Claude AnShin Thomas served in Vietnam from 1966-'67 as a helicopter crew chief. He was shot down on five different occasions and was wounded once, receiving the Purple Heart. Since that time he has been working to heal his wounds from that war: emotionally, mentally and spiritually, and using his experiences to help others. During this process Claude AnShin became a member of the Vietnamese monastery and retreat center, Plum Village, founded and guided by the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh. Claude was ordained as a Zen Priest into the Zen Peacemaker Order - the first all western Buddhist Order - in '94 by Roshi Bernie Glassman.
Coming to peace with the devastating effects of war and how to find peaceful means for conflict resolution, Claude AnShin shares his reflections in a number of publications, including Shambala Sun, GEO, The Sun, Tikkun, and the Boston Globe., with books published in Italy and Germany and forthcoming from Parallax Press. He speaks internationally in religious and secular communities about cultures of violence and how to heal them, facilitates Mindfulness meditation retreats which provide participants with specific tools to aid them in the process of healing spiritually, emotionally, and psychologically. He has also been invited to be a special retreat leader for veterans within larger mindfulness meditation retreats facilitated by Thich Nhat Hanh.
Currently Claude AnShin divides his time between the U.S. and Europe working with cultures of violence, and others, to end violence and establish socially engaged projects. Claude AnShin Thomas walked '94-'95 in an interfaith pilgrimage from Auschwitz to Vietnam. From March to August '98 he facilitated a spiritual pilgrimage across the United States, walking in robes and without money, carrying all his belongings on his back and practicing Takahatsu (alms begging). From August to October 1999 he walked through many concentration camp sites, prisoner of war camps, prisons and other places of suffering conntected to the Second World war in Germany. In the year 2000 he will facilitate a pilgrimage through Serbia, Kosovo and Bosnia Herzegowina.
The story of his war
experiences and his awakening to Mindfulness he told in the magazines
"Shambhala Sun" (Finding Peace after a
Lifetime of War) and "Spuren" (Die Wunden des
Krieges heilen). An article on the international retreat Healing the
Wounds of War in spring 1997, published in "Spuren" can be read in
German (Zen der offenen
and English (Open Door
Zen). In Fall
1997 he led a Street Retreat in Berlin. A German text on this at