This letter was written by Thay in 2009, after he was urgently hospitalized with a serious lung infection, in the middle of a 3-month U.S. Tour. About 900 people had gathered in at the YMCA campus in Estes Park, Colorado, for a 5-day retreat that he would lead. However, he was taken ill on the eve of the retreat and could not attend. Thay kept in touch with his students and international community via letter during the retreat, and this is one of those missives.
A letter to Friends and Co-practitioners at the “One Buddha is Not Enough” Retreat
This is Thay again writing to you from the Massachusetts General Hospital. The treatment is going well and we have noticed several aspects of the improvement of Thay’s conditions after the first week. Thank you for having sent your loving energy to Thay. I learned that you all, both monastic and lay members of the Sangha, have practiced beautifully with all your hearts in the retreat. And that makes Thay very happy. The most wonderful thing is that after a few moments of sadness, worry and disappointment, all of us have settled down to practice and conduct the retreat the most wonderful way a Sangha could. The transformation and the joy you feel presently at the retreat is very nourishing and encouraging for Thay and for everyone of us. By now all of us have already seen the talent and the miracle of the Sangha. We have to acknowledge the fact that the Sangha has embodied the continuation of Thay in a beautiful way, and there is no reason for anyone of us to worry about the future of our practice. King Prasenajit of Shravasti one day told the Buddha that when he observed the Sangha, he could truly see the Buddha. One of the achievements of this retreat is that everyone can see Thay in the Sangha, including those who come to the retreat for the first time.
The Sangha is quite capable to continue the work of the Buddha and of our ancestral teachers. Thay would like to propose that the Colorado Retreat become an annual retreat in the tradition of Plum Village; and that all of you, as conditions permitted, will come together as members of the Sangha to allow other people to have a chance to practice the Dharma. Thus everyone of us in this retreat becomes a continuation of Thay. Much happiness has come to Thay’s heart every time Thay remembers that he has already had a beautiful continuation. I have full confidence in the Sangha, and trust that my Sangha will always be able to perform the miracle of the practice, whether with or without Thay’s physical presence. Thay will be very happy to hear from each of you on this proposal.
Thank you again all my friends and disciples, and I hope to see you again very soon.
Love and trust,