Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh returns to Vietnam

By Vo Thanh   October 27, 2018 | 01:29 am PT
Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh returns to Vietnam
Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh sits in a wheelchair as he greets monks and Buddhist followers at Da Nang International Airport in central Vietnam on Friday. Photo by VnExpress/Nguyen Sum
Renowned Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh arrived in central Vietnam Friday, a year after his previous visit.

The Buddhist monk, considered the second most influential Buddhist leader in the world after the Dalai Lama, landed in Da Nang City on a flight from Bangkok.

Thich Nhat Hanh, 92, was in stable health and waved to followers as he left the airport, said Nguyen Van Sum, a follower.

His stay in Vietnam this time will include several days in Da Nang and a trip to his birthplace in nearby Thua Thien-Hue Province.

He will visit the Tu Hieu Pagoda, where he studied and practiced Zen Buddhism from 1942. He visited the pagoda during a private trip late August last year.

Born in 1926, Thich Nhat Hanh became a monk at the age of 23 after studying Buddhism for seven years. 

In the 1960s he spearheaded a movement of Buddhists in South Vietnam that called for a negotiated end to the Vietnam War.

He left the country 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, people can learn to live happily in the present moment, which is the only way to truly develop peace, both within oneself and in the world outside.

This is his fifth return to Vietnam, the others being in 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2017. During his earlier visits, he met with devout Buddhists and offered prayers for war victims.

In late 2014, he suffered a stroke and was hospitalized in France for four and a half months.

Thich Nhat Hanh 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 bestselling “The Miracle of Mindfulness.”

“I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of [this prize] than this gentle monk from Vietnam,” King Jr. had 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," a documentary about Thich Nhat Hanh and his Buddhism practice, was released in cinemas in Vietnam in March last year.

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