By Sister Annabel Laity on
Beloved and respected Thầy,
Last night at about 4:00 a.m., I had a dream. Our international monastic Sangha had gathered at a train station. Hundreds of us were all there together. Sister Từ Nghiêm (Sister Eleni) and I, for some reason, did not have a ticket. I felt it was urgent that we buy a ticket without delay. We went to the ticket office but it was closed. Then the man who sold tickets appeared. He was very kind and agreed to sell us tickets immediately. I worried that I did not have enough money, but the man said he wanted to give us a ticket for two for the price of one. I had exactly the right amount of money. With our tickets we went outside to join the Sangha, which was going up the steps to the train together. On seeing the Sangha, I could not believe how beautiful it was: even more beautiful than the wild-goose Sangha that migrates over France in the autumn and spring in a stunning V formation. When I woke up, I thought: “I have seen Thầy. The Sangha is Thầy, Thầy’s lifetime creation.”
I remembered the times I accompanied Thầy on tours to China or Korea. We visited ancient monasteries with old attic libraries full of woodblocks from which the sutras were printed. On two separate occasions, Thầy had pointed out to me the gāthā from the Vajracchedika Sutra:
Someone who looks for me in form or seeks me in sound is caught in an abstraction and will not find me.
For many years I have been caught in that abstraction, that misapprehension. This morning I saw a much greater Thầy.
Sometimes as an elder sister I need to be a teacher for my younger siblings. I need to practice signlessness in looking at them, too, and realise that Thầy is in each of them.
Touching the Earth in Boundless Gratitude,
Your Child Chân Đức.
Sister Chân Đức (Sister Annabel), offered this letter in Vietnamese to Thích Nhất Hạnh in October 2021. After Thầy’s passing, Sister Chân Không asked her to translate it into English and to share it with The Mindfulness Bell.