Thich Naht Hanh and the Sacredness of Creation

Creation is celebrated as a sacred source throughout the world’s spiritual traditions. 

Thich Nhat Hanh in Paris, October 22, 2006. Photo by bodhi47 on Flickr.

We have considered Jewish sources, Hindu sources, Christian sources.  Let us listen now to Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh.

He reminds us what it is we are looking at when we look deeply at just one flower.

When we look into the heart of a flower, we see clouds, sunshine, minerals, time, the earth, and everything else in the cosmos in it.

Without clouds, there could be no rain, and there would be no flower. Without time, the flower could not bloom. In fact, the flower is made entirely of non-flower elements: it has no independence, individual existence.

Sunflower in Vinci, Italy. Photo by Paul Green on Unsplash 

Of course we are the same way: Each one of us carries a 13.8 billion-year existence in us, so when we encounter one another we ought to be awed by the experience.

And when we encounter ourselves! No wonder self-knowledge is a journey that takes a lifetime. After all, every hydrogen atom in our bodies has been in existence for 13.8 billion years—imagine how many stories they have to tell us alone.

What a pity when culture distracts us from this deep self-awareness by its titillating bonbons.

Everyday we encounter the cosmos. It is our bodies, our food, our air, our everything. Thich Naht Hanh tells us:

In East Asia, we speak of the human body as a mini-cosmos. The cosmos is our home, and we can touch it by being aware of our body.

Macrocosm and Microcosm from Tobias Schutz ‘Harmonia macrocosmi cum microcosmi’ (1654) On Wikimedia Commons.

This understanding is called microcosm/macrocosm in the West. We also touch the cosmos by our awareness of all other beings and their interconnected origins. Our bodies our are link to the cosmos.  All the food we eat is sunlight, therefore it is cosmic food.

Says Thich Naht Hanh:

One thing is made up of all other things. One thing contains the whole cosmos…. A piece of bread contains sunshine…. Without a cloud, the wheat cannot grow. So when you eat the piece of bread, you eat the cloud, you eat the sunshine, you eat the minerals, time, space, everything.

This would seem to speak volumes about the Last Supper and the breaking of bread in its memory and the sharing of wine.  The Cosmic Christ becomes Cosmic food.

Wheatfield at Sunrise. Photo by pragmart on Unsplash

 Like Christian mysticism that sees every being as another Christ, so Thich Nhat Hanh recognizes that all beings in the animal, plant, and mineral world are potential Buddhas.

Indeed, for a Buddhist, the supreme fullness of being human is to be awake (“Buddha” means the “awakened one.”) A Buddha is someone who is awake. But what is more valuable than being awake to the present moment and the present place?

To be awake is not only not to be asleep—it is also not to be in denial which is a kind of choice to be asleep and that can lead to peril.

Adapted from Matthew Fox, One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths, pp. 43f. 

Banner image: The elements of bread. Photo by Hüseyin on Unsplash

Queries for Contemplation

Thich Naht Hanh points out that we touch the cosmos by being aware of our body.  Do you agree?  Do you practice that?

A “Buddha is someone who is awake.”  Are you awake?  Are you another Buddha?  (And Christ?  And Image of God?)

Recommended Reading

One River, Many Wells: Wisdom Springing from Global Faiths

Matthew Fox calls on all the world traditions for their wisdom and their inspiration in a work that is far more than a list of theological position papers but a new way to pray—to meditate in a global spiritual context on the wisdom all our traditions share. Fox chooses 18 themes that are foundational to any spirituality and demonstrates how all the world spiritual traditions offer wisdom about each.“Reading One River, Many Wells is like entering the rich silence of a masterfully directed retreat. As you read this text, you reflect, you pray, you embrace Divinity. Truly no words can fully express my respect and awe for this magnificent contribution to contemporary spirituality.” –Caroline Myss, author of Anatomy of the Spirit

Your Music Your Way Summit

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

Share this meditation


Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox is made possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation

Search Meditations





Receive our daily meditations

8 thoughts on “Thich Naht Hanh and the Sacredness of Creation”

  1. Avatar

    This is the blog I will post tomorrow morning. It seems so consistent with this meditation that I’m sharing it here. Thanks for the opportunity and the meditations.

    On the Face of It

    The most disconcerting image of God any of us has to deal with is the one in the bleary mirror every morning. True, God appears in a lot of unsavory, overwhelming, challenging guises. She flies in on a broomstick with a stolen dog, her backpack filled with ruby red slippers. He spreads himself brilliant across the evening sky and sprinkles himself into a billion stars. He cries like a baby. With a hammer in her huge hands, she takes down wall after wall. I like watching. I like an arms-length God. But I don’t like that image of God in the mirror–that fatally flawed stretch of skin and bones I know from the inside out.

    Sometimes, I try to avoid eye contact. Other times, I look for the innocence that was once there. I think I see vestiges of something beyond, but it’s elusive. Of course, I see my mother, my children, that genetic overlay. There are scars. Errant eyebrows. In my eyes, the piercing steely blue of the Irish.

    “Hello,” I said to the mirror this morning. “How can I be of service today?”

    And to my surprise, my face answered.

    “This day won’t be back,” it said. “This day is a guest. Be kind to it. This day will be a progression of sojourning moments, hoping for your attention. Remember, you are crystalized time.”

    “Say what?” I said. “Crystalized what?”

    “Time,” my face said. “You embody a fraction of the cosmos for a miniscule, monumental flash of linearity. And I must say, you wear it well.”

    “Why, thank you,” I said back to my face. “That’s very nice of you. But it isn’t true.” I pointed to the worst of my imperfections. My face laughed. “You poor thing,” it said. “Those are your best features. Proof of your existence. Like I said, you’re crystalized time. And time is a craggy, wizened old thing. It likes nothing better than transporting imperfections into eternity where they are fodder for the greater good.”

    “I didn’t sign on for this,” I said. But for some reason, my face lifted into a smile, and I knew that in fact, I did sign on for this–for this day. For this chance. I inventoried my impulses and imperfections, circling them like wagons around my fears. Then I drew on some nice, clear eyebrows, removed some unwanted facial hair, and blew myself a kiss.

    “Let’s roll, gentlemen,” I said to God and the pretty little moments at my feet. “We’ve got this.”

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Rita,
      Thank you for sharing your thought provoking and image laden blog. I hope your readers find as much in it as I did. I enjoyed how you brought the whole macro/micro experience of matter and time into an early morning moment of self reflection. THe Buddha in the mirror. Awesome.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      thank you, Barbara. It is good to hear from you. As we consider returning to the source in this meditations, I think we will eventually come to a place where the Christ, Buddha, Wakan Tanka, Allah, Shiva, Pachamama, Viracocha and all the others are seated in an agitated pool of light in which their rippling reflections momentarily merge into one.
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

  2. Avatar

    Today’s meditations inspire deep awe and awareness of my changing self-understanding and especially my
    inter-relationship with the whole web of life. Good to be alive and savoring a bit of awe and wonder on this
    beautiful sunny day! Cosmic Gratitude!

    1. Gail Sofia Ransom

      Dear Anne Marie,
      Thani you for sharing your appreciation and for letting us know of the beautiful day that has graced your life today. May the words of Tich Naha Hanh that Matt has quoted here inspire you to find The cosmos in every touch of warmth and light that comes to you – both in the beauty that is touches and the body that receives!
      Gail Sofia Ransom
      For the Daily Meditation Team

  3. Avatar

    I am so happy to be able to save these meditations to savor and relish the simple but profound wisdom of Thich Naht Hahn. It is wonderful to be aware that I can bathe in the joy of being human and divine within and without, and then see everyone and everything around me sharing the sacredness of life in all the little, often monotonous actions of daily living.
    Being conscious of the micro/macrocosmic dimension that I’m a part of is very new to me, and I need all the reminders that come my way to help me live in this awareness of Who I Am, and Who Everyone and Everything else is.
    So, again, thank you Matthew and Gail and all you lovely people who share your lively observations so lovingly and clearly. Love and blessings to you!

Leave a Comment

To help moderate the volume of responses, the Comment field is limited to 1500 characters (roughly 300 words), with one comment per person per day.

Please keep your comments focused on the topic of the day's Meditation.

As always, we look forward to your comments!!
The Daily Meditation Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join us in meditation that supports your compassionate action

Receive Matthew Fox's Daily Meditation by subscribing below: