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Coming Together in Difficult Times

Your Incredible Support in 2020

Farming at Plum Village Monastery photo courtesy of Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation

“In Buddha's time, nuns and monks went to the villages with their begging bowls and asked for food and support. The monastic community is similar today. It is the generous donations from our lay friends that allowed us to continue our monastic practice in this difficult time of the pandemic. We therefore strive to practice with all our hearts. This is all the more so because we know that many people are suffering severely as a result of the pandemic and its consequences.”

—Monastics at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism, Germany

Dear friends,

A deep bow to you from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation Family.

We are delighted to be able to share with you some of the incredible ways you and our worldwide community came together in this last year by supporting our International Plum Village monastic community and practice centers and continuing Thay’s legacy and teachings.

The year 2020 forced many of us to rethink our habit energies, restructure aspects of our lives and communities, and consider what is most important to us. We hope that for you these changes produced—at least in part—some lotuses in the midst of the mud. We also hope that you and your families have been able to feel the deep support of Sangha and stay grounded in the insight of interbeing. We have been able to feel your presence, and for that we are so grateful.

In March of 2020, when we at the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation realized our worldwide practice centers would need to close long term, we experienced some fear: how would we be able to raise enough funds to make up for retreat fees, which had previously sustained a large part of our monasteries’ needs? All of a sudden, we needed to raise twice as much funding as we typically do in a single year just to be able to meet the basic needs of food, health care, and shelter for our nearly six hundred monastics across eleven practice centers worldwide.

But we believed in the power of the Sangha; we had trust in the Sangha. And you, as part of the Sangha, understood this new need and supported our monastic community.

Reflecting a deep practice of interbeing and compassion, our worldwide community met the practice centers’ need of $4.2 million in 2020. Three hundred fifty-seven people offered monthly contributions, joining a powerful community of established monthly donors, the Plum Blossom Society. With this tremendous Sangha support, our monastics around the world were able to eat warm meals, enjoy heat in the meditation halls, use electricity to power Dharma talks, have light to read by, and even fix broken water pipes.

As the monastics at Thai Plum Village shared, “During this time of international hardship—physical, mental, social, and economic—we monastics are especially grateful for every offering from our dear lay friends; your offerings sustain our very lives, not to mention our practice, land, buildings, and the entire Plum Village tradition. In times of crisis, we can touch our interconnection and interdependence even more acutely. You are present in each of our cells, breaths, and thoughts. Can you feel our presence there with you? We are all here for each other; we just need to breathe in and out with mindful awareness to touch the presence of everyone around the world.”

Our monastic teachers were also able to share the Dharma online with thousands of people worldwide, both experienced and new to mindfulness. Monastics across our practice centers learned how to create meaningful retreats and mindfulness gatherings through Zoom, livestream, and recorded sessions. With your support, they were able to purchase the equipment needed to develop an “online monastery”—a longtime vision of Thich Nhat Hanh.

Monastics at Thai Plum Village also said that “opportunities to communicate with our lay friends have become more precious than ever, reinvigorating our aspirations to cultivate healing, peace, compassion, understanding, and love to help our fellow beings around the world.”

In 2020, international Plum Village monastics offered twenty-three online retreats and 830 free online mindfulness events, such as Days of Mindfulness, sitting and walking meditations, and Five Mindfulness Training recitations. Over 72,000 people worldwide tuned in to the Dharma offerings.

At the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation, we were able to partner with Lion’s Roar magazine to share a powerful five-day online summit, In the Footsteps of Thich Nhat Hanh, featuring nine international Plum Village Dharma teachers. Almost 100,000 people registered for the event, some discovering Thay’s profound teachings for the first time, and some deepening their existing Plum Village practices from their homes.

As Thay says, “It takes time to practice generosity, but generosity is the best use of our time.”

photo courtesy of Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation

In gratitude for all you have done, Sister Trang Tru Niem at Thai Plum Village has shared the following poem for you.

Lotus from My Heart

In the past, I saw
my heart
which was like mud
Mud overflowing with tears.
I was asleep in vain
then walking in pain
And my breath was the only savior.
Day by day
the tears were like crystals
that irritated the mud.
Even though my suffering was
utmost
the tears still pouring in
I was able to smile
with this life.
Today, I recognize …
Despite the downpour of rain,
leaves are still impermeable.
From the depth of my breath,
A lotus blooms like a miracle
in my heart.

Thank you for being there and making all of this possible. We know you are there, and we are so very happy.

The Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation Family

photo courtesy of Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation
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Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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