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
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
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
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
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)
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
not utter words that can create discord and cause the community to break.
Make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.
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.
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.
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.
not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possible to protect
life and to prevent war.
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.
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.
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."
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
Update : 01-04-2003