Thich Nhat Hanh was born in central Vietnam on October 11, 1926. He joined a Zen monastery at the age of 16, studied Buddhism as a novice, and was fully ordained as a monk in 1949. The title Thích is used by all Vietnamese monks and nuns, meaning that they are part of the Shakya (Shakyamuni Buddha) clan. He coined the term Engaged Buddhism in his book Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire
In the early 1960's, he founded the School of Youth for Social Services (SYSS) in Saigon, a grass roots relief organization that rebuilt bombed villages, set up schools and medical centres, and resettled families left homeless during the Vietnam War. He travelled to the U.S. a number of times to study and later teach at Columbia University , and to promote the cause of peace. He urged Martin Luther King, Jr. to oppose the Vietnam War publicly, and spoke with many people and groups about peace. In 1967, King nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Nhat Hanh led the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks. One of the best known Buddhist teachers in the West, Thich Nhat Hanh's teachings and practices appeal to people from various religious, spiritual, and political backgrounds. He offers a practice of mindfulness that is often adapted to Western sensibilities.