Ven. Thich Nhất Hạnh (“Brother Thầy”) is a Vietnamese Zen master, Buddhist monk, teacher, author, poet, peace activist, and global spiritual leader, revered around the world for his powerful teachings and bestselling writings on mindfulness and peace. He is the man Dr. King called “An Apostle of peace and nonviolence.” 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. He lives in Plum Village in the Dordogne region in the south of France, traveling internationally to give retreats and talks.
Brother Thầy influenced Dr King to extend his work for civil rights to include taking a strong public stand for world peace and in protest of the US war against the people of Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. As a Nobel Peace Laureate, Dr King was eligible to nominate his candidate for the Prize. He nominated Thích Nhất Hạnh, but in publicly announcing his nomination, King went against unofficial Nobel protocal to keep the nominations private and was thereafter officially criticized by the Committee.
Although the Nobel committee declined to award the prize that year, they did later give it to Henry Kissinger, one of the world’s most notorious, nefarious and ruthless war-mongers and genocidists of the twentieth century. Kissinger is currently wanted for war crimes by various international courts.
At the time of his assassination in April 1968, Dr King was scheduled to travel to the Catholic Trappist monastery at Gethsemane Kentucky to enjoy a retreat with his friend Father Thomas Merton (1915-1968), the famous priest, monk, author, and peace activist living in a hermitage there. King and Merton were mutual friends with Thích Nhất Hạnh who had visited Gethsemane some years before.
Merton died in December 1968 in Bangkok, Thailand. He had earlier publicly declared his willingness to join with other US peace activists in relocating to Hanoi, capital of North Vietnam, as “hostages of peace” in an effort to end the war and the US saturation bombings of the city’s civilian population. Many believe that Merton’s strong criticism of the US war effort, his close solidarity and mutual friendships with King, Thích Nhất Hạnh, the Berrigan brothers, and other peace and freedom activists and his offer to be a “peace hostage” in Hanoi, led to his sudden death, as a likely target of a CIA assassination hit. Merton would be 101 this month.
A multi-zillionaire many times over, Henry Kissinger (born 1923) has been consistently adulated as the dean of senior statesmen by successive US presidential administrations and has been appointed as both an official and and at times unofficial adviser not only by US presidents but by Indonesian and other corrupt regimes as well. By never leaving the US in recent years and with the aid of 24/7 protection by government-provided armed bodyguards, Kissinger continues to live in relative security, conspicuous luxury, and official “honor” while avoiding arrest and trial for war-crimes by international courts. Kissinger is now 92.
Although I spent some time working with the civil rights movement in my youth, and met some of its famous leaders, I never met Dr King.
My late wife and I personally received teachings from Brother Thầy, and along with Brother Thầy were once able to share a week of receiving daily initiations and teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
I visited Tom Merton twice in Kentucky and was able to see him again when he twice visited out west prior to leaving for Asia where he met with the HH the Dalai Lama and HH Chatral Rinpoche, among others.
I have never met Kissinger, but I would like to attend his trial for crimes against humanity.