Tens of thousands of people fired this Saturday the Buddhist monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanone of the most influential religious leaders in the world, who is credited with spreading the concept of “mindfulnessor full consciousness.
This Zen master died last week at the age of 95 in the cradle of Vietnamese Buddhism, Hue, in the center of the country.
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The monk was one of the best-known figures in Buddhism along with the Dalai Lama and was a tireless activist for peace, who spread the concept of “full consciousness” in the West.
A convoy of hundreds of cars and motorcycles, many decorated with flowers, escorted Thich Nhat Hanh’s remains from a pagoda to the cremation site. Along the streets of Hue, neighbors knelt as he passed.
His remains were led to the cremation site on Saturday morning, followed by a spectacular procession of tens of thousands of people chanting Buddhist prayers. Among the crowd, there were numerous monks in yellow and brown robes.
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“We have to say goodbye to the teacher. He plays an important role in my family’s life, helping us in the most difficult moments,” said Do Quan, a faithful who traveled from Hanoi with his wife and son.
Nam Anh, 22, said the monk was a national treasure. “I am very proud that Vietnam has such a prominent figure, who had such an influence around the world,” he said.
The monk, who was credited with the introduction and promotion in the West of the meditative therapy of “mindfulness“, the consciousness of the present moment, passed away a week ago. The teacher was born in 1926 and was ordained at the age of 16 and sent to a school where he trained volunteers to build clinics and infrastructure in towns hit by war.
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a man of peace
In the early 1960s, he traveled to the United States and taught at Columbia and Princeton universities. But after he met civil rights activist Martin Luther King on a trip in 1966, who joined his calls to end the Vietnam War, the monk was prevented from returning to his country.
A year later, King nominated Thich Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize, writing a letter to the committee highlighting the monk’s “tremendous intellectual capacity.” His outright opposition to the Vietnam War endeared him to both sides and pushed him into exile that lasted four decades. He was only able to return in 2018 under strict police control and surveillance.
“I don’t understand why even now the Vietnamese state doesn’t send its top leaders to pay tribute to this great man,” said a worshiper who gave his name only as Nam. “He deserved much more,” he added. The revered master will be cremated within two days and his remains will be shared between Tu Hieu and various meditation centers around the world.
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Vietnam bid farewell to the father of mindfulness in a massive farewell