A Special Message from Sister Chan Khong

Dear Friends of Breathing Heart Sangha,

As I write to you today, I am listening to the bird songs outside my window. The signs of spring are all around reminding us that it is a time for new life, for hope, and renewal. By coming back to our breath, we can touch the “spring” in ourselves at any time.


Touching the freshness and hope in ourselves on a regular basis is so important, particularly now. We know that so many people have been suffering deeply, feeling the loss of human connection that is so essential to our well-being. And yet, as long as we have our spiritual family, we are not alone.

One of the unanticipated benefits of the pandemic has been the flowering of many ways to be nourished by the Dharma and to connect with our spiritual family. Thousands of people have joined the online retreats and courses offered by our monasteries around the world. And many people now attend their Sangha meetings and sitting groups virtually. We are so fortunate to have the practice to sustain us; I encourage you to make use of all of the Dharma doors that are available.


I am writing to you now to humbly ask for your help. Last summer, I wrote asking if you could spare a “handful of rice” by becoming a monthly supporter to help provide the basic needs for our monastics. You came to our aid, and we were able to feed and shelter our monastics in 2020. We are so deeply grateful. Your overwhelming generosity not only nourished us physically, but it helped sustain us in this challenging time.

We, your monastic family, are working daily to nourish you. Over the winter, we prepared new online retreats that are being offered this spring and summer. You can join upcoming online retreats here.

At Plum Village Monastery in France, we also worked on plans for renovations required by the French government so that we can have retreatants once we are allowed to reopen.

Unfortunately, we don’t know exactly when our practice centers will be able to reopen for retreatants. Until then, I want to ask for your support again. We will not be able to make it through this crisis alone. We place our trust in the generosity of our Sangha and ask for your help. Whether a large or small gift, monthly or one-time, every bit adds up to make a difference, just as it did by offering a handful of rice during war time.

As you know, our monastics live very simply. In Europe for example, our food budget is only €4 a day per monastic.

I hope you will consider offering a donation through our global giving arm, the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation. Please support of the monastic community, your practice center, and the thousands of people who like you, want to heal and transform.

If you aren’t familiar with the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation, it was created ten years ago at Thay’s and my request to serve our community. It is based in the United States but cares for all of our practice centers and donors around the world. The Foundation will ensure that your gifts are distributed to our monasteries most in need at any given time.

Thank you again my dear community. I join the birds singing in the garden outside my window and offer you verses from a song I like to sing called “The Smile.”

I smile to the star that still shines in the sky,

To the sun that slowly guides us out of the night,

To the day that begins,

To the enchanting bird,

I smile to the world and the world smiles to me.

I smile to you and the world.


In love and trust,

Sister Chan Khong


P.S. We look forward to seeing you at one of our practice centers once we can reopen.

To see and hear Sister Chan Khong sing “The Smile,” click here.

The Smile

I smile to the star that still shines in the sky,

To the sun that slowly guides us out of the night,

To the day that begins,

To the enchanting bird,

I smile to the world and the world smiles to me.

I smile to the child that crosses my way,

I remember also all those who are hungry.

Those who live in misery all over the planet,

Who have to face the war, who lost their mother.

If sometime my smile is moistened by tears,

When I see the great pain that spreads over the world,

I shall still be smiling with tears in my eyes,

Smiling to life. Smiling to death.

And one day will come when it is bitterly cold,

When even my footsteps will not leave any mark,

The never-ending current of life energy

Will carry me along, and I will not look back.

The fear will no longer block my way.

My heart finally opens very wide.

Then I will become the smile of the earth,

Of the flower, of the sun, of the wind and the rain.

And one day, perhaps, in a very small child,

I will open my eyes to the wonders of life.

And the little more loving, and the little more smiling

I will continue this wonderful way.

As we say in the Plum Village tradition, “You are, therefore I am. We wish you and your loved ones safety, health, and ease.
For practice tips and Dharma talks, please visit our 2021 Resources.