Gassho, Thich Nhat Hanh

Thich Nhat Hanh, via Upaya Zen Center.

The Vietnamese Buddhist monk and teacher Thich Nhat Hanh has gone. He was 95.

A champion of mindfulness, compassion, and peace, he departed from the Tu Hieu Temple in his homeland, where once — as an opponent of the Vietnam War — he was not welcome.

He returned twice to teach, publish, and lead retreats and ceremonies before finally going home for good in 2018, following a stroke four years earlier.

In his book “At Home in the World,” published in 2016, Nhat Hanh addressed his inevitable leaving. He wrote:

This body of mine will disintegrate, but my actions will continue me. If you think I am only this body, then you have not truly seen me. When you look at my friends, you see my continuation. When you see someone walking with mindfulness and compassion, you know he is my continuation. I don’t see why we have to say “I will die,” because I can already see myself in you, in other people, and in future generations.

Even when the cloud is not there, it continues as snow or rain. It is impossible for the cloud to die. It can become rain or ice, but it cannot become nothing. The cloud does not need to have a soul in order to continue. There’s no beginning and no end. I will never die. There will be a dissolution of this body, but that does not mean my death.

I will continue, always.

The Upaya Zen Center of Santa Fe will offer a memorial service via YouTube at 5:30 p.m. Mountain time today. The Zen center he co-founded, Plum Village, plans an extended remembrance beginning tomorrow. You can read more about Thich Nhat Hanh at Lion’s Roar.

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19 Responses to “Gassho, Thich Nhat Hanh”

  1. Shawn Says:

    As His Holiness Mr. Hanh states, “There’s no beginning and no end. I will never die. There will be a dissolution of this body, but that does not mean my death.”, I’m mindful that we all live by and abide the first law of thermodynamics. Live long and precipitate.

  2. Pat O’Brien Says:

    His ripples continue to spread as evidenced by your post. “Returning to the source is serenity.”

  3. SAO' Says:

    Peace is every step. It’s nothing more than choosing for it to be so.

  4. Herb from Michigan Says:

    Always sad to get a person of peace and reason leave us here with what seems like an increase in human suffering. It doesn’t feel like there are very many of us walking around with a shred of mindfulness and the compassion part is lacking too. But I keep hoping for change. Part of me still believes that in reality, the worstest and rottenest news is all we are allowed to eat these days while not realizing all the good things growing right under our noses.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      Well said, sir. Bad news presents itself, for the most part. Good news is harder to find and is often overlooked entirely. I think it travels mostly by word of mouth. You hear about some elder taking care of the grandkids because the single mom is swamped, or a volunteer keeping the trailside turd-bag dispensers stocked. Someone at the checkout with a full cart yielding to another shopper with just a couple items; “No, please, you go ahead, I’ll be here for days.” Folks letting that little light of theirs shine.

      • Pat O’Brien Says:

        See, you are smart!

      • SAO' Says:

        Yesterday, Took my 9 and 11 year old girls to the spot where the Fort Collins Pond Hockey League hangs out. The club was mostly up at Red Feather for a fund-raiser tourney, but we had peewee and squirt games that morning in Cheyenne that conflicted.

        When we arrived, there were four boys playing, a very physical pick-up game. Boys … maybe 18-20 years old, and all four around 6’1” and 200 lbs.

        The girls understandably looked a bit apprehensive, but before we could turn around, one of the boys yelled, “Hey, y’all want to play with us, or do you want you’re own half? We can move the goals around, and we’ll play over there. And hold on a second, it’s time to scrape the ice …” All four put down their sticks, grabbed shovels, and went into Zamboni mode to clear a fresh patch for us.

        Time and time again, I’m finding the kids know what to do, how to treat each other, how to get along … if only the grown-ups would get out of the way.

        • Pat O’Brien Says:

          A hockey and guitar player! Kids instinctively know how to share and be kind until they see repeated examples of “grown ups” acting otherwise.

          • SAO' Says:

            We’ve tried gently persuading her to try various instruments, with zero luck until this year. Her middle school has a pretty good music department, and after a free-for-all try-out last summer, she landed on the viola. Now all of a sudden it’s a stringfest around here. She’s either plucking her ukulele or strumming the gee-tar or resinning-up her bow.

            Really funny part is, we have some sort of Casio keyboard that has a player-piano mode. So she’ll pick a song, play it at 1/4 speed, and follow the flashing piano keys on her viola or guitar.

            All credit, of course, going to the 6th grade orchestra teacher.

          • SAO' Says:

            And what goes around, amiright? Cuz right after the big kids shared their ice with her, she spotted the 18-month old and showed her how to hold a hockey stick. I’m telling you, just get the grownups out of the way.

          • Patrick O'Grady Says:

            Music is such a great thing for a kid. And for the rest of us, too.

            My sis and I took piano lessons, and I picked up flute in seventh grade, then sampled bassoon and piccolo in high school. Still have the flute, plus a few tin whistles for scaring the cat while playing along with the bog-trotters in my iTunes catalog.

            I’d like to have another keyboard — we got rid of an old Yamaha my mom gave me one Christmas — but I’m not sure I’d really use it. A new flute, now. …

          • SAO' Says:

            Two of Einstein’s favorite hobbies were riding his bike and playing the violin. Who am I to argue with that? That’s just science, or math, or relativity, or sumptin.

          • Shawn Says:

            The only musical capability I have now is that I know where the strings are and how to bang on the bongos like a chump. Oh yeah, and I’m better then the cat on the piano. Well not from the cat’s perspective. But I give high value to musicians. Especially those who can compose, write and play, sometimes on multiple instruments like SAO’s young talent. I’m quite good at appreciating music though. I find myself working late into the morning while listening to various Tiny Desk artists. It helps to have a music teacher but as Yasmin Williams displays, it doesn’t hurt to have Guitar Hero around either. Wow.


      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Awwww. That’s cool. Some people still know how to share … and it’s the younguns, surprise surprise.

        I know the kiddos next door like to share. Every time the littlest one pops round she shares my tin whistles, magnifying glass, basically whatever’s within reach (and she’s quite a climber). Sometimes I even get the stuff back.

  5. Dale Says:

    This is about the only thing that I remember from my upbringing in a Christian church; the Doxology:

    As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be:
    world without end. Amen (we sang it, and I think we added another amen).

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      That’s a doxology, a’ight, but a lesser model, the Gloria Patri.

      The kickoff is “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost. …”

      The doxology I remember begins “Praise God from whom all blessings flow.” The first time I heard it I thought the second line went, “Praise Him all preachers here below.”

      “So the rest of us can just stuff a sock in it and let the dude in the over-the-top bathrobe handle the singing?” I mused. I did not last long in the Church.

      • Pat O’Brien Says:

        Doxology, liturgy, and rituals are the beginning of chaos. As his holiness Jester Carlin said, the planet will shake us off like a dog shakes off fleas, or some such shit. The planet will survive. Open the bar.

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