Wednesday, October 4

Buddhist monk who brought mindfulness to the West dies in Vietnam

Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh, one of the most influential in the world for promoting the practice of “mindfulness” to the West, died on Saturday in Vietnam at the age of 95, his organization said on its Twitter account.

This monk and peace activist is considered the architect of the introduction in Western cultures of “mindfulness” or full attention, a meditation therapy aimed at becoming fully aware of the present without evaluating it.

The teacher “passed away peacefully” at Tu Hieu Temple in Hue city, the heartland of Buddhism in Vietnam, said the Plum Village Engaged Buddhism Community, his teaching organization.

For decades, Thich Nhat Hanh has been promoting this technique in Western countries – in Hollywood celebrity homes or Silicon Valley companies – before returning to Vietnam in 2018 after almost four decades of exile in France.

In that time he organized retreats all over the world and wrote over a hundred books on mindfulness and meditation.

The serenely smiling monk was expelled from his country for calling for an end to the Vietnam War. Later he was not allowed to return because he defended religious freedom, included in the Vietnamese communist regime where faith was strictly controlled.

The authorities allowed him to spend his last days in the Tu Hieu temple, although closely watched by the police who were always stationed around the religious complex, which has become a place of pilgrimage for his devotees.

caw / mdl / dbh / gm