Graphic #2_Ep 63

The Way Out Is In / Shining Light (Episode #63)

Br Pháp Hữu, Jo Confino

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Welcome to episode 63 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.

In this episode, Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and leadership coach/journalist Jo Confino explore ‘shining light’. This deep-looking practice, established in the Plum Village community, allows monastics to share and receive feedback, so that they can learn and grow together, and better understand each other.

Fresh from a shining light session, Brother Phap Huu offers insights into the practice and its evolution over the years, while Jo brings insights from feedback systems in the lay communities. Their conversation touches upon radical transparency, power dynamics, generating joy and happiness in the sangha, the practice of gratitude, the importance of language in the process of growth, bringing this shining light into the everyday, and much more. 


Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism: 

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation:

List of resources 

‘Shining the Light’ 

‘The Practice of Gratitude’ 


Sutras: ‘Discourse on the Dharma Seal & the Three Doors of Liberation’

‘The Four Dharma Seals of Plum Village’ 



“Meditation on offering guidance. Lord Buddha and teachers over many generations, today we have a chance to practice offering guidance to our brothers, sisters, and friends. We know that in spirit, we are all part of one sangha, that our flesh and bones are also part of one sangha. Therefore, we are aware that offering guidance to another is offering guidance to ourselves. We vow to use all of our love and understanding in order to practice offering guidance. We promise that every word we speak will come from the good intention of wanting to have a correct view about the person to whom guidance is being offered. We vow not to let our anger, sadness, and prejudice wrongly influence our opinion. We promise that every word we speak will come from love, because offering guidance to one is also offering guidance to many. We are aware that this practice will offer benefits to each of us. Dear Buddha and ancestral teachers, please support us in our wholehearted effort to successfully offer guidance today.” 

“The essence of this [practice] lies in real friendship or in real relationships. According to my understanding and experience of relationships, they require the time and space to acknowledge the flowers, as well as to support one another when we see a particular negative habit or tendency. This may be a viewpoint, or a recurring action. And if you don’t fix it, or if you don’t support the other person to change it, it will grow.”

“When you hear something as simple as, ‘When you smile, brother, you make the whole room smile’, that’s a wonderful quality [to be told that you have]. I received this [complement] when I was a young novice. And I’d never experienced that before: being acknowledged for a simple action that can help brighten the room. And that became one of the threads in the fabric of who I am, and I always remember that [complement] when I smile. So shining light can water the seed that helps the wonderful characteristics of a human being grow and develop.” 

“Freedom is freedom from something.”

“My life is my message.”

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

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

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

And brother, you have just come back from a session which in Plum Village is called shining light, which is a way of giving feedback to the monastics so that you can learn together, grow together, and understand each other better. So today we’re going to explore the practice of shining light.

The way out is in.

Hello everyone, I’m Jo Confino.

And I am Brother Phap Huu.

And as I said, brother, we are going to experience today what shining light is. Now, when I was working I used to get an annual feedback. So this was called 360 feedback. And I would, basically send out a form to eight colleagues, both people above me and below me. And they would fill in certain questions. Those questions would be anonymized, and they would go back to a trainer. And then I would meet with that consultant and they would take me back through the, you know, the good, the bad and the ugly. So it was individual. I only knew it myself. No one else knew about it. I got no public feedback. It was all anonymized. And then the feedback, as I said, was given by someone who didn’t work for the company but was paid for their services. Is that what you do in Plum Village with shining light?

Not exactly, but there are some elements there, like the 360. But we do it collectively and we use what we call the sangha eye.

So do you want to tell us what is the difference and maybe what’s the purpose of it and how often do you do it?

Thank you. Jo. This practice called shining light, we do it once a year as a practice for all the monastic community. And in Plum Village here, we have three different hamlets. So New Hamlet, Lower Hamlet and Upper Hamlet. And we would do it in our individual hamlets because we live together, we work together, we practice together and we serve together. So therefore, we have 365 days of a collective awareness of the individual’s way of being. So we have more clarity. So this practice here, it is quite intimate and there has to be enough understanding and enough presence throughout the year. We have to have enough time to really practice this. And we do it once a year as a way to offer very concrete and practical awareness and feedback, and we call it shining light because in our practice of mindfulness, mindfulness is to observe, is to be aware and it is to support. So as the community developed and grew throughout the years in Plum Village, Thay had many more students through the years and Thay wouldn’t have enough time to offer guidance and individual feedback every year. And as the monastic grew bigger and larger, Thay also needed to rely on his monastic students to also support him in offering the guidance. So for me this practice has really developed a sense of caring for one another and the responsibility of supporting one another in, like you said, the good, the bad, and the ugly. But we use different languages. For example, the good, we would say, we would like to take the opportunity to shine the light on the flowers of individuals, like the qualities that they have within them that generates a lot of joy and happiness for themselves, but also generate joy and happiness for the community or even on an individual basis, like on friendship, on siblinghood, as well as when we look into an individual’s practice, we also know none of us is perfect. So we have the mud. So we have the lotuses and we had the mud that we can shine the light on. But whenever we shine the light on a mud, we also have to concretely share a suggestion or a looking deeply. So we have to be very mindful in these sessions, we’ve heard about beginning a new practice in Plum Village. It is not a practice where we are digging into somebody’s like shortcoming. Then that becomes a session of just criticizing each other. Then we would consider that a failure of a session, because then that becomes very heavy as well as not productive. And throughout this session, when we shine light for one, we also get to realize that we’re also shining light for ourself as we are offering input. Because a lot of the times what we think is beautiful and unbeautiful, it comes from our own perception and what we like inside of us. So it’s a really… It’s a very deep looking practice. So it is Vipassana. It is like looking deeply, and we would have enough time for the community to know who is being shined light on the coming week, so we have time to reflect on that person. And in a community like ours where like in the brothers we have, I think this springs retreat we have 50 something brothers. And not everyone has the opportunity to really know one individual. So I really enjoy going to these sessions, just to hear the shining light from the community on an individual, because I can learn so much more about that person by the awareness of other members. So it is like a study. It’s a deep study. And when you listen to the shining light of one individual, you can also learn, despite observing as well as just by your presence of listening.

So, brother, I know that Thich Nhat Hanh developed a text in order to read out, before each session, in order to center and also to really give clear guidance. So do you want to maybe tell us why Thich Nhat Hanh wrote the text and then maybe read the text so listeners can actually understand what actually the process is?

Yes. Very happy to share about this. When I first came into the community as a monk, when I ordained in 2002, the practice of shining light has already been established. But it was in the more early forms. And this shows the beauty of a living community and a living tradition, because the early days, this practice wasn’t yet created in our community. But like I shared the practice of shining light, when we practice on ourself and we cultivate these practices, we may think that we are doing everything correctly. But as we are human beings, we have shortcomings and we have blind spots. So this practice is also to shine the light where we as an individual may not be able to see it, but because we live in a community where there is a 360 view, but even deeper we can see inside because we get to listen to each other throughout the year. So sometimes we get to hear each other’s story and habits and behaviors and attitude are also manifested throughout the year due to each individual’s journey whether they have deep suffering that they are still working on, or some individuals are just so pleasant. And we need to learn, like how they cultivate these qualities where it is so beneficial for so many. So the early days when I first came into the community, so in our table today recording, we have Jo, we have Nick as a sound engineer and myself. Let’s say we’re going to shine light on Nick.

Oh yes, please.

In the early days, Nick wouldn’t be present in that shining light session. And then the the community would then, we would then put Nick in our mind and from our experience in the year we would then offer our input. And what I’ve learned is that when the person is not there, we can become very critical about that person. It’s so easy to look at the negative. And sometimes you, a person, may have held on to that view for a whole year or two years or three years. And then in this moment when it’s okay, we get to like shine light on Nick, I’m going to give it everything. And then our speech becomes not kind and not constructive, and it’s just blaming.

And that, brother, that’s very much like social media, isn’t it? That when it’s anonymized, when you don’t see the person sitting in front of you, it’s very much easier for the mind to be critical. So you’re saying something very similar there.

Exactly. And when that person is not there, you just feel like you’re speaking to your own perception about that person. Right? And that’s not real responsibility from the individual in offering that person guidance. But it’s very different when that person is in the room. So after some reports, our teacher heard about this, and I remember receiving a letter and not knowing what to expect.

So you mean everyone would discuss the person and then that person would then receive a letter from the community.

Exactly. So it’s kind of like a report card in a way. And we normally end our Rains Retreat with a ceremony called invitation. And it’s part of the shining light. So at the end of the Rains Retreat, every monastic would receive their shining light letter. It’s kind of like this is the ticket out of the Rains Retreat, that you are present, you listen, you practice, and this letter is for you to observe and reflect for the coming year, for you to have a pathway to develop oneself. So the intention is very good. But then our teacher recognized that this kind of practice, it doesn’t support our other very foundational practice of community building, which is deep listening and loving speech. So our teacher then renewed this Dharma door and he said, every shining light session, the individual has to be present. And then our teacher wrote a text for us to contemplate before every session. And I would like to read it.

Great. Thank you.

Meditation on offering guidance. Lord Buddha and teachers over many generations, today we have a chance to practice offering guidance to our brothers, sisters, and friends. We know that in spirit, we are all part of one sangha, that our flesh and bones are also part of one sangha. Therefore, we are aware that offering guidance to another is offering guidance to ourselves. We vow to use all of our love and understanding in order to practice offering guidance. We promise that every word we speak will come from the good intention of wanting to have a correct view about the person to whom guidance is being offered. We vow not to let our anger, sadness, and prejudice wrongly influence our opinion. We promise that every word we speak will come from love, because offering guidance to one is also offering guidance to many. We are aware that this practice will offer benefits to each of us. Dear Buddha and ancestral teachers, please support us in our wholehearted effort to successfully offer guidance today.

Beautiful. Thank you, brother. So what’s coming to my mind is that feedback can either create division or it can bind people together. So, just going back to my history at the Guardian. So I actually brought in the feedback system into the Guardian because, before I brought that in, there was no feedback at all. And so people were often just uncertain how they were doing. They didn’t get… They often weren’t praised for the things that they were doing well. They didn’t get feedback when things weren’t going very well. And then when things didn’t work very well, people often felt excluded that people would just keep them to the side rather than be honest. So it was a complete lack of honesty, but often too much honesty without care can be hurtful. And there was one editor of one of the big departments, and we experimented in this person in his department, first of all, and all the feedback forms came back, and there was not one positive thing they said about this person. And this is 12 people giving the feedback, and they all came back with very serious sort of criticisms, and that person was very much destroyed. And actually a short while later sort of stood down as the editor of that department. So that was a real lesson for me in, firstly, the anonymity. And secondly, the fact that they didn’t start off, there was no process of starting off with the positive things. It was just people could just say whatever they want. So couple of questions that come from this, Brother Phap Huu, was the reason it was anonymized, and it is in every company, pretty much every company I know. There’s… I’ve never heard of an organization where there’s this community building aspect. And I think they do that because of a fear of being embarrassed, humiliated, being exposed, that actually the only way you’re going to change is if you have the safety to hear that, in your own private space and no one else is going to hear it. And you’re doing exactly the opposite. So how can you do it in a way that actually, because there might be a wish to build community, but that person, how do you build the presence and holding that space so that if you’re giving some feedback that that person might find difficult, that they’re genuinely able to hear it in front of everybody. That sounds quite a stretch for some people.

It truly is. But the beauty, if we are really coming together to develop a community and cultivate a community, that there is understanding and there is trust, honesty is a big part of that. And it sounds scary. And, like I shared from the beginning, we only do it with residential members. So if you are like a visiting monastic or if you haven’t really spent time with us for over six months, we wouldn’t encourage you to have shining light because we don’t know you deeply enough. So there is a real depth to this practice. And the intention of our shining light sessions is to truly support one another. And like the text, like we vow to use the methods of loving speech, that every word we speak will come from the good intention of wanting to have a correct view, and also to shine the light so that that person can see their blind spot. And when we do it collectively, like in the Upper Hamlet, I know every monastery we have this Dharma door and every monastery would do it in the appropriate way and setting. For example, because we have 50 something monastics, so we divide our brothers group into two groups, but we divide evenly between the elder and younger. So every group has senior members as well as the youngest members. So there is a shining light and a deep listening from the multi-generational, experienced practitioners in our community. And with the presence of elders that are there, it also has an impact. So a lot of sessions when we go to not everybody will have an opportunity to speak because each member only gets 45 minute. So it’s also a training for the whole community to be very precise, in a very loving way. And to truly articulate our offering guidance. And we always start with the flowers. Like in some places there’s even like a rule. So you have to have three flowers before one mud or one suggestion because it can’t be true that you only see something negative about that person. So there is a deep development that is happening is that you have to reflect and review also your perception if it is correct or not. And if you only see that person’s negative aspect, then it also reflects towards you that you really haven’t lived with this person because you can only see their negative side when we all know we have good seeds in us. This is the truth. This is a fact. Our experience in this practice, and my experience in this practice is very humbling. Number one, the one who is getting the shining light, is a real practice of humility. You’re learning to put all your shields down. And to let the sangha shine the light towards you. And you have to practice openness. And isn’t this our deepest aspiration as Zen practitioners or as Buddhist to practice no self? It is to see all of the different elements that is not us or that we think is us, but our community can shine the light where the weeds are, or where the strong branches that we have grown, the wonderful leaves and flowers that have ripened and the fruits that have come to be thanks to our practice. And very interestingly, and I want to share a continuous development in this practice of shining light is through the years, the community have developed, continue to develop the practice that before the sangha shines light on the individual we would ask the individual to shine light on themselves. So before we just come in and listen. But now we’ve taken another step and we’ve asked the individual to be in front of the community, your community, and to shine light on his or herself and to look at his or her own growth in the year, the wonderful qualities that they see in them, and then the practice that they are still developing, or the shortcomings within habits or energies that they are still learning to transform. And then at the end, to request the community to shine light. So this practice is mandatory in our community building. And the element of requesting the community to shine light on oneself, it is you verbalizing that I am here and I am open to receive your light. So please shine light. So we always say in Zen, in meditation, is like the transmitter and the transmission, the transmission and the receiver have to be one, and there has to be a willingness from both sides. So this practice has also developed our vulnerability, as we’ve discovered in this podcast, that vulnerability is a strength to understanding, to seeing, to accepting and acknowledging oneself. And very interestingly, in a lot of the self shining light that I get to listen to my brothers share, it’s so easy for one to just talk about their negative practice, their negative habits. It’s so easy to just see ourselves as someone not good enough. Even some brothers when they shine light, the brothers would ask, brother, can you please identify at least two good qualities that you see in yourself? And in a way… but when we listen to the individual, we get to learn more about them, about the complexes that they go through. And then sometimes, in some shining light, the individual feels ready, they ripen in the community. So every person’s growth in a community like ours, and I would say like in a relationship outside, it takes time to root. We take time for our roots to deepen in our relationship. So there’s some darkness or there’s some past that we don’t share yet to the community because we’re not ready. And because something that we’re still trying to understand as well as accept in ourself. So in some of our shining light sessions is the most profound moment when I get to know a brother because they’re willing to go deeper in their own journey, and they get to expose that, and they get to share that and be transparent about it to the community. And when you get to listen about somebody’s suffering, we learn that when we understand somebody’s suffering, our compassion arises. And so in a way of like this practice in this development of your journey with the community, it’s also an opportunity to ask for support. So by sharing your suffering, your deepest aspiration, your need, and in this moment, you’re not greedy at all. Like I said, it’s very humbling. You even feel naked in front of the community. So when you expose and you share with that intention, in a way it’s like renewing your vows, it’s like renewing your aspiration.

Brother, there’s something so powerful about people. You know, there’s a phrase, radical transparency, that what people are most afraid of is often where their salvation lies. So you may not want to admit to something or to having a difficulty with something, and you feel, you know, shame or fear of isolation or of humiliation. But when you’re present, and especially in a community like this, and, in a sense, you’re taking your heart out and offering it in your palms of your hand, saying, here’s my heart. Then all people want to do is to support you and to love you through that. Whereas when you’re hiding from something, you’re actually adding to the power of that feeling of negativity and also brother that sense of, how difficult it is for us to be kind to ourselves. So, you know, as you say, you know, how easy it is for people to pick on the negative rather than the positive. And so the fact is that through this process, they have to say something positive and you have to say something positive is such a powerful thing. I remember when I was,once coaching a deputy headmaster of a big secondary school in the UK, about 1300 students, really big school, very senior guy. And I was coaching him. And he was dealing with some insecurity. So we had a big sheet of paper in front of us and I said, well, okay, can you list, just write down now your strengths, what you like about yourself. And he sat there for five minutes and he said, I can’t think of anything. He could literally could not write something down. And this was someone in a senior position, a teacher, deputy headteacher. And then he really struggled. And then I said, well, write down what your students and teachers say your qualities are. And effortlessly started writing things down. So that speaks to the fact that even when we find it difficult to find in ourselves, to hear it from other people is a real sort of balm to the soul. But brother, one thing… So there are a few questions coming to mind. So one is around power dynamics. So again, if you look, in the world of business, for instance, organization, traditional organizations, the ability of a very junior person to offer this radical transparency to a very senior person feels often like it’s filled with, it’s like walking across a minefield. And even if you say it gently and kindly, the perceived risk is that you’re going to be punished. Now, even though Plum Village, you know, has that deep sense of community building, there are elders, there are novices who have just come into the practice. There is a dynamic going on there. So how do you work to allow someone who has a strong wish to offer an elder some shining light, but is actually worried that, oh, that’s the end of my monkdom. I’ll be kicked out.

Good question. You want the juicy story?

That’s what we’re here for.

Yeah. So, like I shared, like this practice has gone on a journey. So we’ve had, we’ve definitely had monks who were very upset at one another, by receiving particular shining lights, or perceptions and judgment. And through the years, like we’ve really developed the facilitators had to be very stable and solid because the facilitator is holding the space for everyone. So we always start with three sounds the bell, and then in between each person we would invite another sound of the bell, just to recollect everyone and like, maybe those who have never been to Plum Village or it’s new to our tradition, the bell in our monastery it is very well respected. When you listen to the bell, everybody stops what they’re doing, what they’re saying, and comes back to their breath and recollects himself. So the bells are essential. They are the foundation for all of our meetings, all of our big sessions, deep listening sessions, shining light or even Dharma talks and so on. So the bell master has to be very present in the shining light sessions when they hear a particular sharing where it’s not coming from love, but it’s coming from very sharp judgment and very… Maybe it comes with an energy of blame. The bell master has the right to ask, dear brother, is this coming from blame or is this coming from judgment? Check your energy where this is coming from. I’ve done this as a bell master. There was one brother who was receiving shining light, and this person started off very good. Had three…

Follow the rules.

Follow the rules, you know, of course, the rules are to be broken, right? So they have three good qualities, but then they prepared like a list of 7 or 10 negative points to share. But it wasn’t coming from love and coming to want to help that person. It was just saying, I don’t like it when you do this. And the energy right away it’s not of the spirit of shining light. And we do it as a sangha, so members in the community also can ask the individual who is shining light, is like, dear brother, can you articulate more or can you expand more on that perception or on that view or on that light that you offer? If some of us feel as a little bit off, we can even counter that. So the beauty of doing it together, like if it’s anonymous, then there’s no responsibility. But when we’re doing as a community, when we call it the sangha eye, so each and every one of us who is listening to the brother or the sister offering the shining light, we get to also check if that story is correct. So there has been also sessions when brother A shares one view, but brothers B, C, and D actually know of that story, but that was a one time thing, and it’s not something to label that person with. So we offer the shining light even to the one who is shining light. So it’s really a live session. It’s very dynamic in a way. And it really shows the care that we have. So we make sure that the view is correct. And we’ve also been trained to always ask if our perception is correct and also to, when we offer the shining light, if it’s something that we are not sure, don’t share it. Because if it’s not sure, don’t voice it yet, then it becomes an action, right? So in these sessions, it is true that because we’re all being asked to look deeply, so maybe we might dig a little bit deeper and we maybe remember something, but it can also come like three years ago. But now is the present moment. Are we sure that that person is still like that? And because we have a whole week or even more to think of the person whom it’s going to be offered guidance, we can also check our perception. Yes, it is true that there is a careful treading when we do offer guidance to our elders. And some of it, yes, there’s some fear and some of it is respect and some of it is also how sure are we about it? But if the space is there and the energy is very embracing and the dynamic of that brother’s characteristic, we know he is very open, he is able to receive. As a member of the sangha this is our practice. This is also learning to trust our wisdom and to trust our deep looking. And sometimes we can also share, but halfway through, we feel we want to take it back. It’s also okay. So there’s another element that is happening in the shining light is each group has a typewriter, has somebody on the laptop writing everything that’s being shared and is being projected on a screen or is being projected via a TV. So we get to see everything that is written, and at the end of each session, before we end, we would invite the community to review again everything that has been shared and written and to check one more time. Are these views correct? So we do like multiple layers of double checking. And even for myself, just a week ago, I offered a shining light to a brother. And by the end of it, I felt that this was just my perception. And I feel, because I am the abbot and I’m such an elder brother, so I feel like this perception can be quite heavy. And I said I would like to take that back because I feel it’s not fair, because this is just my perception, and not to have it written down. And I would ask that brother to also let go of that perception that I shared because I reflected and I saw that not many brothers echoed that as well as not many brothers even shared in the same lane about that particular habit. So you get to also learn that, oh, okay, this is maybe just my own wrong view or just a view that I have, and it’s probably not accurate. So it’s a real study, it’s a real deep dive into community building and to also check the energy of how we are, how we are producing the words and the angle how we’re trying to help that person. So it takes a lot of mindfulness and a lot of love and care in the words we choose also.

Thank you, brother. As you were talking, you know, one particular point you make that I just want to accentuate is because, of course, by hearing about this practice, we can bring this in every day, into our conversations. But one thing in particular you said was that when somebody acts in a certain way once, we very easily believe that that is who the person is. And I remember when I was at the Guardian and we went through the training for the feedback, and I remember the trainers saying if, and they gave the example of if you come into the office for the first time as a new boss, for instance, and you walk into the office and one of the journalists has his feet up on the table and is sort of pushing back in his chair, and you walk past and you can very quickly form the judgment that that person is lazy. And that the way the mind works is even if that person then works very hard, but occasionally you might see that person sort of going for an early lunch or going for a long lunch, that the way in the mind works is that it will just pick on those things and say, well, you see, that person is lazy. So I really like the way you said that the community, the 360 is not just for the person receiving the feedback, but also for the people giving the feedback, because actually you have to be very responsible and have to really have thought it through and understood the consequences of what you’re saying. So actually what it does is holds everyone responsible and accountable for what they say.

Yes. And we have like a guideline of like criterias to look at. So it’s not just like we come into a session and we’re like shooed away, you’re light. You know?

Armor up.

Yeah. Like, you know, community boundaries are really important. And pathways, creating pathways so that we have a clear path to walk together is really important. So for our community, we use the four pillars of the monastic training, which is the first one is the individuals practice, meditations, ways of conducting oneself in the community through the practice. You know, how they take care of their emotions, how they take care of their daily activities, how they open the door, how they close the door. We really focus on the day to day things because we live together so intimately that it reviews our mind. So we would reflect on that person’s individual practice. And then the other one is their study, like their openness to learn because all of us are students. When we enter into the monastic training, we have to like relearn everything, from the simplest of, like, just how to drink a cup of tea and be present. You know? How to listen, how to share, how to work together and as well as the Dharma, how we study the Dharma. Are we always present for the classes? And what is our attitude towards studying? And it can go very deep. And our community is very diverse, so we have those who are so intelligent and love studying, picks up like four languages in like, three years. And it’s just very encouraging. So when we listen to the shining light and we hear of individual’s willingness to learn, it’s just incredible. You then as an individual listening, you’re like, oh my gosh, like I’m really slacking off on that, on that end. Like I need to up my game there. You know? And then the third element is service and community life. Like, are we selfless while being in a community like Plum Village? Because that’s our second Dharma seal, which is learning to be a drop of water in this river, to go as a river. So the practice of living in harmony with each other, how we… Are we an individual player or are we a team player? And we have one brother who always uses sport metaphors. And it’s great. He’s like, if we are soccer, if we are a soccer team, a football team, you are definitely messy, you know. But from time to time, you know, I think you share the ball a little bit more, you know, and it’s just so… Everybody finds skillful ways to paint a picture of an individual. And today’s sharing, there was a brother who, one of the image that the community painted for him is like dear brother, you’re like a calm lake. Every time you show up, your presence is just so calming and it helps the collective. It helps the OT team, organising team. You don’t even have to do anything. You just need to be there. And we feel that there is stillness and stability in the group. So by hearing all this is also we’re watering each other’s seed that we have. Oh yeah, it’s true that brother has such stability. And we can see because he’s so disciplined. So I’m lacking there. How do I cultivate that so I can also have more of that presence for example. So it’s also a mirroring for each other in this shining light session. And then the fourth one is generating joy and happiness. Are we able to, as an individual, take care of our happiness and then take care of the happiness of the sangha? Because our aspect is not just ourself, but how it has an impact on everyone. And for some, we need them to take care more of their happiness, because they do everything for the community and sometimes they may spread themselves so thin and we don’t want to lose them. We don’t want them to burn out because we have had monastic burnout in our community and end up leaving the sangha. So we’ve also learned through our 42 years of Plum Village, where we have a lot of experience, living experience, where we can shine light on one another. Sometimes we just say, because it hasn’t happened yet is just like in our experience, if you keep going down this path, you may burn out, dear brother, and you are so dear to us. Like please take care of yourself. So in these moments of shining light, we also get to care for that person’s future also. And we know that it’s not an individual matter like that person’s presence and success is our presence and success. That person’s shortcoming is also our shortcoming. And sometimes I hear when I listen to somebody suffering, when somebody struggles, I also ask back, what haven’t we done to support that person? Or it also reflects on the community that oh, you know, in the last year, we haven’t been diligent in reminding our community in this aspect. Therefore, this energy has emerged within individuals in our community. So like Thay’s text says like shining light for one is shining light for all. So by looking at one you get to also look at the collective. So it’s a real interbeing practice and process and another element that is not in the written out criteria. But a lot of us we always talk about is the friendship of the person’s capacity in developing communities and connection in the sangha, meaning there are those who are learning to live together. So we just want to identify, it’s like, I know maybe your whole life you’ve been solo, you’ve had your own room, you had your own house, you know, you had your own career. And here you are, like learning to unlearn all that and to really be in harmony and just to acknowledge something as simple as that. It is also, it boosts that person’s trust and faith in the path that they’ve taken. And in the willingness to learn to be each other’s friend. Because we are a community and we do live with one another, we, especially in Upper Hamlet, we live in a residence that is like a square. It is a square. So we see each other. The moment we step out of our room, we see each other like going to the restroom, going to the library, going to the zendo. So there’s no way that we don’t connect. And our teacher created the monks’ residence in that way so that we don’t isolate ourselves. But nevertheless, we know that everybody’s journey takes time in getting rooted in our community. And friendship is one of the four gratitudes that we learn to acknowledge, be mindful of, and pay gratitude towards. In friendship they always say to be successful on any journey, you need good friends to support you. And it’s very true for the monastic path. And that’s why shining light is also another key practice where we get to be more intimate in the openness and in the courage to also point out things that we recognize, that they’re stuck at. And sometimes it’s painful to say, but it’s because I love you. That’s why I say it. Because really, if I don’t love you, I’m not going to say anything. I won’t care about you. So in the shining light, it also reveals many things. So some brothers like there’s no gap in between sharings, because everybody has something to offer, whether they’re flowers or whether they’re suggestions. And the reality is, and there’s some shining light, you can hear the crickets because that person is not so integrated in the community. So they’re, even in that, that is shining light. It reveals how much you isolate yourself from the community or how much maybe the relationship that folks don’t feel fully comfortable in offering. So it’s a very dynamic and unique experience.

It does. And one of the things I’m hearing so clearly, and what you’re saying is it’s the chance to go beyond belief in self, which is, of course, the core of… Which is the understanding of interbeing because often, you know, you’ll get people in a, you know, their community, which might be an organization or whatever and thinking… They think, how can I do well here? How can I, you know, everyone wants to be a Messi in that sense. And everyone wants to… They think of themselves as an extension of their border, that’s who they need to look after. Whereas actually, what I’m hearing is that, actually, if every person represents a facet of the whole, then actually the whole has to be understood as the whole. In other words, my contribution to the whole might be I’m very good at this. It doesn’t mean I have to also be good at that and that because someone else’s… if someone else’s calmness is […], yes, of course I want to develop calmness, but my skill may be that I’m good at accounting and I look after the bookshop finances. And actually, that is of equal importance within the life of a community and seeing someone else become is also my calmness. And for that person who’s calm, they’re able to become maybe in part because they don’t have to do the accounting in the bookshop. So what I’m hearing is that is a deep way of seeing beyond self and to actually what really is a community.

Yeah. And with the sangha eye, like a Dharma teacher would, a lot of us we would be attentive to shining the light on how he or she offers the teaching, or how he or she shows up. And in the shining light, you also get to see the different layers of our community, like you have expressed. And yeah, it’s so beautiful to hear, like what is very meaningful for people, it’s not when you give like an incredible Dharma talk, but what I always hear is like when people are attentive and caring for each other, like we have a brother who we call him the rice bodhisattva, the rice soup bodhisattva, because he does not discriminate. When anybody is sick, he makes rice soup for them and is always in the common room. And even the non sick brothers get to enjoy the rice soup and just, yeah, two years ago, our brother returned back to Vietnam so we’re definitely missing our rice bodhisattva.

So this is a call out to anyone who wants to be a monastic and makes good rice soup is side up now.

No, but, you know, like, this is just… And he’s a Dharma teacher, and he’s a brother who is not eloquent in speaking and doesn’t like to be in the public and gets very nervous and shy. But he knows that his offering is on the practical side. He does, he can build anything. And when anyone is sick, he’s like, I’m there, I’m going to make you rice soup with ginger, with onion, don’t worry about it. You know, and it just shows that there’s so many ways of offering. And like you said, every offering is as important as the ones who are writing books or are creating as well with the ones who are cleaning the toilets, the ones who are sweeping the grounds. And this is where we get to break the hierarchy of like what is important, what is not, and to really see that that interbeing because it’s right, like we can’t do this podcast and have this total freedom if there aren’t brothers and sisters who are cooking, who are holding other elements in the community, for example. So this also in the shining light is a place and time to offer our gratitude, you know, to show our appreciation of the individual.

And to prevent arrogance from developing. And I know, again, because I was at the Guardian 23 years and one of the projects I ran was called Living Our Values, which I ran for 15 years, which was about making sure that the values of the organization weren’t just spread into the world, but were internalized. So one of the things was if we wrote something, had a view of something that we needed to make sure that we were living that, which is why I called it living our values. And one of those was very much that sense that the journalists felt they were the most important people. They were brilliant intellects. They were writing great stories. They were reaching big audiences. They were making, you know, exposing wrongdoing. And of course, that is true. But their attitude was arrogant, many of them, of course, not all of them. So the way sometimes the facilities staff were treated, the cleaners or the people just keeping the building running or stopping their toilets from overflowing. And so one of my wishes was to equalize that, to say, well, no, actually, if you can’t come into the… and this was before people could work from home, but if you can’t come into the building because the toilets are overflowing, there’s no electricity or the printers or the print works aren’t around, you know, can’t come into work, then you have no journalism. And to say that everyone is important and I think in, you know what… so many of the things I’m hearing you speak about, broter, my thought goes to if only one of these aspects were brought into sort of, in organizations outside the world, you know, in the world, whether it’s business or NGOs or government or institutions, just you could start to fundamentally shift people’s relationships with each other and in the work they’re creating in the world. And so actually, I see these lessons of being lessons for transforming institutions, transforming our systems rather than just a practice in Plum Village.

That would be, that would be amazing if there are some elements from the shining light practice that can be incorporated into team building and so on. And a fun fact that, this is the Dharma door how we accept aspirants to become novices or novices to become a fully ordained monk or nun, and then a bhikkhu or bhikkhuni becoming a Dharma teacher. So we don’t do tests. There’s no, like, written text or there’s no written test that you have to ace or express your knowledge in a particular way, because for us, it’s more important your way of being, your way of contribution, your way of growth in the community that we, based on that, that we would be ready to embrace you into the monastic order or becoming a bhikkhu or bhikkhuni, which means a fully ordained monk or nun, or becoming a Dharma teacher, which is having an opportunity to learn to become a good teacher, a mentor, and grow in offering the Dharma in the best capacity that we can. And by doing it, with this sangha eye we also avoid like biases, like that can be developed within groups. Right? Is like, if I’m going to become a Dharma teacher, then I’m just gonna like, become like, very sweet to you for the next, like four months because you’re about to make my decision. Right? But we don’t… We’re not based on that, and we’re based on the collective view by shining light. And we get to hear if that person is, we say, if that person is ripe and we don’t look for anybody perfect, but they, to ripe enough, to become a monastic or a fully ordained monastic or a Dharma teacher. And Thay always says, when you become a Dharma teacher, when you receive the lamp, it doesn’t mean you have accomplished anything. It’s just the beginning. And he always says it takes like ten years to become a very good Dharma teacher. And even Dharma teachers, we, yes, arrogance and ego and pride is also one of the hindrances of our freedom as a monastic and as a practitioner. I would even say, for those of us who, you know, we can have a long term practice, but if we don’t see our blind spots, and if we don’t have friends who can also shine light to help us grow, then we might be stuck for a while. And the shining light it happens officially once a year, but shining light can happen throughout the year between mentors and mentees or very close brothers and sisters. And, yeah, from time to time, a group of us who are very close to each other, we would sit down and just shine light on each other. Or when we were growing as Dharma teachers, like we would shine light on the way we offer the teachings or how we facilitate, you know. We would take that brother aside, oh, brother, you did, these elements were really good, but, you know, I want you to be more aware when you use the bell, for example, or when you’re presenting a subject to be more concrete about it. So the shining light, it’s really, also a tool and a way to support one another because to have language is important because sometimes it says like, here, come here, let me tell you what you’re not good at. It sounds horrible. But I say, brother, can I shine light? And when you hear that, you know that there’s something that you can improve. But the language helps sooth the the process of growing.

So brother, just wondering, has it happened where… Well, I’m sure it’s happened, but that you know of where a monastic will receive a shining light, but come away feeling a bit aggrieved. Which is feeling that actually, you know, yes, I hear that. But I genuinely feel that that was a misinterpretation. And, because, of course, shining light is there to to clean up things and to make an offering, but, of course, we’re human and it can, on occasion, I imagine, have the opposite effect where someone comes away feeling, well, actually, I’m not understood at all for what I’m doing, or my contribution. And I’m just wondering, what is the recommendation for someone who may be going through that and have you had to, sort of, in a sense, step in to support somebody?

Yes. That has happened. So, really funny story. We had one of our seasoned Dharma teacher brother, one year was feeling very courageous, and he told the community, don’t be afraid to shine light on me. Anything you see, just offer it. That saying, right, be careful what you wish for because, well, he kind of opened the gate. So we’re like, all right, my brother’s ready. And, yeah, I think it was just the suggestion was too much compared to the flowers because also in that moment it’s very rare, like you said, like, it’s a moment where we get to really shine light on our senior. So we’ve got a little bit greedy on that too, and a little bit unmindful of the balance.


So it’s also the attentiveness that we didn’t have in that moment to balance and remember the rulers, which is like flowers, three one. Right? And yeah, some of us like did recognize our brother was down for a few days or weeks. And yet the responsibility is also to come and to check in and to say, you know, you asked for it, you know. But we love you, you know, brother, like, we truly love you. And just to remind, like, you know, there’s a saying in Vietnamese is like if you don’t offer bitterness, you know, then that’s not true love. Like because they always say like bitter medicine is a good for your your liver and good for your health. And also the practice of the listener is just to be open and receive. So this has also been developed in our shining light sessions is that the individual in that moment is not allowed to counter any suggestion that is being offered, because then that is pride speaking in that moment and not real openness and trust the community. Of course, like I shared, we’ve done this process for a very long time now in our community so there is a lot of maturity in this practice of speaking, of sharing and of listening to one another and to help views if they are not totally accurate. We did learn, like before we did have brothers like after all the sharing, they did bow and they said, like, I feel like the community or that view is so wrong and you don’t understand me. And maybe it’s true because what we said, like it can be partially right. But in that moment, I feel and this is just my experience. Right? So if you counter like that, then suddenly nobody next to you will want to shine light on you. So there’s a time and space for everything. So in that moment of receiving and listening, we always end with gratitude. It’s become, I don’t know about the other monasteries in our tradition, but in Upper Hamlet we always end with each individual thanking the community for shining light. And they always say, I will take time to reflect on all the suggestions and I will learn to put it into practice. And it’s very genuine when each individual shares this. It’s not like an automatic thing. It’s like I shared like the atmosphere that has been set up it’s very tender. It’s very real and it’s real heart that is being offered to one another. So in that moment even if it’s not 100% accurate, but I think it’s the intentions that are there that we’re hearing from one another. And we always offer gratitude back. And yes, maybe a week later, you know, we can share to our mentors like, you know, dear mentor, I was… this was my shining light and I don’t feel is 100% accurate. What do you think? You know, and then we can reflect on it. But in that moment of like if you shut it, if you shut the gates down, then it also in a way it just presents your unwillingness to be open.



Brother just one thing that I’m holding in the back of my mind… which I just want to come back to. No, it’s a good thing.

Okay, okay. Okay.

It’s a flower watering. I was really impressed when you said that, with this one monk that you thought about something and then went and said, I want to take that back, I just… Because I think that that’s such a beautiful expression of deep looking and reflection and then action. And what was at the back of my mind was how was that received? Because it’s one thing… Because it’s not just in the saying of something, it’s how the person receives that and how that changes their way of being. And so I’m just intrigued as to how that was received.

The brother smiled. Yeah. Like, you know, when we practice and we have intuitions like saying, what I said there, it’s not 100% accurate. And I was like, am I sure with that view? And in that moment, I just remembered the teachings that says that words have weight on them, especially when it comes from particular relationships. And I’m very aware of my relationship with my brothers. And I don’t want words to become a prison or a view to become a prison. And even though my intention was trying to point a particular view, which I, in my own perception, helped them overcome, but that’s still just my perception. And I just felt, I’ve set a cage and I can ask that person to, in a year or two, to open it, but maybe it’s not true. So let me free him from this. And when I did that, in my heart I felt really light. So I believed that his heart also felt very light.

Brother, so one of the, well, actually the main purpose for this podcast is that as we discover Thay’s teachings and the way they’re practiced in the monastery, that people can then say, oh, I wonder how I can incorporate that into my daily life. So, what’s your suggestion for… ? Because there are moments where this is very appropriate, and there can be also moments where it’s very not appropriate. And it can go down like a lead balloon. So I’m just wondering, I mean, you’ve talked a lot about the conditions that are necessary. So there needs to be sort of a sense of openness and it’s not I’m going to give you shining light, sit there and take it. So it has to be something that is consensual in that sense. But I’m just wondering if this is something that can be used effectively in relationships, in 1 to 1 working conditions, within teams. Because while there are clearly some, I mean, I can immediately see how some of these, some of the ways you do this practice would very well translate into the real world, there are also risks because the world outside the monastery has different cultures, different fears, different power structures. So I’m just wondering, and I know this is a very general question, and so should be taken as a general question, but what’s your suggestion about how effective have you come across good examples where this is used in the world beyond the monastery very effectively, or moments where someone’s come back to you and said, I tried, there was a disaster. So I just get a general sense of how we can translate aspects of this, not the whole thing necessarily, but aspects of this into the real world?

Oh, I definitely think it can. We don’t have to tell the people that this is a Dharma door from Plum Village, and I need you to sit down and breathe three times and and then boom, boom, boom, boom. But I think the essence of it is love, which is showing our support and shining light where there are blind spots. And like I shared, we only do this in the residential community where there is a real relationship, intimate, kind of intimacy, you know, that we really know each other. And because I feel if we don’t have this Dharma door, for example, I feel the tendency as individualistic living we cannot care about the other person and just say, oh, you know what? Like that’s just his habit. I’m just going to let him go down that rabbit hole and and I’m just going to be better than that. And to be honest, it’s very easy to do that. It’s harder to offer input. It’s harder to shine the light so that that person can see when you know that that person doing that continuously, they suffer. Of course, do not use it as as a weapon to shame somebody. So for example, we have, I mean I have a policy that I made for myself is to never do it in front of public, even if that that individual does something in front of everyone. And in my mind, oh, that was so poorly done. I’m not going to go up there and correct the person in front of everyone. Right? Even though you can say this is shining light, this is my responsibility as an elder or, you know, as his mentor. No, there’s a time and moment for everything. Skillfulness is so important. And the essence of this is in real friendship or in real relationship, according to my understanding and my own experience in relationship is having the time and space to acknowledge the flowers as well as to support one another when we see a particular habit or tendency. It may be a view, it may be an action that is always occurring. And if you don’t fix it, or if you don’t support it for it to change, it will become thick and heavy. And you may look down the road and say, oh my God, if two years ago I said that and I shared to that person to be mindful of that tendency, then that person could have not gained a habit. Or, on the other end, is to water the good seeds in them. Is like, you know, let that person know of these wonderful qualities that they have so that they can continue to develop and grow those qualities. And I was, you know, reflecting on myself and like, we all have complexes. Right? And depending on our growth and depending on our childhood, we remember like all the moments when we were told we’re not good enough. But when you hear something and it’s as simple as, you know, when you smile, brother, you make the whole room smile. Like that’s a very wonderful quality. And I received this when I was a young novice. And it added like an experience that I’ve never experienced before, which was being acknowledged for a simple action that can help brighten the room. And that, for me, has laid a very strong foundation as one of my thread in the fabric of who I am, and that I always remember of the smile, for example. So shining light also has the impact of creating the wonderful characteristic of a human being that we can help water that seed in them so that they can grow and develop.

So, I have my wife, Paz, here. So you get it once a year, brother. I get it every day.

The good seeds.

The good seeds and also the suggestions. And of course, when, you know, what you say, it’s all about the intention and the love. Because when the love and the intention is present, actually, then we can hear things. Because even though we can be very critical of ourselves, we find it very difficult when someone else is saying it to us. So actually, it’s always about how are we showing up? And my final question, brother, I keep the best till last.

Yes. Yes. yes.

We have been talking about the community and about going beyond self, but how is your… ? Have you had your shining light this year?

I did.

And would you like to.

Expose it to the world?

I’m sure you knew this was coming at some point, but, would you like to share anything from it? And being this is a public space, of course, we’re talking about healthy boundaries… but, how did it, you know, how was it? And also, I’m sure you’ve had it for the past, you know, 21 years or so, you know. Do you notice patterns? Because often, you know, I have habits that, you know, even though I’ve been aware of them, they still come up and and because habits are very difficult to fully let go in certain situations, you know, as we know with a Buddhist model of mind, a certain situation will happen and an old seed will pop up from our store consciousness into our mind consciousness. So none of us are aiming to be perfect or can be perfect. But I’m just wondering from a personal perspective whether you want to share anything about your own process in it. We’ll allow long silence here. Breathing in. Breathing out.

In the spirit of interbeing, there’s nothing to hide. Yes, I have receive, I received two shining lights, and one is officially from the community and one from a group of friends that are not monastics. So, yes, it can happen outside of the community settings. And let me talk first about the community’s shining light. Yeah, it’s always very vulnerable to be in front of the community and join my palms and just share, because in that moment I don’t want to be faking anything and I don’t want to be also like bypassing anything because I know the sangha sees everything. And this year, my focus when I look back on myself was heart of service compared to demand and expectation and needs. And I realized that I was walking the path in the last few years from the space of I just have to do this or else nobody does this. And I was slowly losing my love for the community. You know, and I said it’s very hard to say this but I had to be honest to myself because that’s my own shining light to myself and to have the sangha to witness this. So that was quite vulnerable of me of saying in front of my brothers and in this group of brothers is from eldest to youngest, so like those who just ordained a few weeks ago and I was just like, this is who I am. And asking the community to shine light on me. The one pattern that has been coming for many years is like, I am a busy monk, and I, one of my freedom this year was actually I really accepted that. And I’m okay with that. I’m happy with that, because if I can do these works where it’s not everybody’s favorite, administration work and lots of meetings where I have to skip a lot of meditation sessions with the sangha. On the phone a lot, emails a lot. So if I can do this so that four brothers don’t have to do this is okay. I feel this is my offering. And I think before I was a little bit shameful about that. Like, shameful that I, whenever somebody sees me, you know, the first thing they say is I know you’re very busy, brother. But if there is just, you know, 15 minutes, or 30 minutes, that was one thing that I’ve actually I’ve accepted. This is where I’m at right now for this community, and I do it well, and I’m happy about it. And thanks to that, through that acceptance, I am able to create boundaries. So, I’m okay to say no now, when somebody wants to spend time with me and I said, actually, you know what? I’m very full. I can’t. And I would like to ask for your understanding. So before I was more like trying to like people please everybody… Yeah. So there’s this one friend who, like, requested to see me. Like, right after arriving in Plum Village. I’m just, bro, you just arriveed. Like, you know me. Like, if you listen to the podcast, it’s nothing more for me to say. But he’s here for the whole three months and I said, just be patient. If you’re patient, the moment will come. And I think it’s just the acceptance of my reality was a new freedom for me. And a lot more was shared in the shining light, but I think that’s enough for the world to hear. And to go to another layer of, you know, friends that I’ve established through the community, a huge shout out to my two friends, part of my, we call each other the three lines, to support each other’s like diamond or whatever lines we create in order to be listening and sharing from the heart. Yeah. This year, in a conversation I had with them, and sometimes when it’s not with monastics I like, I can be a little bit more free, because I don’t have to be, you know, The Phap Huu or Brother Phap Huu or Thay Phap Huu, I can just be me. And I’m very grateful for the bonds that we’ve created to have that freedom. And I asked them because the year was ending, so I asked them, well, I kind of played, I kind of dug my own hole. And I said, do you think I’m free enough? That was my question, my genuine question. And one of them was like, you want me to be honest? I’m like, yes, of course, this is like, this is our commitment to one another. And my friend said, actually, I don’t think you’re fully free. And honestly, I was really shocked by this reply from my good friend. And my other friend who was also on the call, she was like, nodding her head, like in full agreement. And I was like, what? You too? And I, of course, I said, you need to elaborate more. You need to say more, because we all say freedom is freedom of something. And yeah, my friend was just saying that when I look at you, I see that you check all the boxes that Plum Village asks, you know, like, an abbot, a role model, a facilitator, you do the podcast, you’re good friends, people love you, like you check all these boxes. And because of your relationship with Thay and how things unfold, you became abbot. You’re abbot during his time that he was still teaching. There’s a lot of trust and a lot of love that is given to you, but comes with a lot of responsibility. So we only Phap Huu, or I only know you as what we expect from you. So my question is what is Phap Huu without all of this? And that was really huge when she shared this to me. And it really like it was a cold plunge. In a way, it like shocked the whole system. Because I didn’t have an answer because I don’t know. So in a way, like I am so good at swimming in this river that if you removed the river, how would I move? That was my own reflection. So this is my own contemplation, for the coming year, my own real inner freedom. Not saying that there’s no freedom in what I’m doing now. Like I do this podcast and share from freedom. I’m still here from freedom, but to go even deeper into this as, yeah, as my… How is Thay saying like my life is my message. Like what is my message for my life? And that has the impact to all of course. So that is a shining light that was done, you know, just through friends on a video call and just being honest and being… And I was just listening, you know, and my presence I think because I was so open and they were able to share fully and I never interrupted and I actually just wanted to hear more because there are signs that we may not see in ourselves.

Brother, thank you for that because this is a living example of what we’ve been talking about. My heart opens to you wider. And I love you more. And I appreciate you more. And, because I, you know, I have the sense of who I think you are, and, you know, you have this extraordinary gift and offering. And I know that by you asking this question, that gift and offering will grow and deepen, and it will become from an action into a presence, and that you will be able to be present in a way that people will find refuge and find support and find their own answer. So you are, in a sense, growing this big oak tree that will provide shelter for many species, many people. So I am here for you, brother. I know you’re there and very happy. I know you suffer. And that is why I am here for you. And, I suffer too. Please, help. So we’ve just done that, the four mantras of one of our recent recordings. So, brother, thank you, because I genuinely feel that there are deep lessons for us all in this sharing, in how we want to shape ourselves in the world, how we open up ourselves to deep questions, how we are there for other people in a skillful way of being able to show people aspects of themselves that they’re not aware of, but not in a way that frighten them or close them down, but in a sense, that is a gift and an offering. So thank you, brother.

And thank you, Jo. I just want to take the opportunity to water your flowers. Thank you so much for creating this podcast with me because it… Many listeners may not know, but Jo was the last condition for this podcast to really manifest. And I will never forget that moment walking down a new path. And I said, Jo, I need some coaching. How do you ask? How do you ask questions as a journalist? And Jo, you’re like, why don’t we do this together? And boom, the Way Out Is In was born. But beyond the podcast is also your unconditional support and love. I’ve always felt it. I always know that you are there. And your openness and your also vulnerability that you’ve been able to share to me throughout the years that we’ve been together and on the path. And always lovely to have your support and just to know that there’s somebody I can rely on that’s the greatest gift. So you are one of my shining stars in my life, and I just want you to know that. Thank you.

Thank you. And I will do my best to shine brightly for you. Thank you, brother.

Dear listeners, we hope you benefit from this podcast and find some way to integrate it into your own life. There are many other lessons we can learn from Brother Phap Huu sharing over the past couple of years. So if you want to get in touch with those, you can find all of our previous episodes on the Plum Village App and also on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, and all other podcast platforms. If you like what we’re doing, please subscribe to The Way Out Is In podcast on the platform of your choice and if you feel able, it would be wonderful if you can leave a review, so as a trail for other people to find us.

And you can also find all previous guided meditation in the On the Go section of the Plum Village App. This podcast is co-produced with Global Optimism and the Plum Village App with support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation. If you feel inspired to support the podcast moving forward, please visit And we want to thank our friends and collaborators. Today, Nick, as our sound engineer, as well as Paz present here, giving spiritual support, and support to Jo. To Clay, co-producer aka The Podfather, as well as Cata, our co-producer and our creator of the Plum Village App, as well as our other Joe, audio editing; Anca, our show notes and publishing; Jasmine and Cyndee, our social media guardian angels. And thank you everyone for listening.

Thank you.

The way out is in.

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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