Going as a River

Reflections on Our Practice Following the announcement in November 2014 that Thich Nhat Hanh was in the hospital with a brain hemorrhage, the worldwide Sangha responded with a profound deepening of practice and an outpouring of love and energy sent to our beloved teacher. The Mindfulness Bell asked our friends to share their reflections, and here we share excerpts from some of the hundreds of compassionate responses that were shared via Facebook and email.

Thay taught me that I have the compassion in my heart to awaken to all beings. That compassion, which I thought was weakness, Thay taught me is actually a beautiful thing. - Veronica Diaz de Salter

To breathe in and smile at whatever brings me sorrow or joy has humbled me and opened my heart more than I could have imagined. Thay gave me back my smile. - Melanie J. Hebert

I am finally “freeing the animals” by going vegetarian for Thay, for myself, and especially for the animals. - Vivian Moore MacKinnon

I have been doing walking meditation and visualizing that I am holding Thay’s hand so he can walk. I am also a runner and have been visualizing at times Thay holding my hand and running with me, with a big smile on his face! - John Malcomson

No one of us is a “Thay,” but together we are such a wonderful “Thay,” working in prisons, in schools, in institutes, in families, with veterans and people with mental/physical health challenges, and on and on. We truly “embody” Thay. - Margaret Alexander

I have started going to bed early every day thinking of Thay’s reminder that staying up late at night is not loving your body. I have started to wake up early every day and begin my day with feeding my koi fish, do sitting meditation, chanting sutra, praying then sending good healing energy to Thay. When I sit I remind myself of sitting with Thay’s straight back and breathe sharing the same lungs with Thay. That way I always have Thay in me. - Uyen Nghi Phan

I am watering less seeds of fear on Facebook and watering more seeds of love and hope. - Karen Lavin

I spent my early monastic life in the North of India (Dharamsala) for about three years. I was ordained in the Theravadan tradition in Indonesia then re-ordained by HH The Dalai Lama there. India is the place where I made my decision to ordain as a monk; it has given me endless inspiration. My second year in Plum Village, I missed India so much and I wanted to return to India. I knew that I wanted to try to run away due to difficulties in community. One day I met Thay and asked him, “Thay, I miss India, I want to return to India.” Thay replied, “My son, Thay is already in you. Please ask Thay in you.” He walked away and I followed behind him. He then stopped and looked at me, then continued, “Here is India.” He walked into his room leaving me speechless. Up until now, I still continue to contemplate on “Here is India.” - Nyanabhadra Phap Tu

It’s winter in my heart at the moment and I don’t see many flowers blooming inside me. Things are very difficult. But the Dharma has taught me to live fully with everything that is, even the most painful situations. I know that there are flowers sleeping somewhere in my roots and they will show themselves in time, as long as I continue my practice. Thay has helped me to understand the Buddha’s teaching more fully. When I’m suffering, I often think of Thay and his friends paddling down the river in their small boat, bringing food and medicine to people who needed it during the war in Vietnam. I hope I can continue on the path of compassion as they did, no matter how tough it gets. - Rose Anderson

I hold myself in my hand like a kitten. - Becky Taylor Terry

I breathe … but, also, I know that I’m breathing. - Siri Ajeet Singh

The monastics chant twice daily to send energy to our teacher. What I see is that the love, care, and harmony we offer to one another is very strong. This is the best gift we can offer to our beloved Thay. We are enjoying the blue sky, fall leaves, and gentle steps. It’s very nourishing to practice together and support each other. - Sister Boi Nghiem

Searching so desperately For answers and reasons Suddenly a leaf Trembling in the breeze Oh. Hello, Thay - Jonathan Borella

Three years ago two of my friends and I walked the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco. We did what we called “Thich walking,” mindful of each step. We became aware of those who committed suicide by jumping off the bridge. We sent love to the spirits of those who died. That has had a tremendous influence in my life. - Michelle Schlefsky

Thay has taught me that “compassion is a verb,” so I founded with other practitioners Smilevietnam.org, a nonprofit organization of compassionate Vietnamese professionals from throughout the world who work together with a common purpose of bringing smiles to the needy people in Central Vietnam. - Nhu-Trang Nguyen

The monastics at Magnolia Grove Monastery have been wearing our Sanghati robes to do our morning sitting meditation and then chanting and doing three silent touchings of the Earth. In the evening session, also in our Sanghati robes, we have a formal sending energy ceremony. I have also made a vow to remind myself, whenever I walk, to walk mindfully and not to miss a chance to walk with the Sangha no matter how busy I am with office work or other things, because I know walking meditation is one of Thay’s favorite practices. - Brother Michael a.k.a. Chan Phap Uyen

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