Continuing the Deep Practice of Generosity
The Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation
The Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation is so grateful for the opportunity to share space in this publication, which so beautifully honors the rich and transformative life of dear Thay and celebrates 40 years of our beloved Plum Village Monastery.
We also recently celebrated an anniversary: our 10th. In 2011, Thay and Sister Chan Khong blessed the creation of a team of professional lay practitioners and monastic liaisons to raise funds to support the work of our growing community.
For the foundation, this was a great honor and a formidable challenge. For half a century, Sister Chan Khong did a masterful job of gathering donations to expand and maintain the monasteries across the globe, support humanitarian work in Vietnam, and so much more.
Like everything she does, Sister Chan Khong’s fundraising was an act of great love, compassion, and humility. She often compares fundraising to her work during the war in Vietnam, when she went from household to household humbly asking each person for a handful of rice. Soon there was enough to feed a village of women and children.
Those who donated rice were fed, too, by Sister Chan Khong, who helped them understand that a small gift can have enormous impact.
While the foundation was created to take the task of fundraising off of the monastic community so they can concentrate more on spreading the Dharma, we strive to embody Sister Chan Khong’s approach to honoring the giver as well as the gift: to be her continuation in the same way we, as practitioners, talk about being Thay’s continuation. And there is a great deal of work yet to do to honor their intertwined visions for our global community.
In an episode of the Plum Village podcast The Way Out is In–supported by your donations–Brother Phap Huu recalled a remark that Thay made to him during the 2013 visit to Hong Kong, which turned out to be their last teaching tour together. Sharing cups of tea after lunch, Thay looked at Brother Phap Huu and said, “Thay has already renewed Buddhism by 60 percent. And the future, that 40 percent–it’s in the hands of my students, my descendants, monastic and lay. You all have the responsibility of keeping the Dharma wheel spinning.”
There are many ways we can keep the Dharma wheel spinning, just as Avalokiteshvara–the bodhisattva of great compassion–has a multitude of arms to meet the needs of the world. There are the teachings and deep practices shared by our monastic and lay teachers; there are the thousands of lay sanghas that meet regularly to meditate and recite the mindfulness trainings; there is a growing body of resources, from books and videos to meditation apps, to water the seeds of practitioners’ compassion and understanding; and there is the work of the foundation to help ensure that all these wonderful gifts can continue to flow outward to the world and help ease the suffering of all living beings.
In the scheme of things, 10 or 40 years is not long at all. In many ways, Thay’s work is just beginning. All of us reading this lovely publication are invited to find our place in the beautiful story that Thay and Sister Chan Khong envisioned for our beloved community: to become an unshakeable siblinghood rooted in peace and committed to joy, gratitude, transformation, and generosity of spirit.
In a Dharma talk on Thay’s continuation, Brother Phap Linh (Brother Spirit) said it’s good to assess our day each night, to ask how skillfully we spoke and acted. And that it’s important to remember the ways we were generous and kind, as well as ways we disappointed ourselves or others.
“When we’ve been generous, when we’ve been loving, it’s also kind of letting our ancestors know that, yes, we’re doing OK, this is good,” Brother Phap Linh said. “We know that Thay loved life, he loved to do all these things, so it’s very easy if we want to live like Thay that we just do the things that Thay loved.”
Thank you for continuing Thay, for continuing to work on those things that Thay loved, and for supporting our community with so much care and generosity for more than 40 years.
With a deep bow,
The Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation Family