Happy 91st Birthday to Thich Nhat Hanh!

Photo by Paul Davis

What Gift Do You Give a Zen Master?

On Wednesday, October 11, 2017, it will be Thich Nhat Hanh's 91st birthday –or as our beloved teacher likes to call it, his Continuation Day!

You may wonder, “What kind of gift can I give a Zen master? A person who already practices to have all the conditions of happiness? What would be meaningful for Thay?”

We would like to offer this response: We can give Thay the gift of compassion.

Compassion contains a deep concern for the suffering of others, and Thay has often said, “Compassion is a verb.”

For most of his life, Thay aspired to bring mindfulness into the world in order to help relieve suffering. Amidst the devastation of the Vietnam War, Thay and his colleagues actively helped those in need while remaining grounded in their own mindfulness practice. From this work, “Engaged Buddhism” was born—a new kind of Buddhism that is fully present with the challenges of our time, and where spiritual growth and service to society go hand in hand.

Offer Thay the Gift of Compassion

For the month of October (and beyond if you’d like), we invite you and your Sangha to offer Thay and the world the gift of compassion. One compassionate word, action, or thought can reduce another person’s suffering and bring them joy. A gift of compassion could be big or small. It could be for another person, or it could be for yourself. Be creative! Some examples are:

  • Volunteer at your local food bank, animal shelter, or other nonprofit organization
  • Donate to your favorite charity in order to support a cause close to your heart
  • Set up a screening of “Walk With Me” in your town
  • Turn off your phone for the evening and just relax (or find another form of digital detox)
  • Say kind and encouraging words to your loved one, a coworker, or even a stranger
  • Smile and say “Hi” to a homeless person
  • Offer a 15-minute meditation at your workplace
  • Write a love letter to your local elected official
  • Organize a social gathering of different spiritual, racial, or political groups to foster understanding and build community

Let us know how you continue Thay’s practice of Engaged Buddhism!

You may share a writing, a picture, or any kind of expression on social media and include these hashtags: #ContinuingThay #EngagedBuddhism. Or email us at socialmedia@thichnhathanhfoundation.org.  

We know you are there, and we are so happy!

With gratitude for your beautiful practice of compassion,

Your friends at the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation