Master of mindfulness Thich Nhat Hanh dies at age 95
One of the world’s most influential Buddhist monks who brought the concept of mindfulness to the West, Thich Nhat Hanh, died on Saturday at the age of 95.
The monk, who was also a peace activist, “passed away peacefully” at the Tu Hieu Temple in Hue, Vietnam, the International Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism said in a statement.
“We invite our global spiritual family to take a few moments to be still, to come back to our mindful breathing, as we together hold Thay in our hearts in peace and loving gratitude for all he has offered the world,” the organisation posted on Nhat Hanh’s Twitter account on Saturday, referring to the late monk by the Vietnamese word for teacher.
Funeral rites will be held in Hue for the next five days.
Nhat Hanh, who brought mindfulness to the West – from Hollywood celebrities to boardrooms in Silicon Valley – was only allowed to return to Vietnam after 39 years in exile in France.
He was banished from his home in the 1960s for calling for an end to Vietnam War. The Zen master, whose influence in Buddhism is seen as second only to the Dalai Lama, was also expelled for advocating religious freedom, especially in the communist country where all faiths are strictly controlled.
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The monk then travelled to the US and met Martin Luther King, who nominated him for the Nobel Peace prize in 1967 as he was an “apostle of peace and non-violence”.
During his time in the West, Nhat Hanh wrote more than 100 books on mindfulness and meditation, before he was allowed to return and see out his final days at the Tu Hien temple under close police vigil.
On Saturday, King’s daughter Bernice posted a photograph of her father and Nhat Hanh on Twitter with the caption: “My father with his friend and ally, #ThichNhatHanh, who died this week. I celebrate and honour Thich Nhat Hanh’s life and global influence for peace.”
She also posted Thich Nhat Hanh’s quote: “We are here to awaken from our illusion of separateness.”
Rahul Gandhi, a member of the Indian National Congress and grandson of late PM Indira Gandhi, tweeted: “My condolences to the followers of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, the Father of mindfulness. His gentle words on peace, gratitude and non-violence will ring true forever.”
US Senator Mazie Hirono tweeted: “It was an honour to meet Thich Nhat Hanh in Vietnam in 2019. His teachings of compassion and mindfulness will continue to lighten this world. Rest in peace.”