Updated on 25-03-2020
“We are here for you”, a video message from the Brother Phap Huu of Upper Hamlet to the larger Plum Village community.
Updated on 18-03-2020
Dear Beloved Community,
Aware of the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak in Europe, and the growing number of cases in France, we have taken the difficult decision to close our Plum Village mindfulness practice center to the public, from now until May 1st. We will be giving full refunds to those already registered. We regret that we will no longer be able to host our Spring Retreat, Irish Week, or Francophone Retreat over Easter, in addition to a number of external teaching events.
We will review and update this decision over the coming weeks as the situation evolves.
We will continue to take registrations for the month of May, the June 21-Day Retreat, and (later) the Summer Opening and Wake Up Earth Retreat, but advise against booking flights and travel until nearer the time, when we have more information about the situation. It is uncertain how this virus outbreak will develop and what France and the international health institutions will recommend. We will do our best to inform everyone of any further closure as soon as possible, especially if the outbreak continues to grow in Europe.
We recognise that, as a spiritual community and a place of refuge, we have a social responsibility to protect the wellbeing, safety, and happiness of our visiting guests and residential community. We also wish to support the spirit of recommendations currently being proposed by the French Government, namely to avoid unnecessary travel and large gatherings bringing diverse populations close together.
In Plum Village we create rare conditions for communal togetherness, including shared meals and shared accommodation—living together as a spiritual community of over 400 people. These are precious experiences that allow us all to feel part of the human family, and to build connections, trust, and closeness. Unfortunately, in the current situation, this communal aspect of Plum Village makes us unusually vulnerable to the transmission of this virus. Furthermore, because we are such an international community, with residents and guests frequently travelling between dozens of countries, there is a high risk of transmitting this virus between different populations. During the course of 2019 we received over 15,000 guests at our Days of Mindfulness and retreats.
Non-local Collective Practice
As a community we are taking this opportunity to pause and reflect on the state of our planet and the reality of our interbeing. Over the next two months, our sangha of 210 monastics and over 50 lay residents will be continuing to live simply, reducing unnecessary travel, and continuing our studies, training, and practice, as well as our mindful work to prepare Plum Village for re-opening in the summer months. Although presently conditions are not sufficient for us to welcome you here to practice with us this spring, we hope that you will have a chance to make the most of the situation to take time to pause, slow down, and simplify your lives, taking opportunities to rest, spend time in nature, and take care of yourselves and your loved ones.
Resources for You
Aware of the importance of supporting and nourishing our collective practice in these challenging times, we encourage you to continue your practice of mindfulness at home, with your local sangha or with an online sangha. We are exploring online ways to continue to share our teachings with all of you. You may like to download the Plum Village App (with guided meditations, relaxations, and teachings), listen to our podcast with recent Dharma Talks or watch them on our Youtube channel. More information about online Dharma teachings and webinars will be announced shortly. To be notified you can subscribe to the Plum Village newsletter.
How You Can Help
We are aware that these are difficult and uncertain times for many people around the world. Many of us are facing the loss of loved ones, the instability of income and livelihood, and deep feelings of fear and anxiety as we adapt to social distancing or even self-isolation. We trust that we can all find ways to reach out to stay connected and supportive of one another.
In Plum Village we, too, find ourselves facing a challenge. We are dependent on retreat fees to cover the basic necessities, and while our monasteries are closed we must rely entirely on the generosity of our practitioners. If you can, please consider offering a donation.
Your gift will provide food and healthcare for the monastics, keep us safe and warm while we practice for the world and all living beings. Any gift will greatly help and be deeply appreciated.
We send our thoughts and prayers to those around the world facing suffering and difficulty in these moments, and look forward to the chance to welcome our wider community back in Plum Village in the near future. May all of us as a species use this opportunity to wake up to our shared humanity, our shared vulnerability, and to nourish our compassion and tolerance, and not our fear and discrimination.
A lotus for you,
The Monks and Nuns of Plum Village Monastery, France