My favorite monk, who is often referred to as the most beloved Buddhist teacher in the West, is Thich Nhat Hanh. His teachings and practices appeal to people from various religious, spiritual, and political backgrounds. Nhat Hanh offers a practice of "mindfulness" that is beneficial for people of all faiths, by helping us resist and transform the speed and violence of our modern society. His life and teachings have deeply influenced millions of people, including scores of luminaries in different fields: politician Jerry Brown, civil rights champion Martin Luther King, Jr., eco-activist Joanna Macy, and Catholic mystic Thomas Merton - to name a few.
Thich Nhat Hanh (see Thich Nhat Hanh � Deer Park Monastery) once told a story in one of his books of his family's simple way of brewing their tea when he lived in Vietnam. He said that in the evening a family member would take the boat out on the river and find a blooming lotus flower. The beautiful lotus closes its petals each night, so while the flower was still open they would take some tea leaves wrapped in rice paper and place it in the lotus flower. After the flower would close its delicate petals, throughout the night the tea leaves would absorb the wonderful fragrance of the lotus. The next morning the family of Thich Nhat Hanh's would row the boat out to the lotus flower, remove the scented tea leaves, and proceed to brew the special tea right there on the little boat and enjoy the still morning quietly sipping their fragrant tea.
Such a simple practice, peaceful, mindful, and meditative, brought the family a connectedness to each other and to all of nature.