What You Never Knew about Thich Nhat Hanh, and his Mystical Passing
What Made Him So Ahead of His Time
While many 16-year-olds are looking for a first date, Thich Nhat Hanh was looking for enlightenment.
In the middle of World War II, he walked into a Buddhist temple in Vietnam. He would pass from this life in that same temple at age 95, at exactly midnight on January 22, 2022.
He helped revive Buddhism in Vietnam, then spoke out against the Vietnam War, but he became known as the “Father of Mindfulness,” writing over 100 books.
He knew how to enjoy earthly fun, too, becoming one of the first Buddhist monks to enjoy the thrill of a bike ride, and his smile could light up a planet.
Note: Thich Nhat Hanh is pronounced: tik nyaht hahn
The Day Mindfulness Was Born
The picture of a beaming Buddha is one of his earliest childhood memories, an article reports.
Later, on a school trip, he was sad he didn’t get to meet a Buddhist hermit. But then, something perhaps more incredible happened: he drank from a natural well that gave him such a profound sense of refreshment, he described it as his first religious experience.
This was perhaps the beginning of “mindfulness,” when something we do in ordinary life can become a profound meditation with enough attention to the present.
What made the monk most unique was his blend of contemplative life combined with direct engagement with the issues of the day.
He saw the darkness of oppression early in life, with the Viet Minh fighting to end French colonial rule. “The walls of our temple in Hué were riddled with bullet holes,” he says in his book, Inside the Now. “French soldiers would raid our temples, searching for resistance fighters or food, demanding we hand over the last of our rice. Monks were killed, even though they were unarmed.”
He decided the only solution was to go even more spiritual, yet still engaged with the world. “We knew that the spirit of poetic inspiration, the heart of spirituality, and the mind of love could not be extinguished by death.”
When war came to Vietnam, the Buddhist monks had two choices seemingly: retreat to the contemplative life and focus on the spiritual world, or help those fallen into the turmoil of war.
He helped create a third option: to do both. And that is his lasting legacy on our world today, to not only become enlightened, but to be a light for those who aren’t there yet.
He’s like the person who escaped a flood by climbing up a ladder, and instead of stepping further away from the flood to total safety, he remained near the edge to help others up the ladder.
Martin Luther King, Jr. nominated Thich Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize, calling him “an Apostle of peace and nonviolence.”
His Mystical Passing
Thich Nhat Hanh is now on the other side. And like many masters, the time and place of his otherworldly voyage seems planned.
“Thich Nhat Hanh passed away peacefully at Tu Hieu Temple in Hue, Vietnam, at 00:00hrs on 22nd January, 2022, at the age of 95,” said his official Twitter account.
There are many accounts of yogis who know their time of death, and some even go into meditation to pass through the portal willingly. (I have not been able to find word on what transpired, as this was written within 24 hours of his passing).
“Our biggest fear,” he said, “is that we will become nothing when we die. If we think that we cease to exist when we die, we have not looked very deeply at ourselves.”
How could looking within convince us that we survive death? Perhaps he’s talking about preferences and memories of lives from other centuries, or awareness of a soul connected to a unifying Source.
Regardless, he paints the portrait of a future human who will have aligned both spiritual and political wisdom, both contemplative intuition with the willingness to act on insights.
Some say don’t engage with the world, it’s all an “illusion,” but seeing the suffering in his own country, Thich Nhat Hanh was convinced otherwise.
Our material world is at a great loss without him, but those he inspires to bring light to a dark world will now grow in numbers and voice.
Source: a lot of details were gleaned from his official website.
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