U.S. Premiere Exhibit Of Calligraphic Meditation: The Mindful Art Of Thich Nhat Hanh
Thich Nhat Hanh shows us the connection between personal inner peace and peace on earth. –His Holiness the Dalai Lama
An exhibition revealing seven decades of a Zen Master’s meditative insight, “Calligraphic Meditation: The Mindful Art of Thich Nhat Hanh” features 88 legendary works that distill ancient Buddhist teachings into phrases that resonate with our modern times. Hosted by Blue Cliff Monastery and ABC Home, these original pieces make their U.S. premiere at ABC’s Deepak HomeBase through December 31.
Martin Luther King, Jr. called Thich Nhat Hanh “an apostle of peace and non-violence” when nominating him for the Nobel Peace Prize and the New York Times calls him “second only to the Dalai Lama” among Buddhist leaders influential in the West. He has also been described as an artist “who cleanses our hearts and souls,” with his calligraphic art inviting us back to the present moment to enjoy our breathing, our peaceful steps, and the wonders of life.
Accompanied by 100 monastics from his practice centers around the world, including Blue Cliff Monastery and Plum Village in France, Thich Nhat Hanh’s recent visit marks the opening of the 4-month run exhibiting this honored teacher’s works.
Opening night, as Thich Nhat Hanh first entered through the doors of ABC Home, he made his way up the stairs to Deepak Homebase to take in the first look of the gallery of his mindful calligraphy. His messages – No Mud, No Lotus | Be Beautiful, Be Yourself | I Am Here For You | This Is it – have elevated the space’s vibe to ring with serene positivity. His face beamed.
Paulette Cole, CEO and Creative Director of ABC, with Deepak Chopra opened the evening. “ABC Home is inspired and grateful for Thich Nhat Hanh’s vital work in teaching mindfulness in our world, and for both embodying and stewarding the message of peace,” said Cole. “Thich Nhat Hanh’s mindful art, created with pure intention, reflects the most basic moments of truth. Each piece amplifies a path for self-transformation and healing for one’s self, humanity and our planet. We feel deeply honored sharing Thich Nhat Hanh’s beautiful work and spiritual guidance with New York City.”
With the room quiet in the heart of the city, Thich Nhat Hanh took the stage with his tea. His words cradle the heart.
“Writing calligraphy is a practice of meditation,” he says. “In my calligraphy, there is ink, tea, breathing, mindfulness, and concentration. I write words or sentences that can remind people to be mindful, to wake up. Viewing calligraphy is a meditation. When we come to the exhibition hall, each calligraphy becomes a subject of meditation. If we allow the calligraphy to touch the seed of insight in us, then we may get the enlightenment that we need. If the calligraphy touches the seed of compassion in us, then compassion will arise as a source of positive energy with the power to heal.”
He invited us to listen deeply as he led led his monastics in a chant by the name of Namo Avalokiteshvara, the Buddhist bodhisattva of compassion. “First as we chant,” he explained, “we send compassion to our own suffering, then we send compassion to those in the world who may be suffering.” Smiles spread across attentive faces. Tear droplets fell from eyes and rolled down cheeks. Spirits soared. It was a moment to behold.
Celebrating the space, Thich Nhat Hanh, Paulette Cole, and Deepak Chopra performed a ceremonial ribbon cutting. As is tradition for his exhibitions, Thich Nhat Hanh then led some 200+ guests on a silent, meditative walking tour through the gallery.
When he arrived in the center of the room at a table with his brushes, ink, rice paper, and tea, he sat, took a breath, and then started writing calligraphies. As he drew his signature circle, he explained, he takes an in-breath for the first stroke and an out-breath for the final stroke. The act carries with it such an apparent intensity of concentration and dedication. After making each calligraphy, he held up his work before us and gave a playful smile – his joy was infectious.
As Thich Nhat Hanh continues on his North American speaking tour, ABC and Blue Cliff Monastery will host two conversationson mindfulness in Deepak Homebase, moderated by This American Life’s Ira Glass and Jeff Gordinier of the New York Times and featuring monastics in Thich Nhat Hanh’s tradition. For more information and to RSVP, click here.
We welcome you to experience the art of Thich Nhat Hanh at ABC, to sit with each calligraphy and take in words that encourage the art of living mindfully. Additionally, you may view a selection of the calligraphies online here. The exhibition is free and open to the public during store hours 7 days a week. Special guided tours with monastics, Dharma teachers, or sangha members can be arranged upon request and availability by contacting email@example.com.