Thich Nhat Hanh, who brought mindfulness to the West, approached death in that same spirit

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The monk died in the temple in Vietnam where he had been ordained in his youth. His simple yet profound teachings, which combine mindfulness along with social change, will continue to have an impact around the world.

Thich Nhat Hanh, the monk who popularised mindfulness in the West, died in the Tu Hieu Temple in Hue, Vietnam, on Friday. He was 95.

Over the next few years, Thich Nhat Hanh set up a number of organisations based on Buddhist principles of non-violence and compassion. His School of Youth and Social Service, a grassroots relief organisation, consisted of 10,000 volunteers and social workers offering aid to war-torn villages, rebuilding schools and establishing medical centres.

During his years in the US he met Martin Luther King jnr, who nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967.However, because of his peace work and refusal to choose sides in his country’s civil war, both the communist and non-communist governments banned him, forcing Thich Nhat Hanh to live in exile for over 40 years.

People interested in practicing meditation didn’t need to spend days at a meditation retreat or find a teacher. His teachings emphasised that mindfulness could be practiced anytime, even when doing routine chores. For Thich Nhat Hanh, however, mindfulness was not a means to a more productive day but a way of understanding interbeing: the connection and co-dependence of everyone and everything. In a documentaryA young girl asks him how to deal with the grief of her recently deceased dog. He instructs her to look into the sky and watch a cloud disappear. The cloud has not died but has become the rain and the tea in the teacup. Just as the cloud is alive in a new form, so is the dog.

 

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When I face the ultimate end, I will bring with me the wisdom… (and I hope, the grace) …this beautiful man taught me. RIPThichNhatHanh

95, he must have been doing something right.

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