A New Model of the Bodhisattva Ideal in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Socially Engaged Buddhism

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Venerable Nguyen Van Nam


This research article attempts to find out a new model of bodhisattva ideal in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Socially Engaged Buddhism (SEB). The methodology of this paper is qualitative consisting of documentary and in-depth interview methods of four key informants who are the closest disciples of Thich Nhat Hanh. The data analysis involves both content and interview analyses. The findings show that the bodhisattva ideal in Mahāyāna scriptures is aimed to dissect the bodhisattva concept and the practices of two typical bodhisattvas – Mañjuśrī and Avalokiteśvara. Thich Nhat Hanh has revived the notion of typical bodhisattva through the spirit of Socially Engaged Buddhism which is manifesting in four fields: education, social services, peacemaking, and the building of Plum Villages. The new model of bodhisattva ideal in his SEB is called the SMS model – that is Śila – the mindfulness training, Maitri – loving-kindness and Smṛti (or Sati) – mindfulness meditation. This SMS model helps the Buddha’s teachings and the Buddhist practices lead all human beings to the happiness of this world and future lives.

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Nguyen, V. N. (2019). A New Model of the Bodhisattva Ideal in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Socially Engaged Buddhism. The Journal of International Association of Buddhist Universities (JIABU), 12(2), 27–39. Retrieved from https://so06.tci-thaijo.org/index.php/Jiabu/article/view/247951
Research Article


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