By Choekyi Lhamo
DHARAMSHALA, Jan. 24: Foremost Buddhist leader His Holiness the Dalai Lama on Saturday wrote to the Vietnamese followers of Zen Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh who dies at the age of 95, expressing sadness over the passing away of a spiritual brother. The Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism in France revealed that the renowned Vietnamese spiritual leader “passed away peacefully” at the Tu Hieu Temple in Hue on Saturday.
The Tibetan leader said that we can pay tribute to him by continuing “his work to promote peace in the world”. “In his peaceful opposition to the Vietnam war, his support for Martin Luther King and most of all his dedication to sharing with others not only how mindfulness and compassion contribute to inner peace, but also how individuals cultivating peace of mind contributes to genuine world peace, the Venerable lived a truly meaningful life,” the Dalai Lama further wrote.
The peace activist called to end the Vietnam War and spent almost 39 years in exile, practicing and teaching Buddhism. Hanh left Vietnam in 1966 and lived in Plum Village in southern France for decades, traveling throughout North America and Europe to give lectures on mindfulness and peace. “We invite our beloved global spiritual family to take a few moments to be still, to come back to our mindful breathing, as we together hold Thay [Thich Nhat Hanh] in our hearts,” the organisation said on his Twitter account when the world was notified of his demise.
The Zen meditation master had commented on the Tibetan struggle in an interview with an Italian newspaper in 2008, “The people of Tibet and the Chinese people need to be in touch with the wonderful presence of H.H. Even if H.H. were only to teach the Dharma and encourage the preservation of Tibetan culture — and say nothing about politics — it would bring enormous happiness to the people of his homeland.”
In 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. nominated Thich Nhat for the Nobel Peace Prize, telling the committee in a letter that the monk from Vietnam is a “scholar of immense intellectual capacity”. “His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity,” King told the committee.