Deep Listening with Thich Nhat Hanh

Aren’t we lucky today? Yes we are! We have a video from Super Soul Sunday in which Oprah Winfrey interviews Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. In this video, we will learn about compassionate listening or, what we call in our sangha, deep listening with Thich Nhat Hanh (known as Thay by his followers) and its partner practice, loving speech.

Deep listening and loving speech are two of the most fundamental practices in Plum Village, where Thay lives with his monks, nuns, lay men, and lay women. Deep listening is the practice of giving your full attention to whomever is speaking. This means, no thinking, especially about what you are going to say in response to what she is saying or he is saying. It means to accept what the speaker says just as it is, without adding your opinions, theories, thoughts, or emotions to it. It means to listen to what they have to say without interrupting.

Loving speech is the practice of speaking from your heart, telling your truth (which may or may not be the truth.) It means speaking mindfully and know that you are speaking. It means offering your love and compassion to those who are listening deeply to what you have to say.

Thay says,

“Deep listening is the kind of listening that can help relieve the suffering of another person. You can call it compassionate listening. You listen with only one purpose: to help him or her to empty his heart. Even if he says things that are full of wrong perceptions, full of bitterness, you are still capable of continuing to listen with compassion. Because you know that listening like that, you give that person a chance to suffer less. If you want to help him to correct his perception, you wait for another time. For now, you don’t interrupt. You don’t argue. If you do, he loses his chance. You just listen with compassion and help him to suffer less. One hour like that can bring transformation and healing.”

I can’t tell you how many times I have heard Thay talk about deep listening and loving speech. These practices are contained in the Five Mindfulness Trainings and the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings. They are spoken about in dharma talks that Thay gives on a biweekly basis and daily at retreats. They are talked about in sanghas in the Plum Village tradition like Mindfulness in Healing all over the world.

Do you see any benefit from practicing deep listening and loving speech?Would you like to learn more about this practice? You may be able to find a lot about these teachings from a sangha near you. Let me know where you live and I try to find one for you.

Connect with Meditation Practices

Connect with

Or enter your name and email address below.


  1. […] To the best of my ability, I will say what is true, useful, and timely and practice deep listening such that both my speaking and listening reflects loving-kindness and […]