cover image Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet

Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet

Thich Nhat Hanh. HarperOne, $27.99 (320p) ISBN 978-0-06-295479-4

Nhat Hanh (How to Relax), a prominent Buddhist monk and peace activist, who has written extensively on topics such as mindfulness, love, and creating peaceful communities, collects many of those teachings focused on finding calm and an optimistic way forward amidst the anxieties of climate change. With Sister True Dedication, a longtime acolyte, editing the essays and adding personal commentary, the book alternates between Buddhist parables, personal insights, and examples of the monk’s teachings applied in difficult situations, such as a police officer showing compassion in a tense situation. Though many of the essays don’t apply directly to climate change, the book encourages simple, non-consumptive lifestyles; respect for nature; and compassionate community-building—both as techniques for building a life of devotion and for combating environmental destruction. For instance, Nhat Hanh rails against the over-borrowing of modern societies as a large-scale form of change: “That is the miracle of mindfulness, concentration, and insight: realizing we can be happy with the conditions that are already available, that we don’t need to strive to get more, exploiting the planet as we do so.” Nhat Hanh’s empowering voice and example will be valuable to those seeking wisdom in a frenetic, threatened world. (Oct.)