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

Plum Village in the Middle East

Plum Village is dedicated to creating an environment in which healing, understanding, happiness, and peace can blossom and grow. The brothers and sisters of Plum Village have a particular interest in listening to the people of the Middle East and sharing mindful practices with them. As part of this aspiration, in March 2019 Brother Phap Lai, Sister Luc Nghiem, Sister Mai Lam and Brother Duc Pho travelled to Palestine.  In August, thanks to the generosity of our donors, Plum Village helped 16 young people from the Middle East attend our Wake Up Retreat.

(Left to right) Sr. Mai Lam, Br. Phap Lai, Br. Duc Pho and Sr. Luc Nghiem enjoying drinks with people we met along the way during a hike in Battir, West Bank, 2019.

The Visit to the Middle East

During their journey to the Middle East, the monastics from Plum Village hosted a multiple-day retreat and single days of mindfulness in natural surroundings. They sat with local sanghas and conducted events open to the public. They met with local peace groups, as well as students, teachers, artists, businessmen, environmentalists, and refugees, with the intention of listening, learning, and sharing mindful practices that might help these people of a region that has endured conflict for more than 70 years.  The goal was to water the seeds of peace, equanimity, and happiness.

Sr. Luc Nghiem introduces the bell to children at the Alrowwad Cultural & Arts Society in Aida Refugee Camp, 2019.

In our three weeks we learned that we do not have any solutions, nor any advice to give, but that we can listen and show others how to listen, first to their own suffering, second to the suffering of their neighbours, and maybe one day they will understand that their enemy also suffers.

Sister Mai Lam

Coming to Plum Village

 The invitation to young people from the Middle East to join the Wake Up Retreat,  was designed to nurture a community of mindful listening, peaceful meditation, compassion, and healing. This summer, the brothers, sisters, and lay volunteers of Plum Village found these young people eager to meet together and discover new ways of seeing and dealing with their world. 

One participant in this year’s Wake Up Retreat later wrote us: 

Your hand of loving kindness and generosity helped us immensely. Your assistance became our in-breath, and our out-breath when we lost our own. It reminded us we are not alone in the world; that we inter-are. 

I was inspired when 600 Wake Uppers from around the globe howled in a single  voice at a full moon rising over the Buddha hill in the pine forest of Upper Hamlet. The call of the bell united our 20 languages into one in-breath, one out-breath. We danced to each other’s music imagining a brighter future by experiencing a lovely present moment. It was a lovely worldwide moment. A moment with roots of hope and stems of peace. We are filled with radiant hope in our next mindful steps towards peace in ourselves, peace in the Middle East, peace in the world.

Young people from the Middle East (and their monastic friends) who came to Plum Village, August 2019

A Final Note on Plum Village’s Efforts in the Middle East 

Plum Village’s work in the Middle East can only happen with the support of our friends and family. More than half of the young people who came to the Wake Up Retreat received financial aid provided by generous donors to help cover their travel costs, including not only airfare, but also such things as visas and border taxes. If you would like to support Plum Village’s efforts in the Middle East please visit our donation page. Our deepest thanks go out to you. 

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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