Sangha News

Seeding Hope and Peace mb53-SanghaNews1

Magnolia…sweet wafting among the plum blossoms

Dogwood…upright and delicate

Roses…reaching toward the sun, perfuming the sky

Lilies…orange marmalade springing from precious earth

Lotus…in the crescent pond subtle and engaging

During the 21-day retreat last June in Plum Village, amid the perfumed fragrances of early summer, a group of monastic and lay practitioners were inspired by Thay’s teachings, and met to discuss ways in which the practices of mindfulness could be offered more widely as a means of reducing the suffering caused by social conflicts. Our particular objective was to reach out to groups that are currently using violence as a means to achieve political ends in inter-group conflicts.

During late summer, the initiative became the Seeding Hope and Peace Project, under the spiritual leadership of Thay and Sister Chan Khong. The members of the group’s Steering Committee are: Sister Chan Khong, Thay Phap An, Brother Phap Son, Sister Tung Nghiem (Sr. Pine), Sister An Nghiem (Sr. Peace), Baruch Shalev, Dan Urech, Mitchell Ratner, Shantum Seth, and Pritam Singh. The Advisory Board includes Dharma Teachers and Order of Interbeing members from all over the world who practice the peaceful resolution of violent group conflict.

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The Steering Committee has worked to create a clear statement of objectives and strategies for the Seeding Hope and Peace Project, which is shared below for the benefit of the worldwide Sangha:

Vision Our vision is that peoples of different faiths and cultures use the practice of mindfulness, watering the seeds of hope and peace, to resolve conflicts within themselves, their families, and their communities, and between groups and nations, thereby creating the conditions for enduring peace.

Mission Across the world, thousands of civilians are injured or killed each year because of violent struggles between ethnic or social groups. Violence plays out in communities, homes, and people.

Our aspiration is to offer the peaceful practice and insights of mindfulness to leaders, emerging leaders, and society at large through education, so that we may understand how the seeds of peace and hope can flower.

Background Thich Nhat Hanh teaches that the true source of peace is in the mind and that it is always possible to nourish peace and reconciliation. During the worst years of the war in Vietnam, when millions were dying, he founded the School of Youth for Social Service with Sister Chan Khong. Risking their lives, they and thousands of young people went to the countryside to establish schools and health clinics and to rebuild villages destroyed in the fighting. Thich Nhat Hanh did not choose sides; he worked to bring peace rather than war to divided Vietnam. Because of his courageous efforts, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. nominated Thich Nhat Hanh for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967.

Strategy With the support and spiritual guidance of Thich Nhat Hanh and Sister Chan Khong, Seeding Hope and Peace seeks to assist in moving toward the realization of peace, justice, and reconciliation. The group’s initial effort will be to offer two special retreats with Thich Nhat Hanh at the Plum Village Practice Center.

The first retreat for twenty to forty people will take place the first week of May, 2010. It will bring together the Steering Committee of Seeding Hope and Peace with recognized peacemakers, who will be recommended by the Advisory Board. The peacemakers will be individuals who are known both for their nonviolent methods and for their ability to work directly with groups engaged in violent conflicts. The peacemakers might be religious leaders or leaders of social organizations, who are genuine messengers of hope and peace. It may include Nobel Peace Prize Laureates and nominees.

During the week-long retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh, the group will practice together and develop plans for the second retreat, planned for May, 2011, which will include leaders and emerging leaders from conflict zones.

During the second retreat, under the guidance of Thich Nhat Hanh and Sister Chan Khong, the participants will learn and practice the tools of peace and reconciliation, including deep listening, mindful speech, trust, understanding, and compassion.

It is anticipated that the teachings, along with the experience of practicing and living together in the Plum Village community, will nourish personal transformation and encourage new ways of thinking about and moving toward peace and reconciliation.

Seeding Hope and Peace begins at an auspicious time, when the President of the United States and other world leaders are encouraging open communication and alternatives to violent conflicts. The retreats and future efforts provide a way for the Plum Village community, the Order of Interbeing, and the extended community to share our collective experience and support others in making our world, our communities, and ourselves peaceful.

We look forward to working together with the support of all our Dharma friends to realize the deep aspirations of the Seeding Hope and Peace Project. For further information, please contact pvbelovedcommunity@gmail.com.

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