Dear Beloved Community,
The spring in Plum Village is very beautiful. Our grounds are a lush green, the trees are in leaf, and the lotus leaves are beginning to emerge in the ponds. Mother Earth is being nourished by rain and thunder. We have missed the presence of all of you who were due to visit us this spring. We are practicing wholeheartedly and we hold you in our hearts at every step. We listen to the birds with your ears; and we see and smile at the flowers with your eyes. We are never apart in the present moment.
Dear Sangha, it is our deep wish to open Plum Village again as soon as it is safe to do so. At the end of February, we made the difficult decision to close until May 1st, and we promised to review this decision at the end of April.
The situation in France
About 10 days ago, President Emmanuel Macron announced that the full lockdown here in France will continue until May 11th, after which there will be progressive measures to re-open certain activities in society. The government is requesting that, for now, no-one in France makes plans to travel for the summer holidays or to gather for large festivals. We believe that hosting a Retreat at Plum Village would be considered a large gathering; and for us, it is a festival! Our annual Summer Opening attracts over 1,000 people every week.
We do not know when France will ease the lockdown for residential spiritual communities like Plum Village, where people coming from different countries share accommodations and living space in close proximity. And so, at this point, it is impossible to know when it will be okay to re-open in a way that protects the health and safety of everyone, given all the unknowns about the virus and how it spreads.
After deep consideration, the Dharma Teacher Council of Plum Village has had to make another difficult decision, namely to cancel all our Plum Village Retreats until the end of August 2020. This includes the 21 Day Retreat in June, the Summer Opening Retreat in July and the Wake Up Earth Retreat in August. As with all the cancellations so far, we will again be offering you a full refund.
Adapting & exploring new Dharma Doors
Our monastic Brothers and Sisters are now also looking into offering online retreats and other teachings during our closure. This is a wonderful new opportunity for our community to explore ways to support our international spiritual family, using technology in a positive way that avoids the need to take flights or gather in crowds. We hope to offer these online retreats in several languages. Please keep in touch so you can join and support these events.
Taking care of ourselves and each other is taking care of the world
Please remember to enjoy your breathing and come back to the present moment whenever you have a chance. Just five minutes a day can keep our mind from becoming too dispersed. It can help us to remember what is really most important, and the conditions for happiness that we still have available in this moment.
Please take care of yourselves and your loved ones, as we all hold our collective human family in our hearts. Thay has taught us that the best gift we can offer to one another is our presence. Now, more than ever, our quality of presence matters, whether remotely or in person; whether at home alone or with loved ones. We hope you can find time to stop, breathe, and say the mantras, “I know you are there, and I am so happy,” and “I am here for you,” to family members, colleagues, neighbours, or people working on the front lines.
We know this is a challenging time for everyone, but we are confident that with energy of mindfulness, and with our new and growing non-local Sanghas, we will grow from this tragic experience and become even more solid, kind and inclusive, as individuals, communities, nations, and as a global species.
We will continue to keep you posted as the conditions change in France and around the world that will make it safer for Plum Village to reopen. We look forward to hearing from you and welcoming you here in the near future.
May you be peaceful, happy and safe,
The Monks & Nuns of Plum Village France