Thich Nhat Hanh

Thích Nhất Hạnh, Buddhist Monk and Peace Activist Dead at 95

Posted: 21 Jan 2022 10:07 PM PST

“This body is not me; I am not caught in this body, I am life without boundaries, I have never been born and I have never died… Birth and death are only a door through which we go in and out. Birth and death are only a game of hide-and-seek. So smile to me and take my hand and wave good-bye.”

Thich Nhất Hạnh Thich Nhat Hanh shared that lullaby for “the person who is nearing their last breath” in his 2002 book No Death, No Fear. The Vietnamese Buddhist monk died early Saturday at the age of 95. The International Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism announced in a statement that their “beloved teacher” passed away peacefully at Từ Hiếu Temple in Huế, Vietnam. The author, poet, peace activist, and spiritual leader was called “Thay” by his students. The Plum Village statement said in part:

Thay has been the most extraordinary teacher, whose peace, tender compassion, and bright wisdom has touched the lives of millions. Whether we have encountered him on retreats, at public talks, or through his books and online teachings – or simply through the story of his incredible life- we can see that Thay has been a true bodhisattva, an immense force for peace and healing in the world. Thay has been a revolutionary, a renewer of Buddhism, never diluting and always digging deep into the roots of Buddhism to bring out its authentic radiance… 

We invite you to join our global community online, as we commemorate Thay’s life and legacy with five days of practice and ceremonies broadcast LIVE from Huế, Vietnam and Plum Village, France, starting on Saturday.

Nguyễn Xuân Bảo was born in Huế on October 11, 1926. He joined the Từ Hiếu Temple at age 16 and took the name Thích Nhất Hạnh when he was ordained in 1949. In the 1960s, he founded the Youth for Social Services in Vietnam and traveled to the United States, where he studied at Princeton Theological Seminary. He later lectured at the universities Columbia and Cornell.

A critic of the Vietnam War, Nhất Hạnh was barred from returning home for decades and spent much of his life in France, where he established Plum Village, which became Europe’s largest Buddhist monastery, according to its website. The Vietnamese government finally allowed the exile to visit his homeland in 2005 and again in 2007. Nhất Hạnh moved back to Vietnam in 2018, four years after a stroke left the polyglot unable to speak…