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Lions Roar : July 2010
C/) l? Z ........ ::8 ::8 U >L1 f-< >-< C/) o f-< o :r:: p..., Above: Walking meditation at Thich Nhat Hanh's root temple in Hué. He returned to his native country for the 2008 United Nations Vesak conference. Right: Nhat Hanh invites students to join him in song before walking meditation at Bat Nha Monastery. declared him a traitor. His proposal had urged Americans to stop bombing and to offer reconstruction aid free of political or ideological strings. It also made other suggestions, which made it clear that Nhat Hanh favored neither side in the war. This made him an enemy of both sides. He moved to France, to a poor neighborhood in Paris, where he became the chair of the Vietnamese Buddhist Peace Delega- tion. He and his small staff worked to inform the public about the situation in Vietnam and to find sponsors for orphaned Vietnam- ese children. It was important work but it was a challenging time for him personally. He has said that he felt like a cell precariously separated from its body or a bee separated from its hive. He looked forward to a time when he could return to Vietnam. But when the communist government of the North seized control of the South in 1975, he was refused permission to enter Vietnam. In 1976, Nhat Hanh attended the World Conference on Re- ligion and Peace in Singapore and, while there, a group of Viet- namese women told him that thousands of Vietnamese refugees were in camps in various Southeast Asian countries, with no hope of being accepted into any other country because of immi- gration quotas. These refugees were dubbed boat people because many of them had escaped in rickety boats. "They were packed into the boats like sardines;' says Sister Dang N ghiem, a nun in the Order of Interbeing who is originally from Vietnam. The boat people left their country because they were afraid of life under the Communists, but escape was perilous. If the government )ï;> page 86 SHAMBHALA SUN JULY 2010 43