Humbly, We Move Forward:

Reflections For Black History Month


Together We Are One is based on four retreats that Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh led specifically for people of color. 

This book is for anyone who has ever felt excluded or alienated, or anyone concerned with issues of social justice. 

In chapters focusing on honoring our ancestors, developing understanding and compassion, and seeing the world

in terms of interbeing, Nhat Hanh shows how meditation and the practice of looking deeply can help create

a sense of wholeness and connectedness with others.

Gatha for Healing Racial, Systemic and Social Inequity​

Aware of the suffering caused by racial, systemic, and social inequities, we commit ourselves, individually and as a community, to understanding the roots of these inequities, and to transforming this suffering into compassion, understanding, and love in action. As a global community of practitioners, we are aware of the disproportionate racial violence and oppression committed by institutions and by individuals, whether consciously or unconsciously, against African Americans and people of color across the United States and beyond. We know that by looking deeply as individuals and as a community, we can engage the collective wisdom and energy of the Sangha to be our foundation for Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Mindfulness, and Right Insight. These are the practices leading to nondiscrimination, non-harming, and non-self which heal ourselves and the world.

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Thay has always emphasized that our practice must be engaged. He has shown us through his actions and persistent courage that we all have the power to explicitly orient our communities toward peace, inclusivity and love. This February, Black History Month, we invite you to join us in reflecting on how we can further cultivate inclusivity, true love and social healing in our communities.


To support this reflection, the Awakening through Race, Intersectionality, and Social Equity (ARISE) Sangha has written us a gentle call to action, inviting us to join them on the collective path of inclusivity and love. ARISE is a community of Plum Village lay practitioners and monastics committed to healing the wounds of racial injustice and social inequity.

“Martin, in Vietnam, we speak of you as a bodhisattva [...] an enlightened being trying to awaken other living beings and help them go in the direction of compassion and understanding.” Thich Nhat Hanh spoke these words to the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. at one of their last meetings. A few years earlier, in a letter nominating Thay for the Nobel Peace Prize, King said, “I know Thich Nhat Hanh, and am privileged to call him my friend.”


Throughout the firestorm of the Vietnam War and civil rights protests, Thich Nhat Hanh and King shared a vision of peace, compassion, and love galvanized by non-violent social engagement, taking inspiration from Gandhi and others. In April 1967, several months after meeting Thich Nhat Hanh and facing tremendous opposition from the political and military establishment and some in the civil rights movement, King spoke eloquently, powerfully, and prophetically against the Vietnam War. He insisted on a “true revolution of values” from a “thing-oriented” society to a “person-oriented” society.


Today, our society faces the firestorm of racial and ethnic injustice, as well as systemic and structural oppression and discrimination. Similar to Thay’s teachings that “happiness is not an individual matter” and “liberation is not an individual matter,” justice and love are not individual matters. Creating the Beloved Community for which King and Thich Nhat Hanh have worked so diligently towards manifesting necessitates individual transformation supporting societal transformation. With this framework in mind, we can continue in Thay’s footsteps as we co-create a truly inclusive Buddhism right where we live, akin to his establishment of Socially-Engaged Buddhism in Vietnam through such initiatives as the School of Youth for Social Services.


The ARISE Sangha works at this very intersection of social justice and spiritual engagement. We seek for ourselves, for our community, and for society a “true revolution,” a new order of justice grounded in compassionate action, peace, and love that challenges us all to wake up to the roots of current inequities. While we commit to this intention with clarity, we know that intention must be joined with impact and action to transform suffering into compassion, understanding, and love. We humbly move forward to create a more equitable world that is within our reach.


The ARISE Sangha invites you to join our efforts by connecting with us at