“My life is my teaching” – honoring our ancestor Thay

In January 2024, Thay’s monastics and lay disciples from around the world are gathering in Vietnam to honor our beloved teacher as he becomes an ancestor in our lineage.

“I can see very clearly that wherever you are, you are my continuation, and in one way or another, you are carrying me into the future. 

We, teacher and student, will continue to climb the hill of the century, offering our love, understanding, freedom and solidity to the world, today and ever after. And, do you know? When our mahasangha climbs the hill of the century, the scenery is truly spectacular.”

- "Climbing together the hill of the century" 

On this solemn and joyful occasion, we would like to invite our sangha friends around the world to gather and practice together. You may wish to join us in-person or online for the formal Ceremony of Transformation to Ancestor from Vietnam, the 2-Year Memorial Ceremony from Plum Village France, Deer Park Monastery, and Blue Cliff Monastery. Or come to one of our centers below and be a part of the memorial events there.

The Ceremony of Transformation to Ancestor marks the end of the International Plum Village Community’s two-year mourning period, known as Đại Tường in Vietnamese (大祥 in Chinese). And it recognizes Thay as the fifth patriarch of Từ Hiếu Temple – his root temple – and the founder of the Plum Village Sangha.

Photography of Forest During Daytime

Connecting with spiritual roots

This moment of honoring Thay as an ancestral teacher is an opportunity to connect with our spiritual roots. The teachings and practices of Thay and the Plum Village Sangha are part of an unending flow from the time of the Buddha Shakyamuni.

Each generation of teachers and practitioners have kept the Dharma and Mindfulness Trainings alive through their lived experiences, insights, and continual response to the needs of their times.

Thay belongs to the 42nd generation of the Lâm Tế meditation school (Linji, 臨濟, Rinzai), the 8th generation of the Liễu Quán (了觀) Dharma line, and is the 5th ancestor of the Tu Hieu Temple.

An ancestral status was usually made by direct transmission, via speech or in writing, by the previous ancestor to the next one. Thay received his ancestral status by writing in his teacher’s will, appointing him as the next abbot of Tu Hieu’s Root temple.

The first four ancestors of Tu Hieu Temple:

  1. Master Tánh Thiên Nhất Định
  2. Master Hải Thiệu Cương Kỷ
  3. Master Thanh Thái Huệ Minh
  4. Master Thanh Quý Chân Thật (Thay’s teacher)

    [Image of Master Nhat Dinh – “One Concentration”]

Resources for local sanghas

Suggested ceremony for local sanghas

Composed by Dharmacharya Jack Lawlor (True Direction)

Issue 93: The Goodwill of Our Ancestors

Reflections on the Plum Village lineage and
Thay becoming an ancestral teacher

Issue 89: Thích Nhất Hạnh Memorial Issue

Honoring Thay’s transformation

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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