The best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment.
―Thich Nhat Hanh, Living Buddha, Living Christ
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Thich Nhat Hanh died Saturday, January 22. He was 95 years old.
He was born in Vietnam, protested the war, was expelled, settled in France, and founded Plum Village Monastery. Over his lifetime he published more than 100 books, traveled and lectured widely. He returned to Vietnam in 2005. He suffered a brain hemorrhage in 2014 and lived out his days at Tu Hieu Temple where he had become a novice at age 16. His friends and students called him “Thay” (teacher).
Thay was a Zen master, a teacher, a sower. He sowed seeds of compassion, justice, and peace.
Whoever is listening, be my witness:
I cannot accept this war.
I never could, I never will.
I must say this a thousand times before I am killed.
I am like the bird who dies for the sake of its mate,
dripping blood from its broken beak and crying out:
“Beware! Turn around and face your real enemies
—ambition, violence, hatred, and greed.”
Thay is dead. But the seeds he sowed live on. Many people treasure and cultivate his seeds. I’m one.
Twenty-five years ago I read Living Buddha, Living Christ. The Buddha and Christ both taught mindfulness. Both taught gratitude and compassion. Neither espoused creeds.
Many Christians get tangled up in byzantine doctrines. I did too. But Thay showed me the center of Jesus’s teaching. In fact, it’s literally at the center of Luke’s gospel.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. If God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you—oh, you of little faith! Do not be afraid for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give alms. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Luke 12)
Thank you, Thay.
The Great Bell Chant. Visual montage with voice of Thich Nhat Hanh
Thank you for telling me about Thich Nhat Hanh. I will check into the book your quoted. He sounds like a wonderful teacher. I enjoyed this gift very much.
What a BEAUTIFUL way to start my Sunday morning! Thank YOU for being a “Thay!” ✝️🕉
Thay was an example of how powerful a simple life of love & compassion can be.
My meditation practice is guided by Thay’s loving-kindness practice and dharma. I had the privilege of being in his presence at a gathering many years ago and will never forget how wise, gentle, peaceful, and mindful he was. It is winter now in Ukraine. Beneath the snow, the mud. Beneath the mud, the lotus. If everyone has the courage to face “their real enemies”, the lotus may bloom and reveal the victory of love.
“ Many people are alive but don’t touch the miracle of being alive.”
So much wisdom. Hopefully we will all rest in his peace. I have to give a nod to the great Four Seasons books for opening my eyes to him close to 30 years ago.
What a wonderful tribute to a great spiritual leader and prophet! Thay taught us to “look deeply” and love unconditionally “with no pride”. Inspired by Martin Luther King and devastated by his assassination, he vowed to create “beloved communities” around the world—and he succeeded. In the closing moments of Thay’s memorial service, Sister True Dedication, one of his closest associates, called him “a gentle revolutionary”. May we be grateful for this humble monk who gently planted seeds that we might become flowers of love, compassion and peace.
Thank you for the “peace” this morning.
An exceptionally-beautiful human being.
I happened to watch “Gandhi” last night. I think he would have gotten along with Jesus and Thay. Imagine a meal with the three of them!
Yeah, a hero for sure. Proved you don’t gotta be loud to be right-on.
His teachings on love & mindfulness have changed the world for the better. My life has more peace & beauty since I saw him speak in Bethesda many years ago. The mindfulness bell I got there has been a companion & blessing… thank you for sharing this honoring of his life & passing. 🙏🏼💓
I sent this to my daughter in law who is visiting family in Viet Nam and she responded she is so happy for your appreciation of Thay….
I thought about commenting on your remarks concerning Thi’s passing for a day. Since the same thought is still with me, here goes: I read Thi’s book on anger many years ago. He explained that anger arises from within us due to our disappoint, and inability to love and accept ourselves for who we are. Yeah, easy to realize, but much harder to practice. I’m still trying after all of these years.
Thank you for your tribute to Thich Nhat Hanh. I enjoyed the video of the bell also. It was good to hear Thich speak. It’s gratifying to realize that we’ve been on the same planet in our own lifetime with a soul who, like Jesus, was able to live on earth and still follow, practice, live the word of God, or Great Spirit.
My friend lovingly calls him “Tic Tac Toe”. I think I’ll copy the quote from him at the beginning of your tribute and the Viet Nam War Condemnation quote and put them on the wall by my desk. I’m sorry he’s gone, but grateful that he lived to be 95, sowing seeds of truth and clarity and teaching by example wherever he went.