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Return of the Zen Master: World-renowned Thich Nhat Hanh touches down in Vietnam

World-famous Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh arrived in Da Nang in central Vietnam at around noon on Tuesday on a flight from Bangkok, the first return to his home country in a decade, according to a local media report.

The Buddhist monk was stable and waved to followers as he left the airport, said Giac Ngo, the news website of the Buddhist Shangha of Vietnam. Photos of him sitting in a wheelchair at the airport were also published.

The Zen Master has been in Thailand since December last year.

He is expected to stay in Da Nang for several days before traveling to his hometown in the nearby Hue.

Thich Nhat Hanh became a monk at the age of 23. He is considered the second most influential Buddhist leader in the West, after the Dalai Lama.

In the 1960s he spearheaded a movement of Buddhists in South Vietnam that called for a negotiated end to the Vietnam War. He left in 1966 and has lived in France for years.

Hanh has lived at Plum Village for decades, traveling regularly throughout North America and Europe to offer lectures on mindfulness and peace.

His key teaching is that, through mindfulness, we can learn to live happily in the present moment – the only way to truly develop peace, both in one’s self and in the world.

Remarkably, Hanh does not ask his Western followers to abandon their religion.

He has returned to Vietnam three times – in 2005, 2007 and 2008 – to meet with Buddhist followers and offer prayer requiems for the war dead.

In late 2014, he suffered a stroke and was hospitalized in France for four and a half months. He has continued to give lectures and meditation classes since then.

He is also a poet and peace activist. He was nominated for the Nobel Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1967, and is the author of more than 100 books, including the best-selling “The Miracle of Mindfulness”.

“Walk With Me – On The Road With Thich Nhat Hanh”, a documentary about his life, is scheduled for release later this year. It was made by film-makers Marc J Francis and Max Pugh who followed the Zen master into the depths of winter in a monastery in France, through Europe and then to North America.

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