Maple Forest Monastery History

Manifesting the Teaching

By Sister Chan Khong We are very happy to announce that on November 14, 1997, Thich Nhat Hanh officially opened the Maple Forest Monastery in Hartland, Vermont. The first winter retreat is now underway, led by Sister Annabel with ten Buddhist monks and nuns living and practicing at the monastery.


Affiliated with the Maple Forest Monastery will be a new Buddhist retreat center also located in Hartland, Vermont, to be named Green Mountain Dharma Center. Green Mountain will hold retreats led by monks, nuns, and lay Dharma teachers throughout the year. It will also be home to the Mindfulness Training Institute, where Dharma teachers and mindfulness practice facilitators will be trained to assist in the establishment of local Dharma Centers and Mindfulness Practice Centers throughout North America.

The first Mindfulness Practice Center, located in Woodstock, Vermont, has already opened its doors. The MPC is led by two lay Dharma teachers, Anh-Huong Nguyen and Anh-Thu Nguyen, and a member of the Order of Interbeing, Pritam Singh. The MPC has been organized in a nonreligious, nonsectarian way so that friends of all traditions will feel at home when they come to experience the art of mindful living. The practice at all three centers will be entirely in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh.

With the establishment of the new monastery in Vermont, Thay welcomes his students and friends to participate fully as sponsors of this timely undertaking. Establishing the roots of Buddhism in the soil of a new culture requires the creation of a monastic community in the country of that culture as well as the active support and participation of a broad-based lay community. Thich Nhat Hanh has appointed the Maple Forest Monastery Support Committee to help with the realization and maintenance of this project. The Committee will warmly receive any suggestions you may have.

Sister Chan Khong, True Emptiness, has been an associate of Thich Nhat Hanh for over 30 years. She lives in Plum Village, France. Her autobiography, Learning True Love, is available from Parallax Press.

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Core Community Gathering

By Ellie Hayes mb22-CoreA perfect early-summer day greeted Order of Interbeing members gathered for a Day of Mindfulness with Thay, May 30 at Green Mountain Dharma Center. As we stood in a circle, Brother Phap Niem led us in singing old "camp favorites." After Thay joined us, we practiced walking meditation together down the tree-lined driveway, past fields and orchards, around and through the colossal barn, and back to the main house.

Under a modest tent, Thay invited our questions. He wrote them all down and then responded extemporaneously. During the questions, Eva Mondon, True Welcome from Putney, Vermont, presented Thay with a proclamation from Vermont Governor Howard Dean, welcoming Thay and the monks and nuns establishing Maple Forest Monastery. Eva also shared an old Vermont saying: "Sometimes it's nice to sit and think, and sometimes it's nice to just sit."

In due time, the nuns organized a silent, informal lunch. Thay generously stayed and ate with us. He announced that one of the delicious dishes was prepared by a Vietnamese woman living in Burlington, Vermont. As a baby in Vietnam, she had been rescued from a trash heap by a nun, and raised by this nun and her Buddhist sisters. Hearing that Thay would be here, she wanted to offer food prepared with her love and gratitude.

The afternoon Tea Ceremony consisted of fruit juice, cookies, and "Peace Pops"-ice cream popsicles donated by Ben & Jerry's of Vermont. During the tea, Rowan Conrad, True Dharma Strength, presented Thay with a T-shirt created by The Gateless Sangha at Airway Heights prison in Spokane, Washington. The design shows a prisoner behind bars and is captioned, "Escape ... Why?" Proceeds from sale of the T-shirts will help prisoners transition to life outside.

Also attending tea were four arborvitae -"trees of life," members of the cedar family. The four trees were meant to represent the fourfold Sangha taking root here in Vermont: monks, nuns, laywomen, and laymen. Dharma buddies David Dimmack, Frank Boccio, Judith Toy, and I planted them at the Dharma center the next day.

Penetrating sun, warm smiles, mindful hugs, words of thanks and encouragement completed a very nourishing day.

Ellie Hayes, True Equanimity, practices with the Fire on the Mountain Sangha in East Calais, Vermont.

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