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The Way Out Is In / Summer Stories of Love, Joy, and Grief (Episode #38)

Br Pháp Hữu, Jo Confino


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Welcome to episode 38 of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

The presenters, Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and journalist Jo Confino, are back after a short hiatus with an episode covering their own stories from a summer which has been equally joyful and unsettling. Get ready for an eclectic mix of topics, from the first post-pandemic (and sold out!) summer retreats at Plum Village, weddings, and family reunions, to collective awakening, interbeing, and civilizational collapse; what they’ve learned, and how the practice of mindfulness helped them through the ups and downs.  

Brother Phap Huu talks about taking the pulse of the world via visiting lay practitioners; dharma families; deep sharing; the importance of practice during a special event for his blood family; learning to rest and knowing the limits as an essential practice; dealing with inferiority complexes; and the seed of parenting within all of us. And, yes: walking meditation can have a part in a wedding. 

Jo reflects on civilizational collapse after attending a convention of experts about the polycrisis which combines multiple intersecting emergencies; the accumulation of presence; fast-paced society and its ‘instant results’; recognizing jealousy; stability in dark moments; the historical dimension and the ultimate dimensions; and interbeing, the limits of coming back to our true self, and the potential of coming back to life.

The episode ends with a short meditation guided by Brother Phap Huu.


Co-produced by the Plum Village App:
https://plumvillage.app/

And Global Optimism:
https://globaloptimism.com/ 

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation:
https://thichnhathanhfoundation.org/


List of resources

Plum Village Retreats
https://plumvillage.org/retreats/visiting-us/ 

Wake Up Humanity 2022
https://plumvillage.org/retreats/info/international-wake-up-retreat-2022/ 

Rains Retreat 2022
https://plumvillage.org/retreats/info/rains-retreat-2022/ 

Bodhicitta
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhicitta 

The European Institute of Applied Buddhism (EIAB)
https://plumvillage.org/practice-centre/eiab/ 

Parallax Press
https://www.parallax.org/ 

Letters: ‘New Designs for Monastic Robes’
https://plumvillage.org/about/thich-nhat-hanh/letters/monastic-fashion/ 

Classes: ‘In the Ultimate Dimension, Every Dharma Is an Unconditioned Dharma’
https://plumvillage.org/library/classes/class-2-in-the-ultimate-dimension-every-dharma-is-an-unconditioned-dharma/ 


Quotes

“It is such a practice to slow down and to give yourself permission to not look at the emails and to smile at them and say, ‘I don’t have to answer this right away. Who said I have to answer this right away?’ We have created a culture where everything needs to be immediate. Everything needs to be done right here, right now. This is the opposite of living happily in the present moment.” 

“Walking meditation can be applied anywhere. And I really encourage all of us to invest in this practice, because it is formless and nobody needs to know that we are practicing it. But it is there all the time.”

“Now more than ever, we need this inner stability for us to face suffering, or else we are going to lose ourselves, we’re going to panic, we’re going to get overwhelmed. […] Those emotions are not being recognized and cared for. And that is why, for me, this has to go into education; this has to go into the mainstream of well-being. It’s not Buddhism; Buddhism is one of the beautiful manifestations of our diversity, but well-being and a sense of community in taking care of each other’s suffering needs to be highlighted more.”

“Why is it that I can’t drop everything and sit here and be completely happy in this moment? We are not alone in this. I think it’s a symptom of this society that we live in, which is always [about] the opportunity to do more.” 

“Mindfulness also means to recollect, to remind yourself. And the body is always your teacher. That was a new discovery for me, and I am very grateful for that. […] I hope that all of us can tune into our bodies. And that’s why the first foundation of mindfulness is the body, because your body is an indicator of where there’s tension, where you’re carrying weight, suffering, anxiety, stress, etc.” 

“I know for certain that the practice is not a one-time thing; it’s a continuous journey, and it’s never too late or too early to start the practice, because we see the practice as a growing and a living life energy for us.”

“The practice is like the meditations, the slowing down, the listening to the bell, giving yourself permission to stop. When you’re eating, do you cultivate gratitude? All of these little things that we do, the in-between that we think doesn’t have an impact is the bricks that you create for your foundation.”

“Listening to the perspectives of people who’ve looked at past collapses of civilizations, the main constituents have often been inequality and overuse of resources and other elements. And all those conditions are present in our current society. […] Collapse doesn’t happen in a day; it can happen over time in many different forms.” 

“In the ultimate dimension, we know that everything is impermanent, everything arises, everything falls apart. In a few billion years, the Earth will get too close to the sun and explode and all the matter in our Earth will spread out into the universe and may create life elsewhere. So everything comes and goes. But I have this life and so I have this narrow prism of looking out. And I want to protect it; I want everything to be okay. But, in the great arc of history, this era will pass and there’ll be another. [So it is good to] not to be so attached, and [to have] the ability to hold two truths. So I’m deeply attached, in a sense: I want my children; my family; my friends; my community, Plum Village; the world, to do well and to prosper. But I recognize that it’s not in me to control that. And that allows me to commit to seeking change, to give my full self to the change without attachment to a certain way or to the idea that there is a right outcome, because I don’t know what it is.” 

“It’s to see the darkness and the light, how they support each other. Just like our night and our day: our night helps us to sleep, to rest, and our day allows us to have action. So the collapse, the suffering, can be a big motivator for us to change our habits or change our ways.” 

“Interbeing is an insight that can liberate us. And when we say liberate, we always have to ask, ‘What are we liberating [ourselves] from?’ So this particular question is about the self, but the self is also the foundation for a lot of ignorance, because the self is so one-dimensional. It’s ‘Me, me, me, me.’ And that allows us to be so greedy, so angry, so selfish. And a lot of the suffering of today is because of this view, that ‘I am the most important person, my family’s the most important, and anything to do with me is important.’ But we break free from that by seeing the non-me in all of this.”

00:00:00

Dear listeners, welcome back to this latest episode of the podcast, The Way Out Is In.

00:00:23

I’m Jo Confino, working at the intersection of personal transformation and systems evolution.

00:00:28

And I am Brother Phap Huu, a Zen Buddhist monk in the tradition of Plum Village, a student of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

00:00:35

And brother, today we’re going to have an eclectic mix of topics because, actually, you and I have not seen each other for about six weeks. And so we’re going to be talking about what happened over our summers. So we’re going to be talking everything from summer retreats at Plum Village, weddings, family. And just to top it all, a little bit of civilizational collapse.

00:01:02

The way out is in.

00:01:17

Brother Phap Huu, how lovely to see you.

00:01:20

Likewise. Very lovely to see your face, Jo.

00:01:23

So it’s six weeks. I don’t know how I survived without you for so long. And dear listeners, is very good to be back sitting in the Sitting Still hut of Thich Nhat Hanh in Upper Hamlet, Plum Village. We’re sitting, as usual, around his kitchen table with our producer, Cata. Hi, Cata. Yeah, so, brother, when I was at school and we go on summer holidays, when I came back from the summer holidays and I attended my first class, we always had to do an essay on what happened to us in the summer. And I was sort of… I sort of hated it, actually, because I didn’t do very much at all and I was sort of a bit of a lonely child. So, anyway, let’s not go straight into all the psychological flaws I have. But there was something also about it, about a time for reflection, actually, what did happen? So we thought that we would do that today, which is actually we haven’t seen each other. We can learn a little bit about what we each did, but also, you know, being away from Plum Village, what did we learn? But brother, maybe we could start off with you telling us a bit about Plum Village in the summer, because this was the first time in more than two years that actually Plum Village was fully open after the pandemic. So tell us a bit more what your experience of summer in Plum Village was.

00:02:48

We have been closed, that means we don’t have a lot of people coming weekly. And so we also felt that we were missing that, like missing that nourishment. So, this year, when we finally reopened, one of the biggest questions is how long should our summer retreat be? Because normally it is four weeks and we are one of the very rare monasteries or practice centers with monks and nuns who hold a whole program for teens and children for a long period during the summer. So I think a lot of other places do it for the weekend or so, but we traditionally do it for four weeks. But we realized that after two years we have to rebuild the muscles in the community, the muscles of offering. So our teacher always tells us the Sangha is a living body, so we should have mindfulness on our capacity, knowing our strength as well as our weaknesses and as well as where we need space to develop. So this is mindfulness. When you live in a community, you have to you start to observe your members, observe your community from not just Upper Hamlet, which is the brothers and men, but also Lower Hamlet and New Hamlet, and there has to be a harmony. So we did a lot of meetings and we came to the conclusion that this summer we will host two weeks. There were some reaction, some monastics said, Oh, that’s too little, there are so many families waiting to come. But after more sharings, we all realized that we do have to take it slow and know how to reengage or else we will burn out, we will take more than we can handle. Because not only that, we were hosting the family retreat for two weeks, but before that, June, June, May, April and March, we have already been reopening and having different groups come in. So when it came to the summer retreat, I think for me the greatest nourishment was just hearing the children again in Plum Village and hearing the teenagers conversation, their interaction, their youthfulness reentering to the monastery. And that is always a source of nourishment for the community. And it is so important that we do continue these family retreats because we take care of the present moment, we take care of the past, but we also want to take care of the future. And seeing that the children are also of the future, we want to plant seeds of the sense of safety, the sense of well-being, of peace, of a community that they can take refuge in, as well as nourish their seeds of mindfulness. And for me, as always, it’s always remarkable to see how mindful a child already is and then how much they take in by just that environment. And I am a child of Plum Village. So I started coming to Plum Village when I was only nine years old, and that has really shaped my life. And for the monastic, you know, we live a life of not having a family, we are celibate. That’s our vows. But nevertheless, there is a seed of parenting in us. So the summer retreat is always for us to also reconnect to the seed of care and love. So I see the brothers and sisters who volunteer to be part of the program for the children and the teens, they get to be elder brothers, uncles, aunts, father, mother figures in a way, and for some is so nourishing for them. And what I get to also witness throughout my years as a monk is also getting to see a child grow from six years old into a young adult. So I know some young adults who are now in university who were part of my children program when I was in the program. So it’s a beautiful witness of transformation and an evolution of a young person. So we did that for two weeks. So after that, we, as a community, decided to take August off for the whole community just to have a space to rest, because we also had many COVID cases in our community and we have planned all this. So we had rooms for quarantine and we had this [system] how to care for our brothers and sisters. And so there were some days like I would take care of three tasks because one of my brothers is in quarantine because he has some symptoms or he had COVID. So we knew, what we call the Sangha eye. We saw that there was a potential of that there’s going to be care that we need to attend to through for our residential community. So we just knew that after the summer retreat that we would be exhausted. We would be very nourished by taking care of our service seeds, we call it bodhicitta, the mind of love, the mind or service. But at the same time we knew we will be quite exhausted. So we needed that space to just rest. And some of our monastics even went to the EIAB to support their two-weeks retreat and both great bodhisattvas. And then we had our break.

00:09:01

So we’ll come to the break in a moment, which is the bit you are excited about: I had a break.

00:09:06

Yes.

00:09:07

But just going back to the summer retreats and just to start off with the Wake up group, which was I think it’s people up to the age of 35. 18 to 35, I think.

00:09:20

Yes.

00:09:21

I’m just wondering, brother, you had 500 young people here. Just what was your experience about what’s on their mind? Because you’ve been holding these retreats for decades.

00:09:32

Yeah.

00:09:32

And society changes. And I imagine you see that what’s front and center of people’s mind changes. And I’m just wondering what was your sort of overarching sense of how these 500 people are, what they’re worried about, what sort of state of mental health they’re in? Just so… I know it’s a very general question, but I just want a bit of sensing. It would be really good.

00:09:56

I was the head of a Dharma family, and my family was people of color, or BIPOC, and it was so beautiful just to be able to come together, first of all, and to see the collective awakening that is manifesting a little bit everywhere. So there is a sense that there is suffering, a lot of suffering in the world. And everybody is trying to find that inner peace, that inner stability in order to cope with the situation that everyone is facing in different walks of life. And when I was speaking to my family members of the retreat, one of them shared with me that there is definitely a spiritual awakening that is manifesting in society. Maybe it has always been there, but it’s more mainstream in a way, now. And people are seeking a place to learn how to take care of their inner journey, their inner world, the suffering that is manifesting. And so Plum Village, as one of the communities of a spiritual refuge, our retreats were filled up so quickly because there’s this need, this thirst. And what I realize is that everybody what was nourishing for me was that everybody also wanted to walk a path together, a spiritual path together, which is community. So suddenly, what our teacher has been building and teaching, which is like community is one of the most essential cultivation that we need in our times. And we need a collective awakening, not an individual awakening. So a lot of the young people, we were holding space for each other to acknowledge our happiness, our joy, our aspiration, and then the collectiveness to hold the suffering together. My family, like every session we had together, we were able to cultivate a safe space for members to cry. And we just held sessions of deep sharings and knowing that is safe to acknowledge our suffering and let the emotion manifest and not be overwhelmed by it because there is a collective body holding it together. And that’s very powerful.

00:12:44

And when you talk about a family, brother, can you describe what happens in Plum Village? What’s the family mean?

00:12:51

Yes, I think this is another genius creation of Thay, which is in 500 people in a retreat, you may think that when you hear the number 500, that everybody’s just going to connect with each other, but we also have to create the conditions for connection because everyone is different. Some of us are more socially engaged, some of us are more introvert, some of us are more shy, some of us are more courageous, some of us like silence, some of us like talking. But so how do we create a safe environment for connection? So what our teacher has invented is Dharma sharing families, and each family holds up to around 20 members or 23. We try not to pass 25, and it would be hosted by at least one monastic facilitator, main facilitator, and with other monastics to support. And for us, monastics, is also a training. You get to see how your elder brother and sister facilitate a group. So that is a training for the younger monastics. And we get to support each other also. And there is a real suffering of loneliness in the world, as well as people who feel that they don’t have families, those who come from broken families, that, in that word, is maybe difficult for them to think about. So the magnificence that Thay created is calling these Dharma families. It’s to start to reintroduce the sense of connection. And because for us, we have a biological side, which is our root, our blood family, but we also say we have a spiritual family. And sometimes to meet my spiritual family is one of my biggest refuge, where I would talk more about my suffering, talk more about my aspiration than my own blood family. And that’s just a reality. And so the spiritual family can also play a role in allowing us to make sure that we know how to connect, because that is also essential for a human being. We need to know how to connect. So in the retreat we would meet almost every day, at least for dinner or a sharing, and we build and we worked together. We have service meditations, so my family, we took care of the meditation hall, and we had a facilitator to lead. So every time we worked together, it was so joyful and there was a sense of us just connecting and bonding. And we were from six different countries in my family, and then different ethnicity, and just singing songs, just hanging out and then going deep into also sharing and meditations together.

00:16:00

And brother, one of the things you mentioned was about the importance of the monastics, knowing your limits, because the needs of the world are so great that you can get just pulled apart by it. And I was just thinking about Plum Village, because a lot of people don’t really recognize that actually, it’s not like you’re monastics going about doing your meditations and you’re sort of looking for insights and teachings and training, but actually you do everything here. It’s not like you have this separate staff that look after the accommodation, that do the washing, that make the food, that do the tax, that do all the bureaucracy, that do the building, that do the upkeep. I mean, actually, you know, they’re not that many of you. And you not only have to run, plan and run the actual retreats themselves and be present for them and do the teachings and all this. But meanwhile, you’re doing everything else. So I think it’s really important for the readers to recognize that it’s actually your minds get pulled in different directions. And unless you are being mindful and focusing and able to stay sort of centered and fresh, that actually you would not be good for anyone.

00:17:14

Yeah, knowing the limits is a very important practice. Sometimes Thay teaches us like we have to learn to say no, even though it is something that we know we can help. But if we don’t know how to keep our own balance, and like you said, then we also lose ourself. And this is an ongoing practice for me, learning to say no, I’m learning to not hand out my emails. I’m learning not to give out my contacts. Because a brother shared with me this and he too shared with a lay friend and say, If I give you my contact, then I have to always follow up with the hundreds of other contacts. Then I will have space for you now. So by not giving you my contact, when you come back, I’ll be really present for you. But then I will be present for the other friends that are here in Plum Village. And when he said that, that was a deep insight that, I was like, wow, I need to practice this.

00:18:24

Yeah. And brother, you talked about the popularity of like the family retreats and for me it felt a bit like the Glastonbury Music Festival, because when I used to go to Glastonbury, you know, you would have to know that the tickets would go on sale at 9 a.m. on this day, and basically within half an hour they’d all be sold out. And I know that people were phoning the Plum Village administration office and saying, Well, can you tell us when we the bookings open for the summer retreat and people would say, well, it’s on Saturday, da da da. And they said, and what time is it opening? Because actually it got sold out within…

00:19:03

Within 45 minutes for the children program of Upper Hamlet.

00:19:08

Yeah.

00:19:08

Wow. First time ever.

00:19:13

And it speaks to, I think, first of all, of course, Plum Village was shut for two years. But also, people recognize this as a refuge. And I’m just wondering, brother, just going back, before we go to our break. Yeah! But just going back to the Wake Up retreat. Did you notice, because you talked about people feel that there’s a sort of a spiritual awakening starting to sort of germinate, but often that comes because the suffering is greater. And I’m just wondering whether there was any sense that you got generally about whether young people are feeling greater suffering, whether they are sort of seeing sort of war and famine and inequality and climate change and biodiversity loss, and whether that cumulative sense of what we’re facing is actually settling into their minds.

00:20:13

Of course, 100%. And they see that… they can already see the suffering coming and they see that it’s going to be them that have to take care of it. And this is also, we call it a responsibility, but it’s also an energy to be motivated in order to develop a spiritual stability. And I see now more than ever, we need this inner stability for us to face the suffering or else we are just going to lose ourselves, we’re going to panic, we’re going to get overwhelmed. And we all get where we all get anxious and then we don’t do anything. We also collapse once. All of those emotions are not being recognized and cared for. And that is why for me, this has to go also into education. This has to go into the mainstream of well-being. It’s not Buddhism. You know, Buddhism is one of the beautiful manifestation of our diversity, but the well-being and a sense of community in taking care of each other’s suffering, it needs to be highlighted more. And I think this is why our Wake Up retreat for the young people also reached its capacity very quickly in the registration. And we still managed to squeeze a few in when we wanted to cap it at like, I think, like 400 something, but it reached 500 and we do the best we can. And everyone was so harmonious in the retreat. Yeah.

00:22:45

So, time for summer break.

00:22:48

Yes.

00:22:50

So, brother, why don’t you tell us where you went and what you did, and then we can sort of… Because we want this to be about not just what we did, of course…

00:22:58

Yeah.

00:22:59

But about being away. You’re in a different environment. You see things differently. You bring the practice with you. And also I had my experience of that. So, what we did, but also what did we learn? What came up during this time?

00:23:15

So I had the opportunity to go home to visit my blood family, my immediate family, my father, my mother and my sister, my older sister. And it was leading up to her wedding. So there was a lot of excitement there. And there was also a lot of organizing to do, mainly on her part. But also I wanted to show up as a great support, as a younger brother. And what I had to first learn to do was to rest. It is such a practice to slow down and to just like make you give yourself permission to not look at the emails and to smile to the emails and say, I don’t have to answer this right away. Who said, I have to answer this right away? And I start to realize that we have created a culture that everything needs to be immediate. Everything needs to be done right here, right now. This is the opposite of living happily in the present moment. This is like.

00:24:27

Living unhappily in the present moment.

00:24:29

And running after something, right? And so I was recognizing these habits come up because I have also I just stepped out from a retreat of 700 people and suddenly it’s just me and my family. And also just resting, coming back to my body. And that was really, really cool, just to come back and practice the foundational practice, which I always teach in the retreat and just now doing it, making sure I walk the talk and making sure I know how to rest, making sure I know how to sit, making sure I know how to enjoy a cup of tea. And just I started to recognize my mind like, Oh, man, we should have done that better. Wow, if only we thought of that. You know, my mind would start to create all of these different scenarios of how a better retreat could have been done. And then I thought about all of my facilitating that I led and then just to see the judgment come up for oneself also. And just saying hi to all of these voices in my mind and smiling to it and just saying, Great, I’ll do better next time, but let’s not live in that past. Yeah.

00:25:48

So, brother, just to step in cause actually that chimed so well with one of my experiences this summer which was so, you know, very similar to you. I’ve sort of, I’ve been in full time work, until a couple of years ago, in full time work for 40 years. And you set every day sort of all the stuff that needs doing. And then even on the weekends sometimes having to think about things and or process things. And this summer I really felt the same, which was, there were days where I had nothing to do and I really struggled because I’d wake up and I think I need to be doing something and realizing how even though I’ve always said I want more space, I need more space, that when I actually get the space, I’m not quite sure what to do with it all. And, you know, and the nervousness I was feeling at having the space that what I was not feeling. And that is such a classic thing because I recognized this as an issue for others. But I was really feeling it myself saying, Why is it that I can’t just drop everything and just sit here and be completely happy in this moment? So I think you and I, you know, we are not alone in this. I think it’s a symptom of this society that we live in, which is always the opportunity to do more.

00:27:22

Yeah. Another thing I discovered is I grind my teeth. So I went to see an osteopath. Is that correct?

00:27:32

Yeah.

00:27:32

Osteopath. And he said, Brother, do you know you grind your teeth? I’m like, No, no way. I knew I snore by not grinding my teeth. And he said, Yeah, actually, you do it quite a bit. And I can see it in the mark and I can see when I adjust your jaw. So he said I would highly recommend you get a night guard. So I got my night guard. I went to the dentist, did the whole thing. And when I started to wear it, just within two days, I can see the mark from my underbite. And this gave me more awareness of my own self. I do clench my jaw quite a bit even throughout the day. So even now, like we just enter into Rains Retreat here, and the spirit of it is like resting, right? And learning to just come back and learning to ease into the foundational practice, develop and nourish your daily practice. And just this walking meditation before lunch and then before this podcast recording, I see the tendency of my jaw coming together and just biting down. So I am starting to learn to ease and cultivate my mind so that I can release worries, release projects, even though I know I have to do something. But cultivating the mind to know that in this very moment of walking meditation is for me to rest. And it’s only an hour. And allowing me to truly rest in that walk and this is a practice. And this is a reminder that you have to recollect. And mindfulness also means to recollect, to remind yourself. And the body is always your teacher. So that was a new discovery for me, and I am actually very grateful for that discovery. And every time throughout the day I used to always pay attention to my shoulder. So now I start to pay attention to my jaw, how much I bite down on. So I hope that all of us we can tune into our body. And that’s why the first foundation of mindfulness is the body, because your body’s also an indicator to you where there’s tension, where you’re carrying weight, suffering, anxiety, stress, etc..

00:30:01

Thank you, brother. So I’m intrigued because I want to know what it was like to see your mum and dad again. And the reason is because you are, I think, is it 33?

00:30:13

34 going to 35.

00:30:15

34 years old and you’ve been abbot here for, I think 11 or 12 years.

00:30:21

Yeah.

00:30:22

So, in a sense, even though you’re a young man still, you sort of have a sort of fatherly sort of responsibility here, which is that, you know, people come to you, they see you as a sort of, as, in a sense, the sort of a head of the family, in the sense that you are the abbot. Even though it’s a sort of consensual community. So what was it like going home to your mum and dad where you are, the young son?

00:30:48

Learning to be a son. I let go of my idea like I’m a monk and I have to teach. I just say I am a son now. And of course, I’m a monk, that doesn’t go away. Right? But when I come home, just feeling the embrace of my parents is always very important. That is one of the practices of Plum Village is hugging meditation. And I always do that whenever I see them, especially when I’m away. So I always make sure that that hug, it’s very mindful. It’s not just a pat on the back. Right? It’s like I’m embracing you, like, thank you, like deep gratitude. And then just spending time and interestingly, because I was learning to rest. Right? My parents also wanted to know how Plum Village was and giving them the full download as much as I can. And then my dad was very interested in like how I’m doing as a person, and not being shy to also show my vulnerability. Right? So I think I can speak for many friends, there’s always… We always want validation from our father and our mother, and we only want to show off the success and so. And my dad is a monk, so he also has a spiritual dimension. And he also practices very deeply. And I’m sure that when I tell people my dad’s a monk, there’s going to be a lot of questions. But that’s another podcast.

00:32:29

Another episode. All on its own, brother. You’ve given the game away now. Cata, note it down, we’re going to do next one.

00:32:38

So and he’s been a part of the Plum Village tradition. He didn’t ordained with Thay but he’s been, he was the condition why we know Plum Village. And he always is very interested and he wants to know how I’m doing as an individual. And there’s always that tendency to show off. Right. So I always have to take a step back and I said, no, my dad’s asking me because he cares for me and he loves me. So it’s okay to show your weaknesses. And I did share with him some of the struggles that, you know, I’m going through and some of the things I’m reflecting that I want to do better. And sharing with him how many times I cried during the ceremonies and so on. And then my mother, my mother’s more shy. So also, as a practitioner, I want to be mindful of being the first person also to share how I’m doing. And just to be aware, like don’t wait for my mom and just to have that mindful intuition of how to make sure my mother knows that I’m open. Please, ask. Please, know that I’m here to share. And I’m here to support you also. And then when I was home, which was for five weeks, just to just to see now, as a son, what can I do? I’m not here to teach. And as my mother was working every day, five days a week, and my father is still going through some health issue. And so just being mindful of that. And so I wanted to cook for my dad at least one meal a day. And then I wanted to do the simple chores around the house and just to honor the little things, you know, just cutting the grass. Because my gratitude towards my parents is very immense. I was able to tell my dad when I was home, and every time I go home, I make sure I say this. Is like, Dad, I just want to acknowledge all the sacrifice you made for us because he was a child of the war, also my mother, of the Vietnam War, and his whole life has just been about surviving. My mother’s too. Just the thought is like to have food on the table, safety. My dad was even in high school when I guess a high school of equivalent to the west. He was in a community school and they were being trained at the same time as education, but also collaboration, how to work as members, how to fight, how to… They were introduced to guns very early. And my dad used to tell me and that’s why you were so easy to adapt to Plum Village, because is community, because I grew up in community. I was trained to not just care for myself, but to care for others also. But then, when the war ended, he left Vietnam as a boat person. And that’s a big gamble. And the first time he was caught and was put in prison for two years. And he never gave up on that dream, though. And he went again. And so that big sacrifice and that immense journey, which was a lot of fear, anxiety, stress, everything, and now we call… And sometimes that manifests and we call it PTSD today. Right? And so I always want to acknowledge that that immense courage he had and the gratitude I have towards him. And then for my mother too, just for her to allow me to become a monk wasn’t easy. And I have to acknowledge the sacrifices she made for my whole family and for allowing my father to also embark, to become a monk later on in their relationship. And then for me, as a son, also, to leave home all the way from Canada to France is that’s a big jump. That’s not another temple in Canada, that’s like, that’s a whole flight away. So just finding the things to offer gratitude. And I always say don’t underestimate the simple gesture. I know my mother, she’s grown older, so she has a lot of tension. So as one of Thay’s attendant, I learned to be, I’m a very good masseur, so I know how to massage really well. So I always…

00:37:22

Can I book my appointment, brother?

00:37:24

That will cost you per hour. I’m just joking. So, you know, just giving my mom a massage every night, whenever I remember. And I know that brings us so much joy and I use that time to have a conversation with my mom. Right. So I want to be skillful in my connection and also making sure they have the space and not always say, Mom, talk to me, Dad, talk to me, you know. It’s just like, let’s be mindful of that too.

00:37:55

Thanks, brother. Now let’s talk about the wedding. Your big sister got married. So I know that normally the monastics wouldn’t go to a wedding. I mean, it’s not your sort of fang, but obviously this was your sister, so that would be, obviously, you’re not going to miss that. So tell us about what was it like to be in that sort of environment and with your sister getting married. And I think you walked her down the aisle. So that is so different an energy from what’s normally happening in Plum Village. So tell us a little bit about that.

00:38:31

Yes, I only have one elder sister and I told her I’m going to be there for your wedding, don’t worry, just tell me the days so I can ask permission as well as match my schedule in Plum Village with the family event. And it was also a very big deal for me to be there because my dad, like I said, he’s having some health issue and also some inner works, childhood as well as some trauma. And very helpful with the Dharma, dad has a very beautiful foundation. But for him to be in such a crowd, he felt very uncomfortable. And so me and my sister, we acknowledge that. And my dad already expressed the wish to not be there. And that was very difficult for my sister. And she cried and we talked about it together and we went through just to put ourselves in our father’s shoes, and just to do the Dharma, recognize suffering, acknowledge the root of it. And then seeing that that is not the only happiness. Right? Because dad already gave his blessing. He supports, he loves my brother-in-law now. He loves his son-in-law. And so I was given the role to walk my sister down the aisle. And I was very honored to do that. And one of our childhood friend, who is my soulmate sister, we became monastics together, but later on, conditions weren’t favorable anymore, so she left the monastic order. But we have still kept a very close relationship. And she was my sister’s childhood friend since 1998. They also met in Plum Village. So the Plum Village network is quite amazing. And they’ve been best friends, best buddies, so she officiated the wedding and it became almost like, because I walk my sister down to aisle, my dearest friend held the ceremony which she used based on Thay’s text to do the ceremony. And there was a very, very beautiful text that she curated based on the four elements of true love and adding also later on the respect and the trust and the courage to also accept suffering. You know, in the vows, with the I do part is not just like I love you forever, but also, she added, I am determined to also understand and accept your suffering. Do you make that commitment? And each person have to say, I do. And so we really bring in the Plum Village language. And there was another element that she added, which she took from the Rose ceremony from Plum Village and that Thay has curated, is to honor our parents. So the parents were there for the wedding. So there was a moment when she said for us to be here alive in this very moment, we also want to honor our ancestors. And our closest ancestors are our parents. So we prepared roses. So my sister and my brother-in-law, as part of the ceremony, they gave a rose to their father and then a rose to the mother and pin it on the heart, the chest, where the heart is. And that was so beautiful because it’s not just, of course, it’s about the bride and the groom, but for them to be here, you have to see all of the wonderful conditions. Right? So we we had this element in the wedding, which made it also very spiritual without real like heavy form. Right. I didn’t wear my yellow sanghati ceremony robe, or anything like that. I just wore my brown robe every day. But I did put a little more care, I ironed my robe that I’ve never had a robe so straight. And when I walk my sister down the aisle, you know, walking meditation is a powerful, powerful practice that you can carry anywhere. And I practiced with my sister the walk before with one of the songs she chose. But at that moment, I was very aware that there was a lot of emotions going on in my sister. And right before we walked, I was holding my sister’s hand and I said, Kwan, breathe together with me. So I guided her through a few mindful deep inbreath and slow outbreath. And the moment we started walking, I said, Now we walk in mindfulness, each step, each breath. And that became like the foundation for that moment. And of course, she was able to look at all of the loved ones that were there, all of her friends that were there to support. And for me, as a monk, and then as a brother, I just wanted to hold my stability so that she can rely on that. So I was able to translate my 20 years of practice for this one moment, for my sister, which I know it meant a lot to her. And so I was able to share that on my Instagram story. And many friends saw it and they said, Wow, even walking meditation can be part of a wedding. And I said, Of course, walking meditation can be applied anywhere. And I really encourage all of us to invest in this practice because it is formless and nobody needs to know that we are practicing it. But it is there all the time.

00:45:01

So, brother, one thing I just want to pick up on is just something you just said, which is you said my 20 years of practice for this moment. And I just want you to talk a little bit more about it, because I think that’s so important, because I think one of the things Thich Nhat Hanh used to say is that we practice in the good times to be ready, so when we’re in a difficult place for that practice is already embedded in us, and therefore we can then hold that space at that time. Whereas if we don’t practice but just I mean, of course, this was a very happy moment, it wasn’t a very sad moment, but for a moment where you need to be really present. And if you start practicing at that point, it doesn’t really work because you haven’t build it up. So can you just tell us a little bit about that sensing, because people, we live in this world where people want sort of instant noodles…

00:46:00

Right.

00:46:00

we want instant results. So okay, I’m going through a difficult place or I need to be in a certain way, so I look up in the book and well-being says, Right, well, breathe and walk slow, walk mindfully and… But of course it’s not like that because it’s an accumulation of wisdom, it’s accumulation of presence. But tell us a little bit about 20 years of practice for that moment. What is that moment and why was the 20 years necessary for it?

00:46:28

That moment I didn’t have to use so much of self-determination because I have cultivated for so long now so that I can just tap into my mindfulness energy, which I know is always there. And what I know for certain is that the practice is not a one time thing, it’s a continuous journey, and it’s never too late and too early to start the practice because we see the practice as a growing and a living life energy for us. So what you just shared is exactly what we have to… how we should see the practice. And when I say the practice is like the meditations, the slowing down, the listening to the bell, giving yourself permission to stop. When you’re eating, do you cultivate gratitude when you’re eating? Like all of these little things that we do, the in-between that we think doesn’t have an impact, oh, it is the bricks that you create for your foundation. And so if I was to wait until, oh, my God, I have to walk my sister down to the aisle, I’m going to be as anxious as her. And then at that moment, I’m not able to support my sister the way I wish and the way I want it to. So I want to bring it back to you, Jo, because your summer was also, you had a big conference you had to go to. And it was a subject that it’s not easy to swallow. And I’m sure you had to channel your own practice. So let’s move away from Brother Phap Huu a little bit, because I want to hear how Jo, how it was for you and what was your summer like.

00:48:33

Wow. So just coming back to the summer retreats in Plum Village, I have to say my experience was a bit the opposite, brother, which was I really didn’t enjoy it. And I’ll tell you why, for very, very selfish reasons, because during the pandemic, I and my partner Paz were two of the very few outsiders or lay practitioners outside the monastery who were allowed in because we were working together, and I’m on the chair of the board of Parallax Press and etc. So actually I had this year and a half of feeling I had the monastics all to myself. Well, actually it was just, you know, it was a chance to really spend deep time to get to know you, to really be part of this community in a very pure and intimate way. And then so… 500 people, then 700 people… Hey, I’m still here, brother, I’m over here. Your mind was elsewhere, other people…. So I actually… terrible to admit this, but I actually found it quite difficult to share you all again. It’s like, No, don’t do this to me.

00:49:39

Recognizing jealousy. Hello.

00:49:45

So that’s one thing. So one of the things I did in the summer was… I was a co-facilitator of a four-day convening of about 110 of the world’s experts on civilizational collapse, and what’s known as the polycrisis. And the polycrisis is just a word that describes all the many crises in the world that are coming together. So whether it’s biodiversity loss, whether it’s climate change, whether it’s war, whether it’s inequality, lack of water, etc., etc.. And this was one of the first meetings where people from around the world who have been looking at this for many decades came together to actually share their practice, share what they’re learning, share ideas and insights. And, you know, I’ve been writing, I was writing in The Guardian about civilizational collapse, including in interviews with Thich Nhat Hanh where he was saying that unless we have a collective awakening, that we will have a civilizational collapse. That is, this has happened before and it will happen again, and that this may be the time that happens. So I’ve been, you know, it’s been in my mind and I’ve been aware of it, but there was something different about this, which was, it was four days of sitting with this. And, you know, sometimes I’ll have a conversation with someone. Sometimes people are open. Sometimes people don’t want to talk about it. Some people feel it too overwhelming to even contemplate. But just being with so many people where from breakfast to time to go to bed just looking deeply at the impacts this may have on our lives, on the lives of all sort of beings on this planet, on the health of the planet as it is now, was just deeply, I’m trying to think deeply unsettling, I think is the right word. Because it’s like when we think about something, we can sort of contain it within tight boundaries, but this was in a sense, it filled the entire space. And just listening to, you know, the many perspectives of people who’ve looked at past collapses of civilizations and, you know, the main constituents of that have often been inequality and overuse of resources. And you think, oh, well, you know. And others, and just all those conditions are present in our current society. Looking at the fact that people were thinking, well, you know, collapse and of course, collapse doesn’t happen in a day, can happen over time in many different forms because we don’t know how crises will show up. But, you know, people would talk about, oh, maybe 2040, 2050, we may see, you know, that the institutions and the fabric of this society that in a sense we’ve thought of as being pretty stable and permanent, will start deeply fray and may even fall apart. And then a lot of these people looking in the world, out in the world, and looking at all the signs that are out there now, and saying, well, actually, this may start to really hit home in the next 5 to 10 years. And, you know, this is still, of course, in the position of an intellectual thinking, because then when you take that into the sort of heart space or emotional space or whatever we call it, and you say, well, what does that actually mean? And you think, well, that actually means, you know, extraordinary levels of suffering and pain and confusion. And, you know, that, you know, that we may be heading into very, very dark times. So I’ve been sitting with that. And then, at the end of it, I came back to our house next to Plum Village, and it was 42 degrees. And so having come from this sort of even still an intellectual exercise to coming back to our house and looking at the deep stress of the nature around and sort of that a lot of our trees, the leaves were turning yellow and falling off like autumn, and this was sort of in midsummer. And then, we have a pond in front of our house, and that pond, I have a particular connection with it. As a kid, we had a pond near our house that I used to go up with my net and catch newts or frogs or little stickleback fish. And so I had this sort of deep connection to this pond because it was the only real sort of nature near my house. And I came back to our pond, which is quite a large, it’s a pretty big pond, it’s fed from a natural water source. And it had shrunken to a very large sort of puddle. The water source had dried up. And I just felt this deep sense of loss actually that this pond is full of so much life. You know, was the koi pu, all the dragonflies. You know, it’s almost a center, it is an ecosystem. And to see it so badly denuded, so close to being dried up. And it was such a… it was a… I just felt in this sort of gut sense of, wow, this is after a week of hot weather. And what are we looking into? And since then it’s been sitting with me, brother. I’ve been sort of, it’s been making me think, you know, what is the work I want to do? Where do I want to put my energy? Where is the change going to come from? How… You know, there were some people who were saying at this meeting that maybe the collapse needs to come quicker because actually sometimes collapse is needed for renewal. And maybe that this system we created is so extractive, is so damaging that actually to delay a collapse, if a collapse comes, it actually means there’ll be more damage. Maybe it’s better to have a quick collapse and it leads into renewal. And, yes, we know, sometimes in our own lives, we’ve needed to go through a sort of personal collapse in order to renew. But actually, we don’t wish it for anyone, especially on such a global scale. So that’s been sort of really on my mind. And Thay’s teachings have actually been fundamental in helping me to sit with it, to reflect on it, and to be able to hold different truths within it, brother. And, you know, that sense of being able to, you know, Thay is all about, you know, the way out is in, you know, not to push it aside, but to sit with that suffering, to recognize it, to allow it to be in me. And also Thay’s teaching of, you know, when things are at risk, when things may be limited, when we see that there’s a limit to things that if we understand the deep preciousness of it. So, you know, when Thay says a tree in the garden dies is, yes, be sad for the tree, and the death of that tree. But don’t focus on that, look at all the other trees that are still there. So to have this ability to, in dark moments, to see all the beauty that remains and to and to take refuge in that. And then also, brother, one of the deep teachings, which I think I may misunderstand, but even if I’ve understood it, it’s helpful to me, which is that maybe we need a podcast of this at the future, but Thich Nhat Hanh’s and Buddha’s teaching about two dimensions, the historical dimension, the ultimate dimension. That the historical dimension is this everyday life we lead. And the ultimate dimension is actually everything’s okay. You know, everything is as it needs to be. And that it’s a light, as Thay once said in an interview, it’s like a light shining on itself. It’s not about life or death, it’s beyond those concepts. And that’s been really helpful to me because… And once I interviewed Thay about this and he said, well, you know, on the historical level, on this day to day life, we’re looking at this pain and suffering on Earth, and we want to do everything we can. You know, he said the, you know, and it’s in the chanting, isn’t it? That the Earth is this precious jewel in the cosmos, and we want to do everything we can to save and protect her. And on the ultimate dimension, you know, we know that everything is impermanent, everything arises, everything falls apart. In a few billion years, the Earth will get too close to the Sun and explode and all the matter in our Earth will spread out in the universe and may create life elsewhere. So everything comes and goes. And I have this life and so I have this narrow prism of looking out. And so I want to protect it. I want everything to be okay. But actually in the great arc of history, this era will pass and there’ll be another era, and not to be so attached. And the ability to hold two truths. So I’m deeply attached, in a sense, I want my children, my family, my friends, my community Plum Village, the world to be doing well and to prosper. And also recognizing that it’s not in me to control that. And in a sense that allows me to commit to seeking change, to give my full self to the change without the attachment to it’s got to be a certain way or the only outcome, that’s the right outcome, because I don’t know what it is. And so, and there are probably many more teachings, but it’s just recognizing that in a sense you were saying this, brother, that in dark times or when people are suffering, that Thay’s teachings allow us to see beyond, they allow us to feel deeply, but also to see beyond that, to recognize actually how do we support each other, that we’re not alone in this, how to be able to share what we’re feeling, how to be able to find refuge in other people, and what it is to be held in a Dharma sharing family, what it is to be held by friends, what it is to be able to have stability, to recognize what may be coming and not be swept away by it, not to become nihilist, because, well, what’s the point? We might as well just have a good time. But also to recognize that life is impermanent. We don’t know what’s going to happen. It can look terrible, but we don’t know. So that’s a very long monologue.

01:01:32

A hot and heavy summer.

01:01:33

It’s a very hot and heavy summer. But can I mention one other short story, brother, which was during the convening and we had breakout groups and I joined one of these breakout groups and the facilitator for that small group asked us all to write on a scrap of paper. He just said, just write what is the thing you’re most seeking to change in the world? Do you know, what is the big question you’re asking yourself? And I wrote down just for that thing I wrote homecoming, collapsing the gap between the masks and personas and coming back to my true self, which was, in a sense, and realizing that, you know, we’ve all traveled a long way away from our center because of our survival instincts, our needs to survive, our environment, what we had to do to win friends, all the conditions that moved us away from our center and how important it is to come back to who we truly are. And I went for a walk with the facilitator down to the beach, because we were by the sea and we stood in the water, and he said, let’s look at our question, let’s look at what we wrote. And I looked at mine and I suddenly realized it was so limiting because it’s great to come back to my true self, but it had three words my true self. So my self is very, it’s like, oh dear, that’s very limiting because it’s great to collapse my personas but my true self doesn’t exist either, because actually that suggests I have a separate self, and I’m divorced and I just had this very strong impulse, I just ripped up this little piece of paper into so many little pieces and I just threw them into the wind. And some of them landed on the tunic of the other person. Some of them landed in the water, some of them flew onto the beach. And at that moment, I turned and I said, I actually want to come back to life. And it was a real realization for me, brother, moving beyond the sense of self to Thay’s teachings on interbeing, that actually I’m part of life, life is part of me. And for many years to have thought of how do I come back to my true self is a block to connecting more deeply with a sort of broader sense of life. So, anyway that what was… that’s part of my summer.

01:04:12

Wow. That’s a lot to to reflect on. And I’m sure you’re still reflecting on some of the conversation as well as some of the topics that was brought up. Yeah. Yeah. I think what for me, when I hear you share it, it always comes back to the teachings of Interbeing. Right. It’s to see the darkness and the light, how it supports each other. Just like our night in our day. Our night helps us to sleep, to rest. And our day allows us to have action. So the collapse can also, the suffering can be a big motivator for all of us to change our habits or change our ways.

01:05:28

And brother, tell us a bit more, you know, just, for our listeners about interbeing in the sense of that sense of what it is to drop this distance, to collapse the distance between I am a human being, my name is Jo Confino. I’m this, and I’m that. And I believe this, and I’m married to this person. These are my kids. And actually how we see ourselves as part of the whole world. What can help us to do that? Because in a sense, I suppose that’s what I’m asking, isn’t it? That was my question. How do I go from being more myself to being connected to life? So what was… What would you think?

01:06:10

Well, that’s a big question, Jo.

01:06:12

I built a career on asking big questions and I like to ask the biggest ones to you, Phap Huu.

01:06:19

Interbeing is an insight that can liberate us. And when we say liberate, we always have to ask, what are we liberating from? So in this particular question is about the self, and the self is also the foundation for a lot of ignorance because the self is so one dimensional. We just… It’s me, me, me, me, me, me. And that allows us to be so greedy, allows us to be so angry, so selfish. And a lot of the suffering of today is because of this particular view that I am the most important person, my family’s the most important. And then anything that is to me is important. But how do we break free from that is to see the non me in all of this. So let’s start with… My direct practice this summer was with my own family, right? So it’s how do I see already that I am my father and my mother’s continuation here and now? So when I was home and being able to have these conversations and seeing my mind turned towards myself only because, yes, I do have this time to rest and to heal. But then there was a living being that I love very dearly that I have a chance to spend time with. And the tendency is to only care about yourself. And I would do things just for me, me, me and I can create a story. I deserve this. I just did this retreat, Oh, it’s been such a tough year. I can create anything and then I can totally ignore my dad and my mom. And in that living moment, I have to let go of myself. I have to think about what it means for me to be home with my parents in this moment. I’ve been away. I left home when I was 13, and I’m sure that there is still moments that my mother and my dad had to deal with the loneliness that I wasn’t there. And so I had to just allow myself to be not me and to be there for them, even though it is the me for them, but it is beyond the me. I don’t know if that makes sense, but that for me is the living practice of interbeing. It’s to give yourself not just the insight, but then to let yourself do it. And I had some, a particular insight because every time I come home, I get to learn something more deeply about myself and about my parents. We always say in the monastic training, when you want to go test yourself, go home.

01:09:19

Especially at Christmas.

01:09:20

Especially at Christmas, go home, be with our family and see how we are able to show up and what we’re able to embrace. So when I was home, I started to recognize also the complex of inferiority in my parents because my dad, we had a conversation that my dad asked me, you know, how is Plum Village and what brings you nourishment, etc.. And especially about the passing of Thay. And I went into the direction of not staying too much on the last few months, but more about now this is what I want to offer, this is where I want to show up. This is where I want to grow as a monk and as a human being. And I have some very big aspirations, I have some very big aspirations that I should keep secret, because there’s a power to that. But when I was sharing it to my dad, and just to be safe, all of this is within the Sangha, was within the Plum Village path. When my dad heard it there was almost like a like a questioning, but can my son do this? And it kind of that reaction when I was pouring my heart out and giving my sharing with my dad like my biggest aspiration, and what gives me energy, what keeps me going. And my dad had a moment is like, that’s great, but can you do it? And that question hit an inferiority complex in me and I uttered this word, and it talked about the me that you just said. But I’m a human being, so I’m alowed to have this moment. And I say this with, I’m saying this now where that there is self in there, but I said to my dad, I just, it just came out, and I said, Dad, trust me. I did reflect on this particular conversation and I started to recognize that the path of my dad, which was my family were from the countryside, were farmers, and throughout their upbringing, which was a lot of suffering, chaos, war, always had to have permission to do things. And so suddenly to have, to be in a different space, to say that we can do things in our control was unimaginable. And so I had this insight, wow, my parents maybe were never allowed to dream bigger than just having a family, having food on the table. And I know that this is also a lot of the suffering of today. And when I was in touch with that, I had so much love and so much compassion that manifested in my heart, and so much like I just want to embrace my parents so much more. And then the interbeing came very alive and I said, oh, maybe in this lifetime their biggest achievement is giving me the conditions for me to be who I am today. And I want to do this for them. And I want to do this with gratitude. Everything, even this podcast, you know, I share with them about our journey together and they’re so grateful, but they don’t understand so much English, so they can’t listen to it. And so just like even when I do this, I think of them, you know, so like this is the non me moment and this is also what will protect me from the ego. So if I think about my past, which is interbeing, now I want to think about my future. I want to think about all the children that come for the summer retreat or the teenagers, other young adults, all of us, adults, all of us elders too. Like how in this moment are we living so that we can still have a safe environment, a safe space for the next generation? So when it comes to the interbeing, the present moment is so important because what we are doing now has an impact. And this is how we feel that even as just someone who is a gardener… We don’t go to these big conferences and we may not speak these words and have this voice, but how we tend our garden, how we show up to our family, how we show up to our children, all of that is an impact for tomorrow. That is interbeing. And all of our practice in Plum Village as well as in Buddhism is to touch Right View, which we talked about, which is Interbeing, that there is… You can’t remove the world to you. If you remove all that, then you’re nothing. That is interbeing.

01:14:49

And brother, just to finish off, I, you know, as you were speaking, I don’t know why, but an image of a CEO of a big company came to my mind. And that person’s success is based on everything else. You know, that person could not succeed without their parents, without their teams, without the products, without the environment that they might be destroying to be successful. But they rely on that. They rely on the clean air. They rely on access to water. They even though they might be this sort of, you know, billionaire CEO that actually they couldn’t be successful in the way they see success without everything else existing and supporting them. And so this idea that we are the success, we are, you know, it’s because of us, it’s just such… It’s hard to, you know, when you actually see interbeing…

01:15:55

Yeah.

01:15:56

it’s just madness.

01:15:57

Yeah.

01:15:57

It’s a going madness.

01:15:59

Yeah. If anything, it just makes us want to love more, want to understand more, and want to build more community so that we can support each other.

01:16:08

Well, maybe we should stop there, brother, but we’re now back in harness. We’re back on our horses, we’re riding again. And we finish off, or we tend to finish off each episode with a short meditation. So, brother, you up for settling us, bringing us back to center, helping us to recognize interbeing nature?

01:16:38

Dear listeners, dear friends, wherever you may be, if you are going for a jog, going for a walk, cleaning your home, on a commute to work, just allow yourself to be still. You can stand, you can sit, or you can even lay down. And just allow yourself to rest, to sink into your body. And now, just bring your attention to your breath. As you breathe in, know you breathe in. As you breathe out, know you breathe out. You cannot be here without this air, so breathe in deeply. And breathe out slowly. In. And out. In this moment, we can feel the connection we have to life around us. We may like to pay attention to the air or the sound of the birds or the people walking by. Just knowing that life is around us and we cannot be here without that life. Breathing in, I’m aware of life around me. Breathing out, I’m in touch with life inside of me. I smile to life in me and all around me. Breathing in, I offer my gratitude to my father. Thank you, father, for all your hardship, all your courage. You did everything you can in the best condition that you had. Breathing out, I am my father’s continuation. Embracing the father in me tenderly. Compassion, continuation. Breathing in, I recognize my mother in me. I’m grateful to my mother. Thank you for giving me life. Thank you for feeding me, for teaching me how to love. Even if that love was shallow. But that love was always there as a mother. Breathing out, how grateful I am for this life. I continued you, my mother. In. Mother. Out. Gratitude. Breathing in, I’m grateful to my spiritual teachers who taught me how to love, how to understand, how to be patient. Breathing out, I smile to all their teaching. In, my teacher. Out, grateful. Breathing in, I’m grateful to the trees for offering me shade, offering me fruits, offering me flowers. Breathing out, I’m inspired to protect and to plant trees, to nourish this Earth. Breathing in, through the breath, connecting to all the trees. Breathing out, loving, caring, and having moderation in my consumption. Breathing in, I’m in touch with the conditions to allow me to be here, smiling to the hardship. Also grateful for all the love and support. Breathing out, I feel so full. Thank you to all of the mud, all of the lotus. I am who I am. And I’m ever-growing. Breathing in, smile to life in me. Breathing out, smile to life all around me. Inbreath. Outbreath.

01:23:16

Thank you, dear listeners, for joining us on this podcast.

01:23:21

Yes, thank you so much for being with us. And we hope that your summer has given you an opportunity to reflect, gain insights and deepen your own understanding. And if you enjoyed this episode, you can find many others. You can find The Way Out Is In on Spotify, on Apple Podcasts and other platforms that carry podcasts, and also on our very own Plum Village App.

01:23:47

And this podcast was brought to you by the generous donor of the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation. If you would like to support future episodes of the podcast and the work of the international Plum Village community, please visit www.tnhf.ogo/donate.

01:24:04

And we would also like to send our appreciation and thanks to Global Optimism, which co-produces this podcast series.

01:24:18

The way out is in.


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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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