Remembering Jim Forest - By Sister Chan Khong
Jim Forest was a true man of peace, of reconciliation, and of love. Jim gave me—and continued to give me—a lot of inspiration since we first met him at the office of the Buddhist Peace Delegation at Maison Alfort near Paris, while we were working to call for peace in Vietnam. Thanks to his deep background as a real man of Peace, Jim understood and absorbed everything our teacher Thich Nhat Hanh (“Thay”) shared with him, and he wrote many wonderful articles on Thay’s message and teachings, in particular in the Fellowship Of Reconciliation magazine. Jim always had a deeply attentive look and seemed to “drink in” everything we shared; we never felt disappointed when we read his summaries and reports for readers. With his talent in writing Jim reported so many of Thay’s teachings during that challenging time, and he shared and commented on them in a profound and sometimes very humorous way for the reader, as in the wonderful article “Only the rice loves you.”
Jim also helped publish the English translation of Thay’s theater script, “The Path of Return Continues the Journey.” Many of Jim’s earlier peace writings were printed in the Fellowship of Reconciliation magazine, and he shared with the wider American audience many deep exchanges about Sister Nhat Chi Mai (one of the first and profound students of Thay, who immolated herself for peace) as well as the story of the four social workers of the School of Youth for Social Service who were assassinated on the bank of the Saigon River. He also introduced to the community of the Fellowship Of Reconciliation Thay’s pioneering and accessible book on mindfulness practice: The Miracle of Mindfulness. In Jim’s memoirs, Eyes of Compassion: Learning from Thich Nhat Hanh, published last year by Orbis, Jim shared his profound and insightful experience of our teacher. Jim captured with clarity, compassion, and a historian’s eye for detail, many pivotal moments in Thay’s peace work during the 1960s and 70s. Jim’s love, integrity, friendship and open-hearted learning shine through in his writing and light up the way for others to follow.