by Renuka Narayanan, Hindustan Times, September 25, 2008
New Delhi, India -- The best-known Buddhist teacher in the West is finally here in the land of the Buddha. Thich Nhat Hanh (born 1926), now based in his ashram, Plum Village, in the South of France, said, “I am a Buddhist free of Buddhism,” to HT in an exclusive interview.
“A holy Book is but a corpse for the Teaching. Practice of peace, love and understanding is the only living Teaching.”
Born in central Vietnam, Hahn joined a Zen Buddhist monastery at 16 and was ordained as a monk in 1949. In the 1960s, he founded a grassroots social relief organization in Saigon for the rehabilitation of the victims of the Vietnam War.
His main effort was to persuade the US to withdraw from Vietnam and he asked American Civil Rights leader Dr Martin Luther King Jr. to publicly oppose the Vietnam War. In January 1967, Dr King nominated Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize.
The Order of Interbeing that Hahn founded in 1966 as a mission of peace promotion has an international multi-faith following. Hahn has cult status in the world of modern Buddhism and authored nearly a hundred books, of which Old Path White Clouds is a steady bestseller.