Vietnam Zen Master moves to resort as pagoda renovation begins

By Vo Thanh

Sun, 5/12/2019 | 10:13 (GMT+7)

Thich Nhat Hanh has moved to a resort as renovation work begins on the pagoda he was staying in.

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh offers burning incense sticks at Tu Hieu Pagoda several days after he returned to Vietnam in October, 2018. Photo by VnExpress/Vo Thanh

Thich Nhat Hanh, considered the second most influential Buddhist leader in the world after the Dalai Lama, left the Tu Hieu Pagoda in Hue in central Vietnam six days ago.

The Zen Master had been staying at the pagoda, where he studied and practiced Zen Buddhism from 1942, ever since he returned to Vietnam on October 26 last year.

He now recuperates at a seaside resort in Ngu Hanh Son District of Da Nang City, two hours south of Hue, said Thich Thu Minh, a monk at the Tu Hieu Pagoda.

Work has been started to renovate the pagoda. Worrying that the environment there could affect the health of Thich Nhat Hanh, his followers decided to move him.

It has not been decided how long he will stay in Da Nang.

After seven months staying at Tu Hieu, his health has improved, his disciples said.

In a letter to his disciples several days after he got back to Vietnam, Thich Nhat Hanh said he has come back to Tu Hieu to stay until he dies.

"The Buddhism knowledge and wisdom I learned from Tu Hieu is now spreading all over the world, and I believe it’s time for me to get back to my roots," he said.

"Students of Tu Hieu are now living and practicing Buddhism in many different places around the world and as a way to remind them of their roots, I want to die here in Tu Hieu."

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Born in 1926, he became a monk at the age of 23 after studying Buddhism for seven years.

In the 1960s he spearheaded a movement by Buddhists in South Vietnam that called for a negotiated end to the Vietnam War.

He left the country in 1966 and lived in Plum Village in southern France for decades, traveling regularly throughout North America and Europe to give lectures on mindfulness and peace.

His key teaching is that through mindfulness people can learn to live happily in the present, which is the only way to truly develop peace, both within oneself and in the world outside.

He visited Vietnam several times, in 2005, 2007 and 2008, meeting with devout Buddhists and offering prayers for war victims. He stayed at Tu Hieu during a private trip in August last year.

In 2014 he suffered a stroke and was hospitalized in France for four and a half months. He moved to Plum Village in Thailand in 2016.

Thich Nhat Hanh is also a poet and peace activist. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967, and is the author of more than 100 books, including the bestselling "The Miracle of Mindfulness."

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