THICH NHAT HANH, VIETNAMESE ZEN MASTER, DIES AT 95 ~ Tricycle

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The beloved teacher and civil rights activist was a pioneer of engaged Buddhism who popularized mindfulness around the world.

By Joan Duncan Oliver

JAN 21, 2022

Thich Nhat Hanh, Vietnamese Zen Master, Dies at 95
Thich Nhat Hanh at the Plum Village monastery in southern France | Courtesy Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism

Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh—a world-renowned spiritual leader, author, poet, and peace activist—died on January 22, 2022 at midnight (ICT) at his root temple, Tu Hien Temple, in Hue, Vietnam. He was 95. 

“Our beloved teacher Thich Nhat Hanh has passed away peacefully,” his sangha, the Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism, said in a statement. “We invite our global spiritual family to take a few moments to be still, to come back to our mindful breathing, as we together hold Thay in our hearts in peace and loving gratitude for all he has offered the world.”

Thich Nhat Hanh had been in declining health since suffering a severe brain hemorrhage in November 2014, and shortly after his 93rd birthday on October 10, 2019, he had left Tu Hien Temple to visit a hospital in Bangkok and stayed for a few weeks at Thai Plum Village in Pak Chong, near Khao Yai National Park before returning to Hue on January 4, 2020. He had returned to Vietnam in late 2018, expressing a wish to spend his remaining days at his root temple.  

Known to his thousands of followers worldwide as Thây—Vietnamese for teacher—Nhat Hanh was widely considered among Buddhists as second only to His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama in the scope of his global influence. The author of some 100 books—75 in English—he founded nine monasteries and dozens of affiliated practice centers, and inspired the creation of thousands of local mindfulness communities. Nhat Hanh is credited with popularizing mindfulness and “engaged Buddhism” (he coined the term), teachings that not only are central to contemporary Buddhist practice but also have penetrated the mainstream. For many years, Thich Nhat Hanh has been a familiar sight the world over, leading long lines of people in silent “mindful” walking meditation. 

It is difficult to overstate the importance of Thich Nhat Hanh’s role in the development of Buddhism in the West, particularly in the United States. He was arguably the most significant catalyst for the Buddhist community’s engagement with social, political, and environmental concerns. Today, this aspect of Western Buddhism is widely accepted, but when Nhat Hanh began teaching regularly in North America, activism was highly controversial in Buddhist circles, frowned upon by most Buddhist leaders, who considered it a distraction from the focus on awakening. At a time when Western Buddhism was notably parochial, Nhat Hanh’s nonsectarian view motivated many teachers to reach out and build bonds with other dharma communities and traditions. It would not be an exaggeration to say that his inclusive vision laid the groundwork for the flourishing of Buddhist publications, including Tricycle, over the past 35 years. 

At the heart of Thich Nhat Hanh’s approach to Buddhism was his emphasis on dependent origination, or what he called “interbeing.” Although this is a core teaching shared by all schools of Buddhism, prior to Nhat Hanh, it received little attention among Western Buddhists outside of academia. Today, it is central to dharma practice. Nhat Hanh viewed dependent origination as the thread that tied together all Buddhist traditions, linking the teachings of the Pali canon, the Mahayana teachings on emptiness, and the Huayen school’s vision of radical interdependence.

While Thich Nhat Hanh was a singular and innovative teacher and leader, he was also steeped in the Buddhist tradition of his native Vietnam. More than any other Zen master, he brought the essential character of Vietnamese Buddhism—ecumenical, cosmopolitan, politically engaged, artistically oriented—to the mix of cultural influences that have nourished the development of Buddhism in the West. 

Thich Nhat Hanh | Courtesy Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism

Born Nguyen Xuan Bao in central Vietnam in 1926, Nhat Hanh was 16 when he joined Tu Hieu Temple in Hue as a novice monk in the Linchi (Rinzai in Japanese) school of Vietnamese Zen. He studied at the Bao Quoc Buddhist Academy but became dissatisfied with the conservatism of the teachings and sought to make Buddhist practice more relevant to everyday life. (Tellingly, he was the first monk in Vietnam to ride a bicycle.) Seeking exposure to modern ideas, he studied science at Saigon University, later returning to the Buddhist Academy, which incorporated some of the reforms he had proposed. Nhat Hanh took full ordination in 1949 at Tu Hieu, where his primary teacher was Zen master Thanh Quý Chân Thậ. 

In the 1950s and early 1960s, Nhat Hanh assumed leadership roles that were harbingers of the prolific writing and unrelenting activism that his future held in store. In the early 50s, he started a magazine, The First Lotus Flowers of the Season, for visionaries promoting reforms,  and later edited Vietnamese Buddhism, a periodical of the Unified Buddhist Church of Vietnam (UBCV), a group that united various Buddhist sects in response to government persecution at the time. In 1961, Vietnamese Buddhism was closed down by conservative Buddhist leaders, but Nhat Hanh continued to write in opposition to government repression and to the war that was escalating in Vietnam.

Nhat Hanh first traveled to the United States in 1961, to study comparative religion at Princeton University. The following year, he was invited to teach Buddhism at Columbia University. In 1963, as the Diem regime increased pressure on Vietnamese Buddhists, Nhat Hanh traveled around the US to garner support for peace efforts at home. After the fall of Diem, he returned to Vietnam, and in 1964 devoted himself to peace activism alongside fellow monks. Nhat Hanh became a widely visible opponent of the war, and established the School of Youth for Social Service (SYSS), a training program for Buddhist peace workers who brought schooling, health care, and basic infrastructure to villages throughout Vietnam. In February 1966, with six SYSS leaders, he established the Order of Interbeing, an international sangha devoted to inner peace and social justice, guided by his deep ethical commitment to interdependence among all beings. 

On May 1, 1966, at Tu Hieu Temple, Nhat Hanh received dharma transmission from Master Chan That, becoming a teacher of the Lieu Quan dharma line in the forty-second generation of the Lam Te Dhyana school. Shortly thereafter, he toured North America, calling for an end to hostilities in his country. He urged US Secretary of Defense Robert S. McNamara to stop bombing Vietnam and, at a press conference, outlined a five-point peace proposal. On that trip he also met with the Trappist monk, social activist, and author Thomas Merton at Merton’s abbey in Kentucky. Recognizing a kindred spirit, Merton later published an essay, “Nhat Hanh Is My Brother.” 

thich nhat hanh with dr. martin luther king jr
Thich Nhat Hanh with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at a joint press conference on May, 31 1966 Chicago Sheraton Hotel | Courtesy Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism

While in the US, Nhat Hanh urged the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.to publicly condemn the war in Vietnam. In April 1967, King spoke out against the war in a famous speech at New York City’s Riverside Church. A Nobel Laureate, King nominated Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize in a letter to the Nobel Committee that called the Vietnamese monk “an apostle of peace and nonviolence, cruelly separated from his own people while they are oppressed by a vicious war.” Nhat Hanh did not receive the Nobel Peace Prize: in publicly announcing the nomination, King had violated a strict prohibition of the Nobel Committee.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s anti-war activism and refusal to take sides angered both North and South Vietnam, and following his tour of the US and Europe, he was barred from returning to his native land. He was granted asylum in France, where he was named to lead the Buddhist peace delegation to the Paris Peace Accords. In 1975, Nhat Hanh founded Les Patates Douce, or the Sweet Potato” community near Paris. In 1982, it moved to the Dordogne in southwestern France and was renamed Plum Village. What began as a small rural sangha has since grown into a home for over 200 monastics and some 8,000 yearly visitors. Always a strong supporter of children, Nhat Hanh also founded Wake Up, an international network of sanghas for young people. 

After 39 years in exile, Nhat Hanh returned to Vietnam for the first time in 2005 and again in 2007. During these visits, he gave teachings to crowds numbering in the thousands and also met with the sitting Vietnamese president, Nguyen Minh Triet. Though greeted with considerable fanfare, the trips also prompted criticism from Nhat Hanh’s former peers at UBCV, who thought the visits granted credibility to an oppressive regime. But consistent with his stand of many years, Nhat Hanh made both private and public proposals urging the Vietnamese government to ease its restrictions on religious practice.

Fluent in English, French, and Chinese, as well as Vietnamese, Nhat Hanh continued to travel the world teaching and leading retreats until his stroke in 2014, which left him unable to speak. But Nhat Hanh’s legacy carries on in his vast catalogue of written work, which includes accessible teachings, rigorous scholarship, scriptural commentary, political thought, and poetry. Beloved for his warm, evocative verse, Nhat Hanh published a collection of poetry entitled Call Me By My True Names in 1996. His instructive and explicatory work includes Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire, published in 1967, and such best-sellers as Peace is Every Step (1992), The Miracle of Mindfulness (1975, reissued 1999), and Living Buddha, Living Christ (1995).

In addition to his followers worldwide, Nhat Hanh leaves behind many close brothers and sisters in the dharma, most notably Sister Chan Khong. A longtime friend and activist in her own right, she has assumed a more pronounced leadership role in the sangha in recent years. 

ARTICLES BY THICH NHAT HANH

Interbeing with Thich Nhat Hanh: An Interview 
Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh was born in central Vietnam in October 1926 and became a monk at the age of sixteen.

The Fertile Soil of Sangha
Thich Nhat Hanh on the importance of community.

The Heart of the Matter
Thich Nhat Hanh answers three questions about our emotions

Walk Like a Buddha
Arrive in the here and the now.

Free from Fear
When we are not fully present, we are not really living

Cultivating Compassion
How to love yourself and others

Thich Nhat Hanh’s Little Peugeot
The Zen master reflects on our culture of empty consumption and his community’s connection to an old French car.

Why We Shouldn’t Be Afraid of Suffering
Instead, we should fear not knowing how to handle our suffering, according to Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh.

Fear of Silence
While we can connect to others more readily than ever before, are we losing our connection to body and mind? A Zen master thinks so, and offers a nourishing conscious breathing practice as a remedy.

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skiing off Mount Champion

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Lou Dawson putting his signature on Champion Pass, crédito total de la foto, rŌbert

In the late 70’s (that’s nineteen) Lou Dawson, Tim Lane and rŌbert came onto a stash of COBS student rations with a bonus twenty pound box of bacon. We saddled up and skied into the Naugahyde Lounge (old Champion Mill) west of Leadville toward Fat City/Aspen for a week of powder skiing between winter programs. Of course we got spanked by our boss Denny Hogan thinking we had absconded with the grubstake but he was wrong …

The Naugahyde got the name because the biggest bed in the cabin was covered with brown naugahyde and was at least two King’s in size.. There were sorted tall tales, lies and a few stories too hideous to retell about the Lounge. We could sort through them later, maybe hold a contest of old staff submitting their personal favorites.

Anyway the skiing was soooo fine, then we had to go back to work to pay off the pinche grubstake to the Hoganie.

The Mill, with the Lounge below
Tim Lane left, Denny Hogan second from left, Lou Dawson center, rŌbert far right

This photo doesn’t give the infamous bed a fair shake. My photos of the day are old faded Kodachrome but the memories ….. . … …

“It’s the Truth Even If It Didn’t Happen” Ken Kesey

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COMMENT

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“,,,and maybe a few stories too hideous to tell…”
The most well used swath of Naghaude ever installed.  Truly durable.  
It did get cleaned, by default and unintentionally, with combinations of bacon grease, SnoSeal and ski wax.   Once you were sure the fire in the stove was off, a little white gas would add a nice sheen.
And oh, the skiing out the door… 
Nice piece, Jerry.  Thanks. 

Wally Berg

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Yes, memory serves-Cold , stiff “Naugahyde” has a particular frosty sting if is not properly pre warmed or if the schlafsack is pitched in the heat of battle .

“ Student parents demandin-depth investigation of events concerning the Mt. Champion Mill .” 

Hail the hearty souls that braved Zhivago Flats en route to the Champion Mill.

Abuelo Norte

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Nice, remember it well! Lou Dawson

SUPREME COURT, INVESTIGATORS FORCE TRUMP AND HIS CHILDREN ON THE DEFENSIVE ON MULTIPLE FRONTS ~ The Washington Post … It couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy ~ RŌBERT

Probes in Georgia, New York and Washington target the former president, potentially jeopardizing his future — or perhaps yet again allowing him to escape unscathed

President Donald Trump and his daughter and senior adviser Ivanka Trump make their way to Air Force One on Jan. 4, 2021, at Dobbins Air Reserve Base north of Atlanta. (Mandel Ngan/AFP/Getty Images)

By Felicia SonmezJosh Dawsey and Jonathan O’Connell 

A flurry of decisions by the Supreme Court and federal and state investigators has forced Donald Trump and his adult children to defend their conduct on multiple fronts, potentially jeopardizing their futures — or perhaps yet again allowing the former president to escape unscathed.

On Tuesday, New York Attorney General Letitia James (D) submitted a 157-page filing detailing much of the evidence her investigators have gathered so far on the business practices of Trump and his children, focused on a possible pattern of fraud. The civil investigation is separate from a criminal probe James is running in tandem with new Manhattan District Attorney Alvin Bragg (D).

Then, on Wednesday, the Supreme Court rejected Trump’s request to block the release of some of his White House records to the House committee investigating the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol by a pro-Trump mob.

Thursday brought a double whammy: The House committee sent a letter to Ivanka Trump requesting her voluntary testimony. In the letter, the panel said witnesses have told investigators that the former White House adviser might have direct knowledge of her father’s actions before, during and after the mob of his supporters tried to stop Congress from certifying Joe Biden as president.

And in Atlanta, Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) requested a special-purpose grand jury to aid in her investigation into whether Trump and others committed crimes by trying to pressure Georgia election officials to overturn his loss in the 2020 election.

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19-YEAR-OLD LANDS IN BELGIUM, BECOMING YOUNGEST WOMAN TO FLY SOLO AROUND THE WORLD ~ NPR

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Zara Rutherford, 19, carries the Belgian and British flags on the tarmac after landing her Shark ultralight plane at the Kortrijk airport in Belgium, on Thursday at the completion of a record-breaking solo circumnavigation.Geert Vanden Wijngaert/AP

Nineteen-year-old pilot Zara Rutherford touched down at an airfield in western Belgium on Thursday, becoming the youngest woman to fly solo around the world, as she closed the loop five months after taking off on her record-breaking journey.

Rutherford’s circumnavigation aboard her Shark UL plane took 155 days – two months longer than planned, thanks to loads of bad weather and visa holdups. Along the way, she crossed enormous stretches of desolate ocean and had to spend weeks in a tiny Siberian village. She also had to alter course to avoid North Korean airspace and wildfires in California.

And, of course, she chronicled it all on social media.https://www.youtube.com/embed/b8xGBV-naac?rel=0&start=8YouTube

“It’s just really crazy, I haven’t quite processed it,” she told reporters after landing in Kortrijk.

Since her Aug. 18 departure, Rutherford covered 28,000 nautical miles, stopping in 41 countries and five continents. It’s a journey that will land her in the Guinness World Records book, supplanting U.S. aviator Shaesta Waiz, who set the previous record in 2017 at age 30. Last year, Travis Ludlow of the United Kingdom set the overall record for youngest aviator to solo circumnavigate — at age 18.

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Celebración de cumpleaños y primera aventura fluvial

Famous river guide and all around good dog, Django celebrated his 10th birthday

today with his new understudy and younger brother at the river chasing sticks and enjoying the snow.

pay attention
Django’s looking for movement of fish and Paco, well he’s chewing things and learning to use his nose
first river adventure at eight weeks

only got as deep as his wedding tackle

NEW BIOGRAPHY, ‘THE HAG,’ EXAMINES THE LIFE OF COUNTRY MUSIC ICON MERLE HAGGARD ~ NPR

NPR’s Steve Inskeep talks to Haggard’s biographer Marc Eliot about his book: The Hag. Haggard spent his early years going from family tragedy to odd jobs to broken marriages to petty crime to prison.

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The definitive biography of country legend Merle Haggard by the New York Times bestselling biographer of Clint Eastwood, Cary Grant, The Eagles, and more.

Merle Haggard was one of the most important country music musicians who ever lived. His astonishing musical career stretched across the second half of the 20th Century and into the first two decades of the next, during which he released an extraordinary 63 albums, 38 that made it on to Billboard’s Country Top Ten, 13 that went to #1, and 37 #1 hit singles. With his ample songbook, unique singing voice and brilliant phrasing that illuminated his uncompromising commitment to individual freedom, cut with the monkey of personal despair on his back and a chip the size of Monument Valley on his shoulder, Merle’s music and his extraordinary charisma helped change the look, the sound, and the fury of American music.

The Hag tells, without compromise, the extraordinary life of Merle Haggard, augmented by deep secondary research, sharp detail and ample anecdotal material that biographer Marc Eliot is known for, and enriched and deepened by over 100 new and far-ranging interviews. It explores the uniquely American life of an angry rebellious boy from the wrong side of the tracks bound for a life of crime and a permanent home in a penitentiary, who found redemption through the music of “the common man.”

Merle Haggard’s story is a great American saga of a man who lifted himself out of poverty, oppression, loss and wanderlust, to catapult himself into the pantheon of American artists admired around the world. Eliot has interviewed more than 100 people who knew Haggard, worked with him, were influenced by him, loved him or hated him. The book celebrates the accomplishments and explore the singer’s infamous dark side: the self-created turmoil that expressed itself through drugs, women, booze, and betrayal. The Hag offers a richly anecdotal narrative that will elevate the life and work of Merle Haggard to where both properly belong, in the pantheon of American music and letters.

The Hag is the definitive account of this unique American original, and will speak to readers of country music and rock biographies alike.