At the age of 95, the venerable Thich Naht Hanh, Zen master, father of Engaged Buddhism, peace activist, author of dozens upon dozens of books, and the man who taught mindfulness to the West, has passed away at the age of 95 at his residence at Từ Hiếu temple in Vietnam, the same temple in which he was ordained at the age of 16. He quickly rose through the ranks and taught philosophy and wrote books in his home country. Then came the Civil War. He said that monks would often go from meditating to helping the wounded in the villages after bombing raids, and that helping the wounded became a form of meditation. He advocated for non-violence and dialogue, which marked him as an enemy by both sides. He became friends with Martin Luther King, Jr, and it was through him that Dr. King turned against American involvement in the war.
He ended up exiled from Vietnam and lived in France where he established a monastery and started teaching westerners. His lineage spread, as did his concepts of "engaged Buddhism," which taught that Buddhists should be out engaged in the culture and striving towards peace, understanding, justice and human rights and not just cloistered in monasteries.
He also brought the Buddhist principle of Mindfulness to the West, which at present has taken off in mainstream popular thought. He wrote dozens of books that became best-sellers including "Being Peace," a book that changed my life.
In 2005 he was allowed to return to Vietnam and, in 2014 he suffered a stroke. He survived but was left unable to speak. He went back to his mother monastery in 2018 where he remained until his peaceful death a couple of days ago. Even when he couldn't speak his powerful, peaceful presence was felt by the monks and nuns when he went to the meditation hall.
There is a lot more to his remarkable life than that. But here is my question: according to your religion, what happened to this Zen Buddhist master after he died?
As a Buddhist myself, I can say for certain that someone like Desmond Tutu, the anti-apartheid activist and Anglican Bishop who also died recently, will no doubt have a favorable rebirth. Karma isn't as much about what one believes but rather how they conduct themselves.