Online Zoom Forum: Thich Nhat Hanh: The Spiritual Vision in his Life and Work.


Date: Wednesday 29 November 2023.
Time: 7pm-9pm (UK time).

Event Description:

Format: There will be four talks, each of 12 minutes, followed by 20 minutes of discussion among the speakers, the chair, and the audience, followed by Q & A.


Dr Sara Trevelyan:

On my spiritual journey, one of the great teachers I have been fortunate enough to meet has been Thich Nhat Hahn.

I was introduced to his mindfulness teachings in the 90s, through a dear friend, Ani Lodro / Maverika, who I originally met at Samye Ling. I attended many retreats and as well as the Interbeing Sangha in Edinburgh for some years. The highlight for me of this time was the opportunity to host Thay, as well as the monks and nuns who were accompanying him in my own home - an honour, which also left me feeling distinctly nervous. This was when they visited Scotland to hold a residential retreat in St Andrew’s University. Fortunately everything went well and the whole experience was immensely special. From Thay I learned the wisdom of slowing down, anchoring my awareness on the breath, and becoming fully present in each precious moment. I was able to make two visits to Plum village. Thay was a remarkable teacher, a simple Vietnamese monk who inspired thousands across the world with his profound practise of embodied peace. To observe him walking in silence, accompanied by a large group of people, sometimes holding the hand of a child, was like watching a cloud glide gracefully across the landscape.


Mhairi (Vari) McLuskie:

Title: The Path or Peace, Love and Understanding – Key themes from the life and teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh.

Description: “Peace in Oneself, Peace in the World.”

“Beauty is a heart that generates love and a heart that is open”

Thich Nhat Hanh

In this short talk, Mhairi will explore Thich Nhat Hanh’s insights as offered in these two quotes.

Mhairi will then relate this back to his life and broader vision and some the transformational impacts she has experienced for herself.

“Peace in Oneself, Peace in the World”

Every morning, I see this phrase from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in a calligraphy he created two decades ago. When I sit on Zoom meetings it is always behind me – supporting me to find peace in myself, supporting me to notice when I feel less than peaceful. I can notice that I feel restless, excited, tired, anxious, sad or angry and I can bring my mindful awareness to this. Embracing restlessness, allowing it to settle, returning to peace and maybe repeating the process a few times.

I hold the aspiration to “be peaceful” close to my heart because I know that peace in myself enables me to offer peace in the world. I’ve seen it so many times. When I am peaceful, I can help others find the peace in themselves, I can radiate peace into a group as we meditate or work together. This is a tangible priceless gift that has the power to transform our difficult emotional states, as well as holding the power to transform our world.

“Beauty is a heart that generates love and a heart that is open”

When my heart is open, I aim to understand a situation and to bring compassion and kindness there. I may need to open my heart to myself and my own suffering, as well as to the suffering of those around me and to the wider world. TNH tells us that “understanding is loves’ other name” and so opening our hearts and seeking to understand helps us to generate love and to become a more beautiful person.

People genuinely do become more beautiful when we practice peace and understanding together in community. Time after time, people arrive on courses and retreats tired, anxious, carrying many mixed and difficult emotions and this shows on their faces and posture. After time practicing together, people are transformed. The peace and love that has been generated shines through on the faces and body language of those who are there. We have found a place to belong, a way to love and beauty within – all in this present moment.

Bio: Mhairi met Thich Nhat Hanh when she was 30 years old in 1990. Immediately she was touched by the wisdom, depth and profound humanness of Thich Nhat Hanh and vowed to practice as best she could the way of life he followed as a lay practitioner. Since 1990, Mhairi has developed her practice of peace, understanding and love – for herself, others, the world and our earth. These are key themes of Thich Nhat Hanh’s work which are close to Mhairi’s heart and about which she frequently speaks.

Susanne Olbrich:

Title: Community at the Heart of Collective Awakening.

Description: Building spiritual community (‘sangha’ in Sanskrit) was at the heart of Thich Nhat Hanh’s life, and it is at the core of his teachings. Sangha includes fellow humans and also the Earth and the natural world. Realising our interconnected nature, our interbeing with the web of life, is medicine for our perceived separate selves and for this fragmented society. By coming home to ourselves, we can connect deeply with the world. By healing our ancestral trauma, we can become a source of healing in the world. Together, we can contribute to a collective transformation towards reverence for life, true love and true happiness.

Bio: Susanne Olbrich is a pianist, music educator and mindfulness teacher. She discovered Thich Nhat Hanh and Plum Village in 1996 and wholeheartedly embraced mindfulness as her path. In 2016 she received the Lamp transmission as a Dharma teacher in this lineage.

Originally from Germany, Susanne moved to Scotland in 2001 to live in Findhorn. There, she co-founded Northern Lights Sangha which serves people from across the north of Scotland.

Susanne loves sounds, silence and the aliveness of creative discovery. Her work explores mindfulness practice and creativity as pathways for growth, wellbeing and cultural change. She offers 1-to-1 and group work, retreats and workshops.

Susanne holds a Master's in Music from Oldenburg University (Germany). More recently, she completed the MSc in Mindfulness Studies with the University of Aberdeen, researching “Mindfulness and Musical Creativity”.


Martin Pitt:

Title: Taking our Mindfulness with us.

Description: The teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh emphasise the importance of cultivating mindfulness in all aspects of our daily lives. A range of practices are therefore offered which extend the development of awareness and insight beyond formal meditation practice. In this short talk, I will describe some of the ways in which we can incorporate mindfulness into our everyday activities and outline the value of these practices by referencing my own experience. Renowned as the father of ‘Engaged Buddhism’, Thich Nhat Hanh taught how mindfulness practice can be applied to social and environmental concerns. I will also touch on this aspect of Buddhist practice in the context of recent events.

Bio: Martin Pitt was ordained into the Order of Interbeing in 1990 and recognised as one of the UK’s first recognised dharma teachers by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in 1994. Over many years he has practised according to this tradition and has been an active member of the Community of Interbeing – building the sangha of this tradition in the UK. He currently lives in Dartmoor in Devon with his wife Helen and works at the University of Exeter as a professor in health services research. He has a lasting interest in the integration of Buddhist teachings into everyday life and the role of practice to address issues such as global warming and peace promotion. In his spare time, he loves walking in the hills and exploring poetry, especially haiku.


Alex Nunn:

Title: To be a Lotus in a Sea of Fire.

Description: What does it mean for a spiritual practice to be engaged in the world? Particularly one that contains so much suffering. In this short talk, Alex will explore Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) as an answer to this question. Focusing on not only Thay’s teachings but also the actions and causes to which he dedicated his life.

To Alex, Thay manifests as both a scholar and preserver of the essence of Southeast Asian Buddhism and also a fearless radical ever-adapting the teachings to pursue change for the greatest benefit of the world. This talk will attempt to situate his life and lessons in a global context in an effort to understand the appeal of his message to younger generations today.

Bio: Alex has been practising in the Plum Village tradition for around 10 years, starting with the young person’s movement Wake Up and visiting the root monastery in France at least once or twice a year ever since. He has also been involved in organising the International Earth Holder movement (the environmental action wing of the PV community) and in 2019 was involved in coordinating the Extinction Rebellion actions in London. He works as Head of Movement Building in the International Action for Happiness charity and is a graduate of the Applied Compassion Programme at Stanford University’s Center for Compassion and Altruism Research.


An archive recording will be made for the EICSP archive.

NB: There will be no refund if you cancel your booking.


Thich Nhat Hanh


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Account Name: Edinburgh International Centre for Spirituality and Peace
Bank Address: Edinburgh Royal Mile Branch
Account Number: 06131159
Sort Code: 802000

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GB70 BOFS 8020 0006 1311 59

Cost: By Donation. For a Registration Form:
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