Friday 22nd October, 2010 famed monk Thich Nhat Hanh was hosted by the Monk’s University Mahaculalongkorn Rajavidhayalaya in their huge new campus meeting room at Wang Noi, near Ayuddhaya.
Approximately 2000 people were in attendance, including about 100 monks and nuns (distinguishable by their headscarves) from The Venerable monk’s own group. They were here in Thailand establishing a new ‘Plum Village’ branch at Pak Chong.
He gave a talk on … yes, mindfulness. His topic is always the same. The message is always the same. Some people have complained about this – Ven. Kusala was not impressed. In his native Sri Lanka you MUST quote pali stanzas and then expound on them if you wish to give a dhamma talk. Also Thich Nhat Hahn is not the writer/speaker of choice for Buddhist intellectuals who like to get grist for their thinking mills.
So why is he so popular? It is fair to say that he and the Dalai Lama are the only two Buddhist monk’s in the world with true international recognition.
The most obvious answer is his presence. He radiated peace, happiness, and yes – mindfulness from his every word, every smile and the very occasional gesture. Just sitting still, hardly moving except for his lips and the smile wrinkles at his eyes (he is in his 80s now) he captivates a whole audience.
The hall was airconditioned to perfection – just comfortable, and not icy. The sea of people absorbed all echo, so the sound system was sharp and clear. And rows of free university busses waited outside to ferry the crowds back to Bangkok afterwards. What pity the University did not put out effective PR so that more people could have joined.