The passing of Thich Nhat Hanh is a holy event that has been remarked on by many.  The reason being that his life and teachings, witness and honesty, were holy events that touched many.  

Thich Nhat Hanh’s thoughts on Sacred Circle Dance. Photo originally posted to Boston Old Path Sangha. Photo shared with the DM Team by Ellen Kennedy.

I was surely among those moved by his writings and story and courage and gentleness.  

Lately we have been discussing the return of the Sacred Masculine and surely TNH is an incarnation of that.  He challenges men and women alike, and surely a culture that is plunging into the false masculine, namely authoritarianism, to renew itself.  

It has been my privilege to sit at TNH’s feet and also to meditate with him on several occasions.  When ex-Jesuit Jerry Brown was mayor of Oakland, he invited him regularly to come to Oakland where TNH would lead many hundreds of people in a walking meditation at Lake Merritt Park.  Of course, I was among them.

I also had the privilege of inviting him to speak at our University of Creation Spirituality at Historic Sweets Ballroom where he came with forty nuns and monks who led chants on stage and whose presence offered much energy. Before the event started, I was sitting backstage with his monks gathered in a circle and with TNH on my right side.  He said to me in his very quiet fashion, “The Vatican has called me the anti-Christ.”  I replied: “I’ve read your two books on Christ, and frankly you know more about Christ than they do.”

Thich Nhat Hanh talking about the present moment. Originally posted to YouTube by John Muir.

With that, he started tapping my leg…and tapping my leg…and tapping my leg.  He did so for what seemed like a very long time.

I realized from that encounter how hurt he had been by the ugliness of Cardinal Ratzinger’s attacks on him (he who was in the news also this week) with the apparent blessing of Pope JPII—TNH, a devoted and sensitive monk for so many years, and a leader in Deep Ecumenism worldwide, and the so-called leaders of a Christian church treating him with such disrespect. 

to be continued

Adapted from Matthew Fox, Confessions: The Making of a Post-denominational Priest, p. 376.

To read a transcript of Matthew Fox’s video teaching, click HERE.

Banner Image: Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh leading walking meditation with children. Photo by Jean-Pierre, uploaded by Duc to Flickr.

Queries for Contemplation

What have been your experiences with TNH whether by reading his writings or undergoing his mindfulness practices or learning from him?  How has he nourished your deeper self?

Recommended Reading

Responses are welcomed. To add your comment, please click HERE or scroll to the bottom of the page.

Share this meditation


Daily Meditations with Matthew Fox is made possible through the generosity of donors. Please consider making a tax-deductible donation

Search Meditations





Receive our daily meditations

11 thoughts on “Thich Nhat Hanh: A Pioneer in Deep Ecumenism”

  1. Avatar

    It has been spoken, that God is continously giving birth, and the maternal mother, the Holy Spirit is midwifing all, through this birthing process… comforting, consoling and wisely counselling us, in mindfully, kindly, compassionately, and mercifully birthing Divine Love, from within… expanding and evolving our hearts, minds and souls with an ever deeper and fuller understanding of its true nature, qualities, characteristics, virtues and values. Faith is the daily co-creative, conscious practice of this birthing… blossoming releasing its fragrant beauty.

    Like many others, I too have been deeply moved within my own faith by the ecumenical teachings of TNH, through his two books Mathew mentioned in today’s DM. His other books have also helped me to understand how to nurture, tend to and cultivate the practice of participating in birthing the essence and presence of this Spirit of Divine Love that is inherently seeded and sealed within not only myself and others, but also within the all and the everything of creation.

    It pains me deeply, the way in which TNH has been so disrespected by the leaders of the Christian Church… and yet his deeply lived ecumenicism and his own story of placing both the Buddha and Christ on the altar of his heart inspires me in many ways. Truly TNH, has and will continue to be a blessed gift to this world.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Jeanette, Yes, God is continuously giving birth. Meister Eckhart even says, “From all eternity God lies on a maternity bed giving birth. The essence of God is birthing.” I too have been moved deeply by the work of Thich Nhat Hanh–I’ve read his books and heard him lecture. He was a gentle but determined soul…

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Elaine, I too was appalled, especially knowing that Thich Nhat Hanh wrote the books, LIVING BUDDHA, LIVING CHRIST and GOING HOME: JESUS AND BUDDHA AS BROTHERS. And I might add that his “Buddha Nature” was brothers with the Cosmic Christ !!!

  2. Avatar

    Oh dearly Beloved of Divine LOVE Themselves, we have no idea how large their Christ is. }:- a.m.

    “Christ plays in ten thousand places” and we are merely “a hole the flute”. [GMH and Hafiz]

  3. Avatar

    He was a better Christian than many professing “Christians”. He touched so many lives in a beautiful and loving way. I am sad but not surprised that the “Church” mistreated him; he gently spoke truth to power, and too many churches, whether Catholic or Protestant, have aligned with empire.

      1. Avatar

        Yes. I have always thought that to be a Christian is to suffer because we are called to follow Jesus and call out injustice, for one thing. I don’t mean asceticism or masochism, which has been sold by the church as a poor substitute. It is not easy and can be scary.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Sue, Thich Nhat Hanh certainly touched my life. Years ago I read his biography of the Buddha: OLD PATH WHITE CLOUDS and it was instrumental in inspiring to walk the Buddhist path for aa number of years. I even wrote a book from that time titled, BUDDHISM FOR BEGINNERS. But then I heard Matthew speak and I knew that his message of Deep Ecumenism gave me a place where I could be Christian, Buddhist, Sufi, in varying degrees. But for now, May we bless the memory of Thich Nhat Hanh !!!

  4. Avatar

    One of his last messages to the West, back around in October, was that we needed to learn more about and get closer to the mystical teachings in the Bible. In other words, he didn’t demand that we “convert” to Buddhism or abandon our own religious teachings, but instead find the deeper levels of understanding and living from within those Truths. His generous compassion and depth of understanding elevated him far above the narrow-mindedness and pettiness of those who condemned him for being of a different faith.

    1. Richard Reich-Kuykendall
      Richard Reich-Kuykendall

      Melinda, I have heard both Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalai Lama say that they do not want to convert Christians to Buddhism and have them give up their faith. Rather they want us to go deeper into our faith, and especially into the mystical teachings in the Bible, and the teachings of the Christian Mystics…

Leave a Comment

To help moderate the volume of responses, the Comment field is limited to 1500 characters (roughly 300 words), with one comment per person per day.

Please keep your comments focused on the topic of the day's Meditation.

As always, we look forward to your comments!!
The Daily Meditation Team

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Join us in meditation that supports your compassionate action

Receive Matthew Fox's Daily Meditation by subscribing below: