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Thích Nhất Hạnh

Thích Nhất Hạnh

А Vietnamese Thiền Buddhist monk, peace activist, prolific author, poet, teacher, and founder of the Plum Village Tradition

Thích Nhất Hạnh (/ˈtɪk ˈnjʌt ˈhʌn/; Vietnamese: [tʰǐk̟ ɲə̌t hâjŋ̟ˀ] ; born as Nguyen Xuan Bao; October 11, 1926 – January 22, 2022) was a Vietnamese Thiền Buddhist monk, peace activist, prolific author, poet, teacher, and founder of the Plum Village Tradition, historically recognized as the main inspiration for engaged Buddhism. Known as the "father of mindfulness", Nhất Hạnh was a major influence on Western practices of Buddhism.

In the mid-1960s, Nhất Hạnh co-founded the School of Youth for Social Services and created the Order of Interbeing. He was exiled from Vietnam in 1966 after expressing opposition to the war. In 1967, Martin Luther King Jr. nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize.

Nhất Hạnh established dozens of monasteries and practice centers and spent many years living at the Plum Village Monastery, which he founded in 1982 in southwest France near Thénac, travelling internationally to give retreats and talks. Nhất Hạnh promoted deep listening as a nonviolent solution to conflict and sought to raise awareness of the interconnectedness of all elements in nature. He coined the term "engaged Buddhism" in his book Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire.

After a 39-year exile, Nhất Hạnh was permitted to visit Vietnam in 2005 In November 2018, he returned to Vietnam to his "root temple", Từ Hiếu Temple, near Huế, where he lived until his death on January 22, 2022, at the age of 95.

Nhất Hạnh at Phu Bai International Airport on his 2007 trip to Vietnam (aged 80)
Religious approach and influence

Nhất Hạnh combined a variety of teachings of Early Buddhism, Mahayana Buddhist traditions of Yogācāra and Zen, and ideas from Western psychology to teach mindfulness of breathing and the four foundations of mindfulness, offering a modern perspective on meditation practice. His presentation of the Prajnaparamita in terms of "interbeing" has doctrinal antecedents in the Huayan school of thought, which "is often said to provide a philosophical foundation" for Zen

Nhất Hạnh completed new English and Vietnamese translations of the Heart Sutra in September 2014. In a letter to his students, he said he wrote these new translations because he thought that poor word choices in the original text had resulted in significant misunderstandings of these teachings for almost 2,000 years.

Nhất Hạnh has also been a leader in the Engaged Buddhism movement (he is credited with coining the term), promoting the individual's active role in creating change. He rephrased the five precepts for lay Buddhists, which were traditionally written in terms of refraining from negative activities, as committing to taking positive action to prevent or minimize others' negative actions. For example, instead of merely refraining from stealing, Nhất Hạnh wrote, "prevent others from profiting from human suffering or the suffering of other species on Earth" by, for example, taking action against unfair practices or unsafe workplaces. He credited the 13th-century Vietnamese Emperor Trần Nhân Tông with originating the concept. Trần Nhân Tông abdicated his throne to become a monk and founded the Vietnamese Buddhist school of the Bamboo Forest tradition


October 12, 1926
Thích Nhất Hạnh was born in Socialist Republic of Vietnam.


Further Resources


Oprah Talks to Thich Nhat Hanh


February 16, 2010

Oprah Talks to Thich Nhat Hanh


February 16, 2010

Thich Nhat Hanh Returns Home | Plum Village


November 2, 2018

Thich Nhat Hanh: Extended Biography | Plum Village


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