Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh Receives Doshi Family Bridgebuilder Award
Zen master, poet, peace activist and author of 35 books, Thich Nhat Hanh, delivered an insightful speech about the importance of living in the here and now and the practice of understanding and compassion at an event held on Sept. 5 in Gersten Pavilion at Loyola Marymount University. More than 1,400 students, faculty, staff and community members gathered to listen to and meditate with Hahn who was the recipient of the Doshi Family Bridgebuilder Award.
Hanh stressed that happiness is only available in the present, not in the past or the future. He then offered the practice of meditation as an easy way to get in touch with the here and now.
“Try to arrive completely in the moment,” Hanh said. “If you miss the present, you miss life.”
Hanh went on to explain two Buddhist concepts, Samatha and Vipassana, as a way to deal with suffering. Samatha is a focusing, pacifying and calming meditation, or “stopping and concentrating,” and Vipassana is looking deeply at our lives, or insight meditation. He said no human being can escape the four sufferings of life: birth, sickness, old age and death and spoke about the important role that suffering plays in our lives.
“In our civilization, most of us are running from anger, fear and difficult situations and because of that we suffer and those around us suffer,” Hanh said. “We need to look deeply at our suffering and pain to understand its root…as a means to cultivate compassion and understanding.”
Hanh then discussed the significance of practicing mutual compassion and building a community of brotherhood and sisterhood. His work includes bringing Israelis and Palestinians together for mindful meditation practice. He explained how the two groups overcame obstacles through listening compassionately and helping one another remove wrong perceptions rooted in fear.
“The practice of mindful walking, listening or breathing calms down our anger,” Hanh said. “We need to recognize one another as human beings who suffer just like us.”
The event included a guided meditation and a chant delivered by Hanh and his more than 50 accompanying monks and nuns. Also, the audience members participated in the “10 Mindful Movements,” a series of gentle exercises created by Hanh to cultivate a joyful awareness of the body and breath.
Hanh is the third recipient of the award from LMU’s Center for Religion and Spirituality and the Doshi Family. The award is given annually to honor an individual or organization dedicated to fostering understanding between cultures, peoples and disciplines. The event in Hanh’s honor was funded by the Doshi Professorship of Indic and Comparative Theology. Past recipients include Deepak Chopra and Zubin Mehta.
“Here we are at a Christian university giving an award to a Buddhist monk from a Hindu family,” said Navin Doshi, benefactor and founder of the Doshi Family Bridgebuilder Award. “Isn’t it wonderful that LMU honors all human traditions?”
Photos by Glenn Cratty
Top Left: Thich Nhat Hanh smiles at the audience members.
Middle Right: A monk leads the audience through the "10 Mindful Movements."
Bottom Left: Thich Nhat Hanh is congratulated by, left to right, Christopher Keys Chapple, Pratima Doshi, Ernest Rose and Navin Doshi.