Thich Nhat Hahn

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Thich Nhat Hahn

Postby Greg_the_poet » Fri Nov 23, 2012 3:12 am

Where exactly does Thich Nhat Hanh's Buddhism lie? He's often described as a Zen master yet he doesn't come across as Zen. He mixes his teachings with Theravada Sutta's and Pure land teachings as well. Is Vietnamese Buddhism like this in general or has TNH pretty much invented a new inclusive tradition?

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Re: Thich Nhat Hahn

Postby muni » Fri Nov 23, 2012 9:46 am

I don't know where it lie, someone maybe knows here. But this brings another question: what kind of rules a teacher must keep in order to awaken beings? Should a teachers' teaching be limited by style, a teaching as pure fresh nature its awakening bell?

ps. Buddha gave many teachings. Many genuine teachers are using examples from other traditions as well. But they know clearly what they are doing.

One sentence is very useful for me: "For things to reveal themselves to us, we need to be ready to abandon our views about them.” Thich Nhat Hahn.

‘View like the sky’ means that nothing is held onto in any way whatsoever. You are not stuck anywhere at all. In other words, there is no discrimination as to what to accept and what to reject; no line is drawn separating one thing from another. ‘Conduct as fine as barley flour’ means that there is good and evil, and one needs to differentiate between the two. Give up negative deeds; practice the Dharma. In your behaviour, in your conduct, it is necessary to accept and reject.” Guru Rinpoche

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Re: Thich Nhat Hahn

Postby Seishin » Fri Nov 23, 2012 1:03 pm

I think the spirit of TNHs teachings are in line with zen, however his approach is not orthodox zen. He has mixed aspects of other traditions IMO to make his tradition more applicable to the western world.


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Re: Thich Nhat Hahn

Postby Dhondup » Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:28 am

Nhat Hanh's approach has been to combine a variety of traditional Zen teachings with insights from other Mahayana Buddhist traditions, methods from Theravada Buddhism, and ideas from Western psychology—to offer a modern light on meditation practice. Hanh's presentation of the Prajñāpāramitā in terms of "interbeing" has doctrinal antecedents in the Huayan school of thought, which "is often said to provide a philosophical foundation" for Zen.

Source: The Making of Buddhist Modernism (2008)

Vietnamese Buddhism in general is very eclectic, with many followers of Pure Land, Zen, Tiantai and Theravada traditions. In the 13th century Vietnamese Zen was somewhat fused with Confucianism and Taoism, but by the 18th century Zen returned to its roots with the founding of the Liễu Quán school. That being said, I think it's safe to say Thich Nhat Hanh is quite admirably doing his own thing.
No Distracted Thoughts!- Geshe Karag Gomchung

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Re: Thich Nhat Hahn

Postby Astus » Fri Dec 14, 2012 10:54 am

When you ask "Is it Zen?", what you may have in mind is a story of Linji shouting or Dogen sitting all day. In fact, Zen is just a short word for Buddhism. Does TNH teach Buddhism?
1 Myriad dharmas are only mind.
Mind is unobtainable.
What is there to seek?

2 If the Buddha-Nature is seen,
there will be no seeing of a nature in any thing.

3 Neither cultivation nor seated meditation —
this is the pure Chan of Tathagata.

4 With sudden enlightenment to Tathagata Chan,
the six paramitas and myriad means
are complete within that essence.

1 Huangbo, T2012Ap381c1 2 Nirvana Sutra, T374p521b3; tr. Yamamoto 3 Mazu, X1321p3b23; tr. J. Jia 4 Yongjia, T2014p395c14; tr. from "The Sword of Wisdom"

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Re: Thich Nhat Hahn

Postby Huifeng » Fri Dec 14, 2012 12:32 pm

Greg_the_poet wrote:Where exactly does Thich Nhat Hanh's Buddhism lie? He's often described as a Zen master yet he doesn't come across as Zen. He mixes his teachings with Theravada Sutta's and Pure land teachings as well. Is Vietnamese Buddhism like this in general or has TNH pretty much invented a new inclusive tradition?

Vietnamese Buddhism is very similar to (southern) Chinese Buddhism. Chinese Chan includes a huge range of Mahayana Buddhist practices. Some may call this "syncretic", but that would imply that these things were or should be separated in the first place - an attitude that Chinese seldom took. The use of the Japanese term "Zen" is probably due to this being more well known in the West. Ven. Hanh was also heavily influenced by the 20th cty Chinese Buddhist modernist movement. A key member of this was Ven. Yinshun - who Ven. Hanh cites as a major influence for him - who used a huge range of mainly Indian works, from Agamas / Nikayas, to Mahayana sutra and sastra. Similar to the Vietnamese monk Thich Min Chau. As this sort of modernism is now very common in Chinese and also Vietnamese Buddhism, I would say that it is fairly representative, and not at all a "new inclusive tradition". One really needs to compare with his contemporaries, rather than say Western presentations of Japanese Zen.

~~ Huifeng

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Re: Thich Nhat Hahn

Postby dyanaprajna2011 » Sat Mar 23, 2013 2:19 pm

Ven. Hahn was brought up in the Rinzai Zen tradition. However, he combines various other schools, such as Theravada, and Pure Land, into his teachings. This was actually quite common in Vietnam, which took a kind of similar approach to Buddhism that the Chinese did, which was to not really separate all the various teachings into various schools, as if they were not all important to the Buddhist path.
"If you want to travel the Way of Buddhas and Zen masters, then expect nothing, seek nothing, and grasp nothing." -Dogen

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