Over 700 retreatants from all over France, as well as Switzerland, Belgium, Quebec, joined the Plum Village community for our annual Francophone Retreat from April 10-17. During this Easter week we enjoyed a full week of mindfulness practice, deep sharings, meditations, teachings and relaxation, all in French.
The whole community was blessed with beautiful weather as spring burst into bloom all around us. The call of the cuckoos, song of the orioles, and croaking of the frogs provided a joyful backdrop to deep sharings from the heart.
The atmosphere was that of a warm and joyful family reunion. Our four-fold community in France is a lively and ever-growing family: During this retreat, over 100 people were able to receive the 5 Mindfulness Trainings, and 21 received the 14 Mindfulness Trainings, joining the core community of Plum Village, the Order of Interbeing. In this retreat we could feel the growing strength and depth of our collective practice, as we continue Thay’s teaching and vision into the future.
Throughout the retreat, Thay’s presence was strongly felt even though he was still physically in Thailand. In the collective energy of mindfulness, the peace of the walking meditations, the deep teachings of the elder monastics, and the powerful energy of fraternité, we could see that Thay is as strong as ever!
Sr. Giac Nghiem (Soeur Elisabeth) from Maison de l’Inspir’, opened her heart to offer a deep sharing on practicing as a family, and on how to recognize “Islands of Light” (“Iles de Lumieres”) and cherish moments of happiness in our daily life, even amidst great suffering and hardship.
Sr. Dao Nghiem, returning from a retreat in Israel / Palestine, shared about peace and how to practice with our anger.
Br. Phap Khi, the most senior French brother in the Plum Village community, taught about the insight of interbeing and practicing as a community.
Retreatants also had the opportunity to ask their questions about the practice to a panel of young Dharma teachers: Br. Phap Luu, Br. Phap Linh, Sr. Hai Nghiem and Sr. Luc Nghiem. They shared deeply about handling anger, accompanying dying loved ones, embracing feelings of loneliness and isolation, how to continue our teacher Thich Nhat Hanh’s engaged Buddhism.
Su Co Chan Khong offered the final Dharma Talk, with great wisdom, joy and energy. She taught about wrong perceptions, communication in couples and families, and about traditional Vietnamese Buddhist understandings of what happens when we die. To close the retreat, the community offered a deeply moving song to Thay and Su Co: Oh qui pourrait ne pas te dire que tu es un être merveilleux…
After a week together, nourished by the collective energy of mindfulness, everyone returned home with a strong aspiration to share the fruits of our time together with family, friends, colleagues and their local sanghas. (Link to the local sanghas page) .
No coming, no going, no after, no before: mindfulness, happiness and fraternité continue. We look forward to another great spiritual family reunion next year.