Report on Thay’s progress in San Francisco

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Official Announcement

Plum Village, France
September 8, 2015

To all Plum Village Practice Centers,
To all Practice Centers and Sanghas worldwide,
To our Dear Beloved Friends,

It has been two months now since Thay arrived in America, with the hope of getting more intensive treatment to recover from his stroke. Thanks to the incredible support of our Beloved Community we have been able to obtain the very best doctors and therapists for Thay, across all treatment modalities. We are happy to be able to share that Thay is benefitting from the best of Western, Eastern, conventional, and alternative medical approaches. Thay is receiving acupuncture every day, as well as physical therapy, speech therapy, osteopathy, and neurofeedback, with the support and oversight of a phenomenal team of doctors at UCSF.

With Thay’s advanced age, the severity of the hemorrhage, as well as various complex health issues, recovery is extremely challenging. When Thay first started physical therapy, Thay was very engaged and enthusiastic with his therapists and the program that they had created for him. Preparing for Thay’s sessions of physical therapy, we could all feel the joyful determination in his body language. We would tell him, “Thay, let’s get ready for physical therapy” and Thay would raise his fist in the air and smile, as if to say “Let’s go!”

However, the level of fatigue and physical discomfort that Thay was experiencing when we first arrived in the US limited his ability to participate in the sessions. With the help of the whole team of doctors and therapists we have been able create an integrated program of treatment which allows Thay to have restful sleep, and more alertness, ease and peace in his body, enabling him to more fully participate in the sessions of therapy.

A recent breakthrough has been that whilst using a partial weight support walking frame, Thay’s right leg has started to make small movements, initiating the stepping motion.

Thay has received training from three different speech therapists over the last two months, one of whom was able to help Thay speak his first words since the stroke. It was a legendary day. We are happy to be able to share his very first words:

In, out (several times)
Happy (several times)
Thank you (several times)

and “Vui quá” (meaning, “So happy,” in Vietnamese)

It was like a guided meditation. Everyone was crying and laughing at the same time, including Thay.

Unfortunately, as the speech therapist who helped him to achieve this breakthrough lives far from San Francisco, she had to go back home after three days and Thay lost some momentum. We have tried a number of other speech therapists but have not been able to maintain Thay’s initial rapid progress. We are still looking for a local speech therapist, ideally fluent in Vietnamese, who would be able to work with Thay several times per week.

Besides all the medical treatments and therapy, Thay has been able to enjoy the Bay Area, going to visit the beach at least twice a week, enjoying beautiful views of the city and the Golden Gate Bridge, being in touch with nature and the wonderful fresh Pacific air. Every day Thay continues to remind us to enjoy the wonders of life, often pointing at the blue sky and helping us come back to the present moment. Sometimes Thay playfully switches roles with the doctors and therapists, putting a finger on his lips and inviting them to stop. In these moments he often indicates for us to prepare tea so his doctors can have a chance to enjoy a cup of tea in mindfulness. One therapist knelt down by his side, looking out of the window and began to cry silently. She later shared with us that it was perhaps the first time in her life that she had really stopped and appreciated the blue of the sky.

A very good friend of Thay’s came to visit and shared his own experience of balancing his intention to live in the present moment with the natural wish for a loved one to recover as much as they can. He said that every moment with Thay is a “bonus moment,” and that all we have to do is cherish these bonus moments. Every moment that Thay has to breathe, to smile, and to enjoy the blue sky is indeed a bonus moment, reminding us all to appreciate life fully, without expectation, peacefully accepting things as they manifest.

This is the spirit in which we have been continuing our large mindfulness retreats, both in Europe and now in the United States. We know that it has long been Thay’s deepest wish to build a Beloved Community of practitioners, and it has been powerful and joyful for thousands of us to come together and realise that dream in France, Germany and now here at Blue Cliff Monastery in New York, where we have just finished a 5-day retreat. We have generated a strong collective energy in our silent sitting meditations under starlit skies, and in our walking meditations along streams and forest paths. We have sung together, laughed together, cried together, and celebrated the miracle of community. We see so clearly our Teacher’s presence here with us at this retreat; he is not only in San Francisco. As Thay said in 2009 when for health reasons he could not be at the retreat in Colorado:

The presence of the Sangha carries Thay’s presence. Please let me walk with your strong feet, breathe with your healthy lungs and smile with your beautiful smiles.

With great gratitude we thank you for keeping your practice alive, with your mindful breathing, your mindful steps, and your gentle smiles. When we come together to generate a strong collective energy of mindfulness, compassion and insight, we are manifesting Thay’s vision for our collective future. Together we are discovering ways to continue Thay’s legacy of bringing peace, happiness and healing to ourselves and the world.

Please join us at our retreats and events in the US this fall: tnhtour.org

With love and trust,

The Plum Village Monks and Nuns

Future official reports on Thay’s recovery will be posted from time to time at plumvillage.org, langmai.org, villagedespruniers.org, and www.facebook.com/thichnhathanh.

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Join the conversation

  • Dear Sangha,

    I hope and pray that our beloved teacher,Thay, is recovering and doing well. I think of him daily and I send him and you my love, gratitude, and appreciation.

    It has been a very very long time since your last updated. Please update us on his health conditions and help us eliminate and lessen our worries about him. ..Thank you!

  • Beloved Thay,

    I hope you are well and on your way to recovery. Everyday I am blessed by your teachings and forever grateful. I continue to learn and grow as do my loved ones.

    Is there any update on his progress?

  • I just came here to check in and see how Thay is. Much love to Thay and those at Plum Village. I also have been reading lately what he has shared about fear, and it has helped bring my awareness to the present and to more deeply see the roots of fear in both myself and those who I do fear. I just wanted to say thank you to Thay for this help.

    I wish Thay continued recovery. Love you all.

  • Please, please, please, give us an update on our beloved teacher, Thay. It has been two months and 20 days since your last update.

    Sending you and Thay love and gratitude.

  • Kính Thầy Thích Nhất Hạnh,

    Kính chúc Thầy sớm bình phục, sớm vượt qua cơn bệnh này, Impermanent Changing Phenomenon.
    Thầy đã dạy “There is no life; There is no death. There is only Transformation”. Con thấm thía lời dạy của Thầy.
    Je vous remercie profondément. 心から本当にありがとうございました。体に気をつけてください。

    Kính Thầy,

    Trang

    Nha Trang, Việt Nam
    Paris, France
    Brisbane, Australia
    熊本、日本
    California, USA

    • Dear Miss/Mis Trang,
      Thầy dạy: no life, no death, only Transformation: Impermanence!
      Don’t worry about Thầy. He can take care of himself. He is in VIRTUAL NIRVANA already. Let’s try to do as Thầy has told us to do: Being mindful! A corpse, a tree, a worm, etc… all are the same.
      Thầy said: Buddha and Jesus are Brothers. Jesus said: God is Love. Jesus is God. He loves everyone of us and his commandment for us is “love one another.”Instead of Nirvana, He promises Paradise and happiness and love. We can find his Teaching in the Gospel. You know Buddha’s Teaching. Since Buddha and Jesus are Brothers, try to learn about Jesus’s Teaching as well. You may find good way from it.
      Au revoir et see you au Paradis


  • 2019

    Thich Nhat Hanh turns 93

    Dear Beloved Community, We are very happy to share that today Thay has been celebrating his 93rd birthday at Từ Hiếu Temple in Huế, Vietnam, his “Root Temple” where he first entered the monkhood...


    2018

    Thay’s 92nd Birthday

    As we celebrate Thay’s 92nd continuation day on 11th October, we'd like to take this opportunity to share with you how our beloved Teacher has been doing in Thailand.


    2017

    Thay visits Vietnam for a few days

    We are very happy to confirm that earlier today, 29th August 2017, at 12h35 local time, our dear Teacher landed safely at Đà Nẵng airport in Vietnam. This is his first visit to Vietnam...


    2016

    Thich Nhat Hanh arrives in Thailand

    The Thai Plum Village Sangha is delighted that our beloved teacher was strong enough to travel to Thailand from France a week ago, arriving in the early morning on Saturday, December 10.

    Thay returns to France

    Thay has decided to return to Plum Village, France to be with his spiritual community after six months of steady progress in San Francisco.


    2015

    A Christmas update from San Francisco

    Although Thay is unable to recover his speech, he continues to inspire with his spiritual vitality, his strong perseverance, and his immense will that has directed his recovery from the start.

    Report on Thay’s progress in San Francisco

    We are happy to be able to share that Thay is benefitting from the best of Western, Eastern, conventional, and alternative medical approaches. Thay is receiving acupuncture every day, as well as physical therapy,...

    Thay returns to Plum Village

    This week the medical team have given their approval for Thay to leave the rehabilitation clinic and return to his Hermitage at Plum Village. We are deeply grateful to the entire medical team at...

    Thay transfers to Bordeaux rehabilitation clinic

    The team of monastic attendants work closely with doctors, nurses and professional therapists, and accompany Thay twenty-four hours a day, offering massage, acupuncture and comfort care, and helping Thay with his physical training. Thay...

    Thay emerges into wakefulness

    In the last three weeks Thay has gradually emerged into wakefulness, and has his eyes open for much of the day, to the point where the doctors can now say that he is no...


    2014

    Thay’s condition stabilises

    Thay continues to rest peacefully with the ticking clock on his pillow, and we sense that he is relying on his deep awareness of breathing, rooted in Store Consciousness, to guide his healing process....

    Thay remains in intensive care

    Thay's blood pressure and pulse are stable, he is still breathing on his own, and he is becoming increasingly peaceful. However, in recent days Thay has been sleeping more deeply and communicating less.

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