“Right away, I realized Thầy is not simply trying to hold on to life for our sake. Thầy’s vitality is potent, and he continues to experience life in the deepest way.”
Read more from Sister Dang Nghiem on her recent visit with Thich Nhat Hanh.
On Friday April 19, Senator Leahy and the US Ambassador led a delegation of 9 senators to visit Hue to pay their respects to Thay, as part of an official visit to Vietnam.
Thay was in good health, strong, and bright, and able to spend over an hour with the delegation.
The delegation included Senators Leahy, Murkowski, Stabenow, Whitehouse, Udall, Portman, Baldwin, Hirono, and Kaine, and their spouses. A number of them attended Thay's lectures on Capitol Hill in 2003 and 2011, and have even joined Thay on retreat. They shared that Thay has taught them what peace is, and how to smile, and how to enjoy every step as they walk to make their votes.
More pictures are available on Thich Nhat Hanh’s Facebook page.
By Joanne Friday
If this past winter seemed a little darker than the previous ones, it is because on December 18, 2018, Annie Dimakatso Millar Desmond, True Concentration of the Heart, left us. She had a beautiful smile that would light up a room, and she brightened every life she touched.
Annie and her husband, Ambrose, were co-founders of the MorningSun Mindfulness Center in New Hampshire, U.S. There they lived, practiced in the Plum Village tradition, and helped to organize and offer regular Days of Mindfulness and retreats for the public and for Order of Interbeing members and aspirants from the Northeast.
Annie was the embodiment of our practice. She was fully present for whomever she was with. She was also a true friend, a good listener, and a wonderful mother. Her capacity for love and joy were a blessing and an inspiration to everyone who knew her.
Annie was born in Botswana and was called Dimakatso, which means “Miracles.” She most definitely lived up to her name. Though her life was far too short for those of us who loved her, it was extraordinarily full.
She loved learning. While attending Sarah Lawrence College, she studied Spanish at the University of Havana in Cuba and spent her junior year in Mexico and Costa Rica learning about grassroots organizing. After college, she worked at Slide Ranch, an environmental education center in Muir Beach, California, as director of education. The job incorporated all she had learned and her love of nature, sustainability, and children.
Her life was filled with singing, dancing, writing, editing, learning, teaching, laughing, and most of all—loving. From an early age, her kindness and desire to help others was very clear. While still in high school, she helped Habitat for Humanity build homes in Guatemala.
She met Ambrose in California while he was in graduate school. They shared interests in social justice, sustainability, spirituality, and intentional communities. They fell in love, and in 2010, I was honored to officiate at their wedding at Slide Ranch—a place Annie loved so much—on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. It was a magnificent day and a true love fest. As they entered the circle to get married, we all sang Kate Wolf’s song Give Yourself to Love, and they gave themselves to love.
They wanted to start a family in a supportive community of practice, which brought them to the MorningSun Mindfulness Center. Sadly, Annie was diagnosed with advanced cancer mid-2015. Ambrose, their families, and friends did everything humanly possible to support her. She wanted to have as much quality time with their son, Finn, as she could.
During her life, Annie made deep friendships with people all over the world. It was so moving to see how many offered help to her. Her ability to live as fully and joyfully as she could in the midst of suffering was an inspiration to everyone.
A memorial service was held at Slide Ranch on January 27, 2019. The images looked like their wedding photos. At the service, Ambrose shared, “Annie teaches you to refuse to close your heart and commit to loving whomever comes in front of you.” I was reminded again of Kate Wolf’s song:
Kind friends all gathered ‘round, there’s something I would say:
That what brings us together here has blessed us all today.
Love has made a circle that holds us all inside.
Where strangers are as family, loneliness can’t hide.
You must give yourself to love if love is what you’re after;
Open up your hearts to the tears and laughter
And give yourself to love, give yourself to love.
Annie and Ambrose had opened their hearts to the tears and laughter, and let their love make a circle to hold everyone inside.
Those of us who were fortunate enough to have experienced that circle of love felt deep gratitude for having known Annie and deep sorrow at her passing. We know the bright love light she transmitted will continue in all of us. We will hold Ambrose, Finn, and their families in our hearts and in our prayers.
You can find an article Now, Do You Want to Meditate with Me? by Annie Millar Desmond in the Mindfulness Bell issue 77 Winter/Spring 2018
From Plum Village:
In the last few weeks Thay (Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh - founder of Plum Village) has expressed a clear wish to visit Vietnam again. We are happy to confirm that he arrived on 26th October in Da Nang, along with a number of senior disciples. This is Thay's second trip back since his stroke, following his visit in late August/September last year.
The Monks and Nuns of Plum Village offer us an update on Thầy's health. Here is an excerpt:
On good days, Thay is able to eat several small meals a day and join the sangha for walking meditation in his wheelchair, or perhaps participate in a formal meal in the meditation hall, eating with great concentration, dignity and presence. When he is with the sangha, Thay will often gesture, bright-eyed, to remind us to enjoy listening to the sound of the birds, or with a gentle smirk he will point to his mouth to remind us to smile. On good days, Thay has been able to offer his solemn presence and witness at ordination ceremonies, or his joyful presence at festivals, watching his students performs songs, skits and dances. Even with his health challenges, Thay never wants to miss big sangha events. He insisted on being present for the premiere of the "Walk With Me" documentary in Bangkok (where he directed the sangha buy large quantities of popcorn), and he also insisted on travelling with the monastics to be present as they led a large retreat for families at Wang Ree Resort in Thailand.
Looking for a way to deepen your practice throughout the day?
Listen to guided meditations, set regular mindfulness bells, listen to PV songs, and ask Thay a question on the Plum Village app!
If you already have the beta version installed, we recommend to delete it and install the official version from the links above, in order to benefit from the latest updates.
AUTUMN 2018 ISSUE 79, AVAILABLE EARLY OCTOBER
Guest edited by David Viafora, an Order of Interbeing member and part of the Mindfulness Bell caretaking council, this issue is infused with reflections about nourishing our Sangha.
We are very excited to share that the Plum Village community is testing a new app!
Smile, breathe and go slowly
The Plum Village app can support us to cultivate mindfulness, compassion and joy through guided meditations, deep relaxations, practice poems, bells of mindfulness and other practices.
Please visit plumvillage.app to get early access to the beta version of this free app.
Click here to view an introductory video and for contact information.
Summer 2018 Issue 78, available early June
Guest edited by long-time Order of Interbeing member Valerie Brown and Dharma teacher John Bell, this issue is infused with reflections about engaged practice with current events. Featuring a Dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh, as well as teachings from Cheri Maples, Kaira Jewel, Sister Ocean, and heartfelt insights from many practitioners.
Are you ready for Lunar New Year? It's on February 16th! Here are the parallel verses (or couplet) that our beloved community has created for this year's collective practice. "Peace is the Breathing, Joy is the Walking."
This exercise is a companion to issue 77 Winer/Spring 2018 that invites you gently to look more deeply into your work.
Winter/Spring 2018 Issue 77, available early February
Guest edited by Kai Romhardt, a Dharma teacher from Germany, this issue is infused with reflections about mindfulness at work.
Jayna Gieber, one of my great Dharma sisters and friends on the path, passed away at 12:30 a.m. on October 18, 2017 due to metastasized pancreas cancer. She made her transition with her beloved husband Jonny, daughters, granddaughters, cat, and dog. Her family brought to her home in Battle Ground, Washington. She died peacefully surrounded with love. The speed of her transition has stunned all of us. We are grateful that the spirit carried her with such grace and ease.