13 Feb 2024

By Cambridge Sangha

Words of gratitude for Thay from Cambridge Sangha

Last month Cambridge Sangha offered a ceremony to mark two years of Thay’s passing. Some Sangha members read offerings remembering and appreciating Thay, which we share below:

Thay in my heart by Joy Magezis (True Wonderful Commitment)

Thay in my heart 
Glimpses drift back
Of what I remember from, of him

How Thay erased blackboard
His slow ease, such awareness 
Unlike me, teaching at college

Thay’s calm clarity rubbed off
As I took up his practices
Transmission energy from taking trainings

I can just see Thay
Making motions like throwing a ball
Keep letting go and letting go

Letting go of my ideas
Of who I am and who you are
Thay smiles, I’m like a cloud up here
And rain down there as you

Depth of that understanding
Of teacher, Buddha in each one
Brings confidence, he says 
Courage to be Bodichitta

Thay teaches of Beginners Mind
Awakening that in me
As he tells of entering monastery
Feeling the good, true and beautiful

On Thay’s first return to Vietnam
Connecting with commonalities
Saying monastics are good communists
As no money or possessions

Grateful to be in delegation
After grief, activism at war destruction
So healing to return with Thay
Great privilege being apart of peace

Thay teaches walking meditation
With wide smile and love
To hundreds in Binh Dinh temple 
Explains he treats nuns and monks equally

Monastics and grey-robed lay
Powerful mindfulness with our steps
Thay says, all should practice
Beyond offering devotion

Take vow,  when see anger rising 
Don’t do or say anything
Breathe, do walking meditation
Don’t want to hurt ourselves or others

Thay tells of peace treaty
Buddhist psychology with inner seeds
Family reconciliation
Vietnamese friends say this makes sense

Teenagers join retreat
To hear Grandfather Zen Master
They’re shocked hearing of western discontent
Money can’t buy happiness 

Happiness, surprise of Vietnamese 
To have westerners practice with them
I’m so pleased, touched being with sangha
If Vietnam can heal, so can my heart

In England Thay holds my granddaughter’s hand 
Playing naturally, so kindly with children
Telling them of his boyhood
We’re all so glad to listen 

In Germany I give Thay my poems
Wonderful, he says accepting them
I feel his light radiating
And his grounded humanity

In Lower Hamlet, I hold Thay’s ashes
Feeling sacred energy in my palm
I vow to practice deeply 
Scatter Thay on edge of lotus pond

Words of gratitude for Thay by Rachel Sackin-Poll

I first encountered Thay through his book ‘The Miracle of Mindfulness’. The depth, clarity and compassion of his words touched me deeply. ‘Here is someone who really understands life’, I thought. I felt he put into words vague feelings and intuitions that I carried inside whilst also introducing me to ideas and practices that were entirely new to me. Reading this book felt like I was entering a portal into another world, indeed, another way of living and experiencing reality and myself. 

Although I never physically met Thay, over the years that followed Thay has continued to both inspire and challenge me. When sufferings such as anxiety, doubt and a sense of the mundane have begun to take hold he has gently restored my faith in the miracle and wonder of life in me and around me. And, at other times, he has lovingly shaken up my way of perceiving things, inviting me to look again, and helping me to shine a light on habitual patterns so deep that I took them to be me.

I am also so grateful for the way in which Thay’s spirituality embraces Mother Earth, showing us the link between taking care of ourselves and our dear planet. As such, Thay has made me feel not only just ok about hugging trees and talking to flowers, but has given me new subject matter and questions with which to reverently and joyfully approach these aspects of nature!

So, thank you dear sangha for providing me the opportunity to reflect on Thay in this way and to recall the many ways in which I may still feel Thay’s presence and guidance in my daily life.