Tributes flow in from all over the world for ‘father of mindfulness’

Peace advocates: Dr Martin Luther King Jr (left), in a Chicago news conference with Hanh (centre), suggests a halt in bombing of Vietnam on May 31, 1966. — AP

Thousands of mourners packed a pagoda in Vietnam’s Buddhist heartland to pay tribute to the late Vietnamese monk and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh, credited with bringing mindfulness to the West.

The Zen master, whose reach within Buddhism was seen as second only to the Dalai Lama, died aged 95 on Saturday at the Tu Hieu Pagoda in the city of Hue.

Widely known as the father of mindfulness, Hanh spent nearly four decades in exile after he was banished from his homeland for calling for an end to the Vietnam War.

Early yesterday morning, chanting monks carried his body covered by a yellow sheet along with decorative umbrellas through the throng of mourners.

Among the mourners was Tran Dinh Huong, 46, who hastily travelled from Hanoi to pay her respects.

“I read many of his books and his words helped me a lot when I was down or going through difficulties,” she said.

“I think it will be a very long time until Vietnam and the world has such a great teacher again.”

Nguyen Nhat from Ho Chi Minh City said it was deeply moving to see the body.

Hanh’s coffin is expected to remain in the meditation hall for a week before a cremation ceremony next Saturday.

Memorial ceremonies will also take place at monasteries in the United States and France and will be broadcast online.

Tributes flowed to the late monk from all over the world.

The Dalai Lama said his friend and spiritual brother had lived a “truly meaningful life”.

“I have no doubt the best way we can pay tribute to him is to continue his work to promote peace in the world,” he wrote in a message to the monk’s Zen teaching organisation –the Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in said the monk visited his country three times and praised him as a “living Buddha”.

“(He) showed his love for mankind through his actions,” he said on Twitter. — AFP

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