When Thich Nhat Hanh heard that someone had built a temple in Hanoi to commemorate his life, he sent a letter to the Tu Hieu temple in central Vietnam, where he trained as a novice monk, making it clear he does not want a shrine built in his honour when he dies:

“I said, don’t waste the land of the temple in order to build me a stupha.

Do not put me in a small pot and put me in there. I don’t want to continue like that.

It is better to put the ash outside to help the trees to grow. That is a meditation.

I recommend that they make the inscription outside on the front;

‘I am not in here’

and then if people do not understand, you add a second sentence;

‘I am not out there either’

and if still they don’t understand on the third and the last;

‘I may be found maybe in your way of breathing or walking.’”


Image from documentary film by Marc Francis “Walk with me”.


Message sent to Marc Francis : Hi Marc, Whilst humbly remembering all that Thay has taught me, I cannot help but wondering whether his followers at the funeral respected these words. Because in the photos published/relayed yesterday by Plum Village of the ceremony, there are pictures (taken before the incineration), of a kind of casket, also mentioned in the captions. Keeping my faith intact, I would like to think that probably it was only his material belongings.

Updated/maj. 30-01-2022

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