Our Teacher

One of the best known and most respected Zen masters in the world today, poet, and peace and human rights activist, our teacher Thay Thich Nhat Hanh was born in central Vietnam in 1926 and became a Buddhist monk at the age of sixteen. His life has since been dedicated to the work of inner transformation for the benefit of individuals and society.

In Saigon in the early 60s, during the Vietnam War, Thay founded the School of Youth Social Service, a grass-roots relief organization that rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, resettled homeless families, and organized agricultural cooperatives. Rallying some 10,000 student volunteers, the SYSS based its work on the Buddhist principles of non-violence and compassionate action. Despite government denunciation of his activity, Thay also founded a Buddhist University, a publishing house, and an influential peace activist magazine in Vietnam.

After visiting the U.S. and Europe in 1966 on a peace mission, he was banned from returning to Vietnam. On subsequent travels to the U.S., he made the case for peace to federal and Pentagon officials including Robert McNamara. He persuaded Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to oppose the Vietnam War publicly. Dr. King later nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Thay also led the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks.

Bell Tower
In 1982 he founded Plum Village, a B
uddhist community in exile in south France, where he continues his work to help refugees, boat people, political prisoners, and hungry families in Vietnam and throughout the Third World. He has received recognition for his work with American Vietnam veterans, meditation retreats worldwide, and his prolific writings on meditation, mindfulness, and peace. He has published some 85 titles of poems, prose, and prayers, with more than 40 in English, including the best selling Call Me by My True Names, Peace Is Every Step, Being Peace, Touching Peace, Living Buddha Living Christ, Teachings on Love, The Path of Emancipation, and Anger.

Thay continues to live in Plum Village in the meditation community
he founded, where he teaches,writes, and gardens; and he 
leads retreats worldwide on "the art of mindful living." Thay's key teaching is that, through mindfulness, we can learn to live in the present moment instead of in the past and in the future, the only way to truly develop peace, both in one self and in the world.

Adapted from Parallax Press