Join us as the Plum Village sangha from the ten directions gather in Vietnam to honor Thich Nhat Hanh as Thay formally becomes an ancestral teacher in our lineage.
I am told to take care of the garden left to me by my ancestors.
A garden always has beautiful trees and others that are not so healthy.
That is the reason why we have to take good care of it.
You are my garden,
and I know that I should practice as a gardener.
I have seen an old, untended garden,
where the cherry and peach trees
still bloom wonderfully and always in time.
[From Thich Nhat Hanh’s poem: You are my garden]
At dawn on January 23, seven young women and four young men entered the “Tropical Almond” family of novices. The ceremony was witnessed by over 400 Plum Village monks and nuns, making it one of the largest novice ordinations in Plum Village history.
When an aspirant first entered the monastery, they were not allowed to study the teachings right away but had to go through manual work for a long time. They had to see that the business of their daily chores was the first task of practicing Zen.
Sung examined his actions, language, and thoughts while he was walking, standing, sitting, or lying down. Every time he moved his body, he allowed a wholesome thought to arise in his mind in order that his movement would be right action. For example, when he first woke up in the morning he let the thought arise: “I pray that all beings will have enough wisdom and awakening to see deeply what’s going on in the ten directions.”
He was very moved when he recited those verses, feeling that both mindfulness and compassion were being nourished in him. When he put on his clothes, fastened buttons, tied strings, washed his hands and feet, washed his bowls, swept the ground, went to the bathroom — in other words, no matter what he did — there was a beautiful thought that went along with the action.
Many aspirants loved to sweep the floor thanks to the gatha: “Sweeping the ground of the monastery diligently makes happiness and understanding arise.” It means that diligently sweeping the temple grounds can help you develop our merits, virtue, and wisdom.
[Excerpt from “My Master’s Robe“]
Take my hand.
We will walk.
We will only walk.
We will enjoy our walk
without thinking of arriving anywhere.
Earth will feel safe
When we feel in us enough safety.
[From Thich Nhat Hanh’s poem: Walking Meditation]
On January 21 in Plum Village France, we honored Thay on his second memorial day by sitting meditation, chanting, touching the earth, and walking peacefully on the legendary paths.
A song by the “Plum Village Band”, in dedication to Thay.
“Arrived” is born from the deep insights of the late Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, who teaches that our true home is not our place of birth, our country, or four walls and a roof, but can be found in our own body and feelings, in the very here and now. We may have spent our whole life seeking happiness, love and a sense of validation in external accomplishments, in relationships or the accumulation of possessions. As a result, we are always running — running towards getting something in the future to help us feel more whole.
But if we stop running, and instead allow ourselves to arrive, settling into the present moment, becoming aware of our body and mind, then we have a chance to discover our true home, in the here and the now. “Arrived” portrays the narrative of self-exploration, the struggles faced along the way, and ultimately, the fulfillment and peace that comes with finding our true self. The song tells the story of the journey from uncertainty and endless searching to having arrived—the moment we discover our true home in the present.
My dear children, when you return to the mother pagoda,
I promise I’ll take you everywhere:
to the hill, to the garden, along all the paths,
to the bamboo grove, to the well.
Then you will learn to see with the eyes of Su-ong,
your Grandfather Monk,
and with mine, that is to say,
with your own eyes.
[From Thich Nhat Hanh’s poem: The little buffalo in pursuit of the sun]
We, more than 400 of your monastic children from four continents and fourteen centers have returned to the mother pagoda. Did you already see this day dear Thay?
All of us have not stopped smiling as we bow to sisters and brothers whom we thought we would not see again in this life time! Yet here we are, hugging each other, sitting, singing, chanting, drinking tea, sharing, savouring regional dishes … and walking peacefully in the garden of your novice years.
We see you in the mindful bows of our younger siblings. We hear you and Brother Tam Man in the sound of the big temple bell. We feel the solemnity of ancestral teachers in the silence of the courtyards.
Being here, together, is a great happiness.
A journey dedicated to Thich Nhat Hanh
I have come to be with you,
to weep with you
for our ravaged land
and broken lives…
[From Thich Nhat Hanh’s poem – “Experience”]
60 years ago, the great flood of November 1964 in central Vietnam swept away homes and took thousands of lives. Victims in the conflict zones were the most vulnerable because no one dared to bring them aid. Thay, Brother Nhat Tri and Phuong (today Sister Chan Khong) organized boats and went up the Thu Bon river between the lines of fire to distribute aid in the Đức Dục area of Quảng Nam Province.
Today, in dedication to Thay, Sister Chan Khong and the Plum Village sangha travelled upstream along the same river, made offerings of food to 800 poor farmers from a 16km radius, and released fish in captivity.