This has been a momentous year for the International Plum Village Community and for our friends near and far, a year marked by celebrations and by sorrow.
This is the year that our tradition’s founder, beloved teacher, and dearest friend, Thích Nhất Hạnh, passed away. While we all feel deep loss at his death, we celebrate with astonishment and gratitude all that Thầy, with the help of Sister Chan Khong and so many monastic and lay friends, accomplished during his ninety-five-year life.
What Thầy gave us is an Engaged Buddhism that has never shied away from facing the difficulties of the world with eyes and heart wide open.
In addition, the Thích Nhất Hạnh Foundation last year celebrated our tenth anniversary, while the Plum Village Monastery in France marks its fortieth “continuation day” this summer.
During the darkest days of the pandemic, our monastics demonstrated remarkable resilience and innovation. They used technology acquired with the generous support of our donors to bring retreats and the Dharma to the world when the world was unable to come to them.
In fact, donors to the Foundation played a critical role in carrying our monasteries through 2020 and 2021. These include our Cedar Society (legacy), Plum Society (monthly), and annual donors. These challenging years have also given us valuable lessons to carry forward about how to use technology to provide beneficial teachings that are relevant, inspiring, and accessible to our friends all over the world.
Thầy’s teachings and practice were forged in the fires of war, human suffering, and political turmoil. What Thầy gave us is an Engaged Buddhism that has never shied away from facing the difficulties of the world with eyes and heart wide open.
We are his continuation, and the world will recognize Thầy by the way we speak, walk, wash the dishes, or listen attentively to a friend who is hurting.
Thầy’s message is the medicine we need today to face ever greater challenges to our planet, our communities, and ourselves. Keeping our peace, remaining grounded in the present moment, and stilling our fearful minds when life is at its most challenging is a deep and nourishing practice.
As Thầy often told us, he will remain among us through our embodiment of his teachings. We are his continuation, and the world will recognize Thầy by the way we speak, walk, wash the dishes, or listen attentively to a friend who is hurting.
For those of us privileged to work closely with our monastic siblings, this transition period since Thầy’s passing has been marked by a heightened tenderness. Everyone has taken extra time to check in with one another regularly; to breathe deeply in unison at the sound of a distant bell; to offer a smile and words of encouragement. Collectively we lift our feet and slowly, mindfully, we resume walking into the future envisioned by Thầy.
However difficult the path may be at times, let us be tender with our hearts and generous with one another. May we slow down, notice the beauty around us, and return to our breath as an anchor whenever we start feeling overwhelmed or defeated. “With mindfulness,” Thầy said, “you can establish yourself in the present in order to touch the wonders of life that are available in that moment.”
We are so grateful to make this wonderful journey with readers of The Mindfulness Bell. We thank you for your ongoing support and for the stories and lessons you share from your practice in the pages of this magazine.
You can learn more about the immense impact you’re having on our community by reading the latest issue of our Annual Highlights, available on the Foundation’s website: https://thichnhathanhfoundation.org/your-gifts-at-work.
We know that you are Thầy’s continuation and we are happy, because this means that Thầy is also there for us every step of the way.
Wishing you peace and joy,
The Thích Nhất Hạnh Foundation Family