Update: Plum Village France is currently closed to the public due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Celebrating Thay’s Continuation Day

On Wednesday October 11th monastic and lay disciples of Thay around the world celebrated their teacher continuation day, turning 91. In Plum Village the Day of Mindfulness normally taking place on Thursday, was moved to be together and practice as a four-fold sangha on this special day. The collective energy of mindfulness, understanding, and love we generated together are our gifts for our beloved teacher.

During an informal lunch we sat around a beautiful multi layered vegan cake and a tiger out of fruits made by the sisters.

Brother Phap Huu read the following text from Thay:

How much have you been able to continue Thay ?

In Plum Village, we don’t usually say “Happy Birthday”; instead, we wish each other “Happy Continuation Day”. What continues? Who is continued? Today we contemplate Thay’s own continuation as well as that of Thay’s students, both monastics and lay. What does it mean to continue Thay?

We can speak of two forms of continuation. We continue in our own body and mind, and we continue in the body and mind of those who have received our transmission. The Buddha taught that the person who transmits, the receiver of the transmission, and the object being transmitted are one. There is no transmitter, and no one who receives the transmission. There is only transmission, that’s all.

As students of Thay, you have to be his continuation through each breath and each step you take. Over the last sixty years, Thay has been continually transmitting his experience, all his dreams and aspirations to countless people through the way he speaks, the way he walks and stands, the way he eats and drinks, and the way he works in mindfulness. Thay has also transmitted himself through many books and Dharma talks in frond of audiences great and small, as well as with direct personal interactions. How much have you been able to continue Thay?

Today, if we are able to live happily, then that is a good continuation: we are continuing  Thay well. This is something we must do every day. The cloud won’t be sad when it’s no longer in a form of a cloud, because it knows that it has become rain, and as rain it will continue its contribution. And when the rain is no longer there, that is when we see the river and continuing the mission of the rain. That is why nothing dies and nothing is lost.

Continuing the non-form

We often get caught in familiar forms that we recognize. And so we cry and lament when that familiar form is no longer there. Perhaps science can now use cloning to create a thousand babies that look just like Thay when he was a child. They would only need a few thousand cells from Thay’s body to do this. These thousands of babies would be identical and look exactly like Thay as a child. You could enjoy watching them playing, talking and laughing just as Thay did when he was young, but they are not truly Thay even if every one of them was to have all the same wholesome and unwholesome seeds as Thay. If they do not meet a wise teacher, if they do not live in an environment where they can encounter the practice, or if they do not go through the same challenges as Thay did, then they are not truly the continuation of Thay. However, if you have Thay’s Dharma joy and Thay’s happiness in every step, in every breath, then even though in appearance you may not look like Thay, but inside you are a true continuation of Thay. This is why the practice of “signlessness” in the Three Doors of Liberation is so important in helping us recognize true continuation.


Join the conversation

  • Thay’s Dharma talks and words usually makes me cry, but that tears of happienss and joy. I have never be a fan of any celebeity,but I surely love Thay who has brought a lot of power into my life. i am in china thousands miles from Plum village, but i feel you are so close to me. I wish i can soon fly to France to see you Thay. I will do my best.

  • Happy Continuation Day💐💐💐to Thay. It will be many more to come🙏🙏🙏
    I thanksful for the amazing miracle always with us. If we believe of happiness and joyful will always in our life, our community. I love Buddhism, Buddhism is change my life for good.
    Thank you Thay and wishing you the best of health always.
    From the bottom of my heart.

  • It is truly great to see Thay stil living in his 91 continuation year! How is He at this moment?
    Is Thay able to speek?


    a follower on the path

  • I have been so happy to have started listening to Thay’s Dharma talks and loving words from him and all the sanghas. As a Vietnam Era disabled veteran…along with acupuncture, mindfulness practice and the inipi ceremony, I am understanding more and more about embracing my own suffering in order to understand another’s.

    • Hi Nancy
      Thank you for sharing your experience with meditation. I work at Durham VA and have been wondering how to best serve Veterans achieve peace and harmony

      • Yes. I feel I am one of the lucky ones to have received the healing modalities I have. Helping veterans is a challenge. My acupuncturist serves a lot of them. Did you know the VA now offers acupuncture? A sangha would be something to build in a VA.

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    What is Mindfulness

    Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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