HONORING THICH NHAT HANH
a tribute to zen master thich nhat hanh
Curated by Emelina Corrales-Legrand and Thomas Legrand of the plum village lay community
With Special thanks to “Ejna” Fleury, Marianne Claveau, Anne Sophie Mauffré (photographer) and Simon Lucas (videographer) for their support. Each day during the 7 Days of Rest & Radiant Diversity Ejna will be offering a special message associated with the theme of the day followed by a video of "The End of Suffering" - The Great Bell Chant, read by Thich Nath Hanh, chanted by brother Phap Niem. The creators of the audio track were Gary Malkin and Michael and Mildred Stillwater.
“Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, poet and peace activist who became a global spiritual leader, revered around the world for his pioneering teachings on mindfulness, global ethics and peace. By his students he is affectionately known as Thay (pronounced “Tay” or “Tie”), which is Vietnamese for “teacher.”” (from the Plum Village website)
Each day on the calendar you will find inspirational resources that include wisdom offerings, practices, songs and quotes of Thay curated by Emelina Corrales-Legrand and Thomas Legrand.
Introduction video: By Emelina and Thomas Legrand. With thanks to Simon Lucas for making this video.
“Meditation is not to escape from society, but to come back to ourselves and see what is going on. Once there is seeing, there must be acting. With mindfulness we know what to do and what not to do to help”
- Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh
What is Interbeing?
by Thich Nhat Hanh
"If you are a poet, you will see clearly that there is a cloud floating in this sheet of paper. Without a cloud, there will be no rain; without rain, the trees cannot grow; and without trees, we cannot make paper. The cloud is essential for the paper to exist. If the cloud is not here, the sheet of paper cannot be here either. So we can say that the cloud and the paper inter-are. “Interbeing” is a word that is not in the dictionary yet, but if we combine the pre-fix “inter” with the verb “to be,” we have a new verb, inter-be. If we look into this sheet of paper even more deeply, we can see the sunshine in it. If the sunshine is not there, the forest cannot grow. In fact, nothing can grow. Even we cannot grow without sunshine. And so, we know that the sunshine is also in this sheet of paper. The paper and the sunshine inter-are. And if we continue to look, we can see the logger who cut the tree and brought it to the mill to be transformed into paper. And we see the wheat. We know the logger cannot exist without his daily bread, and therefore the wheat that became his bread is also in this sheet of paper. And the logger’s father and mother are in it too.
When we look in this way, we see that without all of these things, this sheet of paper cannot exist. Looking even more deeply, we can see we are in it too. This is not difficult to see, because when we look at a sheet of paper, the sheet of paper is part of our perception. Your mind is here and mind is also. So we can say that everything is in here with this sheet of paper. You cannot point out one thing that is not here- time, space, the earth, the rain, the minerals in the soil, the sunshine, the cloud, the river, the heat.
Everything coexists with this sheet of paper. That is why I think the word inter-be should be in the dictionary. “To be” is to be inter-be. You cannot just be by yourself alone. You have to inter-be. You cannot just be by yourself alone. You have to inter-be with every other thing. This sheet of paper, is because everything else is. Suppose we try to return one of the elements to its source. Suppose we return the sunshine to the sun. Do you think that this sheet of paper will be possible? No, without sunshine nothing can be. And if we return the logger to his mother, then we have no sheet of paper either. The fact is that this sheet of paper is made up only of “non-paper elements.” And if we return these non-paper elements to their sources, then there can be no paper at all. Without “non-paper elements” like mind, logger, sunshine, and so on, there will be no paper. As thin as his sheet of paper is, it contains everything in the universe in it.”
- Thich Nhat Hanh, excerpt from Teach Breathe Learn
#Thank You Thay
Thank You Thay is an online initiative to honor and celebrate the life, wisdom and presence of Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh. The initiative is launched during the global event, 7 Days of Rest and Radiant Diversity, and will continue into 2020 and beyond as a tribute to the countless hearts and minds he has opened with his gentle wisdom.
The invitation is to gather blessings of gratitude from around the world for how he has inspired us, and share them on social media with the hashtags #ThankYouThichNhatHanh and #ThankYouThay - and the many translations into other languages eg. #MerciThay.
The main gathering spaces for sharing the blessings will be on the 7 Days of Rest social media platforms:
The main posts on Facebook for sharing are:
The 2-minute version of Emelina and Thomas Legrand, launching the #ThankYouThay initiative.
The Madrid Sangha watering Thay's flowers.
THE LIFE STORY OF THICH NHAT HANH
Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, poet and peace activist who became a global spiritual leader, revered around the world for his pioneering teachings on mindfulness, global ethics and peace. In 1967, Dr Martin Luther King, Jr., who called him “an Apostle of peace and nonviolence”, nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. Through his simple yet profound teachings, mindfulness has reached a mainstream audience. He has taught how very action of daily life can become a mindfulness practice and how Buddhist insights can be applied to every aspect of society including education, business, technology, and the environmental crisis. He has published over 100 books, including classics like The Miracle of Mindfulness and Peace is Every Step. By his students he is affectionately known as Thay (pronounced “Tay” or “Tie”), which is Vietnamese for “teacher.”
Born in central Vietnam in 1926, Thich Nhat Hanh entered Tu Hieu Temple, in Hue city, as a novice monk at the age of sixteen. As a young bhikshu (monk) in the early 1950s he was actively engaged in the movement to renew Vietnamese Buddhism. He was one of the first bhikshus to study a secular subject at university in Saigon, and one of the first six monks to ride a bicycle.
Social activism during war in Vietnam
When war came to Vietnam, monks and nuns were confronted with the question of whether to adhere to the contemplative life and stay meditating in the monasteries, or to help those around them suffering under the bombings and turmoil of war. Thich Nhat Hanh was one of those who chose to do both, and in doing so founded the Engaged Buddhism movement, coining the term in his book Vietnam: Lotus in a Sea of Fire. His life has since been dedicated to the work of inner transformation for the benefit of individuals and society.
Under gunfire, while on a mission to take food to hungry families after historic flooding
In 1961, Thich Nhat Hanh travelled to the United States to teach Comparative Religion at Princeton University and the following year went on to teach and research Buddhism at Columbia University. In Vietnam in the early 1960s, Thich Nhat Hanh founded the School of Youth and Social Service, a grassroots relief organization of 10,000 volunteers based on the Buddhist principles of non-violence and compassionate action.
As a scholar, teacher, and engaged activist in the 1960s, Thich Nhat Hanh also founded the Van Hanh Buddhist University in Saigon, La Boi publishing House, and an influential peace activist magazine. In 1966 he established the Order of Interbeing, a new order based on the traditional Buddhist Bodhisattva precepts.
On May 1st, 1966 at Tu Hieu Temple, Thich Nhat Hanh received the ‘lamp transmission’ from Master Chan That.
Exile from Vietnam
A few months later he traveled once more to the U.S. and Europe to make the case for peace and to call for an end to hostilities in Vietnam. It was during this 1966 trip that he first met Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. As a result of this mission both North and South Vietnam denied him the right to return to Vietnam, and he began a long exile of 39 years. Thich Nhat Hanh continued to travel widely, spreading the message of peace and brotherhood, lobbying Western leaders to end the Vietnam War, and leading the Buddhist delegation to the Paris Peace Talks in 1969.
Founding Plum Village in France
He also continued to teach, lecture and write on the art of mindfulness and ‘living peace,’ and in the early 1970s was a lecturer and researcher in Buddhism at the University of Sorbonne, Paris. In 1975 he established the Sweet Potato community near Paris, and in 1982, moved to a much larger site in the south west of France, soon to be known as “Plum Village.”
Under Thich Nhat Hanh’s spiritual leadership Plum Village has grown from a small rural farmstead to what is now the West’s largest and most active Buddhist monastery, with over 200 resident monastics and over 10,000 visitors every year, who come from around the world to learn “the art of mindful living.”
Plum Village welcomes people of all ages, backgrounds and faiths at retreats where they can learn practices such as walking meditation, sitting meditation, eating meditation, total relaxation, working meditation and stopping, smiling, and breathing mindfully. These are all ancient Buddhist practices, the essence of which Thich Nhat Hanh has distilled and developed to be easily and powerfully applied to the challenges and difficulties of our times.
In the last twenty years over 100,000 people have made a commitment to follow Thich Nhat Hanh’s modernized code of universal global ethics in their daily life, known as “The Five Mindfulness Trainings.”
More recently, Thich Nhat Hanh has founded Wake Up, a worldwide movement of thousands of young people training in these practices of mindful living, and he has launched an international Wake Up Schools program training teachers to teach mindfulness in schools in Europe, America and Asia.
Thich Nhat Hanh is also an artist, and his unique and popular works of calligraphy – short phrases and words capturing the essence of his mindfulness teachings – have since 2010 been exhibited in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada, Germany, France, and New York.
In the last decade Thich Nhat Hanh has opened monasteries in California, New York, Vietnam, Paris, Hong Kong, Thailand, Mississippi and Australia, and Europe’s first “Institute of Applied Buddhism” in Germany.
Mindfulness Practice Centers in the Plum Village tradition offer special retreats for business people, teachers, families, healthcare professionals, psychotherapists, politicians, and young people as well as war veterans and Israelis and Palestinians. It is estimated that over 45,000 people participate in activities led by Plum Village monks and nuns in the US and Europe every year.
In recent years Thich Nhat Hanh led events for members of US Congress and for parliamentarians in the UK, Ireland, India, and Thailand. He has addressed the World Parliament of Religions in Melbourne and UNESCO in Paris, calling for specific steps to reverse the cycle of violence, war and global warming. On his visit to the US in 2013 he led high-profile mindfulness events at Google, The World Bank, and the Harvard School of Medicine.
On 11 November 2014, a month after his 88th birthday and following several months of rapidly declining health, Thich Nhat Hanh suffered a severe stroke. Although he is still unable to speak, and is mostly paralyzed on the right side, he has continued to offer the Dharma and inspiration through his peaceful, serene and valiant presence.
Thich Nhat Hanh is currently residing at Từ Hiếu Temple in Vietnam where he ordained with his teacher when he was sixteen years old. He has expressed a wish to stay there for his remaining days. He comes out regularly in his wheelchair to visit the temple altars and to lead the sangha on walking meditation around the ponds and ancestral stupas. Thay’s return to Từ Hiếu has been a bell of mindfulness reminding us all of how precious it is to belong to a spiritual lineage with deep roots. Whether we have attended a retreat, or simply read one of Thay’s books or watched a talk, and have been touched by his teachings—we are all connected to this ancestral stream of wisdom and compassion.
Plum village website : https://plumvillage.org/
Christiana Figueres shares her gratitude for Thay in support of #ThankYouThay