Thank You, Thay
During the memorial week for Thay, we received an outpouring of gratitude from people all over the world who have been touched by Thay’s teachings. We offer you a selection to read here. Each gratitude while coming from one person in fact represents a multitude of others who have been touched in similar ways.
“I heard about Thay during a casual conversation at work. That same day I searched for him on YouTube and watched my first Dharma talk. By the end of that week I’d booked a ticket to fly to Bordeaux from Mexico City for the final week of the Summer Retreat in Plum Village in 2014.
“Little did I know then that it would be the last Summer Retreat taught directly by Thay. I arrived in a state of utter exhaustion, incredibly angry at the world, and could not see a way out. Within five short days, a deep transformation had taken place. There was lightness, joy, and hope in my heart. I made lifelong friends. I took the Five Mindfulness Trainings and do my best every day to put them into practice. My life is infinitely clearer, more grounded, calm, spacious, and filled with gratitude. Thank you so much, dear Teacher, dear Community. For everything.”Tanya
“At 00:00 hours, January 22, 2022, Thay moved outside of time. Has he passed? Is he dead? What do we see when we study the corpse? What is it that we mourn?
“Thay was like a sun-drenched boat that kept me warm and safe on the way to the shore. He taught me how to touch the water and the earth as a means of feeling my own fundamental goodness and wisdom. He taught me how to discern the moon from the pointing finger, the name from the flower, the righteous anger from the fear, the crying infant from the tender parent. He showed me the joys and peace of uni-tasking and taking a single step. He taught me that every mindful breath is our shared humanity. He reminded me of the value of all relationships.
“Most importantly, whatever the song, dance, or form of my practice- that just to practice- is enough. I miss him. And he continues…”James Vining
“Dear Thay, how does one say thank you for helping me to come home to myself? I bow in immense gratitude for your love, wisdom, teachings, the sangha and showing us the path. You are a true gift to humanity. I feel your whispers of wisdom in my heart and in every step. May I be your worthy continuation dear Thay and spread the message of love and compassion through my work, presence and being.”Rani
Meeting Thay on retreat
“Thay has been such a grounding and inspiring human in my life. Two of my favorite things he has said: ‘You never appreciate the absence of a toothache,’ and, ‘In this world we have honey and so we also have bees.’
“This second quote is from a time I went to Deer Park Monastery to hear him speak. While on walking meditation, a woman stepped on a hive of bees and the angry bees stung the entire group. People were shrieking. Thay stayed calm as leaders at the monastery helped those who were stung. He then walked with some of the group back up to where he was giving his talk. Amidst the drama of the moment, people eventually made their way back to the building to sit down for the talk but there was a lot of anxiety and confusion in the air. After some time passed, Thay came and sat down at the front of the room, rang the bell to begin his talk, and all he said to address what had happened was – “in this world we have honey and so we also have bees.’ It’s a moment I will never forget.”Alisa
“While volunteering in Plum Village, I was asked to clear the leaves as Thay was unexpectedly coming this way. I started sweeping as fast as I could. A sister gently walked towards me saying, ‘Perhaps if you do the same thing with mindfulness…’ My ego silently responded, ‘But it won’t be clean before he arrives.’ Yet knowing the right path, I slowed down and diligently practiced mindfulness, matching my breathing to my raking. A few moments later, I felt an energy behind me. I turned and there was Thay smiling at me, leaves or no leaves. I have stayed on this path to this day, to this moment.”Earleen
“On a retreat at Plum Village in 2010, Thay led nearly 1,000 of us on walking meditation. Thay had children with him at the front – my son was one of them. Thay gazed at him and put his hand on my son’s head. My son was very moved. I was behind in the silent, slow moving line. We were breathing and mentally chanting ‘I have arrived, I am home’ with each ball to toe mindful step. Our walk was so quiet, peaceful, and slow. I saw a small rabbit by the path totally unthreatened and it made me see the power of peace to allay fear and foster harmony. A beautiful lesson – one of many – from Thay.”Tilda
“Every day I try to live up to the Dharma name Thay gave me— Happy Sunshine of the Heart. My partner teasingly says ‘Cheer up, Happy Sunshine,’ when I am brooding and sulking. I am so grateful to Thay for even thinking that I can live up to his challenge! I can’t believe my great fortune to cross paths with Thay in this lifetime.”Richard
“Dear Thay, thank you for being the best teacher in the world. Your body has left us but your spirit, words, wisdom, and guidance will be with us all always. I believe your wisdom will continue to ripple the planet until the final days of mankind. You have been my teacher since I was sixteen years old. You radically transformed my life and the lives of so many others.
“Because of you, my organization has taught hundreds of thousands of children mindfulness, compassion, gratitude, mindful walking and eating. There are millions of little souls all over the globe whose lives you have touched. Thank you for being a ‘Mission Be Mindful Hero’.
“When the heart weeps for what it has lost, the spirit laughs for what it has found.’ I am joyful because I found you. Thank you!”Carin
“My name is Kevin and I’m from Canada. I never got to meet Thay, but I still have a relationship with him through his books. Here are a few that deeply impacted me: Anger, Fear, Silence, and No Mud, No Lotus. Each book changed the way I view life. I have become a more peaceful being because of him and the Dharma. ‘Clouds never die’ … but my tears don’t care. I wish that I could have met him, just to feel the presence of such a magnificent human being.
“My heart is with you, Plum Village. May your compassion and love for one another carry you through your grief.”Kevin
“I am at once filled with both beauty and sadness, heaviness and lightness. I planned to some day visit Plum Village and practice with the sangha and Thich Nhat Hanh – a teacher I never met but who has somehow touched my life so deeply over the years. I regret that I will never have that chance to sit with him. Thank you so much for the lightness and the heaviness … the beauty and the sadness.”Derek
Reading Thay’s books and listening to his teachings
“I am so thankful. Thanks to Thay and his books and online teachings, I managed to return to mindfulness at least a bit–every now and then. In my darkest hours I know where to look/read. He has helped me to understand myself so much better … to even care for myself a lot more so I can be a better mother for my little daughter. Being a single Mum ain’t easy–but thanks to Thay, I’ve had enough power to push through, to keep on working on myself for the right reasons. I will keep on going and trying and learning.”Tanja
“Some years ago I was thinking about taking my own life and that day I found a video from Thay about looking deeply into the nature of things. I didn’t know anything about this great master, but Thay’s words gave me the hope to live. I cried so much that day. I couldn’t believe the connection I found with someone just with a video.
“From that moment, Thay became the center of my life, he became a teacher through distance, the right water for the seeds in my consciousness to come alive and let many people around me know about his teachings, compassion, mindfulness, and loving-kindness. Now I have to keep spreading his teachings, because I know I am his continuation and by doing this, I can keep him alive in my heart and on my mind.”Roberto
“I don’t have words to describe how Thay’s teachings have helped me make peace with myself after a lifetime of suffering from the effects of childhood trauma. I work in a K–12 public school with kids who often experience toxic stress and trauma. Through Thay’s teachings, I have avoided burnout and have been able to continue helping others. Thank you.”Jennifer
“Thay’s book Peace is Every Step saved my life. It was like drinking a cup of cool water after forty days and nights in the desert! The simplicity and utter logic of his message drove straight to my heart. I have given almost thirty copies of that book to friends and colleagues who were suffering. We are all Thay’s continuation. May we all live up to that challenge!”Cynthia
“Thay’s life changed mine forever. I didn’t believe I had value until I picked up The Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings. Thay taught me I had been so wrong. He showed me the kind of person I wanted to be, and that she was already in me, waiting to wake up. He will live on in all of us who love him and owe him for such a simple and profound truth.”Ciera
“Thay came into my life in 2016 just after my sister suddenly passed away and I was lost in the pain. I discovered him on YouTube and found refuge in the gentleness and loving-kindness in his words and his presence. He helped me grieve and find joy again. He has become a teacher to me although I am a Christian. He will live on in my heart and actions. May he be rewarded with eternal rest and peace and may we be his continuation on the path of love and compassion.”Trish
“I found a copy of The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching in the laundry room of my apartment building eleven years ago. It transformed my life and how I interact with the world. It set me on a journey of mindfulness, open-hearted curiosity, and practice. I had the privilege to experience a retreat at Blue Cliff. Watering the seeds of wisdom and compassion and embracing impermanence and joy has resulted in action, from co-leading meditation each week with my colleagues at the US Environmental Protection Agency; to community building, social justice and anti-racism work; to transforming old patterns of dealing with anger and loving more authentically. I still have much to learn. Thank you, Thay. I bow deeply. May we all be happy, peaceful, and free.”Denise