What Martin Luther King, Jr. Taught Us About Nobility

thich nhat hanh quotes

About a decade ago I came across a photo of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Thich Nhat Hanh, a beloved Zen Master.

At the time I didn’t know much about this Buddhist from Vietnam, but in further research I found that Dr. King believed in Nhat Hanh’s message to the extent of nominating him for a Nobel peace prize.

While many would have nominated Dr. King for a Nobel peace prize (myself included), his selfless act of presenting Hanh to the people of Norway of a leader of peace truly shows King as noble One himself.

Below is the actual letter written from Dr. King to the Nobel Institute. A remarkable testament of nobility, indeed.


January 25, 1967

The Nobel Institute
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As the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate of 1964, I now have the pleasure of proposing to you the name of Thich Nhat Hanh for that award in 1967.

I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize than this gentle Buddhist monk from Vietnam.

This would be a notably auspicious year for you to bestow your Prize on the Venerable Nhat Hanh. Here is an apostle of peace and non-violence, cruelly separated from his own people while they are oppressed by a vicious war which has grown to threaten the sanity and security of the entire world.

Because no honor is more respected than the Nobel Peace Prize, conferring the Prize on Nhat Hanh would itself be a most generous act of peace. It would remind all nations that men of good will stand ready to lead warring elements out of an abyss of hatred and destruction. It would re-awaken men to the teaching of beauty and love found in peace. It would help to revive hopes for a new order of justice and harmony.

I know Thich Nhat Hanh, and am privileged to call him my friend. Let me share with you some things I know about him. You will find in this single human being an awesome range of abilities and interests.

He is a holy man, for he is humble and devout. He is a scholar of immense intellectual capacity. The author of ten published volumes, he is also a poet of superb clarity and human compassion. His academic discipline is the Philosophy of Religion, of which he is Professor at Van Hanh, the Buddhist University he helped found in Saigon. He directs the Institute for Social Studies at this University. This amazing man also is editor of Thien My, an influential Buddhist weekly publication. And he is Director of Youth for Social Service, a Vietnamese institution which trains young people for the peaceable rehabilitation of their country.

Thich Nhat Hanh today is virtually homeless and stateless. If he were to return to Vietnam, which he passionately wishes to do, his life would be in great peril. He is the victim of a particularly brutal exile because he proposes to carry his advocacy of peace to his own people. What a tragic commentary this is on the existing situation in Vietnam and those who perpetuate it.

The history of Vietnam is filled with chapters of exploitation by outside powers and corrupted men of wealth, until even now the Vietnamese are harshly ruled, ill-fed, poorly housed, and burdened by all the hardships and terrors of modern warfare.

Thich Nhat Hanh offers a way out of this nightmare, a solution acceptable to rational leaders. He has traveled the world, counseling statesmen, religious leaders, scholars and writers, and enlisting their support. His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.

I respectfully recommend to you that you invest his cause with the acknowledged grandeur of the Nobel Peace Prize of 1967. Thich Nhat Hanh would bear this honor with grace and humility.


Martin Luther King, Jr.

Text courtesy of The Community for Mindful Living

10 Insightful Quotes by David Bowie

david bowie quotes

January 8, 1947 – January 10, 2016

News spread quickly as David Bowie, one of the most talented and eccentric stars of this century passed away on January 10.

The devastating words of his passing left me shocked and speechless, as my perception of this icon was nothing short of timeless.

Bowie wore many hats—and wigs, and make-up styles. With his gift of music and distinctive voice his fan base stretched throughout the globe for decades.

I remember watching “Ziggy Stardust” as a child and wondering if Bowie was an extra-terrestrial. His “Starman” space suit, high heeled boots and glam makeup frightened me but left me intrigued. Many would giggle at this sort of viewpoint, but as you will see from the following quotes, it might not have been such a farce.

The Starman
“I’m an instant star. Just add water and stir.”

On Being Famous
“I think fame itself is not a rewarding thing. The most you can say is that it gets you a seat in restaurants.” Interviewed in Q magazine (April 1990)

The “Alien” Thing
I always had a repulsive need to be something more than human.”

The Entrepreneur
“I’m just an individual who doesn’t feel that I need to have somebody qualify my work in any particular way. I’m working for me.”

The Non-Dancer
“I don’t know how many times someone has come up to me and said, ‘Hey, Lets dance!’. I hate dancing. God, it’s stupid.”

The Non-People Pleaser
“All my big mistakes are when I try to second-guess or please an audience. My work is always stronger when I get very selfish about it.”

The Eccentric
“I find only freedom in the realms of eccentricity.”

The Character
“I’m always amazed that people take what I say seriously. I don’t even take what I am seriously.”

The Artist
“I suppose for me as an artist it wasn’t always just about expressing my work; I really wanted, more than anything else, to contribute in some way to the culture I was living in.”

The Person
“As a person, I’m fairly uncomplicated.”

Do you have any quotes you’d like to share? Please comment below.