Book Review: How to Love and True Love by Thich Nhat Hanh

I’m writing today about two books by Buddhist Monk Thich Nhat Hanh. “How to Love” and “True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart” are two tiny books with profound lessons in love.

These books discuss love in a very broad sense, not just romantic relationships, which I… well… love! The relationships the author writes about could be you and your beloved as in a spouse or significant other, but can also include relationships with your family, friends, acquaintances, and even compassion for strangers.

The first book, “How to Love” (2015) is 125 pages in an itty-bitty trim size (4 inches by 6 inches). This book includes simple but touching illustrations by Jason DeAntonis. This book is not broken into traditional chapters. Each page is a paragraph on a topic such as “Loving Mindfully,” “Finding Home,” and “Opening the Door.” These may be short, but there is a deep wisdom in these lines. They can be used as meditations or a prompt for journaling. Many of the topics do include thoughts on sex and intimacy.

The second book, “True Love: A Practice for Awakening the Heart” (2004) is 108 pages and a slightly larger trim size (4 inches by 7 inches). This book is set up with seven chapters. These include, “The Four Aspects of Love,” “Being There When Someone is Suffering,” and “Deep Listening.”

Both of these books are concise, so an avid reader could finish both of these in one day. However, the essence of the matter is to not rush through, but digest and reflect upon the ideas. I found the simple nature of the prose was incredibly striking. You read a few lines and you are left with a feeling: that feeling may be happiness and contentment, reflecting an area of your life that is fulfilled. The feeling may be one of longing or hurt, emphasizing a place in your life that needs to be nurtured.

I understand that some might find the simple language and spiritual tone to be a little too “hippie woo-woo drum circle.” Stopping to read a book telling me to water my beloved like a flower is a bit of a gear-shift from what I typically read. But I am better for reading these books, and I will go back and reread them to reflect and journal because the teachings are important and valuable to me.

I give “How to Love” a higher recommendation over “True Love” simply because I feel it stays on track better for the reader. While awareness of attachment is important in relationships, “True Love” meanders a bit far in this discussion and ventures away from discussing love directly. “How to Love” remains on task throughout.

If you are looking for a simple reflection on love, as well as sex and relationships, I encourage you to take a break from the busy world and meditate on one of these titles.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close