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Thich Nhat Hanh Transported To US For Intensive Rehabilitation, A ‘New Chapter’

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An update on Thich Nhat Hanh, beloved Zen Buddhist monk, teacher and author who is recovering from a stroke that left him unable to speak. An announcement from Plum Village informs us Thay, as he is called by those close to him, was transported to the US earlier this week “to receive a more intensive rehabilitation program that could be specifically adapted to his needs.”

Last November, news surfaced that Thay, 88, had suffered a “severe brain hemorrhage.” Though he was reportedly recovering “remarkably,” the decision was made recently to enter the US for further help from neurologists specializing in stroke and cognitive rehabilitation at UCSF Medical Center. Under their care, “Thay is very determined to do everything possible to recover both his physical movement and speech.”

The official notice explains:

With a new US team of doctors, we are confident Thay will continue to progress to his maximum capacity. It is a new chapter for our Teacher and our community. The doctors recommend that Thay follow an intensive program of therapy for five to six months, including hospital visits during which he will have access to the latest innovations in robotic rehabilitation techniques, as well as physical training with specialists. Thay will also have therapists visit and train with him at home during the other days of the week.

Our thoughts are with Thich Naht Hanh and the entire Zen Buddhist community.

Here’s the official release from Plum Village

Plum Village, France
July 14, 2015

To all Plum Village Practice Centers,
To all Practice Centers and Sanghas worldwide,
To our Dear Beloved Friends,

Since our last update, Thay has been able to communicate more clearly a very strong wish to intensify his recovery program. Thay is very determined to do everything possible to recover both his physical movement and speech. After many options were presented to Thay, he made a clear decision to travel to the United States to receive a more intensive rehabilitation program that could be specifically adapted to his needs.

We are happy to report that Thay arrived safely on the West Coast of the United States on the afternoon of July 11. In order to make the flight as safe as possible for Thay, he was flown in a private jet, generously offered by a kind friend. He was accompanied by Sister Chan Khong and the team of attendants who will be continuing their round-the-clock care for him during this new stage of recovery. Thay’s rehabilitation will be guided by a team of distinguished neurologists specializing in stroke and cognitive rehabilitation at UCSF Medical Center.

"Thay enjoying the fragrance of a lotus flower, 16 June, 2015" | image via Plum Village

“Thay enjoying the fragrance of a lotus flower, 16 June, 2015″ | image via Plum Village

We remain deeply grateful to all the bodhisattvas on the medical team in France, in particular the doctors and nurses at the University Hospital of Bordeaux. It is thanks to their loving care, professionalism, and kindness that Thay has made such remarkable progress. In preparation for Thay’s flight, they even set aside a whole day to conduct thorough medical tests to ensure he would be strong enough to make the journey.

With a new US team of doctors, we are confident Thay will continue to progress to his maximum capacity. It is a new chapter for our Teacher and our community. The doctors recommend that Thay follow an intensive program of therapy for five to six months, including hospital visits during which he will have access to the latest innovations in robotic rehabilitation techniques, as well as physical training with specialists. Thay will also have therapists visit and train with him at home during the other days of the week.

During the flight, Thay was relaxed and at ease, eager to practice walking meditation through the plane with the help of his attendants. He enjoyed looking out of the window and contemplating the icebergs passing beneath. When the flight finally touched down, Thay was determined to leave the plane on foot rather than in a wheelchair, and he smiled with the joy of arrival.

Thay’s diligence and determination are a powerful message for us all. Thay’s heart and mind will never abandon us or the practice. Although he cannot speak to us, he continues to transmit the essence of the practice. He continues to be with his beloved community, even in times of difficulty.

Let us renew our efforts to practice and connect with our Sangha, whether locally or at mindfulness retreats in practice centers around the world. Let us open our hearts and reach out to our loved ones and to those who are suffering and need a little kindness. We know that with every mindful step and breath, our collective energy of practice and togetherness is supporting our Teacher’s healing.

We have been able to assist Thay in realising his intention to come to the US thanks to the extraordinary generosity and support of a few friends. Now we would like to invite you all to participate in this new chapter of his journey. Thay has shown tremendous courage and determination in every moment since his stroke last November. Let us come together to do everything we can to support him. Many of us have expressed our appreciation to Thay by sending beautiful letters, cards, and well wishes over the past months. We are so grateful for this outpouring of love. And we invite you to express your gratitude for Thay in another concrete way, by helping us to take care of his medical costs at this pivotal time. Our wish is to raise the necessary funds as a collective manifestation of the love of the whole community – your contribution, no matter how small, will be an important support for Thay’s healing.  

The new team of specialists is preparing an estimate of overall costs for Thay’s rehabilitation program, and we expect it to be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Your gift will actively help give Thay the best possible chance of recovering his ability to walk and talk again.

We invite you to contribute at www.thichnhathanhfoundation.org/healingthay. We will keep this page updated with the latest information on Thay’s health care and our collective progress towards the fundraising goal. All gifts made through the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation are tax deductible for US donors.

We are deeply grateful for your generosity.

May you and your loved ones be peaceful, happy and light in body and spirit. May you experience your own deep healing and transformation on the beautiful path of practice that Thay has opened up for us all.

With love and trust,

The Monks and Nuns of Plum Village

As Thay’s recovery is progressing well, we will offer updates only from time to time. We will keep our global community informed of any major developments, and provide information on how you can continue to support Thay’s healing. All official announcements will continue to appear at plumvillage.org, langmai.org,villagedespruniers.org, and www.facebook.com/thichnhathanh.

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