Ahimsa is a volunteer driven, non profit organisation geared towards cultural, social development and educational work aimed at creating peace and harmony within oneself, ones' family and in society. Ahimsa aims to spread the ethics of peace and non violence through alliances and programmes in the areas of mindfulness in education, culture, environment, gender sensitization, responsible tourism and sustainable livelihoods.
Ahimsa Trust represents the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh and his community in India.
Ahimsa Trust organizes regular mindfulness meditation practice sessions and other programmes. For more details, please click here
Re: Thay’s present health condition and how to support Thay’s recovery
Plum Village, February 19, 2015
To all Plum Village Practice Centers,
To all Practice Centers and Sanghas World Wide,
To our Dear Beloved Friends,
As we enter the Lunar New Year, and our practice centers conclude our annual 90-day Winter Retreat, we are very happy to report that our dear Teacher continues to steadily make extraordinary progress.
Thay has now moved to a specialist stroke rehabilitation clinic, where he is receiving the best possible professional care. The team of monastic attendants work closely with doctors, nurses and professional therapists, and accompany Thay twenty-four hours a day, offering massage, acupuncture and comfort care, and helping Thay with his physical training.
Thay is steadily recovering his strength and rebuilding his muscles day by day. We have been struck by Thay’s great determination, motivation, courage and concentration as he sets his own program to train himself to learn anew how to sit upright, stand, and move his limbs.
The medical team is also helping Thay learn to swallow again, and last week Thay was able to drink his first cup of tea since November. The attendants prepared Thay’s favorite tea in his cup, and Thay even signalled to invite everyone to drink a cup of tea with him. Contemplating the tea, Thay smiled, put his hand on his heart, and looked up. All could clearly see that Thay was reminding everyone to bring our mind back to our body and to look deeply into the tea, really enjoying the tea and the presence of those around us.
During the last full moon of the lunar year, Thay enjoyed watching the moon rise from his bed, and invited the attendants to enjoy it silently with him. In the peace and joy with which he enjoyed the moon, we can see Thay’s love for the wonders of life and his generosity in teaching us to cherish these wonders at every moment.
With each week that passes Thay is becoming increasingly alert and engaged. Although Thay is not yet able to speak, he has begun to vocalize, and is developing a means of communicating silently with his attendants and physicians. Thay’s path of healing is still long, yet we know that every moment can be a moment to deeply touch the wonders and miracles of life.
We are very grateful for the great compassion and support that Thay has received from his global Sangha Body, creating wonderful conditions for his recovery and healing. We are thankful for your practice of mindfulness and prayers sending positive energy to Thay, and for your letters, donations, and the many beautiful children’s drawings.
Here in France the cold winter is beginning to give way to beautiful blossoms, in time to decorate the hamlets for the Lunar New Year, Thay’s favorite festival. Last week the community prepared hundreds of traditional “Earth Cakes”, and stayed up all night with music and song to cook them over open fires. Each New Year Thay offers us a compact “parallel verse,” to guide our practice in the year to come. For this New Year of the Goat the Plum Village elders have chosen an excerpt of a poem written by Thay, which hangs at the altar of the Still Water Meditation Hall in Upper Hamlet:
Look deeply to understand clearly
Listen deeply to truly love
These phrases have been written in calligraphy and prepared in “diamonds” that can be printed and posted around your home or workplace, as gentle reminders to practice. (You may download the print-friendly pdf here >>>)
Wishing you health, happiness and many fruits of the practice,
The Monks and Nuns of Plum Village
Future reports on Thay’s recovery will be posted officially at
plumvillage.org, langmai.org, villagedespruniers.org, and www.facebook.com/thichnhathanh.
On behalf of the Monastic Dharma Teacher Council of Plum Village,
Bhikkhu Thich Chan Phap Dang
Bhikkhuni Thich Nu Chan Khong Nghiem
Our Beloved is in Us - message from Shantum
Dear Thay, Dear Sangha,
I am sitting in a hotel room in Kushinagar where the Buddha passed away. It is 3 am and I am awake being with Thay as he transitions from one state of consciousness to another.
The Thay I have known, associated with and loved for over 25 years will not be the same. I will have to look for him, visit him and listen to him in different ways and forms.
I recall in 1988 as we sat on a coach, traveling between Vaishali and Kushinagar 'In the Footsteps of the Buddha'. He was sitting in the front seat of the coach by the window and I sat next to him on the aisle seat. I was still a naive student and some of my interests in spirituality were linked to the developing of miraculous powers. I asked him whether I could practice so that I can develop the power to be in more than one place at the same time. He looked at me with compassionate and understanding eyes and said, 'All in good time'.
Today more than 25 years later, I see Thay everywhere. I see him in our traveling pilgrimage sangha, with Eileen, Valerie, Susan and 20 others as we walk together 'In the Footsteps of Thay'. I see him in the village in Vaishali where we met some Buddhists and he suggested we set up a practice centre. I see him relaxing on a hammock on Vulture peak. I see him teaching at Nalanda. I see him continuing to turn the wheel of the Dharma in Sarnath. I see him teaching the children of Bodh Gaya and I see him teaching on birth and death in Kushinagar.
I see him in the Banyan Tree that he planted on the land for the Mindfulness Practice Ashram in Dehradun, the Sita Ashok tree at Sanskriti in Delhi, the Banyan at the Root institute in Bodh Gaya and the Bodhi Tree in Sujata's village in Bakrour.
I see him in my daughter, Nandini whom he held so tenderly soon after she was born and called her the 'sangha baby' when we lived in Plum Village. I see him in Gitu, whom he calls Zhitu ( as the French pronounce G as a Zh), as he lovingly married us together and later made us role play Dharma drama, as a quarreling wife and husband who could 'begin anew' in front of village kids and later as mother and child, when Gitu was pregnant. I see him in our other daughter, Anamika, knowing that each time I call her name, which means 'cannot be defined by name' it is a teaching I received from Thay not to get caught in the idea or concept of something, and remembering that we are only 'participants in her life'. I see him in my mother and father with whom he so compassionately shared the practice of telephone meditation ( for the second time, on his return to India after 12 years). I see him in my in-laws who so hospitably hosted him in Dehradun, while the monks and nuns loved playing on the slides and swings. I see him in Aradhana (my sister) who caringly crafted a film on Thay's visit to India in 2008. I see him in Vikram (my brother) who mimics, 'Be Happy' in an affectionate way.
I see him in the Linden tree in Upper hamlet that supported the swing he sat on. I see him in the tasty tofu that he shared with us from his plate. I see him in each step I take on the pilgrimage, in how he encouraged that I develop 'pilgrimage as a practice'. I see him in so many of my brothers and sisters, so clearly in Sister Chan Khong, Sister Dinh Nghiem, in Brother Phap Huu, Brother Phap Niem and too many to mention. He is truly without boundaries and was never born and can never die.
I see him in the empty cup from which he has sipped cups of tea already knowing that he was transmitting himself in his presence. I see him on the empty cushion, knowing the sound of the bell is in the air and I bow deeply in the Eleven Directions (including the direction within).
As Sheila reads the teachings given to Anathapindika by Shariputra yesterday, as we sat in Vaishali near the stupa where the relics of the Buddha were found, I realised the profundity of the teachings and practice and Thay telling me once when I was wearing a turban, that the issue of life and death is as urgent as if my turban was on fire.
A few weeks ago as we sat at the place in Kushinagar, where the Buddha's relics were distributed into 8 parts by the Brahmin Drona, for stupas to be built on the relics, Brother Phap Dung shared how Thay did not want his remains encased in a stupa. However, Thay also knew that it is very likely that some of his grieving students will do exactly that, and so he said that if such a stupa is built, then a sign can be put on it saying ' Thay is not in here', and then he added in his gentle and humorous way that maybe it is also good to put another sign, saying, ' Thay is not out there either'.
This morning our pilgrimage sangha co led by Eileen and Jack from the Mountain Lamp sangha will walk to the cremation ground where the Buddha's body was cremated 2,600 years ago and sit by the Hiranyavati river to send healing energy through meditation, chanting and floating lotuses along the river (and of course one day the lotuses will return to be mud! ). However through Thay I realise that the Buddha never died. Tomorrow we shall cross the border to Lumbini, where the Buddha manifested as a baby from mother Maya's womb, and again Thay made me understand that the there was not a single point in time and space that we can say the Baby Buddha was born. He had been in his mother's womb for 10 months (Indian months are 28 days each) before that and in his mother and father before that and so on. He was never born and he never died and his umbilical cord was connected to everything, past, present and future. Thay as he transitions and transforms, continues to teach us as he always has - with patience, compassion and generosity.
The sun will rise as it always does. Another day will dawn. I will await news of Thay's health condition as his body struggles against the inevitability of sickness. My heart is deeply pained with sorrow, and yet I know that Thay is continuing to teach with each breath and non-breath. To paraphrase part of the Bhaddekaratta sutra, death comes unexpectedly, we cannot bargain with it. A sage is one who lives in the present, mindfully day and night.
Thay is free, as the Buddha was many centuries ago. There are few of us who are able to transcend the constraints and concepts of birth and death, but when our teachers show us the potential of the human being in being awakened, in being free, in being the white cloud in the blue sky, we know that we can do it too.
Thank you dear Thay for all you have shared with me, a young Indian, wandering in confusion on the west coast of the US. You showed me a path and how to walk on it, to touch peace, how to breathe in awareness, how to smile to the miracle of being alive, to accept and caress my pain and to develop love for my family, friends and four fold sangha. You showed me that the tear that is now trickling down my cheek will become rain one day and wash away the sorrow in so many, by providing nourishment and healing.
How can one person do so much and help free so many people. I see that in Gandhiji, I see that in Ambedkar, (both of whom I did not personally meet). I see that in the Dalai Lama in our time. I see it so clearly in Thay and I am blessed to be able to call him my teacher, my wise friend, my spiritual father and in that to know that freedom and awakening is possible.
I feel the Nobel Peace prize committee will regret that they did not give the recognition to the Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh, as they have regretted not giving that recognition to Mahatma Gandhi. I have been fortunate to be with him as he spoke with the most powerful parliamentarians and the president in India, to senators and congressmen in the US, to the many powerful business people of the world, to the czars of IT community, to the heads of media, to the leading medical practitioners, to thousands of Dalits who have embraced the BuddhaDharma, to parents of young people who are afraid of their children becoming monastics, to young children including the ragged beggar girls and boys whom he played with, to the thousands and thousands of people who came to hear him year after year all across the world. Each one, I feel was touched by his words and presence. In addition millions have been inspired by his books.
Thay and Sister Chan Khong jokingly used to remind me that I used to ask a lot of questions when we first met, and slowly, over time, I did not seem to ask many. But a few days ago, a question that has been nagging me, arose again. If everything is manifested due to causes and conditions, then what is the 'unconditioned' that is spoken about, what is the 'ultimate reality'? And now as Thay transitions from no-birth to no-death, I realise that the conditioned and the unconditioned are the same, the relative and the ultimate are the same, it is just how we 'view' it, how we 'live' it, and that nothing can be born and nothing can die and everything alchemises due to everything else.
We walk together hand in hand in the Avatamsaka realm and look over the valley to Lower Hamlet, from the gap between the trees on the walking mediation path in Upper Hamlet and Smile.
Shantum ( Satya Marg...True Path)
A brief report on the Mindfulness workshop and retreats by
monastic and lay teachers from the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh in Delhi in October 2012
In October 2012, a group of monastics and lay people, who practice in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh and Plum Village, visited New Delhi, India. Their aspiration was to cultivate mindfulness in schools. This video was captured during that trip.
Srihaswani or Creative Manual Skills for Self-Reliant Development (CMSSRD): A gender case study, 1996-2012 by Krishno Dey, Chandana Dey, and Brenda Gael McSweeney. (From a book 'Gender perspectives in case studies across continents', Global Network of UNESCO Chairs on Gender. Editors: Gloria Bonder & Brenda Gael McSweeney... 2013), based on the work of Ahimsa in villages in West Bengal.