Letter from Sister Chân Không

Thây and all of us in the monastic sangha would like you to join us for the second trip to Vietnam. You are invited to help us heal the last wounds of the Vietnam war and to support Thây in renewing Buddhism with the engaged practice that Thây has been offering us for the last thirty years in the West. At this time,Vietnam is entering its thirty-second year without guns and bombs. Thây will be offering three Great Ceremonies of Chanting, in Hanoi, HoChiMinh City, and Hué. It is our hope that we can undo the injustice of thirty years of violence by chanting for those who died under bombs, under torture, by murder, by drowning as boat people at sea, or in the re-education camps after the war. The govermment of Vietnam, for fear of angering conservatives, has asked us not to mention the American, Australian, or Korean veterans who died during this war but to focus only on deceased Vietnamese. However, if you have a non-Vietnamese relative who died during that war, you can ask for the high monks and Thây to chant for their liberation, too.

In addition, Thây will also give a daily dharma talk, with translation available in English, French, and German.

Segment 1 February 19 to March 14 You will spend most of your time in south Vietnam with its fertile Mekong delta and its fruit groves, its highlands of majestic waterfalls, and its springtime weather. You will see where the revolutionary monk Thich Nhat Hanh started his career — Dalat, the tribal highlands (as recounted in Thây’s book Fragrant Palm Leaves), and Saigon. Then you may participate in a five-day retreat with 385 newly ordained monastics practicing engaged Buddhism in the style of Plum Village. During the monastic retreat you are invited to take part in all activities including sitting, eating, and walking meditation, as well as dharma discussions with lay dharma teachers. However, the dharma talks will be reserved for monks and nuns, as Thây will deal with delicate issues appropriate for the monastic sangha. During that time if you do not feel inspired to join the monastic retreat, you are free to organize trips to the Mekong delta or to the beautiful beach at Mui Ne. Around Bat Nha (Prajna) Monastery, you will have a chance to visit many preschools and meet children that you have supported.

Segment 2 March 14 to April 1 For the first nine days in HoChiMinh City, there will be the Great Chanting Ceremony with southern Vietnamese religious music. In addition to dharma talks by Thây every day, there will be dharma talks for intellectuals and politicians (high Communist Party members) at the National People’s Committee for Vietnam. On March 23 we will fly to Hué, the imperial city. This is where Thây spent his novice years with his beloved dharma teacher Thanh Quy Chon Thiet. There will be many activities including a promenade on a dragon boat to ritually free fish, a visit to preschools supported by us in Thua Thien, a five-day monastic retreat where you can participate in all activities except for the dharma talks to monastics. On the last day of this segment there will be a traditional alms round with more than 1000 monastics, where you can offer food to the monks and nuns.

Segment 3 April 1 to April 19 The Great Chanting Ceremony in Hué will be dedicated to the hundreds of thousands who died here during the war; it will feature traditional chanting of Hué as infl       by imperial music. There will also be distribution of food for the poor and visits to preschools supported by you in Quang Tri. Then the whole sangha will move by bus to DaNang to visit surprisingly beautiful temples in caves and the historic Cham site. We fly to Cam Ranh on April 13 to enjoy the white sand at Cam Ranh Beach, then fly to Hanoi on April 16, where we listen to Thay give two dharma talks to governing  politicians.

Segment 4 April 19 to May 9 You will experience the Great Chanting Ceremony in northern Vietnamese style, and we will distribute food for the poor. We will visit the oldest stone cathedral in Vietnam and the multicolored Bat Trang pottery market; we will tour beautiful Ninh Binh with its rivers, caves, and rocky mountains. We will listen to a talk for intellectuals and politicians and another one for business people. We may possibly visit Na Mountain, where the eleven-year-old boy Nhat Hanh wished to see the hermit on the mountain and the hermit transformed himself into a beautiful well.

Cost Cost includes three meals per day, housing in hotels with two per room, private shower and toilet (better than Plum Village), and transportation by bus. The daily rate will be $45 to $47 USD or 36 to 37.5 Euros per day. You are responsible for your own round-trip transportation to Vietnam as well as internal flights, which cost around $55 to $60 USD. In Segment 3 you will need to buy three internal flights, which come to approximately $160 USD extra.

An additional note: you will not be bothered by beggars like in other poor countries.

Practice Notes To support Thây in his offering of the practice to Vietnam you are requested to observe the Five Mindfulness Trainings during the trip, especially the Fifth: please refrain from drinking wine or beer and from eating meat, including fish. But don’t worry, the vegetarian food prepared for us is very good.

Additionally we ask you to wear the Buddhist grey robe when traveling with Thay [one will be made for you after you register, Ed.].

Please sign up at www.plumvillage-vn.org or for more information write to tnhvntrip@earthlink.net.

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