October 11th – Thich Nhat Hanh

“Because you are alive, everything is possible.” 

― Thich Nhat Hanh, Living Buddha, Living Christ

Thich Nhat Hanh, a spiritual leader, poet, and peace activist, was born October 11th, 1926, in central Vietnam.

At the age of 16, he entered Tu Hieu Temple as a novice monk. During the Vietnam War, Thich Nhat Hanh opted to not only meditate in the monastery, but also to engage in the world to help alleviate suffering. He founded the Engaged Buddhism movement, coining the term in his book Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire. 

In 1961 he studied at Princeton Theological Seminary, then taught at Columbia University. He returned to Vietnam in 1963 and was an engaged activist. In 1966 he received the “lamp transmission” from Zen master Chân Thật, making him a teacher. 

He traveled the US and Europe calling for peace and an end to the hostilities in Vietnam. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. called him “an apostle of peace and nonviolence” and nominated him for a Nobel Peace Prize in 1967 (the prize was not awarded that year). 

In 1975 Vietnam denied him the right to return to the country after his travels, and he remained exiled for 39 years. 

In the 1970s Thich Nhat Hanh was a lecturer and researcher in Buddhism at the University of Sorbonne in Paris. 

He founded Lá Bối Press to spread his knowledge of community, mindfulness, and Buddhism. Nhất Hạnh has published over 130 books, including more than 100 in English, which have sold over 5 million copies worldwide. Some of his best-known books are The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation, Peace is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life, You are Here: Discovering the Magic of the Present Moment, No Mud No Lotus: The Art of Transforming Suffering, How to Love, Living Buddha, Living Christ, The Heart of Buddha’s Teaching, At Home in the World, The Art of Powerand so many more. 

His work revolves around the work of inner transformation – how it benefits the individual and society as a whole. The basic key teaching is that people can learn to be happy and positively influence and bring peace to the world through mindfulness. 

A pioneer in teaching Buddhism and mindfulness, Thich Nhat Hanh founded six monasteries, including the largest and most active Buddhist monastery in the West, Plum Village, in France.

In November 2014, Thich Nhat Hanh suffered a severe stroke and remained mostly paralyzed on his right side and unable to talk. In 2018 he returned to Vietnam to spend his remaining days at his ‘root’ monastery. 

Lesson from Thich Nhat Hanh:

No Mud, No Lotus. Get straight with yourself. Don’t run away from the uncomfortable – deal with it. Let in the quiet, and the messy with compassion. Sit in stillness. There you will find peace and purpose. Don’t live in the future or get stuck in the past. Just sit in the right now and create from here. 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s