(ANSA) - ROME, JAN 22 - Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk considered the most popular Zen master in the world, for decades forced into exile for his pacifist commitment, died in a temple in his country, where he had returned three years ago . The news of the death of the cleric, who was 95, was given by Plum Village, his organization of monasteries spread globally, especially in the West.
Struck by a stroke in 2014 that left him semi-paralyzed and unable to speak, Thich Nhat Hanh in 2018 returned to the Vietnamese temple of Tu Hieu, where he began his studies at the age of 16.
In the 1960s and 1970s his anti-war commitment had placed him on a collision course with the governments of both North and South Vietnam, as well as the United States, and he had been forced to leave his country. Only in 2005 did the government of the reunified country give him permission to return home for a visit.
The Buddhist monk then spent 39 years in exile, founding the network of monasteries in Plum Village. The largest, in southwestern France near Bordeaux, has around 200 monks and nuns and hosted tens of thousands of visitors a year before the covid pandemic. Thich Nhat Hanh spent most of his time here, when he was not busy with conferences and other public events around the world. Other monasteries in its network are located in Germany, Australia, Thailand, Hong Kong and the United States.
Thich Nhat Hanh is the author of about 130 books, about a hundred of which in English, largely devoted to the concept of "awareness" developed through the practice of meditation.
A condition that does not lead to isolation, but on the contrary to a more active role in the relationship with the world.
"Meditation - he said - is not an escape from society, but it is a return to ourselves and see what happens. Once we see it, it must be action. With awareness we know what we must and must not do to help".