Sister Chan Khong on Thich Nhat Hanh: He’s Getting Stronger Every Day

Sister Chan Khong brings us up to date on Thich Nhat Hanh’s health and the future of his teachings and community (

Photo by Paul Davis


Melvin McLeod: Following his stroke three years ago, Thich Nhat Hanh is now resting and recovering at Plum Village in Thailand. How is he doing?

He cannot stand up on his feet yet, but he is stronger and stronger every day. He has started to say a few words, although not very clearly. Sometimes we sing songs like, “I have arrived, I am home in the here and now,” and he’ll say “here,” “now,” and so on. He is making good progress, but it is slow.

I had the honor to visit Thay when he was being treated in San Francisco. He was in a wheelchair and didn’t speak, but it was clear he was as sharp, present, and engaged as ever. You were with him in San Francisco then, and you told me how close he had come to death.

Thich Nhat Hanh already had serious health problems for many years—with his lungs and his digestive system—before he had the stroke. When he had the stroke, the neurologists said he would not live more than one day. I think it was a miracle that he survived.

Yes. You told me that you believe the prayers and good wishes of people around the world—students and non-students, Buddhists and people of other faiths—made the difference.

When he was still alive after three days, they moved him to the best neurological hospital in that part of France. Then the press mistakenly reported that Thich Nhat Hanh had died. Andrea Miller from Lion’s Roar called me and asked if it was true. I said, “No, my master is still alive.” She said, “Can we announce that he is still alive?” and I said, “Of course, please.”

After that, millions of people sent the energy of healing and love from their hearts to him. Then the neurologist discovered that the fluid in Thay’s brain had reduced quite a lot. He said, “I cannot understand why that happened, but now I can guarantee you he will live.”

His teachings have benefited millions of people around the world, and over the decades, hundreds of thousands have attended his teachings in person. I was fortunate to attend one of his five-day retreats and his Dharma teachings were among the most powerful and comprehensive I have heard. Now that he is no longer teaching personally, will his teachings continue to reach people?

At the beginning after Thay’s stroke, we thought it would be difficult to continue. Every year, we have a gathering at Plum Village in France for four days to practice and hear Dharma talks. When Thay was giving the talks, about twelve to thirteen hundred people would come for them. Now, the same number of people come to hear the talks at Plum Village, maybe even more.

“There’s no doubt that Thay’s impact is growing.”

So the benefit of Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings will continue in Europe, in the United States, in Asia, and elsewhere. I don’t think there will be any problem with the continuation of Thay’s teachings. Many people come because they have read his books. They try their best to transform and so they come for a day or a week of mindfulness. There’s no doubt that Thay’s impact is growing.

Thich Nhat Hanh never named a successor, even you as his most senior disciple. What is the future of his lineage and community?

Even before the stroke, I think Thay prepared everything in advance. He didn’t want to have one heir to replace him. He said the sangha’s collective insight is very important.

So his continuation is the sangha of Dharma Teachers, the sangha of monks and nuns, and the sangha of lay practitioners. That is the key for us. Sometimes, as a big sister, I might think I have the power and the right view. But it’s not true. We need the collective insight of many Dharma Teachers. That is one of the Dharma seals of Thich Nhat Hanh. He gave his heritage to the whole sangha of monastics and lay practitioners.

39 comments on “Sister Chan Khong on Thich Nhat Hanh: He’s Getting Stronger Every Day
  1. lucette ryder says:

    Dear sister Khong, I trust that you have already the help of the best specialists in speech recovery. I’ve read that working on the hands is of paramount importance for it. So I ask all the friends and Sangha to offer him in turn an extra personal hand massage and hand bath with rosemary and ginger and thyme. Also nice if you can find some Metamorphic technique practitioner.
    With love

  2. Davide says:

    hello. is there an update on Thay’s health? i cannot see an update since June 2018. thanks very much and all the best.

  3. Dorcas kinyany says:

    Thay you are a prophet, a humble servant of love and kindness. From a floor in San Francisco, you lifted me up. You filled my heart with joy, faith and the ultimate belief in love. You permeate all spaces you transcend all cultures, you reach hearts from wherever you are. I’m in Africa now and still I Count on you in my deep darkest moments….I look to you for strength and guidance. You are stronger than pain, despair and sadness. I send you love, healing, hope healing and I wish you less suffering as you help others to suffer less. I know this message will reach you. Look at the blue sky and feel the love that we all wish in my greatest teacher.I ove you!

  4. Nadja says:

    Today we have learned that at our daughter’s school is more violence and sexual abuse between the kids going on than we have come to know over the last few months already. Our daughter is 7 years old …
    In all the processing of my anxiety and worry about the world we live in and how on earth we can keep her safe, I realized how wonderful it is to have a community of people that is concerned with bettering themselves, coming to grips with themselves and practicing mindfulness towards themselves and others. And even though it’s online and I cannot get in touch with you in person, the knowing of that all of you are there to make this world little bit by bit better is assuring and comforting. I feel deep gratitude for Thay, for the Sangha around him, and every single person mediating and coming bit by bit to peace .
    Deep heartfelt thanks to you for your practice. 🙏❤️

  5. Angeka says:

    I have just recently started to listen to Thich Nhat Hanh. He has already made a big impact on my life. I am practising mindfulness on a daily basis and I feel a real connection to his teachings. I pray he continues to get stronger and stronger. What a blessing he is to the world. I have just recently bought 2 if his books and I look forward to reading them. I can learn a lot from this wonderful man. Sending him love ❤️

  6. Bill says:

    I have watched a number of the posted Dharma talks given by Brothers and Sisters at Plum Village since Thay had to pass along this role. It has given me great joy to see how wonderful a continuation of Thay they are! On the one hand, all these monastics sincerely convey the same basic messages as Thay would–yet each is a genuine creative individual in the best sense, sharing their personal stories that give life to what they have disvovered and are sharing. And the best part is that there’s none of what can sometimes happen in these circumstances…of someone ‘showing off’ that they are or should be thought of as the ‘next Thay’. There’s zero of that sort of attitude. These students are Thay’s best testimonial!

  7. Lin Kelly says:

    I am too humble to even begin to extend my thanks to you Sister and to Thay. From your moment of birth you have been a miraculous and bright influence on global energy and evolvement, the extent of your mercy and kindness are unfathomable. Thank you from my heart and thanks to all of the community, for focused and practical direction, which infuses with all world and universal simple philosophies for mental and physical advancement. May all lay and ordained souls, in every corner and crevasse of philosophical and religious communities, unite and abide in tranquil and open understanding, with genuine love and altruistic pursuits for all. This is my mantra and wish x

  8. Wendy Avila says:

    I am wanting and praying Thich to recover and for him to be healthy again. I have just come to know about him and his teachings. I have been looking for peace and space in my being.Thich has shown me how to be. I pray I can meet him and thank him. But I’m sure he knows. I have found something that makes my life feel whole with purpose. His teachings are a blessing for me. Thank you Sangha

  9. Dear Sisters,

    Please inform Thay his old friend NUR sends blessings and request he get well prior my arrival. I believe we have a meeting.

  10. thank you Sister Khong for your update on our brother and teacher, Thai. I have not met Thai in person but have flourished in my soul because of his teachings, ” Be Peace” back in the 90’s and “Understanding our Mind” since 2009. I suffered deeply when I heard of Thai’s stroke in October of 2015 and pray for his recovery. He is one of Humanity’s premier Boddhisattva and I consider him as Guru ‘ dispelling the darkness’.
    Blessings to the Sangha at Plum Village, and may the sutras continue to enlighten as many as possible going forward. May peace, love, and compassion continue to fill your hearts and elevate our souls. Namaste.

  11. Ghav says:

    I know it is difficult, but would it be possible to have a regular update on Thay’s health? Maybe once a month on the news page? All best

  12. Loren says:

    We are asked to carry on the powerful practice of collective, mindful energy as Thay’s Continuation.

  13. Bart Berlin says:

    Thank you for your words that have helped me over the years in dealing with my internal conflict over my presence in your home country in the 1960s. I have been reciting your poetry at coffeeshops and letting people know that my intention is to let your words into the air so that they might bring you comfort.

  14. Therese Dignard says:

    There was a Neurologist/Surgeon who had a stroke. Like Thay, she was fortunate to possess innumerable videos of lectures she had given. She had her caretakers play them. Her brain, having given these lectures, and being familiar with her mannerisms, etc., was able to relearn and rewire to give her a full recovery. I sent a note after his stroke, to Plum Village, but do not think it came into the hands of anyone who could use this tip.
    The Doctor has a book, and lectures on her experience and recovery. It would be nice if Thay could have access to his lectures. Bowing to the Buddha in him. May he know full recovery.

  15. Claire says:

    Dear Sister Chan Khong,
    Thank you so much for letting us know how Thây is. I will practice for Thây. ‘Dear one, I know you are there and I am here for you.’ My love and prayers go out to you all, and to all living beings.

  16. Trudie says:

    I was diagnosed with aggressive breast cancer 18 months ago. During that time I accidentally came across the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. I owe my internal peace to this wonderful man.Thank you to all who continue his vital role in our wonderful world. Xx

  17. Christine says:

    Thank you so very much for this update! Sister Chan Khong, I hope to meet you one day. In the meantime, I will keep in mind the example you set of being humble and of valuing and embracing all of the sangha.

  18. Todd Frederick says:

    I studied Buddhism for many years beginning in the 1960s, but it was only academic. Upon reading Thay’s books and watching his videos, his teachings became alive in my life. What he started will continue and will grow. His efforts to reach out to the world and make compassion a means of social change, rather than simply keeping such just within ourselves is so important now days. Plum Village will grow throughout our world. Blessings.

  19. Keith Promisel says:

    Love and compassion that is what a Buddha does for the world. Thich Nhat Hanh is that Buddha.

  20. Mobi Warren says:

    I am heartened to know that Thay is at his hut in Thailand. May
    all peace and healing be with him. And with you, too, Sister Chan Khong.

    In gratitude,

  21. Renzo e Betta says:

    Ho avuto recentemente la possibilità di fare una breve meditazione sul terrazzo della capanna di Thai a Plum Village e ho avvertito la presenza di una grande energia che mai se ne andrà.

  22. Marcel van Hees says:

    Hello people . 8 jears ago my head was comletly of the road because of ptsd (Dutch veteran). Because i came in contact with the books of T.N.H i found my way back and today i’m back on track and opening up. I just want to say thank you.

    Greetings Marcel.v.hees (contact for vetrans who want to get back on track) Love you all and let’s dance LOL

  23. Mariann Taigman says:

    Dear Thay, Dear Sangha-

    My life was forever transformed from the first book of Thay’s I read 38 years ago and especially after attending numerous retreats with Thay. His teachings have helped shape the person that I am today and have motivated me to teach mindfulness in my local school district.

    A deep bow of gratitude is sent to Thay and the Sangha for all you have done for me and for spreading compassion throughout the world :-)).

  24. Lynn Jolly says:

    Dearest Sister Chan Khong,
    Thank you so much for this uplifting update on our dearest Thay. Thays teachings changed my life over 12 years ago and being in his presence on many retreats and at Plum Village was like being touched by the hand of God. I went vegan from a lifelong vegetarian after making the connection about world hunger, our planet and the animals from one of Thay’s talks. I am now an animal rights/peace activist and peaceful Vegan advocate. I’m in the process of trying to set up an educational sanctuary for animals and humans alike called Lotus. All my work comes from listening to Thay’s teachings. I listen to his voice every day and have pictures of him and his calligraphy around my home. He is a true living Buddha and his health is a definite miracle. His teachings have transformed me and those teachings don’t only reach his students, but the beings that they touch too also reap the benefits from his words of wisdom.
    Sending him much love, peace & healing energy.
    A Deep Bow
    Lynn (True Connection of The Heart) 🙏🏻

  25. Vickie MacArthur says:

    I feel so blessed to have just attended the 21 day retreat at Plum Village with the monastics and world wide sangha. It was so beautiful to watch 28? new dharma teachers receive the lamp transmission. Thay was there and continues in all of us.

  26. Hai Hoang says:

    I am so lucky to have found Thay’s teachings and forever grateful.

  27. Susanna says:

    Dear Sister.
    Thank you for your words and guidance.
    The Sanga has underpinned my life for 30 years although I am a lay practitioner. I have visited Plum Village in France many times.
    In a month or so, I will become a grandmother. Thay’s wisdom is beyond the words.
    I know that this lies already within the little person about to be born.
    I will help them to always listen.

  28. Stephen D says:

    Thays kindness has saved my life

  29. Kathy Cosgrove says:

    Thay is my spiritual father. I feel deeply blessed to have found his teaching, he will always continue in all his ‘children’

  30. Josephine says:

    He has saved my life and through me, many others. He is a father and a teacher to so many, even if they don’t know it.
    I pray for his strength and happiness 🙏🏽

  31. Marianna Roccia says:

    May our daily lives be an extension of Plum Village..

  32. Olivia says:

    I am so grateful for Thay’s teachings and I send my best wishes to him and the sangha.

  33. Debbie Roberts says:

    Thank you. I am inspired to shine.

  34. Mike d says:

    He has changed my life. From what I see, hear, taste, walk and listen to. He has graced my life.

  35. Gail Morris says:

    I was directed to Thay’s teachings at a very stressful and sad time in my life. I tell people the his book “Peace is Every Step” literally saved me life! I am forever grateful, and carry goodwill in my heart always for Thay and Plum Village!

  36. James says:

    His teachings have been life-changing for me.
    My prayers and intentions for his continuation.