Ashes ceremony – Thay’s ashes were formally carried to our Từ Hiếu Root Temple (Sunday 30 of January 2022) The ashes are brought out after burning for more than eighteen hours Ashes of our teacher ready for collection
Thay’s funeral on Saturday, 29th January 2022, was one of the biggest Huế, Vietnam has seen for decades. Thousands came out to join the procession, in a deep expression of love and respect for a cherished spiritual leader, a humble monk, and an extraordinary human being.
Our teachers final funeral ceremony and cremation Final Funeral Ceremony, Procession and Cremation @ Tu Hieu temple, Huế and the Vinh Hang memorial park outside Huế (Saturday 29 of January 2022) This morning before dawn, at our Root Temple, Từ Hiếu, in Huế, Vietnam, we formally invited Thay to embark on his journey. Here in this photo we can see Thay Phap An (Director of Thich Nhat Hanh’s European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Germany, and the eldest Bhikshu in the Plum Village International Sangha) is formally reciting the life of Thich Nhat Hanh in front of his altar and casket. (Thay Phap Niem, another beloved elder is holding the microphone) The pall-bearers (in imperial red and gold) arrive to carry the casket out of the hall. Red is the traditional color, and they wear the gold of a sanghati robe because they are carrying a great venerable monk. The procession to lead Thay’s casket out of the Full Moon Meditation Hall is led by Thay Phap An, carrying the incense stick (representing our spiritual ancestors), followed by Thay Phap Niem and Thay Phap Ung carrying Thay’s “Dragon Memorial Plaque” (which could perhaps be considered the equivalent to a headstone in the Christian West; after the ceremonies are completed, it will sit on dedicated altar for Thay in the Root Temple. Behind the Dragon Plaque we can see Thay’s formal portrait being carried by Thay Phap Hoi and Thay Phap Khoi, followed by Brother Phap Luu (Brother Stream) carrying Thay’s almsbowl. These symbolic objects represent Thay’s spiritual precepts body. As the casket began its journey, dawn began to break. Thay Phap Hai (from Mountain Spring Monastery in Australia) carried Thay’s brown robe and Sanghati. Thousands of lay people gathered along the route of the procession. Here, we see members of the Buddhist Youth Corps, wearing grey out of a sign of respect, and holding white lotuses in offering and mourning. Thay’s casket passes the beloved Half Moon Pond of Từ Hiếu Root Temple for the last time. Thay Phap Luu (L) and Thay Phap Hai (R) with Thay’s bowl and sanghati, followed by the sangha of venerable monks from different Buddhist schools, who gathered to pay their respects and lend spiritual support to the ceremony. Many of them chose to wear their more simple sanghati robes (rather than ceremonial robes of embroidered silk), in a sign of respect for Thay’s humility and simplicity. Thay leaves Từ Hiếu by the formal gate, for the last time. Normally the central arch is reserved only for the king, or other luminaries. It is a great honor, that, just as when Thay first returned to Vietnam from exile in 2005, he was invited to enter through the central arch, on this final journey, he also leaves through this special gate. The three arches represent the Three Doors of Liberation. Thay’s casket is covered in chrysanthemums, Thay’s favorite flower. Thay’s casket makes its way out of the temple and towards the city. Sister Chan Khong is visible to the left, with Sister Dinh Nghiem. Sister Chan Khong (“Su Co Ni Truong”, meaning the Head of the Bhikshuni Sangha), Thay’s lifelong collaborator, followed behind the casket. Here she is assisted by Sister Dinh Nghiem (L) and Sister Thao Nghiem (R), who have been Thay’s attendants, caring for his health since his stroke in 2014. Sister Dinh Nghiem is known to many as the former abbess of New Hamlet in Plum Village, France. Thay’s funeral is one of the biggest Huế has seen for decades. Thousands came out to join the procession, in a deep expression of love and respect for a cherished spiritual leader, a humble monk, and an extraordinary human being. In this photo you may recognize Thay Trung Hai, who has lived for many years in Plum Village, holding the casket stable. After today’s ceremony the cremation grounds will become a public park, for walking meditation and contemplation. Police cleared the roads to allow a long ceremonial procession of vehicles to bring Thay’s casket to the cremation grounds 30 minutes’ drive away. You can see the Perfume River on the right, and on the car, a calligraphy by Thay (in Vietnamese), reading: “The door of no birth and no death is already open” The casket arrives at the Vuon Dia Dang (“Paradise Garden”) in the Vinh Hang memorial park outside Huế. The calligraphy on the side of the cortege reads “Coming and Going in Freedom” (in Vietnamese). The casket is brought to the entrance of the crematory. As the hundreds of monastics chant, accompanied by drums and bells, Venerables hold their torches, and the casket is moved into the crematory. After chanting and inviting the bell, the most senior venerables bring torches, lit from the flame of the Buddha’s altar, to light the fire. Thay Phap An carries a torch to represent the Plum Village Sangha. The venerables light the fire. Once the fire is lit, the door of the crematory is closed. …and sealed with wet clay as Thay’s monastic disciples kneel up in respect, with palms joined, continuing to chant. In front of the crematory we see Thay’s altar, with the incense, his portrait, his Dragon Plaque, his robe and his bowl. In flowers to the bottom right, we see the icon of the Plum Village Tradition: the One Pillar Pagoda in the heart of a lotus flower. Sister Dinh Nghiem, Sister Hoa Nghiem, Sister Thao Nghiem and Su Ba Nhu Ngoc, join their palms as the fire is lit. The fire was stoked for many hours. Here the white lotuses represent beauty and the Ultimate Dimension. Over many hours, the sangha practiced sitting meditation, slow walking meditation, reading sutras and Thay’s poetry, and offering chanting, as the fire burns. How wonderful to bear solemn witness to such a powerful and elemental open-air cremation, just like in the time of the Buddha. As the atmosphere softened and became more intimate, Sister Chan Khong offered her song “I smile” which Thay always asked her to sing at the end of every public talk. We are deeply grateful for our elder sister’s immense spiritual strength, radiance, warmth and humanity. 🙏 Seventh Memorial Day @ Tu Hieu temple, Hue (Friday 28 of January, 2022) The ceremony of inviting Thay to pay respect to the Buddha and the Patriarch in meditation hall. In gratitude to the Patriarchs. Walk with Thay The door of no birth no death is opened. Preparing the cremation ground Thay’s favorite flower “Remembering Thay” sharing Thay is still there in our hearts. I breathe with Thay’s breath The US Embassy in Vietnam pays tribute to Thay Sister Dinh Nghiem, on behalf of the monactics, offered the words “Thank you to Thay” Singing for Thay Pay respect to the present of the Venerable for Thay and us. Sixth Memorial Day – Novice Ordination , 27 January @ France, Hue-Vietnam, Thailand, USA
Please see more in the photos album
Mimosa tree family ordination Fifth Memorial Day @ Tu Hieu temple, Hue (Tuesday 26 of January, 2022) Leading to Thay’s hut Children writing to Thay Fourth Memorial Day @ Tu Hieu temple, Hue (Tuesday 25 of January, 2022) Third Memorial Day @ Tu Hieu temple, Hue (Monday 24 of January, 2022) Second Memorial Day @ Tu Hieu temple, Hue (Sunday 23 of January, 2022) – Laying of the body in the casket
If you would like to see more photos, you can find them in an additional album