Letter of Thay
PLUM VILLAGE PRACTICE CENTRE OFFICE: LE PEY, 24240 THENAC, France. Tel. +33 5 53 58 48 58, FAX +33 5 53 58 49 17
Zen Master Thích Nhất Hạnh
Plum Village Practice Centre
Village des Pruniers
24240 Thenac, FRANCE
26th October, 2018
Most Respected Venerable Elders and descendants of the Root Temple Tu Hieu,
It is with great joy that I am able to return to Vietnam today in time for the annual Ceremony of Tending the Ancestral Teachers Stupa at our Root Temple. Although I have lived many years abroad, every year when autumn comes, my heart always returns to the ancestral teachers of Tu Hieu Temple and I touch the earth before them. Last year I came back to visit the stupa of the ancestral teachers and this year I have come again to pay them my respects. I should like to take this opportunity to invite you, most honored venerables, to come to the Root Temple so that we can offer each other our presence and reconnect in the warm spirit of brotherhood and sisterhood. The joy, peace and happiness of being together in harmony is the most precious gift that we can lay before the ancestral teachers of the Root Temple on their memorial day this year.
Since leaving the Bao Quoc Institute of Buddhist Studies more than seventy years ago, I have devoted my life to realizing the vision that the ancestral teachers have entrusted to me, as recorded in the transmission gatha that I received from my Teacher.
Heading in the one direction of embracing the loving vitality of Spring, is to walk the path of heroes.
Acting in such a way that is neither caught in ideas or notions, nor taking sides in partisan conflict,
The light of mindfulness illuminates our true nature,
And in both East and West the wonderful Dharma is realized.
Professor John Powers, the Buddhist scholar, in his recent book The Buddhist World (Routledge, 2015) identifies thirteen Buddhist teachers who have contributed to the evolution and growth of Buddhism over the last 2,500 years. The Buddha is named the first of these and Thich Nhat Hanh the tenth, followed by many renowned teachers of our time including Master Yinshun (11), His Holiness the Dalai Lama (12), and Buddhadasa Bhikkhu (13). This is not only an honour for me as an individual but for our Root Temple and for Vietnamese Buddhism as a whole.
It is an honour for all of us to have been able to fulfil, at least in part, the task our ancestral teachers have entrusted to us. The river of the Dharma Nectar of the Root Temple and Vietnamese Buddhism has now reached every corner of the world, helping relieve suffering in both East and West. We have come full circle and I realise it is now time for me to return to the Root Temple. It has been my deep wish for many years now to return and live where my ancestral teachers lived and there build a strong foundation for study, training and practice.
That is why I have decided to return to Vietnam to live on the land of my ancestral teachers, to offer my presence to my monastic brothers and descendants of the Root Temple until the day this body disintegrates. We now have countless descendants of the Root Temple all over the world. Out of love for and compassion for all future generations of international Buddhist practitioners in our lineage, I wish to end my days in the home of my spiritual ancestors so that all the descendants of the Root Temple can have a refuge to return to.
After landing in Vietnam from Thailand, I am now resting in Da Nang and will return home to the Root Temple soon. I sincerely hope very much that all my monastic brothers and sisters, descendants of the Root Temple can join me there at 10 o’clock on Saturday 3rd November for a joyful gathering together.
May you have strength and peace in body and mind, and may your career as a descendant of the Buddha always be successful.
Thay Nhat Hanh
The Head of Tu Hieu Lineage and Abbot of the Tu Hieu Root Temple.
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With: *Thay Phap An