World leaders, citizens from all continents, and the Vietnamese government pay tribute ahead of the Zen master’s cremation this weekend.
Widely known as the father of mindfulness and beloved by millions of students and followers worldwide, Thich Nhat Hanh has received a global outpouring of love and appreciation for his teachings and mindfulness practices, since his passing on January 22, 2022, at Tu Hieu Temple in Hue, Vietnam. As his community prepares for his funeral and cremation this weekend, thousands continue to post moving testimonials of deep gratitude for the healing impact he has had on their lives, including words such as:
“He saved my life.”
“He cured my soul.”
“He showed me the path to joy.”
“His teachings saved my marriage.”
“He transformed my relationship with my mother.”
“I understand my own Roman Catholic faith better now, because of the wisdom of this remarkable Buddhist monk.”
The President and Prime Minister of Vietnam have offered their condolences. “The government hopes that the Plum Village community will continue the Zen master’s vision and aspiration for engaged Buddhism, and so contribute to the prosperity of society, and, together with the wider Buddhist community in Vietnam and abroad, promote peace in the world.”
A thousand people a day have been visiting Tu Hieu Temple to pay their respects. Hundreds of thousands, Buddhist and non-Buddhist, have participated in online memorial services hosted daily by the 11 monasteries he founded in the United States, Europe, and Asia and by more than 1,000 local groups of followers in countless cities and towns.
“The most venerable Thich Nhat Hanh was one of the most respected moral and spiritual figures of our times,” celebrated Buddhist monk and author Matthieu Ricard said. “Not only was he one of the most articulate and inspiring proponents of Buddhist teachings and practice, but he was also a beacon of truth in his nonviolent campaigning for human rights.”
A peace activist from a very early age, Thich Nhat Hanh renewed Buddhism, bringing it off the meditation cushion and into the challenging secular world, not only coining the term “engaged Buddhism,” but actually living it. For more than half a century, he tirelessly used his global platform to promote social justice and equality as the roots of peace. Antonio Guterres, Secretary General of the United Nations, said, “Thich Nhat Hanh was a lifelong peace advocate who taught that polarization can be overcome as we nurture tolerance, inclusiveness, and the understanding of our deep interconnection with all human beings.”
Thich Nhat Hanh did not shy away from global challenges. Author of more than 100 books, he was one of the pioneers of spiritual environmentalism, organizing international conferences and writing about ecology and climate change starting in the early 1970s. More than half a million people have trained in his mindfulness practices and committed themselves to follow his path of applied global ethics, The Five Mindfulness Trainings. His last book published only a few months ago, Zen and the Art of Saving the Planet blazes a path forward through individual mindfulness, collective awakening, and the global healing that is so urgently necessary.
Christiana Figueres, former Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention on Climate Change and a student of Thich Nhat Hanh’s, credits his teachings for having made the Paris Agreement on climate change possible: “From Thay (“teacher,” in Vietnamese) I learned much but perhaps the most important was the skill of deep listening as an avenue to conflict resolution, helping to melt away countless political barriers in the negotiations. His insights and practices helped to open a new fertile space of collaboration through which governments were able to come to the historic agreement.” His applied mindfulness practices will be a treasure-trove for generations of changemakers to come. Former U.S. Vice President Al Gore said: “Thich Nhat Hanh’s legacy is one of insight, compassion, and respect for our planet and for one another. His memory and teachings will continue to inspire the next generation of environmental and social activists in the enduring struggle to protect the Earth and its people.”
As Thich Nhat Hanh’s monastic and lay students continue to share his teachings and carry his legacy forward internationally, it is also their deep wish to bring his practices of mindful breathing, walking, consuming, and compassionate communication to all areas of society in his native Vietnam: to families and schools, workplaces, businesses, and hospitals. Thich Nhat Hanh has demonstrated that mindfulness retreats and courses, born from the Vietnamese Buddhist tradition, have the power to bring healing, wellbeing, and prosperity to both individuals and society. Thich Nhat Hanh’s community has said, “We make the vow to realize Thay’s wish to bring back these practices, which have brought so many fruits of healing and peace to the West, as an offering to our spiritual and land ancestors in Vietnam.”
CEO of Boston Global Forum Nguyen Anh Tuan highly respects Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh. Mr. Nguyen Anh Tuan called to pay tribute the Zen Master by practicing concepts of Thich Nhat Hanh in life.