Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh
A Vietnamese Buddhist monk, spiritual leader, bestselling author, poet and activist. Born in Vietnam in 1926, he started his monastic education at age 16. Besides fulfilling his ascetic wish, he grew into a prolific writer and a leading activist.
In 1966 when he was 39, following his peace proposal in the United States, he became persona non grata in Vietnam and was forced into exile. He mainly lived in France, creating the largest Buddhist monastery in the West, Plum village.
Thich Nhat Hanh was the face of ‘Engaged Buddhism’; he divided his time between his practice, teaching, and Seva (service to others).
During the Vietnam war, besides writing articles and books – he tended to his compatriots, rebuilt villages and distributed aid where it was needed.
In exile, he promoted interfaith dialogue and organized ‘mindful listening’ between Israelis and Palestinians. He was engaged in protecting the planet and committed to a non-animal diet.
His spiritual teaching is the ancient art of mindfulness in various forms. He reformed it to a modernized and pragmatic vision of Buddhism well adapted to Western culture. He is the origin of the worldwide secular mindfulness movement.
In 2005, after 39 years in exile, he was finally allowed to visit Vietnam. In 2018 at age 91, after experiencing health complications, he returned to his country and root temple ‘Từ Hiếu Temple’ for the remainder of his life. He died there on 22.01.2022.
In the H.H. Dalai Lama’s words, ‘he lived a truly meaningful life.’
To read an extended biography: Plumvillage – Thich Nhat Hanh