Dear Beloved Community,
Within a few weeks, on October 11th, Thầy will be 94 years old. We are so happy that Thầy has compassionately stayed with us since his massive stroke almost six years ago, offering his presence, stability, and witness, as we step up to nurture and grow the Plum Village international community, and continue his teachings and legacy.
Since October 2018, Thầy has been residing at Từ Hiếu Temple in Huế, where he first entered the monkhood almost 80 years ago. He has been able to make frequent visits to the familiar temple grounds, join the monastic community for walking meditations, ceremonies, and festivals, and interact with his students and well-wishers coming from all over the world to pay their respects. Since the coronavirus pandemic emerged, the temple has been closed, and precautions put in place to protect Thầy’s health.
Thầy’s health is still very variable, with times when he is weak, and other times when he is stronger. Although his spirit remains bright and strong, in the last month or so, Thầy’s body has been notably weaker, and he has lost his appetite.
As Thầy’s disciples, we are responsible for ensuring Thầy has every support he needs for body and spirit, and ensuring that all provisions for his care are adapted to the current Covid situation. At present, there is a quarantine in place before anyone can enter Vietnam, and another quarantine upon arrival in Huế. Since many of Thầy’s senior disciples have been serving and teaching in other countries over the last two years, it is our wish that some of those close to him can be present with Thầy for his upcoming birthday on October 11th. We are grateful that they have been given permission to enter the country during the pandemic.
We know that what nourishes and sustains Thầy’s spirit the most, is to hear all the ways that his students, both lay and monastic, all over the world, are continuing to put his teachings into practice in their daily life and in society. To celebrate Thầy’s “continuation day” on October 11th, we are inviting all of Thầy’s hundreds of thousands of students to practice walking meditation, and to forgive and love those with whom they have difficulties. This is a beautiful way to continue Thầy in the world, and nourish his spirit while he is still with us. May the energy of the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion continue to embrace our Teacher, our community, and all those who face difficult moments during this time.
We know that 2020 has been a difficult year. Many of us face loss, uncertainty, fear and discrimination. We have all had to let go of our plans, and re-examine what is essential for our wellbeing and happiness. We know we cannot take anything for granted. We are very lucky to still be alive, to have our loved ones, and a spiritual path to take refuge in.
Here in Plum Village, France, we have had to cancel our in-person retreats and move them online. We are grateful to the thousands of people who joined us. This week, we begin our annual 90-day Rains Retreat on the theme of non-discrimination. Thanks to the generosity of our donors and supporters, we will be able to deepen our studies, training, and practice. As a community, we vow to practice wholeheartedly these next three months. We will be live-streaming our teachings every Sunday, and uploading our talks every Thursday. We look forward to continuing to explore ways to continue to connect virtually with our global community, and, when conditions are sufficient, we look forward to welcoming you back to our practice centers again.
With love, gratitude, and trust,
The Monks and Nuns of Plum Village