This week’s column is on the Zen Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh who passed away last week.  His writings were a significant influence on my chaplaincy work and my personal practice of awakening to a gentler, less cluttered, way of thinking and living.

I sat and walked with him (alongside 2000 others!) at Spirit Rock.

A gentle man with a simple message of mindfulness for anyone whether a person of faith or not.

Thich Nhat Hanh, Walking Meditation with Children #2. New Hamlet

from Thich Nhat Hanh, the Breath and Mindful Engagement

“I had been reading his books on meditation for years, bringing his simple call to mindful awareness through breathing into lessons shared with people I worked with in the jails, shelters and streets. For example, he wrote: “whatever we are doing, we pause for a moment and just enjoy our breathing” (“Peace is Every Step”). Thay—meaning “teacher”—continually offered us basic instructions for being more alive and better humans, especially in the midst of suffering. He presented a teaching I rarely heard, or hear, in other religious traditions or teachers of faith. With an emphasis on personal mindfulness, the intent was to be more awake in order to be more fully engaged with the world and the world’s suffering. What if more faith teachers encouraged this healthy balance of personal fulfillment interwoven with community involvement?”

Read the complete column this weekend

Categories: buddhismTags: , , , , , ,


  1. I am so glad you are writing about Brother Thay!
    He has been a huge helpful presence in my mental life and theological struggles. How wonderful to be able to be present at his services in real time on line! As I was watching the crowds in Vietnam and thought about all the communities around the world who look to him, I was marveling at how one slight man can have such a global effect of peacefulness and compassion. As I watched, at times my “Bell of Mindfulness” from Plum Village spoke from my cell phone, reminding me (in an amalgamation with Abraham Heschel!) “Just to be is blessing.” : ) How neat to have been in Thay’s company with 2,000 of your closest friends! Looking forward to your Citizen-Times piece!! Thank you so much for sharing there!!!

    I love the guided meditation on the Plum Village page that lists the “continuation” ceremonies: [transcribed]

    “Dear Sanga, friends….
    Now we will practice a guided meditation on coming in touch with Thay
    not in his physical body
    but in the different manifestations.

    Breathing in….

    Breathing out….

    I am aware that Thay is not his body
    I am aware that Thay is not caught in his body

    I am aware Thay is life without limits
    I am aware that Thay has never been born and never died

    I am aware of Thay in millions of galaxies arising from consciousness
    in mountains & rivers, galaxies, mountains, and rivers

    I smile to Thay
    I sit for Thay

    Smiling to Thay
    Sitting for Thay

    I wave goodbye to Thay
    I meet Thay in every moment of daily life
    Wave to Thay
    Meet Thay in daily life “

    from Plum Village

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