Thich Nhat Hanh, a poet and peace activist, was exiled for almost 40 years and became one of the most influential figures in Buddhism.
One of the most influential Buddhist monks in the world, Thich Nhat Hanh, has died in Vietnam at the age of 95, according to a statement from his Zen teaching organization.
The master of meditation “died peacefully” at the Tu Hieu temple in Hue, where his spiritual journey began and the center of the Buddhist Vietnam, the Plum Village of Engagement Buddhism community said.
“We invite our dear global spiritual family to take a few moments to stand still, to return to our conscious breathing, while holding Thay in our heart,” the organization said on Nhat Hanh’s Twitter account, using the words of the Vietnamese teacher. .
The poet and peace activist spent almost 40 years in exile after being asked to end the Vietnam War, but he had a strong influence on Buddhism and was seen as second only to the Dalai Lama.
In a soft, yet powerful tone, he spoke of the need to “walk as if we were kissing the ground with our feet,” and was accused of bringing mindfulness to Western countries and retreating around the world. He was the author of more than 100 books on mindfulness and meditation.
Born in 1926, Nguyen Xuan Bao was named a monk by Thich Nhat Hanh, the founder of the revolutionary revolutionary Ho Chi Minh in Vietnam, who led efforts to liberate the Southeast Asian country from French colonial rule.
Thich Nhat Hanh, who spoke seven languages, gave lectures 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, as evidenced by the self-immolation protests of several monks.
“I saw communists and anti-communists kill and destroy each other because they believed that each side had a monopoly on truth,” he wrote in 1975.
“Bombs, mortars and shouts drowned out my voice.”
In the heyday of the Vietnam War in the 1960s, he met Martin Luther King, the U.S. civil rights leader, and persuaded him to speak out against the conflict.
On his way to meet King in the US, the South Vietnamese government banned Thich Nhat Hanh from returning home.
King described Thich Nhat Hanh as “an apostle of peace and non-violence” and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.
“I personally don’t know anyone who deserves a Nobel Peace Prize more than this gentle Buddhist monk in Vietnam,” King wrote in his nomination letter.
On a trip to South Korea, the monk Haenim Sunim, who worked as a translator for Thich Nhat Hanh, said that Master Zen was calm, attentive, and loving.
“It was like a big pine tree, and it allowed many people to rest under its branches with a wonderful teaching of attention and compassion,” Haemin Sunim told Reuters.
“He was one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met.”
Thich Nhat Han had a stroke in 2014 and his health began to decline.
He was allowed to return to Vietnam in 2018 and spent his last days in the Tu Hieu temple, where he was closely monitored by street-wearing police.
Hundreds of people approached the pagoda on their outings through the lush gardens of the temple with the monk.
“He taught us to love people, to love ourselves, to love nature,” said Tran Thi My Thanh, who made a pilgrimage to Hue with friends from Ho Chi Minh City.