Update: We are offering online retreats while Plum Village France remains closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Updates from India – Celebrating Vesak in a Time of Suffering

We share recordings from a special evening of mindfulness with practitioners in India.

Plum Village had the great joy of celebrating Vesak with the various Plum Village sanghas in India and the Ahimsa Foundation on 26 May, 2021. (The Ahimsa Foundation isan organization founded to represent our teacher Thich Nhat Hanh and his practice communities in India). We had a chance to hear firsthand the suffering that many have endured during the pandemic and watch it unfold into an evening of gratitude and joy of being alive in the present moment. We invite you to enjoy the highlights of the evening with us below.

Introduction and Update from India by Shantum Seth

Introduction to Vesak
Update on the situation in India

[We see]….in cremation grounds, voluntarily, across religions, Muslims cremating Hindus, Hindus helping bury Muslims, ….. there is no discrimination….

Shantum Seth on how people are helping each other in India

If you would like to know more about what Ahimsa Trust is doing in India you can download this report.

A Taste of India: Tea Meditation and Haikus

We had the great privilege to take part in a tea meditation guided by Aarti, a meditation practice born from deeply touching the present moment while having her daily evening cup of tea in the hospital with her sick father suffering from COVID-19.

Sitting with this cup of tea, becoming one with it, would help to center me, bring my awareness back into the now, and that would help me face the long night ahead.

Aarti, on drinking her cup of tea each evening while accompanying her elderly father in the hospital while he was ill from COVID-19.

Sheela, a writer, was encouraged by her sangha to write poetry and over the course of the year, her suffering and grief has creatively transformed into haiku (a Japanese poetry form that has the structure of 5-7-5 syllables).

So many leaving so suddenly
and the shameless Amaltas*
in full bloom

*the Amaltas or Indian Laburnum is a tree with golden yellow flowers
Tea meditation with Aarti
Haikus with Sheela

If we are not mindful, it’s not tea we are drinking but our own afflictions and illusions. If the tea becomes real, we become real.

Thich Nhat Hanh, on drinking tea mindfully

Dharma talk by Br Phap Lai (Joy in the Midst of Suffering)

Brother Phap Lai offered a short dharma talk on how cultivating joy in the midst of suffering need not feel like a conflict. 

We are much more than our fear of death. Br Phap Lai tells a story from the Buddha’s time of how a mother crazed with grief over the loss of her baby was asked by the Buddha to bring back a mustard seed from a household that had never been touched by death. Over the course of the day, this woman slowly realized that no household is exempt from the inevitability of death and was able to accept her loss. Br Phap Lai also tells us to remember that we are not alone in our suffering, no matter how great.

Joy in the Midst of Suffering

….We’re all sitting on Mother earth, we all have the full moon above us. We  might also see that we are also connected by ……the practice, by the energy of mindfulness…… We are connected by love, this joy to be together…….to share life together….. including sharing our suffering.

Other highlights

India’s very own Delhi-grown Plum Village monk, Br Bao Tich (Br Satyaratna) led a guided meditation on cultivating freedom, peace and joy in ourselves.

Guided meditation with Br Bao Tich

The evening closed with a simple candle lighting ceremony, as the full moon rose over India on Vesak day.

Candle lighting ceremony

You may like find out more about Ahimsa Trust or donate to support their projects in India and learn more about their COVID relief efforts.


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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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