Buddhist Monk and Vietnamese Peace Activist Thich Nhat Hanh Dead at 95: 'In Our Hearts'

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Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk. Hanh talked about peace and the world since September 11, 2001 from his hotel room on Monday, August 19, 2002.
Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk. Hanh talked about peace and the world since September 11, 2001 from his hotel room on Monday, August 19, 2002.

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Thích Nhất Hạnh, an influential Buddhist monk and peace activist, has died. He was 95.

Plum Village, the organization that Hạnh founded, announced the news of his death on its website on Saturday.

"With a deep mindful breath, we announce our beloved teacher Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh has passed away peacefully," the statement reads.

Hạnh died early on Saturday morning at 1:30 a.m. local time at the Từ Hiếu Temple, which is located in Huế, Vietnam.

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On Twitter, Hạnh's official account also confirmed the news of his death. In a follow-up posting, a statement added: "We invite our beloved global spiritual family to take a few moments to be still, to come back to our mindful breathing, as we together hold Thay in our hearts."

Zen Buddhist monk leader Thich Nhat Hanh (F) prays during a three-day requiem for the souls of Vietnam War victims held 20 April 2007 at a pagoda in Soc Son district, suburban Hanoi. The monk has held two others requiems in Southern and Central Vietnam.
Zen Buddhist monk leader Thich Nhat Hanh (F) prays during a three-day requiem for the souls of Vietnam War victims held 20 April 2007 at a pagoda in Soc Son district, suburban Hanoi. The monk has held two others requiems in Southern and Central Vietnam.

Hoang Dinh Nam/AFP via Getty

Born in central Vietnam in 1926, Hạnh first entered the Từ Hiếu Temple as a novice monk when he was 16, according to his official biography on the Plum Village website.

During the Vietnam War, Hạnh was among the monks and nuns who were tasked with deciding whether or not to remain meditating within the monasteries, or to provide aid to those affected by the war. Deciding to do both, Hạnh then founded the Engaged Buddhism movement.

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Hạnh also traveled to the United States to teach at Princeton University before eventually teaching at Columbia University as well. He also founded the School of Youth and Social Service, which is "a grassroots relief organization of 10,000 volunteers based on the Buddhist principles of non-violence and compassionate action."

The activist also founded the Van Hanh Buddhist University in Saigon, the La Boi publishing House, and an influential peace activist magazine.

Zen Buddhist leader Thich Nhat Hanh sits at the opening of a three-day requiem for those killed on both sides of the Vietnam War, held 16 March 2007 at a pagoda in Ho Chi Minh
Zen Buddhist leader Thich Nhat Hanh sits at the opening of a three-day requiem for those killed on both sides of the Vietnam War, held 16 March 2007 at a pagoda in Ho Chi Minh

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In 1966, Hạnh traveled back to the United States and Europe, where he called for an end to the war in Vietnam and pled for peace. During that time, Hạnh met with Martin Luther King Jr., who would later nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967.

After the nomination, both North and South Vietnam denied Hạnh reentry to Vietnam, exiling him for 39 years. Hạnh would go on to travel across the globe, continuing to spread his message of love and peace.

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In the last decade, Hạnh's biography states that he opened monasteries across the globe, in locations including California, New York, Paris, and Australia. Hạnh also orchestrated events for Congress members in the U.S., as well as for parliamentarians in countries such as Ireland, India, and Thailand.

Back in 2014, Hahn's health declined and he suffered a severe stroke that left him unable to speak and heavily paralyzed on his right side. He later returned to the Từ Hiếu Temple in Vietnam, where he spent the remainder of his days.

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