By Sister Chan Khong On April 29, 1999, Federico Mayor, General Director of UNESCO, wrote to Prime Minister Phan Van Khai of Vietnam requesting that the government allow the publication and circulation of books and tapes by Thich Nhat Hanh in Vietnam, and grant permission for Thich Nhat Hanh to return to teach in Vietnam after 34 years of exile. Many other people in Europe and America—including Senator Philippe Marini, Senator Bernard Dussaut, and Senator Jean Francois Poncet of France; President of the Commission of Foreign Affairs of the French National Assembly Jack Lang; President of the Swiss Confederation Flavio Cotti; and Senator John McCain and Congressman Richard Boucher of the United States—have written to the government of Vietnam for the same purpose. We need our friends to join in the campaign so that Thay's teaching becomes available in his own country, and also so Thay can go back to visit his root temple (Tu Hieu in Hue, Vietnam) and offer direct teaching to his people. If you could help by urging important people in your own country to write to the government of Vietnam, that will be very wonderful. We are asking for these specific things:
- Ten of Thay's books be allowed to be published (Abbot Thich Chi Mau of Thay's Root Temple wrote a letter to the government asking this half a year ago, and renewed the request on July 4, 1999. See below.)
- Ten monks of the Root Temple be authorized to come for further training in Plum Village.
- Ten monastics of Plum Village be authorized to go to the Root Temple for further training on traditional chanting.
- A monastic and lay delegation from Plum Village led by Thich Nhat Hanh be allowed to go to Vietnam to offer public lectures and meditation retreats for a period of two months.
While the fourth project could take a year or more to materialize, the first three projects can be realized right now. If the first three projects cannot be realized, it will be impossible for the fourth to be accepted. Therefore, for the time being, we would like to insist that the first three steps be taken immediately.
Thay and a Plum Village delegation of 182 monastic and lay members representing sixteen countries visited China last May for a teaching tour. They were welcomed to offer retreats and public talks throughout China. Not only were visiting monastics welcome to stay in big monasteries such as Bai-lin and Gao Ming, but lay members were also warmly received. Thay's books, including Old Path White Clouds, were published in China prior to his arrival. Also ten Chinese monks are being sent by the Buddhist Association of China to Plum Village for further training in engaged Buddhism.We believe that Vietnam should have little difficulty heading in the same direction and offering a similar welcome.
Dear friends, we count on you to help with this campaign, and we will be grateful for anything you can do to make Thay's teaching available to his people.
Sister Chan Khong has been a close associate of Thich Nhat Hanh for over thirty years. She was one of the original six members of the Order of lnterbeing and is the author of Learning True Love.
Thich Chi Mau, Abbot of Tu Hieu Temple, has requested permission to publish the following books by Thich Nhat Hanh. As Sister Chan Khong explains, his repeated requests have not been answered by the Government of Vietnam.
1. Monastery Daily Chanting Book for the Year 2000 2. The Miracle of Mindfulness 3. Old Path White Clouds 4. Breathe! You Are Alive: Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing 5. Daily Chanting Book for Lay People 6. Transformation and Healing: Sutra on the Four Establishments of Mindfulness 7. Peace Is Every Step 8. The Heart of the Buddha's Teaching 9. Teachings on Love 10. Stepping into Freedom: An Introduction to Buddhist Monastic Training