Ha Vinh Tho: Articulating personal transformation and social transformation

- through Henry Oudin

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What truly enables a profound transformation of individuals? It is around this question that Ha Vinh Tho, disciple of the Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, articulated his entire personal and professional journey. This led him to work for seven years in the "Land of the Dragon", Bhutan, better known as the country of Gross National Happiness.

It was in Thimphu, the capital without traffic lights where the prayer wheels and multicolored prayer flags are much more numerous than the ATMs, that we met him in 2012 for the first time. He then wore the "gho", an impeccable garment with Scottish motifs, halfway between a kilt and a kimono, tied at the waist and adorned with dazzling white cuffs. Ha Vinh Tho had just been appointed Director of Programs at the Center for Gross National Happiness (GNH) in Bhutan. His mission ? Attempt to anchor the BNB in ​​practice by creating an action-oriented center for training, experimentation and research, open to all, capable of embodying a pilot experiment of what Bhutanese society could become if the population fully appropriated this philosophy. An ambitious goal – in this small country where the voices critical of Gross National Happiness seem to be almost as numerous as those of aficionados – which does not scare this level-headed, almost reserved, eyed man in the least. lively and sparkling under his helmet of gray hair. It's that doctor tho, as his Bhutanese colleagues then call him, is here on familiar ground: that of transformative learning, the theme of his doctorate at the University of Geneva which has been mobilizing him for several decades.

A holistic approach to development

“When I was appointed to Bhutan, I had the impression that I was achieving a dimension of synthesis of a key element of my reflection: how to articulate personal transformation and social transformation? I have always had the impression, during my career, of going back and forth between one and the other. In Bhutan, these two elements came together in an activity that simultaneously takes into account the two dimensions”, underlines, voluble, and suddenly much more smiling, this committed man.
What is his assessment of these seven years spent in this small Himalayan state which he left in 2018? “A lackluster record, he smiles, because I have the impression that we had almost more echoes internationally than in Bhutan. However, we now have a very clear idea of ​​how we are going to be able to help companies adopt this philosophy,” he insists. Before confiding that it is in the field of education, by creating programs to develop schools, that he thinks he has succeeded the best.

“When I was appointed to Bhutan, I had the impression that I was achieving a dimension of synthesis of a key element of my reflection: how to articulate personal transformation and social transformation? »

Since leaving Thimphu, Ha Vinh Tho has resumed his duties as President of the Eurasia Foundation, an NGO he created which develops ecological and educational projects in Vietnam, the country of his father's birth and where he lives. another part of his family. "Our objective is to bring about a civil society in a communist country by introducing non-hierarchical modes of social organization, in a country that is enormously hierarchical, but also concrete avenues for transition such as biodynamic agriculture", underlines- he. Inspired by his years spent in Druk Yul, the “Land of the Dragon” in Dzongkha, the Bhutanese national language, and his fine knowledge of BNB, he recently founded the Eurasia Learning Institute for Happiness and Wellbeing. An institute that strives to create programs, in Asia as well as in Europe, aimed at helping companies, administrations, universities and schools to implement this holistic approach to development.

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Henry Oudin

Henry Oudin is a Buddhist scholar, spiritual adventurer and journalist. He is a passionate seeker of the depths of Buddhist wisdom, and travels regularly to learn more about Buddhism and spiritual cultures. By sharing his knowledge and life experiences on Buddhist News, Henry hopes to inspire others to embrace more spiritual and mindful ways of living.

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