The Fifth Child

Supporting Thich Nhat Hanh’s Legacy

By Lorri Houston

Thich Nhat Hanh has been transforming suffering into joy around the world for many years through his mindfulness teachings and loving practice. Thay has helped millions of people transform their feelings of loneliness, despair, anger, and emptiness into joy, peace, love, and understanding.

As a practitioner, you are already a part of this transformation. You have helped by practicing mindfulness and by being an example of peace to those around you. Loving practitioners like you can bring Thay’s message to thousands more with a bequest gift to the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation.

mb65-TheFifth1One of the beloved members of our fourfold Sangha recently told us that she is including the Foundation in her will. As a mother of four children, Jeanie Seward-Magee was inspired by Thay, who lovingly refers to our monastic sisters and brothers as his “spiritual children.” Jeanie considers her bequest gift for Thay’s community as a way of taking care of her fifth child, and she has chosen to bequest a portion of her estate equally among her five children.

Twenty years ago, Jeanie experienced a series of tremendous personal losses over an eighteen-month period. Her beloved father-in-law was killed in Northern Ireland; her eighteen-year-old nephew died in a car accident; a favorite uncle passed away; and her mother’s three sisters––the aunts who had cared for and loved Jeanie since she lost her own mother––also died. She was experiencing difficulties in her marriage at the time, and her eldest son had left home to go to a university three thousand miles away.

As a consequence, Jeanie experienced what she now refers to as her “biggest loss.” She had lost herself completely. Jeanie had been caring for everyone else but herself, while also trying to cope with the loss of so many loved ones. She became clinically depressed and knew she had to do something. Jeanie decided to take a year off to travel with her husband John. It was during visits to Buddhist countries, Jeanie said, that she found a great peacefulness in the people living and practicing  Buddhism.

In 1997, Jeanie went to her first retreat in the Plum Village tradition. She found herself singing “Breathing In, Breathing Out” afterwards, and it planted a seed. But Jeanie knew a lot of work would need to go on after that, and she began practicing diligently, attending more retreats, and deepening her practice.

Jeanie remembers that at a 1998 retreat, Thay encouraged the establishment of practice centers. Inspired, Jeanie and John started the Vancouver Mindfulness Practice Center. Subsequently, Jeanie established a mindfulness community in Bermuda (where she lived for seven years), and spent summers at Plum Village, assisting with children’s programs. She worked as the lead volunteer of the steering committee for Thay’s Vancouver retreat in 2011.

In 2000, Jeanie was ordained into the Order of Interbeing, and she received the Lamp Transmission to become a Dharma teacher in March 2012. Last year, Jeanie volunteered for Thay’s North America tour and lent a helping hand with everything from staffing the Foundation tables to washing pots! Being of service and taking care of others remains deeply meaningful to Jeanie; however, through Thay’s teachings and in deepening her own mindfulness practice, Jeanie has learned to include taking care of herself, too. Her aspiration when ordained was to teach other women the importance of taking care of themselves fi so that they are able to help others. The practice has brought Jeanie immeasurable joy, and she is returning it tenfold to our beloved community.

Lorri Houston, True Tao Garden, serves as the Community Liaison for the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation.

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Please consider leaving a lasting, meaningful gift in your estate plans to continue sharing our practice with the world. The Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation would be happy to be of service to help honor your legacy of compassion. Contact us if you would like further information. If you have already included the Foundation in your bequest, please let us know so that we may have an opportunity to express our gratitude and ensure that your gift intentions are honored. Thank you for your beautiful practice.

“Late last year I was getting ready for an extended trip and decided to set up a trust for my business and also revise my will. Thay’s message has had such a profound impact on my life, and the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation is providing much-needed resources to leverage his teachings, so I named it as a beneficiary in my will.” – Spence Davis

“Practicing in the Plum Village tradition has brought a deep sense of well-being and joy into my life. To contribute to ensuring that this practice tradition continues beautifully in the future,  and to honor Thay’s seventy-one years of extraordinary service, I decided to include the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation in my will. It makes me smile to know my material resources will continue working for peace after I pass.” --Laurie Brewer

“Making a provision now to leave a legacy to the Foundation makes wonderful sense, to support Thay’s children of the future.” --Jeanie Seward-Magee

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