Book Review: Our Appointment with Life by Thich Nhat Hanh

I picked up a copy of Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Our Appointment with Life” from Tibet Bookstore in Kathmandu. It cost 300 rupees (about $3), according to the sticker that’s still on my copy. You can purchase it on Amazon for $9.95 on Amazon.

I mean, if you’ve got the time I highly recommend traveling to Nepal, but unless you’re buying A LOT of books, it’s probably not economically sensible.

“Our Appointment with Life” is a brief meditation on mindfulness—the trendiest word that no one really knows the meaning of. “You know what I call mindfulness?” a colorful Malaysian man asked me, over chess in Pokhara, Nepal. “PAYING ATTENTION!”

In this short book (my copy is 54 pages), Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh explores what it truly means to be paying attention in your day-to-day life.

It is mainly a translation and commentary on The Sutra on Knowing the Better Way to Live Alone, the earliest Buddhist sutra (story) which addresses mindfulness. For those interested in mindfulness of Buddhist philosophy, the book goes over some interesting ideas, from a variety of viewpoints. Those who do not have such interests may find it a little repetitive, or boring.

For a person like me, who has a tendency to get caught up in my own head, reading the same sutra a few times over is actually a relaxing and educational experience. For a few days at least, after, I find myself a little more present.

The Buddhists call meditation, contemplation, and mindfulness “practice,” and for good reason. This stuff doesn’t come easy. You need to work at it every day, and practice it throughout your life. And one way to keep up with that practice is to read books like this, and remind yourself that we’re not here to sleepwalk through life.

Similar books I’ve reviewed:

“The Book” by Alan Watts (My Review)

“The Alchemist” by Paulo Coehlo (My Review)

“The Four Agreements” by Don Miguel Ruiz (My Review)

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