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"Champions aren't made in gyms. Champions are made from something they have deep inside them: A desire, a dream, a vision. They have to have last-minute stamina, they have to be a little faster, they have to have the skill and the will. But the will must be stronger than the skill."
"As the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate of 1964, I now have the pleasure of proposing to you the name of Thich Nhat Hanh for that award in 1967. I do not personally know of anyone more worthy of the Nobel Peace Prize than this gentle Buddhist monk from Vietnam...I know Thich Nhat Hanh, and am privileged to call him my friend".
-Martin Luther King, Jr.
Zen Master, writer, poet, scholar, peacemaker and human rights activist, Thich Nhat Hanh is, with the exception of the Dalai Lama, today's best known Buddhist teacher.
Thich Nhat Hanh was born in central Vietnam in 1926 and joined the monkhood at the age of 16. In Saigon in the early 1960s, he founded the School of Youth for Social Services (SYSS), a grass roots relief organization that rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centers, resettled homeless families, and organized agricultural cooperatives. Rallying some 10,000 student volunteers, the SYSS based its work on the Buddhist principles of non-violence and compassionate action. Despite government denunciation of his activity, Nhat Hanh also founded a Buddhist University, a publishing house, and an influential peace activist magazine in Vietnam.
Exiled from Vietnam, he traveled to the United Statesm where he made the case for peace to federal officials including Robert McNamara. He may have changed the course of U.S. history when he persuaded Martin Luther King, Jr. to oppose the Vietnam War publicly, and so helped galvanize the peace movement. The following year, King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Subsequently, Nhat Hanh led the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks.
Often referred to as the most beloved Buddhist teacher in the West, Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings and practices appeal to people from various religious, spiritual, and political backgrounds. Nhat Hanh offers a practice of "mindfulness" that is beneficial for people of all faiths, by helping us resist and transform the speed and violence of our modern society. His life and teachings have deeply influenced millions of people, including scores of luminaries in different fields: politician Jerry Brown, civil rights champion Martin Luther King, Jr., eco-activist Joanna Macy, and Catholic mystic Thomas Merton, to name a few.
Thich Nhat Hanh's teaching is notable for its emphasis on joy, engagement in the world, and integrating the practice of mindfulness into daily life. To be mindful is to become aware of what is going on in our bodies, our minds, and the world around us. His teaching centers on conscious breathing and the mindful awareness of each breath. He reminds his students that any act is an opportunity to touch the sacred, whether it is washing the dishes or driving a car. He asks us to stop the war inside ourselves, to quiet our distracted minds, and to return to the present moment. "If we are peaceful, if we are happy, we can smile, and everyone in our family, our entire society, will benefit from our peace," says Thich Nhat Hanh. This allows us to discover, that, "There is no way to happiness—happiness is the way."
Thich Nhat Hanh has published more than 100 titles, 40 of them in English, including "Peace is Every Step," and "Being Peace, Touching Peace." His books are published by Parallax Press.
Resting in the River, Mindfulness Bell: A Profile of Thich Nhat Hanh from Shambala Sun. and Iamhome.org