Revered Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh leaves Vietnam after one-week visit

By Vi Vu   September 6, 2017 | 08:04 pm PT
The private trip included a night at the pagoda where he spent many years studying and practicing Zen Buddhism.

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and his companions left for Thailand on Wednesday, wrapping up his first visit to Vietnam in a decade.

Local media reports said he arrived in Thailand at 8 p.m. and was in good spirits.

The 91-year-old Buddhist monk flew from Bangkok to Da Nang in central Vietnam on August 29.

He traveled to his birthplace in the nearby Thua Thien-Hue Province on Sunday night and visited Tu Hieu Pagoda, where he studied and practiced Zen Buddhism from 1942.


Thich Nhat Hanh offers incense during his visit to Tu Hieu Pagoda in his hometown of Hue on September 3. Photo courtesy of Plum Village

Thich Nhat Hanh became a monk at the age of 23 after studying for seven years. He is considered the second most influential Buddhist leader in the West, after the Dalai Lama.

In the 1960s he spearheaded a movement of Buddhists in South Vietnam that called for a negotiated end to the Vietnam War. He left in 1966 and has lived in Plum Village in southern France for decades, traveling regularly throughout North America and Europe to give lectures on mindfulness and peace.

His key teaching is that, through mindfulness, we can learn to live happily in the present moment - the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world.

He does not ask his western followers to abandon their religions.

He has returned to Vietnam three times - in 2005, 2007 and 2008 - to meet with Buddhist followers and offer prayers for victims of the war.

However, this visit was a more private affair.

In late 2014, he suffered a stroke and was hospitalized in France for four and a half months. He has continued to give lectures and meditation classes since then.

He is also a poet and peace activist. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967, and is the author of more than 100 books, including the best-selling “The Miracle of Mindfulness”.

“I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of [this prize] than this gentle monk from Vietnam,” King Jr. said of Thich Nhat Hanh in his nomination. “His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.”

“Walk With Me – On The Road With Thich Nhat Hanh”, a documentary about his life, is scheduled for release later this year. It was made by film-makers Marc J Francis and Max Pugh who followed the Zen master into the depths of winter in a monastery in France, through Europe and then to North America.

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