What happens when one of the world's most revered Buddhist teachers and a leading thinker on the environment are faced with the following question: What gives you hope that we can bring about the collective awakening needed to restore health to the planet?
We will find out on August 15 when Buddhist monk, poet, peace and human rights activist, Thich Nhat Hanh, sits down in Vancouver with Canada's David Suzuki, an award winning scientist, environmentalist and broadcaster, to discuss the path forward to a more sustainable way of living.
Their conversation will be based on the premise that it is well known that humans are harming the earth, destroying its ecosystems and disrupting the climate. But we act as if it is not happening. So the issue is how to bring about the change in human behavior that is needed to put the world on a path that will ensure a healthy planet for future generations.
Although attendance at the discussion is by invitation only, it will be filmed and made available on YouTube and on international websites. This means the influence of the two leaders will spread widely in the weeks and months ahead.
The event is part of a two-week visit to Vancouver by Thich Nhat Hanh that will include a four day "Awakening the Heart Mindfulness Retreat" from August 8 to 13, a public lecture on August 14 at the University of British Columbia, and an exhibition of Thich Nhat Hanh's calligraphy at the university's Asian Auditorium Centre from August 6 to 11.
Thich Nhat Hanh was born in central Vietnam in 1926 and joined a Zen monastery at the age of 16, becoming fully ordained in 1949. He founded a Buddhist publishing house and the Van Hanh Buddhist University in Saigon and, in the early 1960s, he established the School of Youth for Social Services (SYSS) in Saigon to alleviate the suffering of those affected by the Vietnam War. From 1960 to 1963 he studied comparative religion at Princeton University in the United States and lectured in Buddhism at Columbia University.
In 1969, Thich Nhat Hanh was a delegate for the Buddhist Peace Delegation at the Paris Peace talks. That same year he established the Unified Buddhist Church in France. Following the signing of the Paris Peace Accords in 1973, he was denied re-entry to Vietnam by the authorities.
Exiled to France, he established the Plum Village Buddhist Centre and monastery in Dordogne region of south west France in 1982. He has also established two monasteries in Vietnam, and monasteries and Dharma centres in the United States and Europe. In 2005, Thich Nhat Hanh was granted permission to return to Vietnam to teach, and he has been returning regularly since 2007. In 2008 he founded the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.
He is the author of over 100 books, over forty of them in English, and leads retreats around the world on "the art of mindful living."
Thich Nhat Hanh is also an acclaimed calligraphist. His work was first exhibited at the University Museum and Art Gallery of The University of Hong Kong in 2010. His exhibition at the University of British Columbia is titled "Calligraphic Meditation: the Mindful Art of Thich Nhat Hanh." Admission is free.