Dear brothers and sisters in Thay’s family: During the Vietnam War, in my early 20s, I first heard of Thich Nhat Han’s quiet courage and peaceful walking. Many years later, when I was looking for a spiritual path rooted in real life, the teachings of mindfulness reconnected me with Thay through his books and videos. His way of speaking, walking, and smiling made me able to believe him when he taught us that we are all interconnected, supported by and responsible for one another.
I was able to attend two retreats with Thay, in 2011 and 2013. During the second, I summoned up the courage to sit on stage with him during the Q &A, and ask him a question of the heart. I felt his silent attention to each person who asked a question, and saw how he let his answer rise up from the depth of his inner peace.
In the years that I’ve been walking on Thay’s path, my own understanding has deepened, and along with it, my awe and respect for what lies at the root of his teachings. At first, I was only capable of practicing mindfulness from the outside in. Little by little, i saw that Thay was giving us a way to touch Just This, in each moment of experience. He could do that because he lived from that depth of experience himself. Seeing that encouraged me to believe that I too could be truly alive in the here and now. Not just as a goal or an idea, but as a reality. “There is no way to peace; peace is the way.”
I feel so lucky to have met Thay and to have become part of his sangha family. I know that he is alive in us, and that gives me the desire to keep walking his path with you all.