Thich Nhat Hanh quotes
Teacher of Zen Buddhism?
Thich Nhat Hanh is originally from Vietnam where he is from a Chan lineage of Buddhism. Chan is also the lineage Japanese Zen came from. If you take Chan and Zen as synonymous, this makes Thich Nhat Hanh a Zen Buddhist.
However, if you look at the three aspects of Buddhist philosophy and practice, you'll see major differences with the way Zen has come to the West.
Thich Nhat Hanh teaches relatively basic Mahayana Buddhism. This makes sense: he addresses an audience of people who don't know much about Buddhism at all.
In many Zen circles this aspect is all but ignored.
Thich Nhat Hanh is part of what one might call the mindfulness movement. This means watching the breath, mindful walking and when a gong is sounded - standing still and being aware of where you are at that moment.
Watching the breath is also the main practice in many Zen centers.
However, Koans - puzzling meditation topics - play no part in his teachings, while they are a main aspect of Rinzai Zen meditation.
3) Buddhist ritual
This is where Thich Nhat Hanh is probably most revolutionary. The way he ordains nuns and monks is different from the way it is done in any other tradition. Similarly, the way lay vows and bodhisattva vows are taken is ritually different.
However, this is also - in a different way - true for the way Zen has landed in the West.
Questions and answers
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- Capital Punishment
- Freedom and Space
- Going Back to Our Religious Roots
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- Stress and work