Vietnamese Zen Buddhist monk and peace movement activist Thich Nhat Hanh is currently in the hospital with “a severe brain hemorrhage,” according to a statement from his monastery Plum Village in southern France.
Nhat Hạnh does not, however, appear to be dying, as some earlier reports indicated. Although he is “under 24-hour intensive care from specialist doctors, nurses and from his monastic disciples,” according to the statement.
“At present, [Thich] is still very responsive and shows every indication of being aware of the presence of those around him. He is able to move his feet, hands and eyes. There are signs that a full recovery may be possible.”
Beyond his influence on the philosophy of socially conscientious or “engaged” Buddhism, Thich was also a major figure of both the Vietnam and international peace movements. During his nearly 40-year exile from his home country, Nhat Hanh continued to travel around the world to spread his message of non-violent protest, as well as decry the United States involvement in the Vietnam War. In fact, he was integral to Martin Luther King Jr.’s choice to to speak out against the war, which was part of the reason King — the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize winner — was inspired to nominate Thich for the distinction in 1967.
“Thich Nhat Hanh today is virtually homeless and stateless. If he were to return to Vietnam, which he passionately wishes to do, his life would be in great peril. He is the victim of a particularly brutal exile because he proposes to carry his advocacy of peace to his own people… Thich Nhat Hanh offers a way out of this nightmare, a solution acceptable to rational leaders… His ideas for peace, if applied, would build a monument to ecumenism, to world brotherhood, to humanity.”
The committee was so inflamed by Martin Luther’s nomination — something not generally done for Nobel prizes — that they chose not to give out a prize that year. Though he did not return to Vietnam until 2005, even then the Vietnamese government was engaging in forms of religious discrimination. Despite his time out of Vietnam, he has made a huge impact there as well as the rest of the world. His followers ask supporters to utilize his teachings to bring Thich back to good health.
“Our practice of stability and peace in this very moment is the best support we can offer to [Nhat Hanh]. Let us all around the world take refuge in our practice, going together as a river to offer [Thich] our powerful collective energy. We are all cells of the great Sangha Body that Thay has manifested in his lifetime.”
In addition to meditation, several other prominent public figures as well as devoted Engaged Buddhists have taken to Twitter to express their support for Thich Nhat Hanh.
Whoa. Thich Nhat Hanh is sick. I’m sure he’s okay with whatever, but if mindful meditation has affected you meditate on his well-being.
— Rylan Strader (@RylanDogg) November 13, 2014
As we cultivate peace and happiness in ourselves, we also nourish peace and happiness in those we love. ~Thich Nhat Hanh — LoriMoreno (@LoriMoreno) November 13, 2014
[Image via Flickr]