Thich Nhat Hanh’s Little Peugeot

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Little PeugeotPhoto by Jason Goulding |

The Zen master reflects on our culture of empty consumption and his community’s connection to an old French car.

By Thich Nhat Hanh

In the 1970s, within a few years of arriving in France, our group bought a little car, a secondhand Peugeot. We went all over Europe in it and used the car to transport not only people but also sand, bricks, tools, books, food, and many other materials as we began to establish the Sweet Potato community in an old farmhouse outside Paris. We used it for all our needs and kept it for many years. When our car was old and couldn’t be used anymore, we had a difficult time letting it go. We were attached to our little Peugeot, because both we and the car had gone through so much together. The car had survived breakdowns, numerous accidents, and untold repairs. My friends and I were sad the night we had to abandon it.

I do not know if people develop such a deep connection to the things they buy these days. Many people have a strong desire to possess the latest thing, and manufacturers and advertisers know this. It is not by accident that merchandise these days is not created to last.

The objects of our desire are constantly changing. And our desires for the objects we consume also change from one moment to the next. We are always running after something new. We may be infatuated with what we’ve bought for a while, but soon we take it for granted, we get bored, throw it away, and then buy something else.

As you grow in mindfulness, you reclaim your life. You begin to see how much time we lose in empty, meaningless consumption. Looking deeply, we see that empty consumption brings us no lasting happiness, only suffering…


Excerpted from At Home In the World by Thich Nhat Hanh © 2016. Reprinted with permission of Parallax Press.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s