Thich Nhat Hanh is perhaps the most know meditation teacher after The Dalai Lama. He first came to public attention as a Vietnamese protester of the Viet Nam War.
Here’s a story of his teaching that first appeared in The Vancouver Sun.
One of the world’s most famous Buddhists on Tuesday led about 1,500 people on a walking meditation across the expansive University of B.C. campus.
Thich Nhat Hanh, a tiny 84-year-old Zen monk who was exiled from his native Vietnam for four decades, was wearing a brown monk’s robe and toque as he headed the slow parade of silent walkers.
Earlier, the noted Vietnam War protester told an enraptured audience inside the War Memorial Gym that happiness can be found through the popular meditation technique called “mindfulness,” which he said will help people overcome their pain, anger and suicidal tendencies.
Speaking in a whispery voice inside the large gymnasium, the peace and environmental activist lamented how young people in Hong Kong are jumping out of tall buildings to their deaths because they “do not know how to handle their painful emotions.”
Urging people to learn the art of mindfulness, which emphasizes focusing on breathing to calm the mind and heart, Hanh said strong emotions are “like a storm,” and are usually shortlasting. “You don’t have to die because of one emotion.”
Hanh, who leads monastic communities in North America and Europe, is being accompanied in Vancouver by dozens of brown-robed monks and nuns.
One of them told the audince, which was made up predominantly of Caucasians, that Hanh was the first to use the term “engaged Buddhism.”
This form of Buddhism counters the Eastern religion’s historical tendency toward quietism, which has often resulted in Buddhists disengaging from society to seek individual psychological liberation.
Hanh, however, has been a devoted human-rights activist ever since the Vietnam War in the 1960s. He is credited with convincing civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr. to publicly oppose U.S. military actions in the South Asian country.
On Tuesday, after displaying his skill at the art of calligraphy at UBC’s Asian Centre Auditorium, Hanh said he remembered first coming to Vancouver decades ago, when he tried to convince various leaders to oppose the Vietnam War.
Hanh, who makes his home in a meditation centre called Plum Village north of Paris, also increasingly stresses environmental sustainability.
Here’s my take on this.
Mindfulness meditation is about being awake to what is happening around you and in you in a fresh, uncluttered way.
Are you awake to your life?