Thich Nhat Hanh is an expatriate Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk. A teacher, author, and peace activist, Nhat Hanh was born in central Vietnam on October 11, 1926. He joined a Zen monastery at the age of 16, studied Buddhism as a novice, and was fully ordained as a monk in 1949. The title Thích is used by all Vietnamese monks and nuns, meaning that they are part of the Shakya (Shakyamuni Buddha) clan. He coined the term Engaged Buddhism in his book Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire.
In the early 1960’s, he founded the School of Youth for Social Services (SYSS) in Saigon, a grass roots relief organization that rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, and resettled families left homeless during the Vietnam War. He traveled to the U.S. a number of times to study and later teach at Columbia University, and to promote the cause of peace. He urged Martin Luther King, Jr. to oppose the Vietnam War publicly, and spoke with many people and groups about peace. In 1967, King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Nhat Hanh led the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks. One of the best known Buddhist teachers in the West, Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings and practices appeal to people from various religious, spiritual, and political backgrounds. He offers a practice of mindfulness that is often adapted to Western sensibilities. He created the Order of Interbeing in 1966, and established monastic and practice centers around the world. His home is Plum Village Monastery in the Dordogne region in the South of France. He travels internationally giving retreats and talks. Exiled from Vietnam for many years, he was allowed to return for a trip in 2005. He has published more than 100 books, including more than 40 in English. He also publishes a quarterly Dharma talk in the journal of the Order of Interbeing, the Mindfulness Bell. Nhat Hanh continues to be active in the peace movement.
“Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life.”
“Live your daily life in a way that you never lose yourself. When you are carried away with your worries, fears, cravings, anger, and desire, you run away from yourself and you lose yourself. The practice is always to go back to oneself.”
“We really have to understand the person we want to love. If our love is only a will to possess, it is not love. If we only think of ourselves, if we know only our own needs and ignore the needs of the other person, we cannot love.”