Hanh gives an interview to Oprah for O Magazine about the first time he saw saw a picture of the Buddha in a magazine.
I was 7, 8. He was sitting on the grass, very peaceful, smiling. I was impressed. Around me, people were not like that, so I had the desire to be like him. And I nourished that desire until the age of 16, when I had the permission of my parents to go and ordain as a monk.
Hanh gives his thoughts on being exiled from his home country of Vietnam for 39 years after going to speak at Cornell University in 1966:
Angry, worried, sad, hurt. The practice of mindfulness helped me recognize that. In the first year, I dreamed almost every night of going home. I was climbing a beautiful hill, very green, very happily, and suddenly I woke up and found that I was in exile. So my practice was to get in touch with the trees, the birds, the flowers, the children, the people in the West—and make them my community.