Celebrating Thay’s Continuation Day Around the World

Dear friends,

Why is it a “continuation day”?

Today is Thich Nhat Hanh’s 95th continuation day (birthday)! Born on October 11, 1926, Thay has made immeasurable contributions to help spread the Dharma, build Sangha, and care for our Earth.

We are delighted to celebrate his continuation day with sharings from members of our community worldwide, practicing in Thay’s footsteps. As an expression of our gratitude to Thay, and as a concrete way to continue his legacy, we asked you to practice deep listening to yourself, your loved ones, and Mother Earth, and to submit photos, art, and poetry inspired by your deep listening practice.

Over 200 people shared beautiful pieces and reflections for Thay’s continuation day this year. We are happy to share a selection of your submissions below. Thank you to all of you who generously submitted your contributions.

If you have not yet had an opportunity to, you can still take time to engage in these three listening practices today or any other day as a gift for Thay.

You might also like to read this message which includes an update on Thay’s health and these stories of how Thay’s students have learned from him.

“We are very grateful as a family for the beautiful practices that Thay has made available through modern language for modern times. Thank you for holding us and thank you, Thay, for giving the world this gift. We’d like to share photos of our family here in Poland practicing Beginning Anew, as we do every week. Our family is a mix of Christians, Muslims and Buddhists but we are grateful for this practice for bringing us closer together and providing the space for us to be with each other.” Bart, Wrocław, Poland
“Our Building Beloved Community Sangha in Detroit has practiced walking meditation each month for the past year on Belle Isle, an island park in the Detroit River. We invite our ancestors and Thay to walk with us. We reflect on the beauty of the sacred water and land as it changes through all four seasons, teaching us about the gifts of impermanence. We are grateful to the Anishinnabe, the First People, and all who have walked this land before, as we practice peace in every step, going as the river, taking refuge in Mother Earth and in the Sangha.”
Joe Reilly, Detroit, Michigan
“Here is a picture of one of our Zoom Sessions for our Philippine Sangha, Boat of Compassion. For me practicing with the Sangha waters the seeds of peace, happiness and stability in me. When I walked outside and sit in our garden every morning and night, I feel the same Good Seeds just like with our Sangha. It is true that it is not hard to practice alone. Breathing and walking with Mother Earth can be a Sangha too.”
Oey Magpantay, Philippines
“Today, we sat and walked on a beautiful farm surrounded by native prairies, trees and early fall colors. We know whenever we take mindful steps that we connect to the Earth, ourselves and each other by being truly present in this moment.”
SnowFlower Sangha, Madison, Wisconsin USA

The trees whisper
The rocks speak
The flowers sing to me
I listen to Mother Earth
And I smile.

I sit here in silence . 
I listen to myself 
And I smile.

My loved one speaks to me
I listen with all my heart
And he smiles.

Fionnuala Brennan, Paros, Greece

When the wind winks
And the leaves laugh
I see how soft a second is

Chalon Bridges, Sonoma, CA USA

A Lotus for You

Part of its blossoms
Part of its dies
Isn’t it miracle
Its spirit touches mine?

Búp sen hé nở
Cánh sen héo tàn
Phút giây chánh niệm
Sen là tâm an.

Tâm Minh Như (trước Cốc Sư Ông Làng Mai Thái Lan 2019)

Mina Aquino, Philippines
“When I sit in stillness, I can learn to accept myself as I am right now. Mother Earth teaches me that I do not have to keep rushing through my life, but I can enjoy each part of it. I can see that Mother Earth accepts me and all beings as we are.”
Holly Fogle, York, Pennsylvania, United States

Second Letter to the Sky

What happened when you lost your solidity?
You, dear sky, came down to earth.
Suddenly you existed everywhere.
Standing at the bottom of an ocean of air
I began looking at you through you.
You cloaked the hill in your blueness
and summer cities in grayish yellow.
You wrapped yourself around every leaf and stalk of grass
interpenetrated everything.

Your breath is the sweet fragrance of fresh cut grass,
Likewise, the smell of diesel fumes and manure.
You carry them all equally.

Each cricket chirp, each thunder clap,
each bitter argument, each joyful song,
the screams of jet and fire engine,
the calling of the bells
it’s you dear one, it’s you.
Every sound of the earth is your vibration.
The silent sighs of breathing leaves are you.
Closer than breath are you,
filling lungs and blood,
feeding the furnaces of mitochondria.
I am completely suffused with you.

Laura West, USA

Mother Earth Is in Me

Breathing in, breathing out
breathing in, breathing out

I sit with stability like a rock
I am being peaceful as the air
I listen deeply when others talk
and I hug them tenderly like a bear

I stand rooted like a tree
I grow patiently as a plant
I service collectively like a bee
and I walk gently like an ant

I am free

Breathing in, breathing out
breathing in, breathing out

I am forgiving as the land
I flow without resistance like a stream
I am one with the animals like a band
and I am light as a cloud in my dream

I am a child of Mother Earth
empty of a my
I continued even before birth
and I will re-manifest when I die

Babu Gounder, True Interconnectedness of the Heart, Singapore

Theo Douglas Borda, Chipping Norton, England
Alejandro Rivera Pardo, Breda, Holland
“We are deeply grateful to Thay for his loving support and guidance for all these years. Our Sangha listens to Mother Earth regularly as we walk and meditate along her ocean shore and in her forest gardens. We practice deep listening each week in our Sangha which supports deep listening to ourselves and our families.”
Victoria Mindfulness Community, Victoria, B.C. Canada
My husband, my daughter, and I went on a nature walk to enjoy the beginning of the leaves changing colors. The peace of the woods, the chirping of the birds, and the gentle changing of the trees to autumn brought us a deep sense of connection to each other and to Mother Earth. I would like to offer Thay a bow of deep gratitude for his healing teachings as well as great happiness on his upcoming continuation day!”
Maitri Carmichael, Toronto, Canada
My practices: Listen to myself – I know that my body, speech and mind are one. I could not have a good health if my mind is in struggle. I promise to keep practicing the five mindfulness trainings to be better everyday and to liberate myself from hatred or cravings.
Listen to my loved ones – I am grateful for my parents’ loves and their contributions. I know they have difficulties. I will practice mindful livings for myself and also for my whole family so that they can feel peace and happy as me. As I breath I breath for myself and I breath for people who have suffered from deseases. I send them my loves, wish them well and strong enough to go through all ups and downs.
Listen to the Earth – A simple thing I want to do after the quarantine is to do walking meditation in the park near my house. Even there were quite a lot of people doing exercises I could walk slowly and peacefully. Breathing fresh air in the morning, surrounding with trees and sitting still looking at a quiet and calm lake, the Sun was rising I absorbed all nature energies into my body.”
Minh Ngoc, Vietnam
“This print was inspired by the mindfulness practice of looking deeply at my cup of tea or coffee. This practice helps me to slow down and really appreciate all the elements that are present in my drink.”
Patricia O’Neil, Canberra, Australia
“Listening to Mother Earth, to the sound of the forest and the birds, the smell of wet leaves and raindrops, she tells me “I am you”. I whisper back: Dear Mother Earth, I am in you, and you are in me”. Thank you, Thay, for teachings me about Interbeing. Happy continuation day.”
Maria Blossoming Dharma of the Heart, Norway
“This is made of lightweight clay. It’s inspired by my deep listening practice. As I practice deep listening more and more, there’s a growing connection to the one being listened to. The common similarities and struggles, as if they are telling my story. Through practicing deep listening, I experience interconnectedness.
A little poem for the art:

Volcanoes are life
The dark secrets yearning to be heard, erupting lava Cradled by the waves of acceptance,
Embosomed by the ocean of compassion,
A flower blooms, brimming with hope.
Volcanoes are life, begin anew.”

Venus Fan, Taipei, Taiwan
“I regularly meditate each morning, For the last four months I have been sitting at the bottom of my garden in the Algarve Portugal, simply resting with nature and tuning into all my senses. Each time I tune in I discover something new, wondrous and beautiful amongst the sounds, smells, sights and feelings from within.”
Annie Moore, Surrey, UK

“I sometimes go to Muir Beach, my favorite beach near where I live in Northern California, to do walking meditation. This last time I went, I decided to sit near the shore on the sand and watch the activities. There was a small dog running around to meet everyone. There was a toddler, learning how to throw a large frisbee-like foam toy with his father, among many others. Some people were in the waves, holding hands. During this time of the pandemic, I rarely see spontaneity like that anymore–just people and animals having fun at the beach. It was definitely a bell of mindfulness for me–and a reminder that we humans are part of nature, too.”
Vivian Taube, Northern California, USA

“Dear Thay, the sangha Source of Joy in Stockholm would like to offer our deep gratitude on your continuation day. On Fridays some of us support the young people of Fridays for Future with Mindful Steps for Future as often as we can. With deep love and gratitude from all of us in the (tiny) Swedish sangha.”
Kerstin, Stockholm, Sweden
“Listening to the Earth revitalises, listening to myself calms, listening to a loved one feeling fresh and with an open heart.”
Charlotte, Melbourne
“Every day we are engaged in a miracle which we don’t even recognize: a blue sky, white clouds, green leaves, the black, curious eyes of a child — our own two eyes. All is a miracle.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
Jane Stewart, Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan, Canada
“Thay’s teaching has penetrated me since ten years ago when I met the book about mindfulness. Now I have connected more deeply to inside of myself and I feel my body as well as Mother Earth and cosmos. My aspiration is keeping joyful practice from the heart on the path of happiness and peace.”
Toshie Tokuyoshi, Japan

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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