Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that compassion and love are the core messages of Buddhism. Love is how the Buddha expresses himself. The Buddha finds it impossible to communicate with sentient beings except through love, although the methods by which he does so are innumerable. The Perfect One is motivated purely by compassion and love. With this basic and insightful foundation, Thay helps us to understand the dignity and larger picture of the Buddhist way of life.
From the Buddhist perspective, the Presence is interested in every being and does not have a divine plan for humanity alone. In the ancient land of India, sages believed that every being, including unseen or unknown ones, was known and loved by the Presence, and Buddhism inherited this idea by professing that all creatures are capable of enlightenment and liberation. All beings can hold the ultimate Buddha’s hand, and sit and walk with him because he is, according to Thay, “made of flowers and light and joy”.
Spirituality is a way of life, and a way of life naturally includes everything that life has to offer. Thay emphasizes that it is important to maintain intellectual clarity in our practice. Religion, the arts, and the sciences all stem from philosophy, the original human question of “why?”. Science and art answer this primeval problem in their own ways. But the spiritual path can go awry if it simply appeals to emotions and cognitive biases. It must always return to its philosophical roots in order to honestly and consistently express what the Buddha wants us to be. In this sense, openness to learning is a willingness to love and an expansion of our capacity for compassion. And all the masters teach that compassion is our true, inherent nature.