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The Art of Power

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"Power is good for one thing only: to increase our happiness and the happiness of others. Being peaceful and happy is the most important thing in our lives and yet most of the time we suffer, we run after our cravings, we look to the past or the future for our happiness."Turning our conventional understanding of power on its head, world-renowned Zen master, spiritual leade "Power is good for one thing only: to increase our happiness and the happiness of others. Being peaceful and happy is the most important thing in our lives and yet most of the time we suffer, we run after our cravings, we look to the past or the future for our happiness."Turning our conventional understanding of power on its head, world-renowned Zen master, spiritual leader, and national bestselling author Thich Nhat Hanh reveals how true power comes from within. What we seek, we already have. Whether we want it or not, power remains one of the central issues in all of our lives. Every day, each of us exercises power in many ways, and our every act subtly affects the world we live in. This struggle for control and authority permeates every aspect of our private and public lives, preventing us from attaining true happiness. The me-first mentality in our culture seeps unnoticed into our decisions and choices. Our bottom-line approach to getting ahead may be most visible in the business world, but the stress, fear, and anxiety it causes are being felt by people in all walks of life. With colorful anecdotes, precise language, and concrete practices, Thich Nhat Hanh illustrates how the current understanding of power leads us on a never-ending search for external markers like job title or salary. The Art of Power boldly challenges our assumptions and teaches each of us how to access the true power that is within our grasp.


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"Power is good for one thing only: to increase our happiness and the happiness of others. Being peaceful and happy is the most important thing in our lives and yet most of the time we suffer, we run after our cravings, we look to the past or the future for our happiness."Turning our conventional understanding of power on its head, world-renowned Zen master, spiritual leade "Power is good for one thing only: to increase our happiness and the happiness of others. Being peaceful and happy is the most important thing in our lives and yet most of the time we suffer, we run after our cravings, we look to the past or the future for our happiness."Turning our conventional understanding of power on its head, world-renowned Zen master, spiritual leader, and national bestselling author Thich Nhat Hanh reveals how true power comes from within. What we seek, we already have. Whether we want it or not, power remains one of the central issues in all of our lives. Every day, each of us exercises power in many ways, and our every act subtly affects the world we live in. This struggle for control and authority permeates every aspect of our private and public lives, preventing us from attaining true happiness. The me-first mentality in our culture seeps unnoticed into our decisions and choices. Our bottom-line approach to getting ahead may be most visible in the business world, but the stress, fear, and anxiety it causes are being felt by people in all walks of life. With colorful anecdotes, precise language, and concrete practices, Thich Nhat Hanh illustrates how the current understanding of power leads us on a never-ending search for external markers like job title or salary. The Art of Power boldly challenges our assumptions and teaches each of us how to access the true power that is within our grasp.

30 review for The Art of Power

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    I rarely take Buddhist spiritual writers seriously because their anecdotes are laughably irrelevant. Sorry, guys. Stories about "a king who had the finest clothes" have no effect on me, and that's not just because I'm a crank, but because little stories often tell little truths. Anecdotal instruction is too roundabout a way of introducing mindfulness, which can be a straightforward technique. There's no need for so much mystery and metaphor. These are techniques that can help people, so why play I rarely take Buddhist spiritual writers seriously because their anecdotes are laughably irrelevant. Sorry, guys. Stories about "a king who had the finest clothes" have no effect on me, and that's not just because I'm a crank, but because little stories often tell little truths. Anecdotal instruction is too roundabout a way of introducing mindfulness, which can be a straightforward technique. There's no need for so much mystery and metaphor. These are techniques that can help people, so why play the wisdom card? It's self-serving and vain and totally at odds with the traditions from which these techniques arose. TNH tries to remedy this inherent failing of his peers by telling stories about people like you and me. Sadly, his concessions to physical reality, while admirable, fall short. TNH is too inexperienced in the indignities and compromises of 21st century America to create anecdotes that are more than variations on the Golden Rule. However, he is effective when he describes mindfulness and its benefits. He is so skilled at de-mystifying mindfulness and making it accessible that he could skip the rote storytelling and interpretations entirely. If you want to make your mind and your outlook healthier, but are leery of the forced naivety and escapism of the New Age movement, this is a worthy book and writer to check out. If the spiritual angle still leaves you cold, Albert Ellis pretty much repackaged mindfulness as his Cognitive Behavioral therapy. You can get one of his books or you can speak to a therapist trained in those techniques, but I would recommend at least reading one of TNH's books first. Speaking as an empiricist (and a crank), I totally admire TNH. He never puts forth deceitful horsesh*t like the "law of attraction" because he knows that many features of modern life cannot be wished away. He's still a bit innocent, but not so much that he lies to himself or to his readers. This book is not perfect but it is a good effort by a good man.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    The title is deceptive -- it's really a book about mindfulness, boundless love, and how to achieve greater understanding between individuals, nations and in the world. A really powerful book about spirituality and simple ways to incorporate very profound spiritual practices into everyday life, and every moment! The title is deceptive -- it's really a book about mindfulness, boundless love, and how to achieve greater understanding between individuals, nations and in the world. A really powerful book about spirituality and simple ways to incorporate very profound spiritual practices into everyday life, and every moment!

  3. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    I am listening to this book on CD every day on my way to work. I listen to each CD several times. There is so much to learn from this guy.... He is the real deal - you know, a super-enlightened Buddhist monk and all that.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mary

    Sadly, not Thich's best book. The principles of Buddhism don't change much, and as he's written so many books on Buddhism, each book is tailored towards certain niches. This one seems targeted towards Christian America, with the 5 mindfulness trainings that read like commandments -- not really in the vein of his other books. This book might be appropriate to those not familiar with Buddhism and looking for a relatable introduction, but for anyone else with prior knowledge and practice of Buddhis Sadly, not Thich's best book. The principles of Buddhism don't change much, and as he's written so many books on Buddhism, each book is tailored towards certain niches. This one seems targeted towards Christian America, with the 5 mindfulness trainings that read like commandments -- not really in the vein of his other books. This book might be appropriate to those not familiar with Buddhism and looking for a relatable introduction, but for anyone else with prior knowledge and practice of Buddhism will probably find this book preachy and annoyingly over-simplified (which might be an oxy-moron considering this is Buddhism, but I found this book disappointing).

  5. 5 out of 5

    Mark Robison

    This book is aimed at CEOs, politicians and other powerful people about how real power is not dominating others with your wealth or power, but the power to be happy in the present moment and free from addiction, despair and anger. As sometimes happens when I read his books, the advice seems almost too simplistic to work in the real word in hard situations: breathe to get in sync with your body, the present moment is a wonderful moment, realize there is no self and that others are really you too, This book is aimed at CEOs, politicians and other powerful people about how real power is not dominating others with your wealth or power, but the power to be happy in the present moment and free from addiction, despair and anger. As sometimes happens when I read his books, the advice seems almost too simplistic to work in the real word in hard situations: breathe to get in sync with your body, the present moment is a wonderful moment, realize there is no self and that others are really you too, and practice compassion toward yourself and others. But then Nhat Hanh tells of being exiled from his home country of Vietnam because the government’s thought he was a danger for teaching peace. They banned his books and kept him out for 40 years. He’s finally allowed back and the communist government tries to thwart his lectures — and he uses the techniques in this book and creates a crack in the state apparatus aligned against him, until by the end of his visit, government officials are packing his lectures to hear him speak about peace and loving kindness. Now that’s power. (It's a very small part of the book.) An anecdote stuck with me: His book “Being Peace” sold a million copies just in South Korea while his book “Touching Peace” only had 10,000 copies printed — if you’re happy with what you accomplished, then what happens afterward is inconsequential. There’s a long appendix where the creator of Patagonia tells about his business philosophy, which fits perfectly with Nhat Hanh’s advice, and how these principles made Patagonia such a power house today. Quote: "Protesting is a kind of help, but it should be done skillfully, so people see it as an act of love and not an attack." Grade: A-

  6. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie *Eff your feelings*

    excellent...there is alot to be learned frome this guy. I am sure I will listen to this one over and over again. I learned alot of this from the Ekart Tolle books, this just added a little more!

  7. 4 out of 5

    Jim

    Yet another book by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh that instructs us how to find happiness. The Art of Power identifies the usual goals of wealth, fame, sex, and fancy food as merely cravings that are not conducive to happiness. Real power resides in the ability to achieve some level of happiness irrespective of these cravings. A worthwhile read. Yet another book by Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh that instructs us how to find happiness. The Art of Power identifies the usual goals of wealth, fame, sex, and fancy food as merely cravings that are not conducive to happiness. Real power resides in the ability to achieve some level of happiness irrespective of these cravings. A worthwhile read.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Tra Tran

    One of my favorite books about power! Worth multiple rereads.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Amber Scaife

    Thich Nhat Hanh here details how real power is found in loving kindness and not in wealth or fame or political gain. So mostly a reinforcement of moral common sense, to be honest, but it was a nice reminder on trying to walk and breath and pretty much do everything we do mindfully.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Bob

    This will be a short review. It would be easy for a cynic to dismiss this book. That would be a mistake, because basically Hanh is right about everything in here.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Henry Jackson

    Refreshing The Art of Power by TNT was refreshing in that the simple practices taught by TNT are applicable to all situations of life specially for those in positions of "power." These practices are simple and available to everyone who wishes to be free of fears, cravings, envy, selfishness. These practices are triggers that help to release our intrinsic power to be free from ego and negativity . The exercise of power first is with oneself, then with others. No one can do anything for anybody in Refreshing The Art of Power by TNT was refreshing in that the simple practices taught by TNT are applicable to all situations of life specially for those in positions of "power." These practices are simple and available to everyone who wishes to be free of fears, cravings, envy, selfishness. These practices are triggers that help to release our intrinsic power to be free from ego and negativity . The exercise of power first is with oneself, then with others. No one can do anything for anybody in a state of powerlessness and ego slavery.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Mark Munson-Warnken

    This book is phenomenal and I will definitely be re-reading, the best “self help” book I have ever read. Throughout the summer I had multiple existential crises and this book was one of the few reasons I could stay grounded. It talks a lot about acceptance and mindfulness, would definitely recommend giving it a try.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Brian Gee

    Its ok. If you have read one of THich Nhat Hanh's books you have read them all. Its ok. If you have read one of THich Nhat Hanh's books you have read them all.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Harshit Vyas

    It seems as if a child has written the book because of its simplistic language. But teaches how to live in the present moment. Recommended to lessen your mind chatter.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Chip Hunter

    Let me start by saying that I have VERY little knowledge or understanding of Buddhism. I was given this book by a friend of mine (from Vietnam) whom apparently thought I could benefit from some of Mr. Hanh's teachings. Intrigued, I dove into this thin book expecting a discourse on how Buddhism will make your life better, ect. What I found instead, was a heart-felt, insightful, and valuable introduction to a practical way to view life that can help you achieve happiness despite your circumstances Let me start by saying that I have VERY little knowledge or understanding of Buddhism. I was given this book by a friend of mine (from Vietnam) whom apparently thought I could benefit from some of Mr. Hanh's teachings. Intrigued, I dove into this thin book expecting a discourse on how Buddhism will make your life better, ect. What I found instead, was a heart-felt, insightful, and valuable introduction to a practical way to view life that can help you achieve happiness despite your circumstances. This is an extremely powerful and attractive system for viewing life. How to control your emotions, focus on whats important, realize that you have what you need, and appreciate the good things around you. These are lessons on how to live a happy and fulfilling life, not a lecture on why you should be a Buddhist. No matter what your religion or political views, if you can shift your outlook on life to be more like that of a Buddhist monk, you'll probably be a happier person. And you'll also be more enjoyable to be around! I'm definitely going to try to get my wife to read this book! Not that she's unenjoyable to be around, but I think everyone could use a dose of this simple but powerful lesson. While I really enjoyed this book, and really think it will influence my life in a positive way, some of Hanh's metaphors and allegories caused a bit of eye-rolling, and some of his statements just came off a bit over-the-top. A flower doesn't need the sun to open, and its certainly not actually The Sun or The Clouds. I know its probably just my cynical nature that keeps me from fully appreciating the brilliance of Interconnectedness. Also, the repeated references to Jesus and The Kingdom of God in the context of the here-and-now were a bit off-putting to me. Either Thich Nhat Hanh doesn't really understand the meaning of what Jesus is and did, or he's purposefully ignoring Jesus' message for the purpose of making sure we all get along. Its the typical casting of Jesus, Mohamed, Moses, and Buddha as "great teachers" and nothing more. Somewhat irritating, but not enough to dampen my enjoyment of the book overall. Basically, I think almost anyone with an open mind would appreciate and benefit from this book. Focus on yourself, appreciate everything for what it is, and make an effort to achieve happiness. Good lessons for a life well-lived. Highly recommended!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    Although this book is geared towards showing leaders in business, politics, their communities, and organizations generally how the application of Zen mindfulness techniques can actually enhance the quality of their own lives (as well as their employees and constituencies), the techniques are applicable to anyone who wants to live in a "mindful" way. Thich Nhat Hanh uses the example of how the founder of Patagonia (the climbing clothing seller) uses such techniques to run a sustainable business pr Although this book is geared towards showing leaders in business, politics, their communities, and organizations generally how the application of Zen mindfulness techniques can actually enhance the quality of their own lives (as well as their employees and constituencies), the techniques are applicable to anyone who wants to live in a "mindful" way. Thich Nhat Hanh uses the example of how the founder of Patagonia (the climbing clothing seller) uses such techniques to run a sustainable business practice while being profitable and being conscious about the business choices simultaneously which help contribute to the preservation of the environment (such as Patagonia's choice to buy organic cotton rather than pollution-causing industrial cotton). Thich quotes Yvon Couinard, the founder of Patagonia: "I've been a businessman for almost fifty years. It's as difficult for me to say those words as it is for someone to admit being an alcoholic or a lawyer. I've never respected the profession. It's business that has to take the blame for being the enemy of nature, for destroying native cultures, for taking from the poor and giving to the rich, and for poisoning the Earth with the effluent from the factories. Yet business can produce food, cure disease, control population, employ people, and generally enrich our lives. And it can do these good things and make a profit without losing its soul . . . . (sic) . . . . (Our role:) Well, if you want to change corporations, you've got to change consumers. That's where the buck stops, with us. We are the consumers. We are consumers, we are not citizens anymore. We're the ones that feed the corporations that feed the government. So, we're the ones that have to change. So once you find out that you're the one, that we're part of the problem, then finally you can be part of the solution." The Art of Power is a great guide in showing the application of 'mindful living and meditation' and the Buddhist concept of Non-Duality in everyday life.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Maria

    In 'The Art of Power,' Thich Nhat Hanh writes, "Power is good for one thing only: to increase our happiness and the happiness of others. Being peaceful and happy is the most important thing in our lives and yet most of the time we suffer, we run after our cravings, and we look to the past or the future for our happiness." Nhat Hanh lays out for us in this book his thoughts on true power, as defined in this way, and how we can prioritize true sources of power over the cravings for what we think p In 'The Art of Power,' Thich Nhat Hanh writes, "Power is good for one thing only: to increase our happiness and the happiness of others. Being peaceful and happy is the most important thing in our lives and yet most of the time we suffer, we run after our cravings, and we look to the past or the future for our happiness." Nhat Hanh lays out for us in this book his thoughts on true power, as defined in this way, and how we can prioritize true sources of power over the cravings for what we think power is (money, corporate or political domination, etc). After this premise laid out, a great deal of the book is spent teaching about mindfulness and mindfulness practice. Nhat Hanh believes that only by being completely mindful of and invested in what we are doing right now, can we find happiness and love (i.e., power). I got a lot out of this book. The mindfulness and meditation practice is explained in a very accessible way. Although this practice is based in Buddhist philosophy, something else Nhat Hanh explains in an engaging and fascinating-- but never dogmatic-- way, the practice is accessible to anyone of any religious/spiritual creed. The only thing I liked less about this book was the section about how he has translated his own mindfulness practice into political action. While I agree with much of what he believes in, it felt overly pedantic and lectury.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jason Almeida

    The chapter on Mindfulness which has been an ever popular topic in many of the common sense type self examining chaos which can be our lives today. Apparently when we actually take the time to sit still or think before we speak there a major benefit, dah..?! I was one of those at the time who needed to focus on others things more than myself. Essentially this book, makes you take life and daily activities and how we see the world in a light which is a hard practice for anyone, or at least to sta The chapter on Mindfulness which has been an ever popular topic in many of the common sense type self examining chaos which can be our lives today. Apparently when we actually take the time to sit still or think before we speak there a major benefit, dah..?! I was one of those at the time who needed to focus on others things more than myself. Essentially this book, makes you take life and daily activities and how we see the world in a light which is a hard practice for anyone, or at least to stay constant. Very interesting read and Thich Nhat Hanh has other books which go into a more peaceful life and living in serenity. Also, this is a great book to keep handy as a daily reminder. You can open this anywhere and pick out a page and get something from it.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Mikelkpoet

    I can borrow books for two weeks from the bookstore where I am a barista at, and I borrowed this one, two weeks, ago. When I returned it, I was on p. 48, but I had read the Chapter titled, I think, "Getting what you want," which I found way more interesting than the first 48 pages, where Thich Nhat Hanh kept telling me that the only way to live my life was the way that he was telling me to live my life. I am going to buy a used hardcover copy of this book, and finish, because I think that I can l I can borrow books for two weeks from the bookstore where I am a barista at, and I borrowed this one, two weeks, ago. When I returned it, I was on p. 48, but I had read the Chapter titled, I think, "Getting what you want," which I found way more interesting than the first 48 pages, where Thich Nhat Hanh kept telling me that the only way to live my life was the way that he was telling me to live my life. I am going to buy a used hardcover copy of this book, and finish, because I think that I can learn some good lessons from it. I am also going to buy a used copy of his book, "Anger," which I know that I can learn some good lessons from. That's it; that's all I have. Carry on.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Aura

    From this book I've learned more about the power of inner calm and peace that mindfulness brings. The first lesson that caught my attention was the one about the politician who practiced mindful walking when he went from one place to another, because it was the only time at work that he had to truly relax and disconnect from problems. Mindful walking is walking without thinking about anything, you focus on the steps you take and the solid ground beneath your feet and dismiss any other thought or From this book I've learned more about the power of inner calm and peace that mindfulness brings. The first lesson that caught my attention was the one about the politician who practiced mindful walking when he went from one place to another, because it was the only time at work that he had to truly relax and disconnect from problems. Mindful walking is walking without thinking about anything, you focus on the steps you take and the solid ground beneath your feet and dismiss any other thought or feeling. One other lesson that I enjoyed, was the story of Yvon Chouinard and his approach to business.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Ashleigh

    I love Thay. So grateful for his wisdom, which can be applied with or without the spiritual aspect. It’s just good, wholesome teaching. That being said, this book is not much about power, but more about basic Buddhist principals that we should apply in all areas in our lives, especially with our co-workers, place of business, towards government officials, etc. A small portion of the book does discuss the ability to use our powers to help the suffering of others, again, a well known and basic Bud I love Thay. So grateful for his wisdom, which can be applied with or without the spiritual aspect. It’s just good, wholesome teaching. That being said, this book is not much about power, but more about basic Buddhist principals that we should apply in all areas in our lives, especially with our co-workers, place of business, towards government officials, etc. A small portion of the book does discuss the ability to use our powers to help the suffering of others, again, a well known and basic Buddhist principal.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Kim

    This is an amazing book and would recommend it to anybody who wants a more joyful and mindful way of living. Thich Nhat Hanh speaks eloquently on ways to cultivate insight through faith, diligence, mindfulness, and concentration. My life has already changed so much since reading this book, and could see myself referencing it often. I am grateful to the person who recommend this book to me!

  23. 4 out of 5

    J. Maximilian Jarrett II

    Thich Nhat Hanh was the first modern Zen master I read whose writings spoke to me very deeply when I first entered "the Stream" . The clarity of us insights and teachings is laudable and most useful. This book is another gem. I particularly liked the appendix which tells the story of the Patagonia company in the words of its founder. Highly recommended! Thich Nhat Hanh was the first modern Zen master I read whose writings spoke to me very deeply when I first entered "the Stream" . The clarity of us insights and teachings is laudable and most useful. This book is another gem. I particularly liked the appendix which tells the story of the Patagonia company in the words of its founder. Highly recommended!

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kony

    Timeless wisdom imparted in simple prose. Re-reading this helped me quiet my monkey mind and remember to be happy in the moment. A bit repetitive, but not a big deal because the whole thing is so short and so good overall. -- [Originally read in January 2010.]

  25. 5 out of 5

    Nicole

    Loved the ideas presented in this book! What a great first book for the CSL book club! Definitely touches on all the big themes of the Center: mindfulness, belovedness, love, compassion, money, community. It was a bit slow at times, and the writing a bit simple, which is why this is 3 stars.

  26. 4 out of 5

    Sam Singer

    More Westerners should read For a novice learning this practice or someone wanting to gain understanding of their life, this book is simple and c!ear. It is a book I will reread over time for sure.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Calista

    After this election, this book helped to calm me and give me some peace. Walking meditation, it works and it's a good thing. He brought me back to mindfulness. Thank you. After this election, this book helped to calm me and give me some peace. Walking meditation, it works and it's a good thing. He brought me back to mindfulness. Thank you.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Carl

    Main theme: Mindfulness and compassion.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Eric C Cassidy

    he's always good. sometime a little redundant. interesting caveat with Yvon Choinard at the end appendix b. I already read let my people go surfing, but I appreciate this book and the joint effort. he's always good. sometime a little redundant. interesting caveat with Yvon Choinard at the end appendix b. I already read let my people go surfing, but I appreciate this book and the joint effort.

  30. 4 out of 5

    John Dundon

    Words to live by Simple , direct and will take a lifetime of practice to really understand. The Patagonia appendix was a highlight for me, also the relaxation techniques.

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