Thich Nhat Hanh
Zen monk, poet and peacemaker, Thich Nhat Hanh is today together with the Dalai Lama one of the most representative figures of Buddhism in the world.
Born in Central Vietnam in 1926, ordained a monk at the age of 16, he worked since his youth to bring peace, reconciliation and brotherhood to society. A witness to the devastation brought to his country by the war, he had a clear perception that Buddhism could not be limited to temples and ignore what was happening in the world but was called to act with equanimity, compassion and effectiveness and to bring people concrete help, together with teachings and spiritual support.
In 1964, during the war in Vietnam, it created one of the most significant non-violent resistance movements of the century, the Small Peace Corps: groups of lay people and monks who went to the countryside to establish schools, hospitals and to rebuild bombed villages, and was attacked by both contenders, who considered them allies of their enemy.
In 1967, while he was in the United States, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King, who after meeting him took a public stand against the war in Vietnam. Two years later, already forced into exile, he set up the Buddhist Peace Delegation, which participated in the peace talks in Paris. After signing the agreements he was refused permission to return to his country. Having settled in France, in 1982 he founded Plum Village, a community of monks and lay people near Bordeaux. It was only in January 2005, after 39 years of exile, that he was able to return to Vietnam for three months at the official invitation of the Vietnamese government, accompanied by a large group of monks and lay people, for a journey of reconciliation and teaching.
Until his illness in 2014, he conducted annual retreats around the world on the art of living in awareness, attended by thousands of people. He led special retreats for American veterans of the war in Vietnam, U.S. members of Congress, psychotherapists, artists, environmental activists, and groups of Israeli and Palestinian practitioners.
In October 2018 he moved to Vietnam, spending the last years of his life at the Từ Hiếu Root Temple in Huế, where he had received ordination as a novice at the age of 16 and where he passed away on January 22, 2022.
His numerous books have been translated into many languages. In Italy, his books are published by Ubaldini, Mondadori, Neri Pozza, Terra Nuova and Garzanti.
More information about him and his community can be found at www.plumvillage.org (in English) and on the website www.interessere.it (in Italian).