Thousands of mourners congregated at a temple in Vietnam on Sunday morning to pay their last respects to Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, one of the world's most influential Buddhist figures, who died at the same place on Saturday at the age of 95.
The shrouding ceremony for Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh took place at Tu Hieu Temple in Hue City in central Vietnam.
The ritual, which lasted for around 30 minutes, was part of a seven-day funeral to be conducted in silence at the late monk’s will.
After the ritual, monks and disciples paid their tribute to the Zen master at the Trang Ram (Full Moon) meditation hall of the temple.
As announced by the temple and the Plum Village, the monastic organization the late monk founded in France, his body will be cremated on January 29 and his remains will rest at Tu Hieu Pagoda and Plum Village monasteries around the world.
Before his passing, the Venerable told his disciples not to build any tomb tower for him when he died as such building would cost money and land.
He wished his body would be cremated and his ashes would be given to Plum Village monasteries around the world and be scattered on the roads where they would go to meditate every day.
“In doing so, you and I will still go on walking meditation together every day,” he said.
The death of Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh has drawn much attention of not only local but also international media which considered him a global spiritual leader who spread messages of mindfulness, compassion, and nonviolence.
He was one of the pioneers to bring Buddhism, especially mindfulness, to Western societies and became a leading voice in a movement he called ‘Engaged Buddhism,’ which linked mindfulness practice with social action, as stated in the Plum Village’s obituary.
He was also honored as the second-most influential Buddhist leader in the West, after the Dalai Lama, the Tibetan spiritual leader, the Vietnam New Agency cited some foreign news agencies as saying.
In his condolence message over the Vietnamese Zen master’s death, the Dalai Lama on Saturday said he was saddened to learn that his “friend and spiritual brother Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh” had passed away.
He offered his condolences to his followers in Vietnam and around the world.
“In his peaceful opposition to the [war in Vietnam], his support for Martin Luther King and most of all his dedication to sharing with others not only how mindfulness and compassion contribute to inner peace, but also how individuals cultivating peace of mind contribute to genuine world peace, the Venerable lived a truly meaningful life," the message reads.
The Tibetan spiritual leader also wrote, “I have no doubt the best way we can pay tribute to him is to continue his work to promote peace in the world.”
Thich Nhat Hanh, born Nguyen Xuan Bao in Hue in 1926, joined a Zen monastery at 16 and studied Buddhism there as a novice before becoming a monk at the age of 23, according to the orbituary.
He assumed the Dharma name Thich Nhat Hanh upon his ordination in 1949.
After leaving Vietnam in May 1966, the Zen master lived in Plum Village Monastery in southern France for decades, during which he traveled throughout Europe and North America giving lectures on mindfulness and peace.
He helped build an Engaged Buddhist community for the 21st century with nearly 1,250 monastic disciples, millions of lay disciples, and hundreds of millions of readers all around the world, according to the Plum Village.
The monk was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967 by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., an American Baptist minister and a civil-rights activist who won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1964.
When announcing his nomination, King honored Thich Nhat Hanh as “an Apostle of peace and nonviolence.”
The Zen master was also known as a culturist, a writer, a poet, a scholar, a historian, and a peace activist.
The monk was the author of over 120 books, including 40 in English, with the bestselling ‘The Miracle of Mindfulness’ originally published in 1975.
|Buddhists are seen attending the shrouding ceremony on the first day of the seven-day funeral in silence of the late Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh at Tu Hieu Temple in Hue City, Vietnam on January 23, 2021. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre|
|A Buddhist is seen shedding tears when attending the shrouding ceremony for late Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh at Tu Hieu Temple in Hue City, Vietnam on January 23, 2021. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre|
|Disciples of the late Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh paid their last respects to him at Tu Hieu Temple in Hue City, Vietnam on January 23, 2021. Photo: Nguyen Khanh / Tuoi Tre|