Books

Book Review: The Art of Communicating by Thich Nhat Hanh

I came across this book by coincidence, and I read or in this case listened to anything that comes in my way. The book is based on Zen Buddhist teaching and mindfulness. I didn’t listen to the book either of those premises.

Thich Nhat Hanh has written the book for the modern era, addressing the problems we face nowadays like loneliness, hateful speech, depression and so on. The basic idea of communication is compassion. Compassion to others and yourself. Your speech and actions should stem from that notion. And from understanding your own suffering and others’. To achieve this, the book introduces four Bodhisattva training of right speech, four criteria for rightful speech, and six mantras for loving speech. This is a practical book based on mindfulness and touches an important subject. But this is not a scientific book or rely on research, only for Thich Nhat Hanh’s observations and on Zen Buddhist teachings. I’m not sure if the book has to have a scientific base to have merit as compassion to others and for oneself feels a natural way to communicate with others. As for the argumentation of the book, for me, it is not enough to draw from one example a premise even if it feels natural. That doesn’t mean I don’t agree, just that the way examples are used in this book is not enough. They can be examples of how things might be, but not the premise for a fact.

 

And, yet, this is something we have seemed to forget. Empathy, compassion, stopping to listen to the other person without hurry and from their own perspective, and hearing their worries and concerns is in short supply in a modern world where money dictates our time and relationship to others and where our sensors are overloaded with nonsense, like the book points out, with advertisements. Despite the mindfulness or religious connotation (if that bothers you,) this book is worth to listen to or read.

Thank you for reading!

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