Thich Nhat Hanh, Zen Buddhist monk, poet and peace activist who came to prominence in the 1960s as an opponent of the Vietnam War, on Saturday aged 95, was surrounded by his followers at the temple where his spiritual journey began. Had happened.
Their official Twitter said, “The International Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism announces that our beloved teacher Thich Nhat Hanh passed away peacefully at 00:00 on January 22, 2022 at Tu Hiu Temple in Hue, Vietnam.” Cause.
In a majestic body of works and public performances spanning decades, Thich Nhat Hanh spoke in a gentle yet powerful tone of the need to “walk as if you were kissing the earth with your feet”.
He suffered a stroke in 2014 that left him unable to speak and, after spending most of his adult life in exile, returned to Vietnam to live his final days in the ancient capital of Hue and the central city of his birthplace. Returns.
As a pioneer of Buddhism in the West, he formed the “Plum Village” monastery in France and regularly spoke on the practice of mindfulness – identifying and distancing himself from certain thoughts without judgment – in the corporate world. and to his international followers.
He said in a 2013 lecture, “You learn how to suffer. If you know how to suffer, you suffer very little. And then you know how to make good use of suffering to create joy and happiness.” “
“The art of happiness and the art of sorrow always go hand in hand”.
Born in 1926, Nguyen Xuan Bao, Thich Nhat Hanh was ordained a monk as Ho Chi Minh, the founding revolutionary of modern Vietnam, leading efforts to liberate the Southeast Asian country from its French colonial rulers.
Thich Nhat Hanh, who spoke seven languages, lectured at Princeton and Columbia universities in the United States in the early 1960s. He returned to Vietnam in 1963 to join the growing Buddhist opposition to the US-Vietnam War, which was demonstrated by several monks protesting self-immolation.
He wrote in 1975, “I saw communists and anti-communists kill and destroy each other because each side believed they had a monopoly on the truth.”
“Bombs, mortars and shouts stifled my voice”.
‘Like a Pine Tree’
Towards the height of the Vietnam War in the 1960s, he met civil rights leader Martin Luther King, whom he persuaded to speak out against the conflict.
King called Thich Nhat Hanh “an apostle of peace and non-violence” and nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize.
“I personally do not know anyone more deserving of the Nobel Peace Prize than this gentle Buddhist monk from Vietnam,” King wrote in his nomination paper.
While in the United States to meet the king a year earlier, Thich Nhat Hanh was banned from returning home by the South Vietnamese government.
Fellow monk Hanim Sunim, who once worked as a translator for Thich Nhat Hanh during a visit to South Korea, said the Zen master was calm, attentive and loving.
Hemin Sunim told Reuters, “He was like a big pine tree, which allowed many to rest under his branches with the wonderful teaching of mindfulness and compassion.”
“He was one of the most wonderful people I’ve ever met”.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s works and promotion of the idea of mindfulness and meditation have gained a renewed popularity as the world grapples with the effects of a coronavirus pandemic that has killed more than a million people and affected daily life. has done.
“Hope is important, because it can make the present moment less difficult to bear,” wrote Thich Nhat Hanh. “If we believe that tomorrow will be better, we can endure a hardship today.
“If you can let go of expectation, you can bring yourself fully into the present moment and discover the joy that is already here.”