THICH NHAT HANH & MINDFULNESS
In the last few years, mindfulness has entered the mainstream. Armies of business consultants, lifestyle specialists, and self-styled gurus eagerly sell their own brand of mindfulness into schools, corporations, hospitals and government agencies. Record numbers of books are being published looking at every angle of mindfulness from working mindfully to living mindfully, and its impact on alleviating stress and anxiety has fuelled a global appetite to find out more.
Just as ‘organic’ became the new way for food, so ‘mindfulness’ is the new way for the mind. Widely acknowledged for introducing mindfulness to millions of people in the western world is the 90-year-old Buddhist Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.
Today, he is avidly followed by world leaders in politics and business, particularly by CEOs in Silicon Valley, and by stars of stage and screen, including Oprah Winfrey who has twice invited him on her show.
Nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by his friend Martin Luther King Jr., Thich Nhat Hanh is also a human rights activist, poet and successful author. His books have become worldwide bestsellers and he has over a million followers on Facebook.
In 1982, Thich Nhat Hanh set-up Plum Village - a monastery in rural France for monks and nuns to live, and for lay people from across the world to engage in mindful practice.
ABOUT THICH NHAT HANH
Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is a global spiritual leader, poet, peace activist and a pioneer in bringing Buddhism to the West.
Martin Luther King called him “An Apostle of peace and nonviolence.” The media has called him “The Father of Mindfulness,” “The Other Dalai Lama” and “The Zen Master Who Fills Stadiums.” - and he is revered throughout the world for his powerful teachings and bestselling writings on mindfulness and peace
He has built a community of over 600 monks and nuns, and six monasteries and dozens of practice centers in America and Europe.
In recent years Thich Nhat Hanh has led events for US Congressmen and women, and for parliamentarians in the UK, Ireland, India and Thailand. He has addressed UNESCO in Paris, calling for specific steps to reverse the cycle of violence, war and global warming, as well as the World Parliament of Religions in Melbourne. On a visit to the US in 2013 he led high-profile mindfulness events at Google, The World Bank and the Harvard School of Medicine.
In November 2014, a month after his 89th birthday, and following several months of rapidly declining health, Thich Nhat Hanh suffered a severe stroke. Although he is still unable to speak, and is mostly paralyzed on the right side, he has no retired in his monastery in France.
THICH NHAT HANH BIOGRAPHY
Born in central Vietnam in 1926, Thich Nhat Hanh entered Tu Hieu Temple, in Hue city, as a novice monk at the age of sixteen. As a young bhikshu in the early 1950s he was actively engaged in the movement to renew Vietnamese Buddhism. He was one of the first bhikshus to study a secular subject at university in Saigon, and one of the first six monks to ride a bicycle.
When war came to Vietnam, monks and nuns were confronted with the question of whether to adhere to the contemplative life and stay meditating in the monasteries, or to help those around them suffering under the bombings and turmoil of war. Thich Nhat Hanh was one of those who chose to do both, and in doing so founded the Engaged Buddhism movement, coining the term in his book Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire.
His life has since been dedicated to the work of inner transformation for the benefit of individuals and society.
In 1961 he travelled to the United States to teach Comparative Religion at Princeton University and the following year went on to teach and research Buddhism at Columbia University. In Vietnam in the early 1960s, Thich Nhat Hanh founded the School of Youth and Social Service, a grass-roots relief organization of 10,000 volunteers based on the Buddhist principles of non-violence and compassionate action.
As a scholar, teacher and engaged activist in the 1960s, Thich Nhat Hanh also founded the Van Hanh Buddhist University in Saigon, La Boi publishing House, and an influential peace activist magazine. In 1966 he established the Order of Interbeing, a new order based on the traditional Buddhist Bodhisattva precepts.
On May 1st, 1966 at Tu Hieu Temple, Thich Nhat Hanh received the ‘lamp transmission’ from Master Chan That, becoming a dharma teacher of the Lieu Quan Dharma Line in the 42nd generation of the Lam Te Dhyana school (“Lin Chi Chan” in Chinese or “Rinzai Zen” in Japanese).
A few months later he travelled once more to the U.S. and Europe to make the case for peace and to call for an end to hostilities in Vietnam. It was during this 1966 trip that he first met Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. Yet as a result of this mission both North and South Vietnam denied him the right to return to Vietnam, and he began a long exile of 39 years.
Thich Nhat Hanh continued to travel widely, spreading the message of peace and brotherhood, lobbying Western leaders to end the Vietnam War, and leading the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks in 1969.
He also continued to teach, lecture and write on the art of mindfulness and ‘living peace’, and in the early 1970s, he was a lecturer and researcher in Buddhism at the University of Sorbonne, Paris. In 1975 he established the Sweet Potato community near Paris, and in 1982 they moved to a much larger site in the south west of France, soon to be known as “Plum Village”.
In the last decade Thich Nhat Hanh has opened monasteries in California, New York, Vietnam, Paris, Hong Kong, Thailand, Mississippi and Australia, and Europe’s first “Institute of Applied Buddhism” in Germany.
Mindfulness Practice Centers in the Plum Village tradition offer special retreats for businessmen, teachers, families, healthcare professionals, psychotherapists, politicians, young people as well as veterans and Israelis and Palestinians. It is estimated that over 45,000 people participate in activities led by Plum Village monks and nuns in the US and Europe every year.