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Venerable Master Thich Nhat Hanh

 

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"As the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate of 1964, I now have the pleasure of proposing to you the name of Thich Nhat Hanh for that award in 1967. I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize than this gentle Buddhist monk from Vietnam...I know Thich Nhat Hanh, and am privileged to call him my friend"... Martin Luther King, Jr

 

 Born in central Vietnam in 1926, Thich Nhat Hanh became a Buddhist monk in 1942, at the age of sixteen. In 1950, at the age of 24, he co-founded the An Quang Buddhist Institute, a center of Buddhist studies in South Vietnam,

In the early 1960's, Thich Nhat Hanh spent two years in the United States studying and teaching comparative religion at Columbia and Princeton Universities. In 1963, he returned to Vietnam, following the fall of the oppressive Diem regime, and helped lead one of the great nonviolent resistance movements of the century, based entirely on Ghandian principles.

In 1964, Thich Nhat Hanh founded the school of Youth for Social Service, along with university professors and students in Vietnam. Teams of young people went into the countryside to establish schools and health clinics, and later to rebuild villages that had been bombed. Ten years later, more than 10,000 monks, nuns, and young social workers were involved in the work. Thich Nhat Hanh also helped set up, La Boi Press, which became a prestigious publishing house. As editor-in-chief of the official publication of the Unified Buddhist Church and in his books, he called for reconciliation between the warring parties in Vietnam. For this reason, his writings were censored by both opposing governments.

In 1966, he came to the U.S. to tell the American people about the suffering of the Vietnamese people. He had many speaking engagements and private meetings, in which he spoke in favor of a ceasefire and a negotiated settlement. Martin Luther King, Jr. was so moved by Thich Nhat Hanh and his proposals for peace that he nominated him for the 1967 Nobel Peace Prize. Largely due to Thich Nhat Hanh's influence, King came out publicly against the war at a press conference, with Thich Nhat Hanh, in Chicago.

Thomas Merton, the well-known Catholic monk met Thich Nhat Hanh at his monastery, Gethsemani, near Louisville, Kentucky. He told his students, "Just the way he opens the door and enters a room demonstrates his understanding. He is a true monk." Merton wrote an essay, in which he called to listen to Nhat Hanh's proposals for peace and support Thich Nhat Hanh's quest for peace. Thich Nhat Hanh also met Senators Fullbright and Kennedy, Secretary of Defense McNamara, and others in Washington.

Following his visit to the United States, Thich Nhat Hanh continued to Europe, meeting heads of state and officials of the Catholic church. He also met Pope Paul VI, twice, urging cooperation between Catholics and Buddhists to help bring peace to Vietnam.

In 1969, Thich Nhat Hanh set up the Buddhist Delegations to the Paris Peace talks, at the request of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam. After the Peace Accords were signed in 1973, he was not allowed to return to Vietnam, and stayed in France, where he initially established a small community southwest of Paris, called "Sweet Potato". In the mid-70's, Nhat Hanh conducted an operation to rescue boat people in the gulf of Siam. The governments of Thailand and Singapore were opposed to his actions and his operation was aborted. For the next few years, he stayed in France in retreat - meditating, reading, writing, binding books, gardening, and occasionally receiving visitors.

In 1982, Thich Nhat Hanh established Plum Village, a large retreat center near Bordeaux. He frequently travels to North America to lead retreats and give lectures on mindfulness and social action. He is seen as one of the great teachers of the twentieth century. In 1997, following the murder of Prime Minister Yitshak Rabin, Thich Nhat Hanh visited Israel. The Community of Mindfulness in Israel was created after his visit.

Thich Nhat Hanh teaches a gentle and simple technique of mindfulness beginning with awareness of our breath. His teachings are based on classical Buddhist teachings. He encourages his listeners to mindfully strengthen their own cultural and religious roots.

"We often become so busy that we forget what we are doing or even who we are. I know someone who says he even forgets to breathe! We forget to look at the people we love and to appreciate them, until it is too late. Even when we have some leisure time, we don't know how to get in touch with what is going on inside and outside of ourselves. So we turn on the television or pick up the telephone as if we might be able to escape from ourselves." (Thich Nhat Hanh, Present Moment Wonderful Moment, Parallax Press, 1990)

 

Tha^y's 14 Precepts:

 

"Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. All systems of thought are guiding means; they are not absolute truth.

Do not think that the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolute truth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learn and practice non-attachment from views in order to be open to receive others' viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptual knowledge. Be ready to learn throughout our entire life and to observe reality in yourself and in the world at all times.

Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever, to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propaganda, or even education. However, through compassionate dialogue, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness.

Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes before suffering. Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of the world. find ways to be with those who are suffering by all means, including personal contact and visits, images, sound. By such means, awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world.

Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not take as the aim of you life fame, profit, wealth, or sensual pleasure. Live simply and share time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need.

Do not maintain anger or hatred. As soon as anger and hatred arise, practice the meditation on compassion in order to deeply understand the persons who have caused anger and hatred. Learn to look at other beings with the eyes of compassion.

Do not lose yourself in dispersion and in your surroundings. Learn to practice breathing in order to regain composure of body and mind, to practice mindfulness, and to develop concentration and understanding.

Do not utter words that can create discord and cause the community to break. Make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

Do not say untruthful things for the sake of personal interest of to impress people. Do not utter words that cause diversion and hatred. Do not spread news that you do not know to be certain. Do not criticize or condemn things you are not sure of. Always speak truthfully and constructively. Have the courage to speak out about situations of injustice, even when doing so may threaten your own safety.

Do not use the Buddhist community for personal gain or profit, or transform your community into a political party. A religious community should, however, take a clear stand against oppression and injustice, and should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisan conflicts.

Do not live with a vocation that is harmful to humans and nature. Do not invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to life. Select a vocation which helps realize your ideal compassion.

Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect life and to prevent war.

Possess nothing that should belong to others. Respect the property of others but prevent others from enriching themselves from human suffering or the suffering of other beings.

Do not mistreat your body. Learn to handle it with respect. Do not look on your body as only and instrument. Preserve vital energies (sexual, breath, spirit) for the realization of the Way. Sexual expression should not happen without love and commitment. In sexual relationships be aware of future suffering that may be caused. To preserve the happiness of others, respect the rights and commitments of others. Be fully aware of the responsibility of bringing new lives into the world. Meditate on the world into which you are bringing new beings.

Do not believe that I feel that I follow each and every of these precepts perfectly. I know I fail in many ways. None of us can fully fulfill any of these. However, I must work toward a goal. These are my goal. No words can replace practice, only practice can make the words.

"The finger pointing at the moon is not the moon."

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The Most Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh (Thây), our spiritual teacher, founded the Unified Buddhist Church (Eglise Bouddhique Unifieé) in France  in 1969, during the Vietnam war. Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, a poet, a scholar, and a peace activist. His life long efforts to generate peace and reconciliation moved Martin Luther King, Jr. to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. He founded the Van Hanh Buddhist University in Saigon and the School for Youths of Social Services in Vietnam. When not travelling the world to teach “The Art of Mindful Living”, he teaches, writes, and gardens in Plum Village, France, a Buddhist monastery for monks and nuns and a mindfulness practice center for lay people.

The Unified Buddhist Church established Sweet Potatoes Community in 1975, Plum Village in 1982, the Dharma Cloud Temple and the Dharma Nectar Temple in 1988,  and the Adornment of Loving Kindness Temple in 1995.  Thich Nhat Hanh’s sangha (community of practice) in France is usually referred to as the Plum Village Sangha. During the course of the year, Plum Village welcomes thousands of retreatants from all over the world. Due to its rapid expansion in recent years, the community now comprises seven  hamlets: Upper Hamlet, Middle Hamlet, West Hamlet and Lower Hamlet, New Hamlet, Gatehouse  New Hamlet and Hillside New Hamlet. The Unified Buddhist Church also has a mindfulness practice center called Intersein in Bavaria, Germany. A sangha of about 100 monks, nuns and resident lay-practitioners live permanently in Plum Village. 

Since 1994, we have been exploring opportunities to establish our presence in the United States of America. In 1997, a generous donor offered us a 120-acre property in Woodstock, Vermont. This enabled us to set up the Maple Forest Monastery. In 1998, with the help of the same donor, we were able to acquire a 120-acre property in Hartland-Four-Corners,Vermont to set up the Green Mountain Dharma Center nunnery. We also set up  the Mindfulness Practice Center (MPC) of Queechee, Vermont, the first center of its kind in the United States. A sangha of monks and nuns lives and practices in our monastery and nunnery and a team of lay practitioners practice in and take care of our MPC in Vermont. In May 2000, we established Deer Park Monastery, our West Coast Center, in Escondido, San  Diego County, California. You are welcome to visit us in France as well as in Vermont and California. . 

The Unified  Buddhist Church Inc. (UBC), a non-profit corporation, was founded in 1998 to officially represent Thich Nhat Hanh and his Sangha in the United States of America. It is a sister organization of Unified Buddhist Church (Eglise Bouddhique Unifieé) founded in France. The UBC in America is represented by Sr. Annabel, Abbess of the Green Mountain Dharma Center. The Green Mountain Dharma Center acts as the headquarters of the Unified Buddhist Church in the U.S.

The official name and address of the Unified Buddhist Church, Inc. is:

Unified Buddhist Church, Inc. 
C/O Green Mountain Dharma Center
Ayers Lane, P.O. Box 182
Hartland-Four-Corners, Vermont 05049, USA          
 Tel: (802) 436-1103, Fax: (802) 436-1101
Internet: http://www.plumvillage.org
E-mail: MF-Office@plumvillage.org

 

 

 

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Source: http://www.plumvillage.org

Update : 01-04-2003


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