Thich Nhat Hanh History

About Thich Nhat Hanh

THICH NHAT HANH -­‐‑ Dec 2013, Why are Google,  twenty leaders from top Silicon Valley technology companies, and the new head of the World Bank, seeking out the wisdom of an 87 year old Zen master?  

According to the September 2013 article in England’s premier newspaper The Guardian, “Global tech companies are connecting to the power of mindfulness and meditation to drive sustainability and happiness.” At the forefront of this movement is Vietnamese Buddhist monk, Thich Nhat Hanh.

Martin Luther King, Jr. described Thich Nhat Hanh as “an apostle of peace and nonviolence” when nominating him for the 1967 Nobel Peace Prize. He is not only a globally revered author and peace activist, but also, at 87, Thich Nhat Hanh is one of the most influential spiritual leaders of our time. The New York Times says, “Among Buddhist leaders influential in the West, Thich Nhat Hanh ranks second only to the Dalai Lama;” and His Holiness the Dalai Lama says of Hanh, “He shows us the connection between personal inner peace and peace on Earth.” 

Thay, as his students call him - Thay means “teacher” - is author of more than one hundred forty books, from scholarly works to numerous bestsellers. He has sold over 2 million books in the United States alone. According to Oprah Winfrey, “a copy of Thay’s Living Buddha, Living Christ never leaves my bedside.”   

Today, Thich Nhat Hanh has hundreds of thousands of followers worldwide, from every spiritual tradition or none. He has over 707,000 Facebook Fans (growing at a current rate of 225,000+ new fans per year), and over 175,000 Twitter fans.     

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Spring 2013 Southeast Asia Tour (Apr ‑ May 29) and his fall 2013 North American Tour (Aug ‑ Oct 25) have been resounding successes, delivering his message and methods for inner and outer peace, engaged personal, social and environmental responsibility, and mindful living and education to standing room only crowds in Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea, Ontario Canada, Boston, New York, Mississippi, and California.

Thay was invited to speak at Google on Oct 23, 2013. This is Google’s second invitation in 2 years; Thay’s first presentation drew a packed, standing room only Google crowd. Additionally, Thay’s 3 year old Mindfulness Schools & Mindfulness Retreats for Educators initiative is rapidly catching on in several countries, notably in North America, where he has a substantial following.  

He has also been interviewed on Oprah’s Super Soul Sunday and featured on Bill Moyers’ show Moyers & Company and recently in The Wall Street Journal, (Sept. 7, 2013: “A Day of Mindfulness with Thich Nhat Hanh” by Barbara Chai) and in numerous other local, national and international news and media outlets.     

Thich Nhat Hanh short biography

Thich Nhat Hanh was born October 11, 1926 in Vietnam and was ordained a Buddhist monk at the age of sixteen years old. As a young monk, Thich Nhat Hanh sought to reform Buddhism, calling for monks, nuns and students to be more active and engaged in society.  

In 1961, Nhat Hanh came to the United States to teach comparative religion at Columbia and Princeton Universities.   In 1963, after returning to Vietnam to support student peace efforts, he helped lead one of the greatest nonviolent resistance movements of the century, based entirely on Gandhian principles.    

In 1964, along with a group of university professors and students in Vietnam, Thich Nhat Hanh and Sister Chan Khong founded the School of Youth for Social Service, called by the American press the "little Peace Corps,"ʺ in which teams of young people went into the countryside to establish schools and health clinics, and later to rebuild villages that had been bombed. By the time of the fall of Saigon, there were more than 10,000 monks, nuns, and young social workers involved in the work.    

In 1966, Thich Nhat Hanh met with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  And urged him to publicly denounce the Vietnam War. In 1967, Dr. King gave a famous speech at the Riverside Church in New York City,  his first to publicly question U.S. involvement in Vietnam.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was so moved by his proposals for peace that he nominated Thay for the 1967 Nobel Peace Prize. After important meetings with Senators Fullbright and Kennedy, Secretary of Defense McNamara, and other political and military leaders in Washington, Nhat Hanh went to Europe, where he met with a number of heads of state and officials of the Catholic Church, including two audiences with Pope Paul VI, urging cooperation between Catholics and Buddhists to help bring peace to Vietnam.

Soon after his U.S. and European tour he was banned from returning to Vietnam for his reconciliatory and nonviolent messages.      

In 1970, Thay and Alfred Hassler initiated the first large meeting on the environment called Dai Dong, or “Great Togetherness.” Dai Dong was a ground breaking environmental initiative. It produced "The Menton Statement,” linking the environment, poverty and war and calling for global environmental consciousness. It was signed by more than 5,000 scientists globally.

In 1982, Thich Nhat Hanh established Plum Village; a large, thriving retreat center near Bordeaux, France, where he has been living in exile from his native Vietnam. Since 1983, he has continued to travel the world, leading retreats and giving lectures on nonviolence, mindful living, and social and environmental responsibility to educators, Vietnam veterans, mental health and social workers, prison inmates, ecologists, parents, children, businessmen, police officers, renowned scientists and members of the United States Congress (2009, 2011).      

He was instrumental in initiating the declaration, by the General Assembly of the United Nations, dedicating 2001-­2010 as the "ʺInternational Decade for a Culture of Peace and Nonviolence for the Children of the World"ʺ (Resolution A/RES/53/2519/111998). He collaborated with Nobel Peace Laureates in drafting the "ʺManifesto 2000,"ʺ with six points on the Practice of Peace and Nonviolence distributed by UNESCO.

In December 2000, he was invited to give a lecture at the White House World Summit Conference on HIV and AIDS. He has also been invited to speak at The World Bank, The Gorbachev World Forum and the World Economic Summit in Davos, Switzerland.      

New York: Mindfulness Getting It's Share of Attention
Boston: Thousands meditate with Zen Buddhist monk 
New York: Thich Nhat Hanh’s “Day of Mindfulness” inspires WSJ journalist; next up: Google employees