Thay’s 92nd Birthday

Dear Friends,

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

After spending time recuperating in San Francisco in 2015, and then from January to December 2016 at home in Plum Village in France, Thay requested to travel to Thailand, to join his monastic students at our large monastery near Khao Yai National Park. Since that time, Thay has been nourished by the joy and youthfulness of over two hundred monastics at Thai Plum Village. In the warm and tropical climate, and surrounded by his young students, Thay has been able to continue on his path of healing, while also offering his presence to support his beloved young community’s strength and growth. In Thailand Thay has the opportunity to receive world-class healthcare from both Eastern and Western specialists. We are deeply grateful to Thay’s “doctors sangha” who have been caring for Thay with immense generosity, love and respect; and also to all the many specialists in acupuncture and oriental medicine who have offered their skills and expertise.

As part of his birthday celebrations, Plum Village nuns offered Thay and the community a beautiful dance.

As is to be expected for someone so advanced in age recovering from a major stroke, there are times when Thay’s health is stronger, and other times when it is weaker. On good days, Thay is able to eat several small meals a day and join the sangha for walking meditation in his wheelchair, or perhaps participate in a formal meal in the meditation hall, eating with great concentration, dignity and presence. When he is with the sangha, Thay will often gesture, bright-eyed, to remind us to enjoy listening to the sound of the birds, or with a gentle smirk he will point to his mouth to remind us to smile. On good days, Thay has been able to offer his solemn presence and witness at ordination ceremonies, or his joyful presence at festivals, watching his students perform songs, skits and dances. Even with his health challenges, Thay never wants to miss big sangha events. He insisted on being present for the premiere of the “Walk With Me” documentary in Bangkok (where he directed the sangha buy large quantities of popcorn), and he also insisted on travelling with the monastics to be present as they led a large retreat for families at Wang Ree Resort in Thailand.

Although Thay has still not been able to speak since his stroke, he delights in joining in when the sangha sings Plum Village songs and, when he has the strength, continues to diligently train himself to form words. Whenever his health permits, Thay trains eagerly with his physiotherapy exercises, and smiles a smile of victory whenever he is able to stand on his own two feet without any help. The nerves in his right leg are now active all the way to his foot. Although there are still some days when Thay is unable to eat or drink, and he rests deeply in his bed, as soon as his energy is restored he eats a lot, as though making up for the days he couldn’t eat. Overall, we are happy to say that, since the last two years of following a special diet, Thay’s digestive system has been strengthened and restored.

Thay enjoying walking meditation with the sangha in Thai Plum Village.

The sangha can feel Thay’s supportive and nurturing presence, always keeping a teacher’s keen eye on our practice and endeavours, urging us forward, and encouraging us to continue to enjoy the wonders of life, to advance in our practice, to grow and to serve. Thay’s continued presence in our midst has been a great gift and a huge source of energy and support for our community.

Thay makes it known when he would like to nourish himself with nature, and at one point directed his attendants to take him out for a few days by the ocean. Thay enjoyed spending time relaxing on the warm sand, and a young monk held him so he could immerse himself fully in the refreshing, salty water. Thay spent hours listening to the waves and watching the vast ocean and distant horizon. It is a great teaching for all of us to witness Thay enjoying his life so deeply despite the physical adversity he is encountering.

Since Thailand is not far from Vietnam, it has been possible for venerable monks and nuns from Vietnam to travel over to pay their respects to Thay and spend time drinking tea, sharing meals, recalling fond memories and reciting poetry. Many of these venerables are friends and students of Thay who have supported him in difficult moments, in particular when Thay was calling for peace during the Vietnam War. Thay treasures these visits very much. Indeed, last year (in August 2017), Thay was determined to make his own visit to Vietnam, and although it was extremely complex and challenging to organise such a trip, he could not be dissuaded. As soon as he learned that arrangements were in place, he was filled with energy and enthusiasm. Thay was determined to pay his respects at his ancestral shrine in his homeland and at our lineage’s Root Temple in Huế, Chùa Từ Hiếu, where Thay is still abbot, and where his students, Plum Village monks and nuns, continue to live and practice. Thay entered Từ Hiếu temple like a monk coming home. With deep concentration and presence, he chose to visit each altar one by one to solemnly bow and offer incense. After directing his attendants to lead him on a tour of the half-moon pond, and visiting the favorite spots he had loved as a young novice, he chose to leave, as simply as he had come.

Dear friends, Thay always reminded us to practice looking at our loved ones with the eyes of “signlessness”. We see Thay still with us in his physical body, teaching us with his great courage, dignity, strength and compassion. And we see Thay still with us in his teaching body—the living Dharma—expressed not only in all his books and talks, but also in the ways his message continues to resonate around the world, an inspiration for countless people in countless walks of life. Thay is also continued in his Sangha body, his community – comprising over 700 monks and nuns, thousands of members of the Order of Interbeing, and tens of thousands of practitioners who follow the Five Mindfulness Trainings and nourish their practice at local sanghas in cities around the world. It is a great fortune that Thay transmitted the Dharma Lamp to hundreds of monastic and lay teachers, and it is a great happiness that today they are helping Thay’s teachings to shine brightly a little bit everywhere.

Now, more than ever, these teachings are needed, and we are grateful for each of you continuing Thay’s love, wisdom, peace and courage in your corner of the planet. We hope that you can join us in our monasteries or at our external retreats in the coming year as we continue Thay’s legacy together. And we hope that you can be nourished by following our Dharma talks online, in particular the talks of the Autumn Rains Retreat in Plum Village, exploring The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings more deeply. We invite you to consider making a concrete commitment in your practice that you would like to offer as a gift to Thay. Perhaps a promise to take every step in mindfulness from your front door to the car (one of Thay’s favorites), or to introduce a new habit to protect and care for Mother Earth (like eating vegetarian a certain number of days per month). You can share these commitments in the comments below. This is a wonderful way Thay’s birthday can help invigorate and inspire our collective practice.

We are profoundly grateful for your presence, your practice, and for the much-needed resource support you continue to offer our monasteries as places of learning and refuge. Your generous donations to the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation make it possible for us to continue to keep Thay’s teachings and legacy alive and relevant for generations to come. We thank you.

Thay was amused to receive a statue of himself as a birthday gift during celebrations in Thai Plum Village on the 7th and 8th October 2018. Over 500 people gathered for a weekend retreat in his honor.

Happy continuation day, dear Thay. And happy continuation day to all your continuation bodies.

With love and trust,

The Monks and Nuns of Plum Village

At Home in the World

This collection of autobiographical and teaching stories from peace activist and Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is thought provoking, inspiring, and enjoyable to read. Collected here for the first…

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Join the conversation

  • Dear Thay, Happy Continuation Day! Thank you for your teachings. To celebrate your Continuation Day, I am dedicating time and energy to become a NYC Parks Volunteer Steward to help take care of our trees, meadows, forests and wet lands for all beings. Metta, Noëlle Peaceful Cultivation of the Heart

  • Namaste and Pranam, Dear Master Hanh,

    Happiest Birthday, all year long.

    Celebrating 92 years around the Sun!

    All blessings and love and prayers for continued healing and good health.

    This earth is better because you are here

    Deep appreciation and gratitude, to you and all those who take care of you!

    Love and Respect,

    Cinda Mayatri

    ~ I will continue to practice mindful breathing, and chanting of mantras

    aum

  • Om Mani Padme Hum

    dearest Thay

    you are & will forever BE a true Blessing for Mother Earth and all sentient beings .
    in deep gratitude
    and Love
    Nanee

  • Dearest Beloved Teacher Thay,
    I rejoice at each moment of enjoyment you are receiving in your continuing.
    We are asked to make a concrete gift of a practice commitment to you in celebration, and I offer these small gifts of my love for my dear teacher.
    I re-commit to my daily recitation of the 5 Mindfulness Trainings as a refreshment of the original transmission you gave to us on that day.
    I commit to working harder at nourishing joy through the struggle with my own overwhelming illnesses and hardships and will look to you as a role model of mindfulness and grace through acceptance.
    I know it will give me great joy to return to my recitations, and hope my small gift of renewed practice will bring you happiness.
    With much love and gratitude I wish you continued improvements to your health. <3

  • Dear Thay. The world is a better place with your Spiritual Wisdom and Loving, Compassionate Heart. Thank you for your teachings which will remain in the hearts of many. May all the egoic grasping and suffering of this world be transmuted into Loving Kindness, Peaceful Co-existence and Compassion for all Living Beings. May we realise the Oneness of everything. THANK YOU.

  • Happy continuation day Beautiful Thay.

    Thank you so much for all you have given to us. What you have given to us is a gift beyond all measure. There are not even words enough to thank you for the beauty, and love, and compassion, and understanding that you have brought into our hearts, and minds. You have taught us to look deeply into all things. You have taught us the joy of interbeing, and freedom. You have given us the seeds of liberation to end our ignorance, and awaken to the truth. You have kindly and compassionately taught us how to be free of ignorance and delusion, if we choose to. You have taught us how to see the world through the eyes of interbeing, and stand firmly in emptiness, that is full of everything. You have given us the key to be the masters of our own minds, like water reflecting. You have taught us how to handle our emotions, to be solid and unmoving. You have saved us during times of trouble. You planted the seeds in our hearts and minds that would bloom over time.

    You are a gift to the world dear Thay. May you be blessed on your continuation day. May you have strength, and joy, and healing. May you have the love, and mindfulness, and wakefulness, of the sangha.

    Thank you with all of my heart forever and for always, for the seeds that you have given, and continue to give us every day. You have had so much patience with us, caring for us all, so much care, as though we are all your children. You spent your whole life just showing us the way out of suffering. I am forever grateful. I am an imperfect practitioner, but there is not a day that goes by, that I don’t have some mindfulness or some deep looking, and I always know that is one of your continuations. I see you everywhere dear Thay every day.

    I love you so much dear Thay. I love the sangha. I am forever grateful. May our practice ripen, and our gratitude, and wakefulness, be our gift to you. May we practice step by step, breath by breath, every moment of every day. May we always strive to begin anew, no matter how many times it takes. May we work diligently to walk in truth. May we work, and strive, to be the continuations of mindfulness, and wakefulness, and compassion, and emptiness. I will always remember that when I have the smile, and my practice is free of struggle, that I am practicing correctly. Thank you for giving us the gift, and wisdom, of how we can be an island unto ourselves. Your gifts are beyond measure. There is no unit to measure or quantify a gift such as this.

    Happy continuation day dear respected and beloved Thay

    Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhassa

  • Dear Thay-
    All I need to do is think of your face and it brings a smile to mine. :)
    Happy Continuation Day- xo
    Thea

  • Dearest Teacher Thai!

    What joy I feel reading about how you find beauty, truth, and wisdom in the “little things of life.” It reminded me of my Mom, who was in nursing care for many years. She did not know us – her rampunctious kids – and didn’t use our names. But imagine this… a nurse noted that when the group of patients had singing Mom would clap, tap her knees and even sing. They asked Mom if she would like to help lead the community singing of all those precious songs of youth, e.g., “Daisy, Daisy, give me your answer do” “East side, west side, all around the town,etc.” This process caused Mom to smile and I truly believe it affirmed for her how precious she is.

  • Happy continuation day, Su Ong, I always missed the date. But better late than never. We love you my teacher and we will continue you with our best efforts. Thank you for being there, we know that you are always there and we are very happy. Con Quang


  • 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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