Meet Thich Nhat Hanh, the man behind Escondido’s famed Deer Park Monastery – The San Diego Union-Tribune

Posted: November 12, 2020 at 5:57 pm


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The life of Thich Nhat Hanh has come full circle. Two years ago, the government of Vietnam quietly allowed the revered Zen master to return to his homeland and live out his remaining days at Tu Hieu Temple, near the city of Hue, where he became a monk at the age of 16.

Thay, or teacher, as he is affectionately known, is 94 and continues to suffer the effects from a severe stroke in 2014, which left him unable to speak and in a wheelchair. Because of his opposition to the Vietnam War, he had lived in exile for more than 50 years, during which time he established several monasteries and practice centers from Plum Village in Southern France to three in the United States, including Deer Park in Escondido. Hes written more than 100 books many of them best sellers as he spread the gospel of mindfulness around the world.

As with the Dalai Lama of Tibetan Buddhism, he amassed widespread popularity. The late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. President Barack Obama quoted him. And last year, a congressional delegation visited him in Vietnam.

During his visits to Deer Park, I interviewed him on topics ranging heaven to happiness. Here is some of what he had to say.

Heaven: The kingdom of God is really available in the here and now. This is important, he says, because once you understand that, you will behave better. If you have the kingdom of God, youll not have to search for happiness in sex, wealth or fame anymore.

Mindfulness: Mindfulness is the capacity to live deeply in the moments of your entire life. There is freedom from worries, anger and forgetfulness. Forgetfulness is the opposite of mindfulness.

Proselytizing: When Christian missionaries came to Vietnam when he was young, they tried to convert Buddhists. When Nhat Hanh brought his spiritual practices West, he did just the opposite, urging people to use mindfulness and meditation to deepen their own faiths. People are free to take from Buddhism as much as they want. Buddhism is inclusive, not exclusive.

America: Americans are not as accepting as they used to be. The war on terrorism, for example, has put an entire religion under suspicion. When a culture goes like that, it goes wrong. It only serves to create more hate and terrorists. In Buddhism, every person is looked at as a potential Buddha an attitude and a perception that he prefers.

Happiness: The art of happiness is to learn how to be there, fully present, to attend to your needs and to attend to the needs of your loved ones. And if you dont do the first step, its very difficult to do the second. Stop running and begin to make steps.

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Meet Thich Nhat Hanh, the man behind Escondido's famed Deer Park Monastery - The San Diego Union-Tribune

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November 12th, 2020 at 5:57 pm

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