I received the news today, January 22, of the great bodhisattva Thich Nhat Hahn’s passing with tremendous emotion. I am overcome with gratitude for the ways in which his teachings and his life have nurtured my own life. There is a sense of relief that his luminous self is no longer constrained within his frail body.
My prayers go out first for Sister Chan Khong and the nuns, monks, and lay people in his communities in Vietnam, France, and around the world. Many of you reading this may join me in feeling a sense of loss and grief at the news of Thay’s death. Let us take comfort and be encouraged by his own teachings – Thich Nhat Hahn did not believe life ends when the breath stops. Christians too affirm, as in the Episcopal burial liturgy, that with death, life is changed, not ended, and we can trust that the most compassionate, loving people continue their work of healing and liberation. The resurrection of Jesus announces with certainty the triumph of life over death and love eternal.
We may find, just as Thay said in 2014 about his friend Martin Luther King Jr., that we can continue to feel Thay’s support and experience his help, even though he has passed out of this mortal life. May his teachings continue to inspire you, and may he and all the holy ones in light lend you their aid, and may we all experience the overflowing love of God that creates and sustains the Beloved Community.
Photo: This photo was taken in 2019, during my visit to Thich Nhat Hahn’s monastic community in Vietnam.