Thich Nhat Hanh

ThayThich Nhat Hanh

Our Sangha follows the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh and the nuns and monks of the Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism.

Thich Nhat Hanh is considered by many to be the father of mindfulness in the west. Thay (or “teacher”) as he is known by hundreds of thousands of followers around the world, is a Vietnamese monk, author, calligrapher, teacher, and peace activist.

Thay was born in Vietnam in 1926 and became a fully ordained monk in 1949.

Throughout the 1950s he was actively involved in efforts to renew Vietnamese Buddhism. In the early 1960s, he studied and taught in the U.S.A. and encouraged efforts to bring peace in Vietnam.

Thich Nhat Hanh returned to Vietnam and by the mid-1960s founded the Van Hanh Buddhist University in (then) Saigon, a publishing house, a peace activist magazine and, significantly, a grass-roots organization that provided education, healthcare and infrastructure support in rural areas. It was during this time that he coined the term Engaged Buddhism which reflected his belief that it is possible to combine the contemplative life and helping those in the wider community who are suffering. He also established the Order of Interbeing, an inclusive group of Buddhist practitioners linked by their observance of a code of ethics (14 Mindfulness Trainings).

In 1966, Thich Nhat Hanh returned to the U.S. and Europe appealing for an end to the war. In Vietnam, Thay was deemed a traitor and denied the right to return. Exiled in the west, he continued to teach and write on the art of mindfulness. In 1967, Thay was nominated by Martin Luther King for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Settling in France, Thay established the Unified Buddhist Church. In 1974 he created a community near Paris where he and eleven others settled, withdrawing from the public eye and seeking a life of meditation, writing, and other private endeavours. Due to increasing numbers, Thay and his followers moved to a small rural farmstead in south west France, later referred to as Plum Village.

Through Thay’s leadership, Plum Village has grown from a small rural acreage to a thriving retreat and practice centre. Over the past 15 years, other monasteries and practice centres in the Plum Village tradition have been established in various places including Paris, Hong Kong, Australia, Vietnam and the U.S. As well, The Institute of Applied Buddhism was opened in Germany.

More recently Thich Nhat Hanh founded “Wake Up”, a worldwide movement of thousands of young people being trained in mindful living.

Several members of our Community have participated in retreats at Plum Village in France as well as at Deer Park Monastery in California.