection, for developing our sense of connection; for all the things that you teach so beautifully here at Plum Village.” 

“I’m really hopeful because I do think there is a waking-up going on. A lot of things are changing and I think we are waking up, individually and collectively. Maybe not fast enough, but change is happening, and in that process we need to extend to one another. We need to trust one another. People who have [the necessary] skills, which I absolutely do not have, are going to need to be part of designing the new systems that we’re moving towards.”

“Anger needs to be expressed. It’s very real. It’s really valid. It needs to be honored. Grief needs to be honored and valued and heard and respected. And then we have to keep moving; we have to integrate that and look to the other side of it. Why are we in such grief and fear and pain and anger? Well, it’s because we love life. It’s because life is beautiful. Life is an incredible gift.”

“In Indigenous wisdom, there’s the idea of seven generations: that every decision you take, you should think back seven generations in the past and seven generations into the future to say, ‘Where does this idea sit within historical context and what impact will it have in the far future?’ And yet, people are in panic mode. They’re not even thinking one generation ahead. People say, ‘Oh yes, I recognize that I need to do things for my children’, but I almost don’t believe that. People don’t act on it. In part because they are locked into this system where everyone acts the same way – so everyone supports each other in being in denial.”

“We are all leaders. This was an empowerment that our teacher gave us. When we learn to come back to mindfulness, concentration, and insight or wisdom, we all have an opportunity to lead our life, to be mindful. We have a chance to transform our lives, to recognize the habits that lead us down a path that may not give happiness, that may bring us more suffering; to have agency for our own transformation.” 

“Thay teaches us that you don’t have to wait to be an example to change the world after 20, 30 years of practice; today, as you practice, if you’re able to smile, that smile can change somebody’s energy just by causing them to recognize your freshness, your way of being present for someone, or your stability. You’re listening to them with your full attention; that is also leadership, that is telling the other person, ‘I am here for you.’”

Dec 16, 2021
From Extraction to Regeneration: Healing Ourselves, Healing Society (Episode #16)

Welcome to episode 16 of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, the presenters, Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino, are joined by special guest, Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Linh (Brother Spirit). Together, they discuss eco-anxiety, the challenges of and solutions for shifting to a new paradigm which can heal us and our planet, and whether it’s possible to change our minds, hearts, and future. Plus: how can you be at peace in what feels like a battlefield? 

The conversation touches upon “the decisive decade”; individualism and competition; interdependence; handling fear; transformation; change in “the age of collective procrastination”; and opportunities in difficult times. Is it possible to ‘sit’ with collapse? 

Brother Phap Linh (Brother Spirit) shares his journey of transformation, from studying sciences at Cambridge, to numerous retreats, and eventual monastic life. 

He further talks about creating transformation at both personal and collective levels; the cult of individualism; societal numbness; handling the energy of negativity; the basis of understanding reality, and what nourishes our views and beliefs; the economic conceit ‘the tragedy of the commons’; creating shared visions and aspirations; and telling new stories. And how do you change your view when you’re caught in the old paradigm?

Brother Phap Huu shares insights on how to not lose ourselves in a fast-paced environment, and looks at: fundamental questions; procrastination; individual aspirations; becoming free from attachment; striving and the importance of stopping; learning in the community; the Six Harmonies; and the joy of sharing.

There’s also important advice for those ‘burning out’ in the environmental movement.

Jo recollects Thich Nhat Hanh’s speech to the members of the UK Parliament and his thoughts on conflictual political systems. He further muses on the lasting joy of community life. 

The episode ends with a short meditation on gratitude and Mother Earth, guided by Brother Phap Linh. 

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism: 

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation: 

List of resources 

Brother Phap Linh (Brother Spirit) 

Richard Dawkins 

The tragedy of the commons 

Elinor Ostrom 

Music for Difficult Times

‘Introduction to Namo Avalokiteshvara’ 



Comfortably Numb


The Matrix 

Dharma Talks: ‘The Four Noble Truths: Vulture Peak Gathering’

Multi-level selection theory

The Five Mindfulness Trainings 

The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings 


“When everything is motivated by love, you don’t burn out.”

“My dad wrote me a letter that said, ‘You know, in life, it’s not for me to hand you a rose, but to hand you an onion, where you peel every layer and you cry.’ It’s like we find ourselves through suffering. And it’s the suffering we go through in order to find joy. We can’t bypass suffering.” 

“They say ‘It’s darkest just before the dawn’, and we seem to be at this crossroads where, if we don’t have what Thay would call a collective awakening, we are very, very likely heading for a catastrophe that is unimaginable in terms of the suffering it will create. And there’s an opportunity for this time to turbocharge the change into a new paradigm.” 

“Every single drop that we put in the bucket of mindfulness increases our zone of freedom and our capacity to notice difficult feelings arising in our body and mind. Then, when anxiety is coming up, we’re going to see it coming. You get to see it because you’ve put energy in, maybe five, 10 minutes every day. You paid attention to your steps on the way to work. You made that commitment and you’ve invested. And when you do that, in the difficult moments, you have that little bit of extra time and extra freedom, and you notice that energy coming up; you see it coming and you can go, ‘I see you.’ That’s mindfulness.”

“Dare to feel.”

“What’s interesting is to learn that we have resources, we have ways to meet those difficult feelings, and to transform them, and to not be alone with them. And that’s the power of our community: that we can be in that process of holding, of embracing the pain and the fear, and that we can do it together.” 

“That is enlightenment: to be free from all attachment; we’re not striving for happiness, but we enjoy the path because the path is happiness. We have this notion that we have to accomplish to receive happiness, to arrive at success. But then, [by doing that] we bypass all of these beautiful present moments.” 

“Thay gave a speech to MPs and members of the House of Lords. And one member of the House of Lords said, ‘Well, Thay, the UK political system is, by nature, conflictual. We sit opposite each other, we argue against each other. We’re always trying to point out what’s wrong with each other. What do you think of that?’ And Thay looked at him and after what seemed like an age, he just asked, ‘Does it make you happy?’ That was a really profound moment because it was so far outside the normal conversation. And it feels like, increasingly, we need to be outside of the normal conversation.”

“One of the things that may contribute to a burnout is starting to feel negativity all the time, that kind of blaming. It may actually be true that other people are not doing enough. But the point is that we have to keep our sovereignty. We have to keep our peace, our freedom, and know when we’re being colonized by that energy of judgment and hatred; we have to know how to handle that.”

“Be brave to feel your feelings. Be brave to see what your mind is producing. Once you do, you see the roots of it. And this is the Four Noble Truths of Buddhism: to only change and have transformation as you come to the root of it. So then you start to look at how you live your life: ‘What is it that I’m doing that nourishes this view?’ And if you see the root of it, then you see a way out of it. But seeing is not enough. Then, you have to walk the path; you have to change your way of living. And for me, this is where real transformation happens.”

“In the dharma, we always say, ‘Peace in oneself, peace in the world.’ Which means that, to achieve transformation outside of ourselves, we need to start with ourselves.” 

“Many people have asked me, ‘After Thay passes, who’s the next Thich Nhat Hanh?’ I say, ‘Nobody.’ Thay has told us very clearly that the continuation of Thay is the community. So each and every one of us will be his continuation. Each and every one of us will share that responsibility; that’s the power of community.”

“Learn to go as a river; be a drop of water in the river. Don’t be that drop of oil which doesn’t penetrate into it.”

“My inbreath, the outbreath of the trees. My outbreath, the inbreath of the trees.”

Dec 02, 2021
Building and Sustaining the Beloved Community (Episode #15)

Welcome to episode fifteen of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, the presenters, Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino, talk about the art of community living, and take a closer look at the Plum Village community’s four decades of existence.

The conversation touches upon key friendships – like that between Martin Luther King Jr. and Thich Nhat Hanh; ‘the beloved community’; collective energy; the spirit of togetherness; sustaining a community; deep listening; the importance of the sangha (a community of practitioners) for individuals’ practice of mindfulness. And: can two people form a community?

As abbot of Upper Hamlet and former attendant to Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, Brother Phap Huu shares inspiring inside stories from the Plum Village community, including unexpected turns of events; the impact on the community of practitioners of Thay’s withdrawal from public life; the secrets to a resilient and harmonious community; sharing opinions versus voting. What is it like to lead a community as a young abbot or abbess? And can you guess Thay’s true ‘masterpiece’?

Jo muses on the importance of vulnerability and of a conscious community; dharma sharing; and how sanghas he joined in different countries impacted his own practice.

The episode ends with a short meditation on community and friendship, guided by Brother Phap Huu. 

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism: 

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation: 

List of resources 

Loving Speech & Deep Listening 



International Sangha Directory 

Martin Luther King Jr.

Dharma sharing 

Vesak Day

Dharma Talks: ‘Beloved Community’ 

Brothers in the Beloved Community

Letter from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. nominating Thich Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967

“Man is not our enemy” 


“Community living is complex, difficult, and needs a lot of openness, deep listening, and negotiation.”

“In the Buddhist language, there’s a teaching on letting go. So we have to really learn to let go of our own ideas of what happiness is, what success is, and to see that our individual happiness is not an individual matter, but that happiness is actually a collective matter. Like, when I’m happy, I think you’ll be happy. And when you suffer, I will also suffer. Maybe not directly, but I can feel it from you. I can also find a way to support you, though. And so, community living is a practice in itself.”

“Our spirit is that everyone shares their opinion and we sit in a circle. So whenever we share an opinion, it’s not about ‘me’; we’re sharing it for the collective community.”

When Thay says, ‘We don’t need one Buddha, we need many Buddhas’, that is the heart of what is now known as distributed leadership. The world is very complex, so you cannot have one leader who knows everything. What you need to do is give people in each area the responsibility and the accountability that goes with it, rather than having one person at the top of the pyramid. And Plum Village has been doing that for 40 years now.” 

“Thay said, ‘We’re all allowed to suffer. Suffering is a noble truth that is taught in Buddhism, it’s a gem that the Buddha gave to us to have insight. But our responsibility is also to practice with our suffering.’ So, I can suffer, but I’m not just going to go and vent everywhere about it and complain; that’s not the spirit. We all suffer, we all have difficulties, but our practice is to acknowledge it, take care of it, embrace it, and find ways to transform it. And that is very key in our community.”

“We often complain that if we’re to avoid climate change or to deal with social injustice, we are reliant on our leaders to change everything. Yes, of course we need leaders to change things, of course we need policy, of course we need people to change – but, actually, we need to change too. And if everyone takes responsibility for their own contribution, then the world will start to change.”

“Everyone, especially men, we hear a problem and want to solve it. But often people don’t need it to be solved. They need it to be shared, and so it is called dharma sharing for that very reason.”

“In a group setting, each person who shares will at some point share an aspect of themselves – because the whole purpose of Thay’s teaching is about interbeing, that I’m not by myself alone. If you’re suffering but I’m quite happy, it doesn’t mean I have to take on your suffering. But it does mean that, at some level, I recognize your suffering and feel for you in the same way as if I was experiencing it myself.”

“When we want to walk the path that offers us strength, compassion, love, understanding, it’s much easier to do so with friends around you that support it. We call that conditions. And that’s why we say that in spirituality it is so important to have friends. It’s like eating rice with soup. Sometimes the rice can be so dry – but soup helps you swallow. So sometimes friendships are like that sweet, gentle support, that soup that helps you slide through the difficulties more easily.” 

Nov 25, 2021
I Have Arrived, I Am Home; What a Blessing (Episode #14)

Welcome to episode fourteen of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, presenters Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino are joined by special guest, Zen Buddhist nun Sister Jina (Sister Chân Diệu Nghiêm). A former abbess of Lower Hamlet in Plum Village, since 1990, Sister Jina has been one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s first European monastic disciples. 

Together, these three delve into what it means to arrive home in our bodies, in the present moment. And what is the present moment?

Sister Jina talks about her path to meditation – from yoga teacher in County Wexford, Ireland, to Plum Village, France, via Hokyoji Temple in Japan; her new book of poetry, Moments of Joy (“Instamatic photographs of my daily life but in words”); and her thoughts on meditation after more than 30 years’ practice.

She also shares further wisdom on Buddhist psychology; self-acceptance and self-healing; the importance of sangha; store consciousness (both individual and collective); the benefits on daily life of practicing meditation; guidance on the spiritual path; gladdening the mind and focusing on what’s right in the world. You’ll also find out how walking meditations can sometimes alleviate migraines. 

Brother Phap Huu recollects moments of joy, wisdom, and support from the former abbess, while Jo tells of an unexpected encounter with a real estate agent.

Informed by memories of how others touch our lives, gratitude runs through the whole conversation. By the way, what are you grateful for today?

The episode ends with a short meditation guided by Brother Phap Huu. 

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism: 

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation: 

List of resources 


Dōgen Zenji

Eihei-ji temple

D.T. Suzuki

The Mindfulness Bell 

Ayya Khema 


‘Discourse on the Dharma Seal’

Moments of Joy


“I have come to the right place in the right way, aware of every step I take.”

“It’s who we are, individually and collectively, that changes the world.” 

“The journey is the goal. It’s walking the path, it’s practicing. And to arrive in every step, every moment. It’s not, ‘I’m going to run because I want to get straight to enlightenment.’ That’s not how to get to enlightenment. In fact, enlightenment, if I’ve understood correctly, is in the present moment: to arrive in every step, to be fully present in every step, to live fully every moment.”

“This present moment holds the past and the future.”

“The present moment is the only moment we have. And if we realize that, we will live our lives differently.” 

“Nowadays you hear a lot about self-compassion; I think that it’s a door that leads to full self-acceptance and to arriving home. The oneness of body and mind. My body is the home of my mind.”

“People tend to look for the problems in life, rather than looking at what’s right.”

“What goes into the mind, comes out of the mind.” 

“We’re not headings, we are beings.”

“[Plum Village in 1990] looked like a very welcoming place. It had a meditation hall, a dining hall, and there were teachings. So, for me, that’s the monastery, that’s what makes a monastery. You have teachings, you have clothing, food, and a roof over your head – what else do you want?”

“I made a distinction between what I called passive thinking – thoughts just passing by – and active thinking: engaging with the thought that passed through my mind and caused pain.”

“If a tree dies in a garden or a forest, the mistake is to give all your attention to that one tree, when actually it’s really important to look at all the other trees that are still healthy and vibrant.”

“I think home is that sense of collecting all the fragments of our life back together.”

“My experience is gratitude, and gratitude is definitely one way to gladden the mind. So look at what is right in our lives. Even if a lot of things go wrong, look for what is still right, and I’m sure we will find something. And then allow what is right to gladden our mind.” 

“Let’s say store consciousness is like the Earth, which contains all the seeds. And the seeds that you water will grow into plants. But when they grow into plants and flower, they become mental formations. And you have positive mental formations, not-so-positive mental formations, and neutral mental formations. So I practice, ‘What do I consume? What seeds do I water? What plants am I growing? What is my garden of the mind looking like?’” 

Nov 18, 2021
Desires and Temptations: The Illusion of Happiness (Episode #13)

Welcome to episode thirteen of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, presenters Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino talk about sensual pleasures, temptations, and what the Buddha had to say about these topics, 2,600 ago. They further ponder how to come back to our true selves rather than looking outside of ourselves for happiness and indulging in fame, sex, and power. And is it true that what you put in your head manifests in your daily life?  

Brother Phap Huu reads relevant gathas from Discourse on Youth and Happiness and digs deeper into the four elements of love and the three complexes. He also talks about finding joy and happiness in a simple monastic life (do you know why monastics shave their head?); true connection; the joy of being part of a retreat for thousands of people; witnessing transformation; togetherness; becoming ‘a place of refuge’ for others.

You’ll find tips on recognizing when the ego takes over, how to direct sexual energy into something wholesome, and how to not become a slave to pleasure.  

Jo delves into spotting insecurities; breaking through the myths we create about others; letting go of inferiority and superiority complexes; humility and trust.

You’ll get some journalistic tips for editing your own life. And talking of life, if you were a sunflower in a field, which one would you be?

The episode ends with a meditation guided by Brother Phap Huu.

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism: 

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation: 

List of resources

Discourse on Youth and Happiness 

‘Creating Gathas’ 

World Economic Forum (Davos) 

Dr. Seuss   



“When we become a monk or a nun and we enter into a spiritual commitment, we are learning to let go of something, learning to put a stop to our habits, a stop to our desire. So when we shave our heads and commit ourselves to this life, it is also a sign of determination that I am ready to cut off all my friction, cut off all my desire and learn to live deeply in the present moment and be free from it.” 

“To learn to recognize suffering, sometimes we have to learn to recognize our habit of running after pleasure.”

“The Buddha teaches me that I am not chasing something in the future. I am learning to live deeply in the present moment because the desire that we run after can offer just a little sweetness, but much bitterness later on.”

“When we run after pleasure, we are losing ourselves.”

“For most of us, the truth is that we don’t know ourselves and we don’t spend the time to come back to ourselves. So we get caught in this pattern of chasing after things we think will make us happy. But ultimately, we always know that you can’t find happiness outside of yourself. That’s why this podcast is called The Way Out Is In, because it’s only by coming back to ourselves and understanding who we truly are that we can be happy.”

“So much in life is a creation of our mind, and if we pierce it, we find truth. And I would much rather get to know someone more deeply than to have a fantasy about them.” 

“The way you navigate in today’s world is not only internally, but you also have to take care of your connections, your environment, and the people around you, because they are also influences. They can also give some hooks unmindfully through conversations or even ideas and views.”

“The whole purpose of Buddhism, Buddhist philosophy, is to find true happiness.”

“Most of Western society now is built on bypassing our suffering, thinking that happiness is to avoid suffering, not to go through our suffering. Because the truth is that it’s by going into our suffering that we find our way through.” 

“We have to heal this idea of what love is.”

“Ending desire, overcoming the three complexes,
Our mind is stilled, we have nothing to long for.
We lay aside all affliction and sorrow,
In this life and in lives to come.”

“If you think you are greater, less than, or equal, you cause dissension. When those three complexes have ended, nothing can agitate your mind.”

“Life continues in so many different ways. And the Buddha, even though he passed away 2,600 years ago, is still present today through his teachings. So each and every one of us, as human beings, we have many ways to continue in this life, even after we are not here.” 

“One of the things within Thich Nhat Hanh’s mindfulness training is to be careful what we consume because the fact is, what we consume is what we become.”

“This is because that is. We all inter-be, we all are flowers of humanity, and each flower is unique in its own way.”

“We’re always growing, we’re always changing, and that is the beauty of us. And if we recognize that we’re always changing and that the way we take care of ourselves in this very moment will shape who we will be tomorrow, then our future is very bright.” 

Nov 11, 2021
Grief and Joy on a Planet in Crisis: Joanna Macy on the Best Time To Be Alive (Episode #12)

Welcome to episode twelve of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, presenters Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino are joined by special guest, eco-philosopher Joanna Macy.

A scholar of Buddhism, systems theory, and deep ecology, Joanna Macy, PhD, is one of the most respected voices in the movements for peace, justice, and ecology. She interweaves her scholarship with learnings from six decades of activism, has written twelve books, and teaches an empowerment approach known as the Work That Reconnects. 

Together, all three discuss: the relevance of Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings to the crises we face today as a species; the energy of simplicity; truth-telling and the power of facing the truth; the grounds for transformation; impermanence; interbeing. 

Joanna recollects what Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings and activism have meant to her, and shares a special meeting with him in the early 1980s, during a UN peace conference, when Thay read one of his essential poems in public for the first time. Joanna’s activism, forged during many campaigns, and her practice and study of Theravada Buddhism, shine through in her priceless advice about facing the current social and ecological crisis, grieving for all creation, and finding the power to deal with the heartbreaking present-day reality. She also addresses how grief and joy can coexist in one person, and how to be present for life even in the midst of struggle.

Their conversations will take you from the current “great unravelling” and the “gift of death” to Rilke’s poetry; the magic of love as solution; active hope; the contemporary relevance of the ancient Prophecy of the Shambhala Warriors; the possibility of a “great turning”. And can you guess her aspirations at 92? Could a swing be just the perfect place to discuss the evanescence of life?

Brother Phap Huu shares a lesson in patience from Thay, and adds to the teachings of touching suffering, recognizing and embracing the truth, consumption of consciousness, finding balance, and smiling at life. 

Jo reads a special translation of one of Rainer Maria Rilke’s Duino Elegies, expands upon some of Joanna’s core books and philosophies, and recollects “irreplaceable” advice about overwork.  

The episode ends with a guided meditation by Joanna Macy.

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism: 

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation: 

List of resources  

Lotus in a Sea of Fire (1967)

Call Me By My True Names

Celestial Bodhisattvas

Rainer Maria Rilke 

Duino Elegies 

The Tenth Elegy

The Book of Hours 


World as Lover, World as Self

‘The Shambhala Warrior’ 

The Shambhala Warrior Prophecy 


‘Entering the Bardo’ 


Ho Chi Minh




Parallax Press




“Do not be afraid of feeling pain for the world. Do not be afraid of the suffering, but take it. That’s what a bodhisattva learns to do, and that makes your heart very big.”

“Life is only difficult for those who pick and choose. You just take it. And that helps you feel whole, and maybe flying with the birds helps you be with the deep levels of hell. But this is life and it’s all given to us and it’s given free.”

“It doesn’t take a poet; all of us can feel that there are times when a shadow passes over our mood and we taste the tears. Taste the tears. They’re salty. It’s the living Earth. We are part of this.” 

“All Rilke says is, ‘Give me the time so I can love the things.’ As if that’s the great commandment. So I want more time to do what I’m made to do. Why else do we have these hearts with more neurons in them than our brains? Why else are we given eyes that can see the beauty of this world and ears that can hear such beautiful poetry? And lungs that can breathe the air. We have to use these things for tasting and loving our world. And if she’s ailing, now is the time to love her more.”

“You are the environment; the environment is not outside of you.”

“We are in a space without a map. With the likelihood of economic collapse and climate catastrophe looming, it feels like we are on shifting ground, where old habits and old scenarios no longer apply. In Tibetan Buddhism, such a space or gap between known worlds is called a bardo. It is frightening. It is also a place of potential transformation. As you enter the bardo, there facing you is the Buddha Akshobhya. His element is Water. He is holding a mirror, for his gift is Mirror Wisdom, reflecting everything just as it is. And the teaching of Akshobhya’s mirror is this: Do not look away. Do not avert your gaze. Do not turn aside. This teaching clearly calls for radical attention and total acceptance.”

“We all have an appointment, and that appointment is with life. And if we can touch that in each moment, our life will become more beautiful when we allow ourselves to arrive at that appointment.”

“Even in despair, we have to enjoy life, because we see life as beautiful; [we see] that planet Earth is still a miracle.”

“We know we are still alive, and because we are alive, anything is possible. So let us take care of the situation in a more calm and mindful way.” 

“Even wholesome things can become a distraction if you make them take the place of your sheer presence to life.” 

“Maybe this really will be the last chapter. But I’m here, and how fortunate I am to be here. And I have imagined that it’s so wonderful to be here.”

“Impermanence: the fragrance of our day.”

Nov 04, 2021
High Fashion to a Higher Purpose: A Zen Nun’s Journey (Episode #11)

Welcome to episode eleven of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, presenters Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino are joined by special guest novice Zen Buddhist nun Sister Hien Tam of the New Hamlet in Plum Village. This time, they explore monastic life: why do people want to become monastics? What happens between aspiring to be a monastic and actually becoming one? And what’s it like to live in a monastery? 

The two monastics talk about: their own journeys; engaging in society as nuns and monks; the secret to a long-lived community like Plum Village (40 years old next year!); individualism; transformation; conflict; practices that support the community. 

Sister Hien Tam tells the story of her pre-monastic life as a busy, restless, consumerist TV writer in Korea, and the unplanned visit to Plum Village which led to her becoming an aspirant and then a nun in less than three years. She candidly shares about saying goodbye to “external expressions”; her family’s reaction; ditching her “fancy”, colourful clothes for the brown robe; following clear guidelines; sharing a room with many sisters after having lived her life alone; dealing with habit energies; inner beauty; the “Buddha company”.

In addition, Brother Phap Huu discusses moderation; aspirations; inferiority complexes; loving clothes as a monk; learning to live a simpler and happy life; growing up in a monastic community; the practices of Shining Light and Beginning Anew; observing and training new aspirants; community work days.

Jo shares his own formula for a ‘mini’ Shining Light in individual relationships, and having to face his own suffering when the distractions of the outside world fade away.

Finally, Brother Phap Huu ends the episode with a guided meditation on generating peace.

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism:

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation:

List of resources 

Plum Village Community

‘Becoming a Monastic’ 

Beginning Anew: Four Steps to Restoring Communication 

How To: ‘Begin Anew’ 


‘Slow Down, Rest, and Heal: The Spirit of the Rains Retreat’ 


‘Deciding to Become a Monastic in Plum Village’ 

‘Life as Monastic Aspirants in Plum Village’


“Be beautiful, be yourself.”

“Everyone needs a spiritual dimension in their daily life to help them maintain their balance. And within ourselves, we have this seed. We call it bodhicitta. Everyone has this. It’s called the mind of love or the mind of awakening.” 

“As I became a monk, I learned that that is a way of engagement that we practice – not just to be peaceful and happy for ourself, but that our practice is a way of contributing to society, to those around us.”

“I always remember Thich Nhat Hanh saying that relationships never break up out of the blue, from something major happening. It’s from the very minor drip. He talked about it like a stalagmite or a stalactite in a cave: the small drip of problems which, at the time, are very often not addressed.”

“We share our joy and we share our success. That’s really important because in our time, where individualism is prioritized, growin up, we’re all taught to be successful by ourselves. And now, in a community, we have many talents and many types of leaders. I think a community needs a leader, but we don’t need one leader. We can have many types of leaders and when we offer a retreat, we have people leading dharma sharing, people leading Dharma Talks, people leading walking or even cooking. And for me, that’s leading like a team.”

“The simple life makes me very creative […] I feel I have more energy to take care of my inner beauty.”

“Sometimes the answers are the most obvious ones, but we don’t immediately think of them, we don’t realize that the reason I’m not fully happy is because I’ve stopped and I’m having to face myself. I’m feeling this tension in myself because I’m in Plum Village, not in spite of being in Plum Village. So this idea of how we stop means we have to look at ourselves as if we really stop and take away all the extraneous stuff: cinemas, Netflix, restaurants, and everything. All we’re left with is ourselves, and that’s quite a challenge.” 

“The practice teaches us to see ourselves like a mirror. Everything you do is you. You can’t put that blame on anyone else and you cannot hide away from it.”

“We are all cells of one body, so if I shine a light on you, I am also shining a light on myself.”

“I remember Thich Nhat Hanh would say about couples that you can share the same bed, but if you don’t have the same dream, then actually it can never work out.”

“Thich Nhat Hanh always says that love is understanding. And I think what you’re saying is that, unless we start to more deeply understand each other, then actually you don’t really generate love.”

“Thanks to the practice, we learn about moderation. And when you have one thing that is beautiful and it does what it needs to, you don’t have to search for anything else. And so I apply that to everything, even to happiness or my community. Even though we’re not the best and we have shortcomings, that’s good enough. I don’t need to keep searching or else I’m just going to be going round and round looking for something.”

“Letting go of the extraneous stuff, letting go of things outside and just saying, ‘Actually, I’m good enough as I am and actually I want to be myself.’ I don’t want to be this egoic mask of myself that’s seeking to feel better about myself by proving anything. I can just be truly who I am and be at peace. And it makes life so much more enjoyable, not wanting to grasp things or think that something outside of us is going to make us happy.”

Oct 28, 2021
Healing Our Inner Child: Pathways to Embrace Our Suffering (Episode #10)

Welcome to episode ten of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, presenters Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino are joined by special guest Zen Buddhist nun Sister Sinh Nghiem (Adornment with Liveliness). Together, they look deeply into healing childhood wounds. 

All three further discuss: inner healing, from healing the child within to collective healing and how to face our challenges, traumas and suffering to find a way through;  the possibility of transformation and healing past relationships; the original fear.

Brother Phap Huu expands upon: the importance of understanding the source of inner wounds in order to start healing them; Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings on childhood traumas; the Four Noble Truths; his own experience of being bullied as a child and its consequences; understanding and compassion for those we think are responsible for our suffering; apologizing and forgiveness; stopping the cycle of hate.

Sister Sinh Nghiem shares insights about: her journey to becoming a nun, from escaping Vietnam on a boat with her family after the war, to her career as a psychologist, and finding Thay through another teacher in the Theravada tradition; how the practice of mindfulness helped her deal with abuse suffered as a child; healing her inner child after she became a monastic. She also discusses specific spiritual practices that helped her healing process, like reconnecting with the body, and mindful movement.

Jo recollects a workshop by John Bradshaw on healing the inner child and the deep experience of transformation. He further muses on childhood and creative visualization, defense mechanisms, and the importance of understanding the context of our parents’ lives.

Finally, Brother Phap Huu ends the episode with a guided meditation on generating love for our own selves.

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism:

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation:

List of resources 

Plum Village Community

The Inner Child (short guided meditation) 

Stream Entering Monastery

John Bradshaw

Theravada tradition 

Understanding Our Father 

The Four Noble Truths 

‘The 16 Exercises of Mindful Breathing’ 


Tai chi 

Engaged Buddhism    


“I’ve always been very impressed with Thich Nhat Hanh because he has integrated the very depths of Buddhist teachings with Western psychology. And he focuses a lot of his teachings on healing our childhood wounds, and that the wounds we receive as children tend to stick with us throughout our lives.”

“In Buddhism, we always practice in order to have liberation – but liberation has to be the liberation of something. Much of the time, as an adult, we want to understand our suffering. And in Buddhism, we have to shine light into the reality of what is happening in the here and now. In meditation and in mindfulness, when you are aware of yourself, you can start to recognize what is causing you pain and what is causing you suffering.”

“When suffering is present, happiness is also there. These opposites go hand in hand. If there is happiness, then we know that suffering is also present – and we have to understand that suffering is not solely negative, because if you truly look deeply into it, you start to understand yourself more.”

“When we meditate on our suffering, we can recognize that it is a continuation of the past. A lot of us experience early suffering as a child. If we didn’t have the chance, as a child, to transform it or to have a breakthrough and be free from it, then that suffering will still be very present with us today.”

“I had all the knowledge and all the wisdom and all the understanding to be able to go and sit with myself as a child and start that healing process.”

“Tai chi and qigong for me are not just about the movement, but about learning to be mindful in my movement.” 

“We may forget about the event itself, the situation, the story, but the body remembers the wound; the body remembers the events that happened.” 

“Even though our practice is to learn to dwell in the present moment and not be carried away by the future or be swept away by the past, in meditation itself we have to also visit the three times. The three times means we have to know how to reflect on the past, no matter how miserable it can be; it can be a lesson, it can be an insight that allows us to stop because we recognize that what has happened to us gave us so much suffering. And if we don’t transform this, we will offer the same suffering to the next person that is close to us.”

“If we don’t let go, then the perpetrator continues to make us suffer; we never break that cycle.” 

“I have learned through Thay’s teaching that, as an adult or as a parent, as an elder brother, as an elder sister, an uncle, an aunt, or a friend, our way of being is a teaching. The way we interact is a transmission in its own right. So my suffering has given me a lot of awareness about how I behave, and that has an immediate impact.” 

“We’re all on that path, we are all hurt, we all suffer; Thich Nhat Hanh talks about this original suffering existing from birth. It’s not that we must have had a traumatic experience growing up, but that, actually, birth itself is a traumatic experience.”

“I realized it’s so important to be able to heal through these very simple things, like being able to reconnect with your body to relax and release the tension in it.” 

“Our teacher emphasizes a lot about brotherhood- and sisterhood-friendship. This is one of his messages to all of us: that we need communities as individuals. Yes, we can recognize our own suffering, but sometimes our own dark corners are too big for us to illuminate. We need friends to help us see the blind spots so that we can step out of our suffering, to recognize and transform it.” 

“This present moment is creating the past. This is one of the keys that helped me become more free in this present moment. If we live it deeply, it will become the new past.”

“When you come here for the practice, you learn to bring the practice into your daily life, so that you become more solid, more stable, and more peaceful, in order to embrace the really difficult stuff – because you need that. If you don’t have a solid foundation of peace and connectedness and groundedness, then when your suffering comes up, you are automatically carried away. You are overwhelmed by the past and are not able to be grounded in the present moment with your breath. And that is a really, really important daily practice, which enables you to heal deeper wounds.”

Oct 21, 2021
Engaged Buddhism: Applying the Teachings in Our Present Moment (Episode #9)

Welcome to episode nine of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, presenters Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino are joined by special guest Zen Buddhist nun Sister True Dedication (Sister Hien Nghiem). Together, they look deeply at the whole concept of engaged Buddhism, and ways in which Thich Nhat Hanh made ancient teachings relevant to day-to-day questions.

Additionally, they discuss: how Plum Village is shedding the stereotypes about Buddhist monastic life; how to refresh Buddhism through a hands-on approach and engaging teachings in daily life; what it means to not take sides; the roots of evil; reducing suffering through compassionate action; healing; patience. 

Brother Phap Huu digs into: what it means to apply Buddhism in contemporary life; the spiritual dimension of breathing; the importance of communities and practice centers as spiritual refuges; the dynamics of anger coming up; moving from anger to peace in activism. Plus: can you guess the one time it’s best not to do sitting meditation?

Sister True Dedication shares insights about: the early events in Thich Nhat Hanh’s life which led to the inception of the engaged Buddhism movement in war-torn Vietnam; Thay’s peace activism and his exile; Buddhism’s potential to deal with injustice; Plum Village monastery’s engagement with the outside world and what this busy community of monastics has to offer it, through retreats and active engagement in various causes. She also delves into ways of handling strong emotions, deep looking, understanding the roots of our suffering, and the importance of dialogue. And what does compassion look like in a time of crisis? How can we listen to those people in our lives who we least want to listen to?

Jo remembers his first visit to Plum Village, and tea with Thay. He further muses on: how feeling steady and grounded can act as “the tuning fork” of our being; how we can perpetuate mindful living by simply approaching the world mindfully; failure and criticism.

Finally, Brother Phap Huu ends the episode with a guided meditation on embracing suffering with compassion.

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism:

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation:

List of resources 

Engaged Buddhism 

Mindfulness, Suffering, and Engaged Buddhism

The Practice for Engaged Buddhism

Please Call Me by My True Names

Israeli Palestinian Retreat 

Invoking the Bodhisattva


Gross National Happiness

Greta Thunberg

Koch brothers


“We need to act with the urgency of today and the patience of a thousand years.”

“Thay says that it doesn’t matter if you’re Buddhist, Jewish, or Christian; as long as you’re breathing, you have a spiritual dimension and can practice.”

“I’d describe Plum Village as a beautiful oasis, and an engine of healing, transformation, and training. So we’re really training in practical skills that we can later take back into life outside the monastery.” 

“The most effective tool in my toolbox is to turn up mindfully, because it gives others the chance to also come home.” 

“[Thay] said, when we hear the bombs falling all around us, how can we sit there and do nothing, or sit there and just chant? It’s not enough. Our compassion has to reveal itself.”

“In multiple talks, Thay says that everyone needs a spiritual dimension in order to cope with what’s happening in the world, or to themselves. We may have that aspiration, but we need companions to support us. That’s where a community comes in and can be an example, can lead, and can also be a companion.”

“When Thay was exposed to peace activists and events and retreats and conversations and dialogue, his realization was that there’s a lot of anger in the peace movement. This became the kernel of Thay’s development of real practices of peace, so that, as an individual peace activist, we have a way to calm our body, to calm our emotions, to keep our mind clear, and to be truly nonviolent in body and mind.”

“You could send all the bombs to the moon, but you would still have the roots of war in people’s hearts and minds. It’s not about destroying all the nuclear warheads; it’s about destroying the nuclear warheads that are there because we hate each other, because we resent each other, because we can’t handle the other side politically, because we can’t handle people who have betrayed us. So for Thay, then, the challenge became this much deeper, human one: of creating environments where we can heal, transform, and look deeply, and make use of Buddhist teachings.”

“Our practice is to understand the roots of our suffering.”

“A bigger impact is what we carry from thought into our daily action, whether by words or by deed.”

“Man is not our enemy. It is ignorance, fear, and despair that is the root of all of this negative action.”

“When we say that, in our tradition, we do our best to not take sides, we don’t deny that people are doing what we would call wrong action or wrong speech, or perpetrating injustice against others and creating harm. What it means is that we position ourselves a little differently, and want to avoid placing blame and the aggressive stance of labeling someone a perpetrator. Because, with our way of looking at things, the perpetrator is themselves also a victim, of their wrong view, and of the wrong way of seeing the world, which is leading to this hate speech or hateful action.”

“Man is not the enemy. The enemy is wrong views. And, according to Buddhist teaching, the way to liberate ourselves from wrong views is with deep looking, and with listening, and reexamining what’s going on. And for that, we need a huge amount of compassion and collective energy, which monastics can help to bring.” 

“When you’re angry, you are not very clear, you are not very present, and you won’t really see what to do and what not to do. Because, at that moment of energy erupting inside of you, the natural tendency is to act, to punish. Anger goes with punishment; they are very linked. And often we will want to retaliate, to make the ones who made us suffer, suffer themselves. But in Buddhism, we want to break free from that; we see that they make us suffer because, actually, they suffer.”

“Taking time to see the hurt that precedes the hatred and the anger, and to give that hurt the witness, the embracing, the holding, and ultimately the healing by bringing it out to the light and saying, actually, it is this hurt that we need to take care of. That work takes time. It’s not the work of one or two days; in Plum Village, those retreats would be at least two weeks long. Fourteen days of breathing, of living simply, of mindful walking, mindful eating, quiet time, sitting and breathing and meditation, as well as the support of a whole community.” 

“We cannot possibly build a future unless we’re able to talk to each other, unless we’re able to dialogue across the divide, unless we’re able to respect each other’s differences and different needs.”

“When we’re angry at someone, we’re always angry at ourselves. When we see someone else being wrong, we’re always, to some extent, thinking that we’re wrong.” 

“There’s enough suffering already, we don’t have to contribute more.” 

Oct 14, 2021
Thich Nhat Hanh: Zen Master and Simple Monk (Episode #8)

Welcome to episode eight of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, on the eve of Thich Nhat Hanh’s 95th birthday (or continuation day), presenters Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino take a walk down memory lane, remembering behind-the-scenes stories about Thay (Vietnamese for “teacher”): the humble monk, rather than his well-known public persona as spiritual teacher.

They do so in Sitting Still Hut in Upper Hamlet, Thay’s residence during his years in Plum Village. By taking a tour of the hut, they trace the teacher’s daily routine and linger over the minimal but essential objects in his life. With fine strokes, the conversation portrays Thay the gardener and community builder, his (compassionate) fierceness, his incredible memory, and his ability to turn complex teachings into simple, accessible ones. 

Through many memories, Jo and Phap Huu muse about minimalism, sharing, consumerism, simplicity, the beginner’s mind, being grounded, nourishing humility and humbleness, the power of smiles, and some of Thay’s major teachings and legacies.

Befittingly, Brother Phap Huu ends the episode with a guided meditation.

Happy continuation day, dear Thay!

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism:

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation:

List of resources 

A Precious Gift for Thich Nhat Hanh’s 95th Continuation Day: Deep Listening for Mother Earth

The Toadskin Hut and Paths of Legend

Anger: Wisdom for Cooling the Flames

Sister Chan Khong

Dalai Lama

Joan Miró

Beginner’s mind (shoshin)

Plum Village Practice Centers

Plum Village Hamlets

Deer Park Monastery


“Simplicity and nothing extra: everything in the hut is something that he uses and has a meaning.” 

“Humility comes through action; not through what you say, but through how you live.”

“Meditation is the capacity to really be in the present moment to connect to oneself and to others.”

“In Buddhism, we have to learn to identify the simple joys in our life and our simple happiness. We may think that happiness is something very far away, something that we have to work hard to achieve. But if you touch the present moment and are really in touch with what you have right here, right now, are you sure that those conditions aren’t enough for you to be happy?”

“Thay made the teachings so simple just by the way he walked, by the way he was there with us.”

“Thay’s way of renewing Buddhism is to make the teachings of the Buddha and the teachings of mindfulness part of everyday life. And it’s not something that you seek for 10 or 20 years of practice, then say, ‘I got it’; you can say ‘I got it’ in this very moment.” 

“It’s only when you go very deep into something that you can make it simple.”

“In our daily life, it is okay to make mistakes. But to continue, to move forward, we have to stand up and we have to clean up our mistakes.”

“Thay often talks about the fact that the Buddha was not a god, but a human being. And I think, by teaching that, he’s saying that anyone can be like the Buddha. The Buddha wasn’t a god, so everyone has the opportunity to transform. But also, everyone has his weaknesses; Thay talks a lot about the fact that, when he was enlightened, the Buddha didn’t just stay enlightened: he needed to continue his practice and keep on working on his stuff.”

“Having a garden helps you connect to reality in the present moment, but you can’t rush the process.”

“There is something about who Thay is, deeply: he’s completely present, but also invisible. Because he’s made himself invisible, but the teachings are full, they speak for themselves. A teacher often thinks they own their teachings, so they think that they are an important person. Whereas Thay always faded into the background, but his teachings were very alive.”

“As a human being, Thay was able to cultivate the practice and remain true to his aspiration, his ethics, and his direction.”

“The spiritual dimension is not far away: it is within your own breath, within your capacity for connecting to the present moment. This is something that Thay has said on multiple occasions: that you don’t have to be Buddhist to practice meditation, because as long as we’re breathing, we all have the chance to practice.”

“My actions are the ground upon which I stand. We all will leave a mark, a legacy on our planet. Know that what we think, what we say, and what we do all have an impact. So allow yourself to be mindful of your actions in daily life. Be mindful of what you say, as it has a profound effect. And be mindful and take care of the thoughts that are generated throughout the day; they all are impacts that we leave behind.”

Oct 07, 2021
Slow Down, Rest, and Heal: The Spirit of the Rains Retreat (Episode #7)

Welcome to episode seven of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, hosts Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino were recorded in Thich Nhat Hanh’s former residence in Plum Village, the ‘Sitting Still Hut’. 

Here, they talk about the yearly Rains Retreat – a 90-day retreat started by the Buddha – including the aspirations and other key concepts at the core of this gathering of practitioners. Brother Phap Huu explains in detail the origins of this ancient tradition, and how it unfolds in Plum Village, including some special insights from this year’s retreat.

Both then share their own aspirations, and discuss taking refuge in the sangha, the need to slow down, stillness, getting support from the community for our aspirations, and that even zen masters need constant reminders to practice. (Did Thay need help from the sangha? And is Phap Huu as busy as the others think?)

The conversation touches upon our (and their) relationship with ‘stuff’; a free yard sale in the monastery; how to know when we have enough; and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s jackets, and how he relates to his few material possessions.

Jo opens up about his youth and the burden of collective pain; letting go of possessions; and getting some of his best creative ideas while sitting still on a train.

You’ll also find out where the yellow-orange in our podcast’s logo comes from. And autumnal fruit trees make a cameo appearance.

Finally, Brother Phap Huu shares daily tips for beginners’ practice, and ends the episode with a guided meditation to find calm and solidity.

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism:

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation:

List of resources 

Alms Round – The Practice of Love, Humility, and Gratitude 

‘Breathing In, Breathing Out’

The Faces of Manas Revealed 

The Green Mile

Monastic robes

Monkey mind

Rains Retreat 2021

Rains Retreat Opening Ceremony 

The Spirit of the Rain’s Retreat

Sister Jina

Store consciousness


Theravada tradition


“The Rains Retreat carries the spirit of being still; not running from suffering or chasing after an idea of happiness. This is an opportunity to return home to oneself, to take refuge in our spiritual family, to enrich and deepen our dharma body with our mindfulness practice, and to continue our teacher’s legacy in our sangha body.”

“Even though we devote ourselves to a monastic life and the practice of transformation for ourselves and our spiritual growth, it’s still very important to be connected to everyone in the world.”

“Walk just to walk, and do it with ease.”

“When we stop is the only time we’re able to face ourselves.”

When we are still, our internal aspirations, voices, and perceptions have a chance to really reveal themselves. Then, we have the clarity to look at them with the eye of a practitioner, in order to take care of them.”

“This stillness that we cultivate is not only for our aspiration, our internal stories, or our internal reflection; it is also very important in the present moment, where we need rest or healing. We are so busy. We are not aware of our body. We’re not aware of our posture. We’re not aware of where there is stiffness, of where there’s stress. So learning to be still is an art for healing. And this is very important. To have total relaxation is one of the core teachings in the Plum Village tradition.”

“Stop, rest, and heal.” 

“In modern Western society, we don’t trust natural processes. We think we need to intervene in some way. But, actually, sometimes the art of simply stopping, of resting, creates the healing.”

Through the stories, the history, and the sutras that we read, we see that even the Buddha, after enlightenment, continued to keep his practice alive – because the practice is a living energy that you have to maintain.”

“That evening, the meeting ran late and I went straight home. I was sitting on the train – no computer, no phone, no book, no bag; just me. And I had one of my best creative ideas in years, which manifested into a whole new section of The Guardian. If I’d had my phone, my computer, or a book, I would have filled that time. But because I couldn’t, I just had to stop. And what I realized in that moment was that, when we stop, we allow more than just our mind to take place. Some people call it grace – well, there are all sorts of names, but it exists in those moments.”

“If we are constantly busy, we don’t allow for that channel of grace, that openness to life to actually show up.” 

“Science is also showing that it’s not that you learn to practice mindfulness once and get the job done; we have to constantly remind ourselves, work with it, practice it, build it.” 

“Thay was very selective in his possessions. Not because he’s picky, but because when you have enough, you don’t need more.”

Sep 23, 2021
Are You Truly There for Your Cup of Tea? Practical Ways to Slow Down (Episode #6)

Welcome to episode six of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, hosts Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino talk about the sacred practice of drinking tea, and why it’s important in a world where grabbing a cup of tea on the go seems to be the norm. 

Over a cup of genmai (cloud tea), they discuss bringing the energy of mindfulness into daily life with a cup of tea; sitting with a cup of tea and its power to bring people together; the ceremony behind this daily habit and why enjoying making tea is just as important as drinking it.

Brother Phap Huu recalls making his first cup of tea for Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, as his attendant, and doing so again years later, after Thay’s stroke. The brother explains why drinking tea is so significant in a Zen monastery; how to feel at home with a tea kit; and why one should offer and receive a cup of tea with both hands. There’s even an in-depth exploration of the types of tea drunk in Plum Village.

Jo recollects Thich Nhat Hanh’s calligraphies and why he poured tea into the ink. He discusses transformative moments in simple gestures, and shares his love of PG Tips and how it can get one through climate talks. 

The conversation also touches upon slowing down and enjoying the simple things in life; good habits; the cloud in the cup of tea. And have you ever wondered if the tea is experiencing us too? They did.

You’ll also experience the mindfulness bell of the Plum Village monastery.

Finally, Brother Phap Huu ends the episode with a guided meditation.

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism:

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation:

List of resources

The Tea Inside the Calligraphy 

Schumacher College


High-mountain tea 

Cloud tea 

Bamboo shoots and tea


“If you know how to slow down and be more present, allow things to settle, then your way of life will be much better.”

“Even a small, simple practice, like drinking tea, contains all of life.”

“A woman in the Indian Sangha said, ‘In India, they say if it’s hot, it’s time for tea. If it’s cold, it’s time for tea. If you’re happy, it’s time for tea. If you’re sad, it’s time for tea. It’s something that calms us down.’”

“When you drink a cup of tea, you’re not drinking your projects, you’re not drinking your worries; you’re not drinking, you’re thinking. And it’s a real art for being in the present moment.”

“There’s something very powerful and symbolic about tea. It’s a chance to come back to ourselves, to relax, to hold something in the palms of our hands – which is itself almost a reverent act, to feel the heat, to smell the aroma. It’s actually a very visceral experience.”

“The cloud is in your tea.”

“In the present moment, the way we live, the way we think, the way we talk, and the way we act is a contribution to society, to life. So our actions are already our reincarnation.”

“It’s an act of awakening: to wake up to life and smell the fragrance of the tea; you taste it, you feel its warmth, and turn to your body. It’s very simple, but very deep in that moment. If you allow yourself to be in the very here and now, drinking tea is meditation in disguise.” 

“This cup of tea in my two hands is mindfulness held perfectly. My mind and body dwell in the very here and now.” 

“Having good habits is part of meditation.”

“You can have a moment of enlightenment just sitting there drinking your tea.”

“Have time for a cup of tea, because it is present for you. You just have to be there for it.” 

Sep 16, 2021
Connecting to Our Roots: Ancestors, Continuation and Transformation (Episode #5)

Welcome to episode five of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, hosts Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino talk about connecting to our roots, and the three lineages in Buddhism: spiritual, blood, and land ancestry.

They further share about what it means to be a continuation of blood ancestors; transforming the suffering of our ancestors for ourselves and our descendants by healing the past in the present moment; honoring land ancestors and creating harmony with the land we live on; dealing with estranged parents; reconnecting to past wisdom to help a society in crisis; transcending the individual frame of mind.

You’ll also discover what the red and white roses mean in the Rose Ceremony which celebrates parents; and why a former Gestapo building was turned into a monastery.

Brother Phap Huu recollects growing up in a Buddhist family and its daily ways of honoring ancestors, and what it was like to move from East to West as a child. He also expands on spiritual ancestors; transforming land and memories; the power of collective energy; trees as ancestry.  

Jo recalls his mother’s suffering during the Nazi regime, her subsequent journey of forgiveness, and considers the power to heal our parents’ suffering in the present moment. He also comments on the consequences of the lack of connection to ancestors for Western consumerist societies; reports on a feng shui story in Hong Kong; and considers why it’s best to be responsible stewards rather than owners.

Finally, Brother Phap Huu ends the episode with a guided meditation connecting us to our parents and ancestors.

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism:

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation:

List of resources

The Rose Ceremony 


Joanna Macy 

Old Path White Clouds 



“We are a stream, a lineage, and we have roots and that give us grounding.” 

“When I meet somebody, I never meet that person as an individual, I meet their entire lineage.”

“I am a representation not of just myself, but of an entire history of a group of people.”

“With our ancestors, we can do the things that they were not able to do.” 

“If we see that we are our parents’ continuation, we can have more understanding for them and more love for them.” 

“Having compassion for our ancestors means having compassion for ourselves, because we are their continuation, and because we will become an ancestor.”

“The practice of mindfulness and the teachings of the Buddha tell us that we can transform for our parents, for our ancestors. And if we have that chance, then our descendants can be free from suffering.”

“If we heal something in the present, we heal the past, because our ancestors are not just gone and buried. They are in us, so we’re healing both ourselves and our ancestors within us. And by doing this healing, we’re changing our future because we’re not passing that [negativity] on.” 

“Whenever you listen to the Buddha’s teachings, ask yourself, ‘How can I apply this to my daily life?’ The teachings have to continue to be renewed because they have to be relevant.”

“What have we got? Well, we can shop. We can amass things. But when Thich Nhat Hanh talks about a stream or a river, when we understand that we’re not separate, then that changes the very nature of how we see life. And this idea that we’re coming from somewhere and going somewhere actually creates an ethical responsibility.”

“People are talking about the importance of bringing Indigenous wisdom, bringing feminine wisdom. A lot of the wisdom which we have lost is coming back, because the challenges that humanity is facing means that people are recognizing that the past has a lot of the answers that modern society doesn’t.”

“Our spiritual ancestors are those who have taught us how to love and understand in our life.”

“This idea that we’re a separate self, that we’re born alone, is actually very painful.”

The wisdom from our ancestors is our inheritance, and we have to recognize that they have been there and their past actions are there for us to learn from.”

“If I look after this house, if I look after this garden, if I look after these grounds, then they’ll be passed on and then the next person will take it on. And that changes the nature of how I perceive the house, because there’s part of me that wants to put pictures on Instagram saying, ‘Look at my house, look at my garden’. As though by having paid money for it, I am able to feel better about myself because it’s mine. But actually that’s a false idea of ownership.”

“My mother, despite being the only remaining member of her family after the Second World War, and despite suffering enormous traumas as a result of the Nazi rise to power, she chose to go back as she got older, to heal those wounds. And not just her wounds; she visited old classmates who had excluded her at school and treated her very badly, she went and gave talks at schools about her experience.”

“The great original suffering is to be born.”

“If we don’t know anything about our blood ancestry, there can still be lots of data in how we respond to things, which can give us clues about our past. But beyond that, we can find refuge in many other parts, not just about blood family; each of those rivers can offer us a chance to understand ourselves better.”

“We all have our traumas. We all have our sufferings. But we can all take responsibility for doing our bit. And that actually does change the world.”

Sep 09, 2021
Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet (Episode #4)

Welcome to episode four of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, presenters Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino are joined by special guest Zen Buddhist nun Sister True Dedication (Sister Hien Nghiem). Together, they address contemporary environmental crises and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s ethical framework of living, to help us reach a better future – as presented in his new book, Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet

The three further discuss Buddhist insights into the many existential crises faced by the global community; practical ways people can become empowered; not being overwhelmed by the suffering in the world, and how to work with our emotions to take positive action. 

Jo recollects interviewing Christiana Figueres, the architect of the Paris Climate Agreement, including on how the practice of mindfulness was instrumental in her achievements, and the importance of deep listening in global talks. 

Brother Phap Huu explains the insight of interbeing; the practice of gratitude; and shares about walking the (sustainability) talk in Plum Village; the ‘no car days’, shifting to veganism during a 800-people retreat, and starting a happy farm to become more self-sufficient and in touch with the Earth as a community of practitioners.

Sister True Dedication talks about editing Thich Nhat Hanh’s new book, Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet; the hardest part of working on a book; Thay’s involvement in the environmental movement since the early 1970s, as a pioneer of deep ecology; the importance of joy and vitality for facing hard times; falling in love with the Earth; accessing the insight of interbeing in our daily lives, and having fulfilled present moments; finding peace and equanimity in a suffering world; practicing deep truth; taking care of our despair. 

Finally, the sister ends the episode with a guided meditation.

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism:

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation:

List of resources

Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet

Deep ecology

Spiritual ecology 

Sister Chan Khong

The World We Have: A Buddhist Approach to Peace and Ecology

Other key books by Thich Nhat Hanh

Alfred Hassler 

The Diamond Sutra  

Christiana Figueres

Jo Confino interviews Christina Figueres

Paris Climate Agreement 

Blue Cliff Monastery 

Happy Farm 

A koan


“To be able to see heaven on earth is part of our mindfulness practice.”

“What we learn in this kind of spiritual practice is that it’s a very embodied, complete, fully human experience of what it means to be alive and to be on this planet.”

“If we allow ourselves to fall in love with the Earth, we will know what to do and what not to do to help. When there’s love, the possibilities open up right away. The priorities are clear; we would sacrifice anything for the one we love.”

“This [planet] is the source of all life, our shared home, a miracle in the middle of a very spartan cosmos. And we want to do everything to ensure that the Earth can have a healthy and beautiful future, and that humans can have a part in that.”

“Through the eons of history, everything comes into manifestation and everything passes. And that’s true of civilizations; civilizations rise and civilizations fall.”

“The environment is not outside of you; you are the environment. So interbeing, this insight, lets you see that the way we live, the way we are, is already a contribution.”

“It’s important to do one thing well, not to take on the whole weight of saving the planet on your own.”

“I have learned to sit well and walk well.”

“As children of the Earth, activists for the Earth, and as members of humanity, while doing what we can to save the Earth it is really important to not lose the present moment, because the present moment is life.”

“If we lose the present moment, we lose everything. The future is only made of the present moment.”

“The beauties of Mother Nature can nourish us and give us the strength we need to keep going, to find balance, and to sustain ourselves.” 

“If we know we have done our part, made our contribution, and done our best, that is how we can have peace.” 

“Thay once asked the question, ‘What’s the worst thing that can happen?’ And he said, ‘Your despair is the worst thing that can happen.’ We have to be vigilant against despair. We have to take care of our despair and metabolize it into the kind of action that can give cause for hope.”

“We want to transmit an energy of hope, of possibility, of living fully, and of fearlessness. These are the qualities that future generations will need. And it’s up to us to develop them now.” 

“We look for our own happiness. We look for our own success. We look for our own pleasure. And therefore, we act in a way that only relates to our wellbeing; we don’t see how our action has an effect. But with the insight of interbeing, when you have awareness, when you have mindfulness, you start to see how what you consume has an impact on the earth.”

“The first thing to do with a meditative practice, a mindfulness practice – any kind of contemplative practice where we’re trying to see how we can help our beloved planet – is to come back to our body, a body that has come from the Earth, and to really touch what it means to belong to this beautiful realm.”

“One action contains thousands of actions within it.”

“The planet doesn’t need to be saved once. It doesn’t even need to be saved only in the next 10 years. It needs to be saved by countless generations for hundreds and thousands of years to come. So we need to discover truly sustainable ways of being with the Earth, and being with our human nature. Ways that don’t burn ourselves out, and don’t burn the Earth out, so that we can really find peace and simplicity in what we are doing, with a massive resonance across space and time.”

This meditation is about facing something and then being with that fear, being with that grief, listening to it in our hearts, in our bodies. Not repressing it, not pretending it’s not there, but allowing it to be present, embracing it with the energy of mindfulness and compassion in order to metabolize it into not only a quality of peace, but a quality of action that can then follow.”

“It can seem paradoxical to accept the likelihood of a very bad end to our civilization in order to have the energy to take actions that will change that destination. It’s a strange reverse engineering, but it’s very powerful as an exercise and it comes from an original Buddhist meditation on contemplating our own impermanence.”

“Our next task is to see how we can make the book a force for change in the world, not simply something that sits on the bookshelf.”

“Whatever we can do about the future is rooted in the present moment.”

Sep 02, 2021
Mindfulness, Concentration and Insight – Where to Start? (Episode #3)

Welcome to episode three of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino talk about the ancient roots of mindfulness and its growing contemporary popularity. 

Along with special guest Sister Trai Nghiem, from the Plum Village community, the hosts further discuss the differences between mindfulness and concentration; how to deal with strong emotions; ways to awaken the seeds of awareness and mindfulness; being present to ourselves; asking for forgiveness. 

All three share insights about changes mindfulness has brought to their personal lives: “the fruit of the practice”. 

Brother Phap Huu explains what it means to dwell in the present moment; shares observations about Thich Nhat Hanh’s daily mindfulness practice and his “superpower”; addresses the different styles of walking meditation and how to make the most of nature’s energy; and considers the importance of resting in today’s society.

Both monastics go on to share about the weekly ‘lazy day’ in a busy monastery, and why this may just be the most advanced practice day.   

Jo contributes memories of Thich Nhat Hanh explaining the difference between practicing concentration and practicing mindfulness; ways to heal past wounds by being in the present moment; and methods for getting instant understanding when we are good observers of ourselves.

Sister Trai Nghiem shares about her spiritual journey to becoming a nun, and about life in the nunnery before and during the pandemic; being a musician both inside and outside of the monastery; combining playing violin with mindfulness; and how she let go of professional goals for perfection, instead just enjoying the energy of music created by the monastic community.  

Finally, the sister ends the episode with a guided meditation.

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism:

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation:

List of resources

Plum Village Community

Buddha’s Noble Eightfold Path 

Books by Thich Nhat Hanh

John Bradshaw

Namo Avalokiteshvaraya 



Lazy days


“Mindfulness is the capacity to also see the beauty of life.”

“When we observe ourselves as though we’re an outsider looking in, then we can develop instant understandings.”

“To develop the seed of mindfulness, we need a few formal practices that we can develop in our daily life; that way, we can always come back to them when strong emotions come up. We want to invite mindfulness to be present to take care of these strong emotions.”

“Mindfulness is the energy of cultivating awareness in our daily life.” 

“Only when we’re truly ourselves can we go into the past and heal things, because we’re bringing that awareness of who we truly are. It’s about lifting the veil and being present to ourselves.”

“If you want to take care of the future, learn to handle the present moment.”

“Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh would define love as understanding, because if you want to have compassion and love, you have to have understanding. And to have understanding, you need attention and time and focus.”

“We like to invite people to connect to their breath, letting that breath become a bridge. As they become aware of the breath, suddenly they bring their attention and mind to their body.”

“There are so many people trying to change the world who are burning out, who don’t really realize that you can only change the world if you change yourself.”

“Practicing mindfulness is not just practicing when we suffer. This is really important. Our teacher would encourage us to invest in our practice right now, when we’re happy, because when the storm arises, you don’t go look for a refuge. At that moment, you are the refuge.” 

“There’s no such thing as a thought or an action that is neutral. Everything has an impact. That means that every time we open our mouths, every time we have a thought, it’s either going to create something of beauty or it’s going to create hardship.”

“It’s interesting to see how, when we feel spacious inside, physical space outside doesn’t really matter. We can be anywhere and feel spacious and happy.” 

“To create change in our world, we have to come back to ourselves. And when we come back to ourselves – wow, we can really change the world.”

Aug 26, 2021
Lessons in Impermanence: How to Handle Life when Everything Changes (Episode #2)

Welcome to episode two of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino address one of the deepest teachings in Buddhist philosophy: impermanence.

They discuss reasons why it’s difficult for humans to recognize the impermanence of life; how impermanence can help us deal with suffering as well as happiness; how to live with the fact that everything changes, and how to avoid become attached to anything (including happiness); enjoying every moment in life, and not taking life for granted, since it is only available in the present moment.

Brother Phap Huu explains the Buddhist insight into impermanence, and how to practice impermanence as meditation. He recollects his first mindfulness retreat at Plum Village (aged just nine) and the teachings about handling strong emotions; visiting Thich Nhat Hanh in 2020, in Vietnam; and reuniting with his grandmother after 15 years.

Jo shares a lesson in impermanence with his favourite cup of tea, and investigates “dying (and living) well”, as well as letting go as one of the most challenging obstacles to embracing impermanence.

Their discussion also touches upon renewing Buddhism and making traditional spiritual practices relevant to the younger generations and to the suffering of today, true happiness, having no expectations, awareness, simplicity, Buddhahood, the practice of gratitude, non-attachment, and the importance of gathas (poems) in the practice of impermanence.

The sound of the bell makes a cameo appearance, and Brother Phap Huu offers some insights into this “Plum Village mark.”

Finally, the episode ends with a guided meditation on impermanence by Brother Phap Huu.

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism:

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation:

List of resources

Plum Village Community

Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation

True Love and the Four Noble Truths

Old Path White Clouds

Creating Gathas

Gathas to print at home


“Imagine every day as though it’s your last.”

“You are much more than your emotions and your feelings.”

“Don’t believe things just because I say them.”

“My life is my message.”

“Actually, Buddhism is very simple, but because of all the scholars and philosophers that have come along the way, they have made it much more difficult for people to understand.”

“When you change, you have to let go of something. And I think that is something that is very challenging for a lot of people.”

“Bringing impermanence into our own life is to recognize that nothing we do in life is ever lost. It’s always there for a moment in one form, and then it will become another form.”

“Impermanence tells us that whatever we are feeling today, it will change tomorrow.”

“If we come back to who we are and recognize our strengths and our way of dealing with something, then you can have all the thrashing on the outside, but we ourselves can become clear.”

“All we can count on is our actions, our thoughts and actions, because those have an impact in the world that ripple out forever, actually, because everything we do has an impact on someone else.”

“Even a mountain that looks as though it’s never going to change, by its nature, is impermanent. It came from nothing and will eventually erode into nothing.”

Aug 19, 2021
The Beginning of a Mindful Journey (Episode #1)

Welcome to The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

Meet your hosts, Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino, as they introduce themselves and share their aspirations for this series. In this episode, they discuss choosing the title and its meaning, the art of calligraphy, the work of the Plum Village zen monastic community, discovering the practice of mindfulness in the tradition of Plum Village, and their first encounters with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay).

Brother Phap Huu also shares stories from his seventeen-year period as Thay’s personal attendant, and glimpses of life in the monastic community. You’ll also hear a short history of Thay’s early years as a monk in war-torn Vietnam, his travels to other parts of the world, and how he joined forces with civil rights leaders like Martin Luther King Jr. to call for global peace, and started “the beloved community.”

Phap Huu remembers his first encounter with the mindful art of calligraphy, how the title of the podcast was inspired by a calligraphy, and Thay’s fondness for this art. 

Jo shares his first experience interviewing Thay, an unexpected introduction to mindful walking, how he truly came home to the here and now during his Plum Village visits and retreats, and why he currently resides in the vicinity of the monastery, in the south of France.

The discussion also touches upon the ideas behind applied or engaged Buddhism, the interconnection between suffering and happiness, Sangha (community), Samatha, and Vipassana.

The episode ends with a guided meditation by Brother Phap Huu. 

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism:

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation:

List of resources

Plum Village Community

Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation

Parallax Press – Publishing House

Tu Hieu PagodaThe Root Temple

The Hero with a Thousand Faces

The Hare and the Tortoise


“One Buddha is not enough.”

“‘The way out is in’ is telling us that a lot of the answers that we are looking for actually begin from within us.”

“The great mystery is to explore within to find the answers, because we now have come to a place in society where we recognise that this is a dead end and actually we are not going to progress as a civilisation or be at peace with ourselves or with nature if we don’t actually go deep into ourselves for the answers.”

“There’s only one style of walking in Plum Village and that is mindful walking, and mindful walking is to enjoy each step.”

“If we know how to suffer, we will suffer much less.”

Aug 12, 2021
Coming Soon

“The Way Out Is In” is a new weekly podcast by Plum Village where hosts Jo Confino and Brother Pháp Hữu explore how to bring the practise of mindfulness into our daily life. First episode launches on Friday the 13th of August.

Aug 05, 2021