Temple Anniversary

By Sisters Annabel and Eleni On November 14, monks and novices in Hue, Vietnam, observed a Day of Mindfulness in honor of the 150th anniversary of Tu Hieu Temple. Tu Hieu is the temple where Thay Nhat Hanh received novice precepts at the age of 16 and practiced as a young monk. Following faxed instructions from Thay, the monks and novices practiced listening to the sound of the bell, breathing mindfully, walking meditation, and enjoying the present moment.

The temple was built in honor of Dhyana Master Nhat Dinh in 1847. Master Nhat Dinh was born in 1783 in Quang Tri Province. He received his novice precepts at Thien Tho Temple and his Bhikshu Ordination at Quoc An Temple. At the age of 50, King Minh Mang appointed him Abbot of the Linh Huu Temple. Six years later, the King invited him to be the Leader of the Sangha at Giac Hoang Temple. By nature he was a simple monk and didn' t enjoy being an Abbot. At the age of 60, he asked the King to accept his resignation. Because the King loved and respected him, his request was granted. Nhat Dinh wrote, "With one body and one begging bowl, the road for the mendicant monk to travel is very wide."

He went to the Duong Xuan Thuong Mountain in Thua Thien Province and built the Peace Nourishing Hermitage. He practiced and lived there, enjoying the beauty and tranquility of nature.

Master Nhat Dinh is most widely known and respected for his example of filial piety, his love for his mother. It was said that when his mother was old and sick, he brought her to his hermitage so that he could take care of her. Although he was a vegetarian and a monk, he nonetheless went to the market to buy the fish his mother requested, withstanding people's criticisms and astonishment at seeing a monk buy fish . On November 14, 1847, Master Nhat Dinh passed away. The Tu Hieu Temple, which means loving kindness or filial piety expressed as loving kindness, was built on the site of his hermitage.

Sister Annabel Laity, True Virtue, was ordained as a nun in 1988 and as a Dharma teacher in 1990. She lives at Plum Village. Sister Eleni Sarant, True Loving Kindness Adornment, has been a resident of Plum Village since 1990. She was ordained as a Dharma teacher in 1996.

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Deer Park Monastery

A Letter from Sister Chan Khong Asking for Your Support Dear Friends,

Two years ago, even with the urgent appeal of many young friends in Southern California and with your generous support and encouragement, we could not have imagined that we would be able to set up this new monastery, especially on such  wonderful land. The new monastery is located on 400 acres of mountains, forests, and plateaus. The land borders a 3000 acre wildlife sanctuary, and is full of native plants, ranging from the fragrant wild lilac to medicinal sage. In July 2000 the first monastics arrived to begin cleaning up and transforming the land into a practice center. The atmosphere of peace now radiates out so that even wild animals seem no longer to fear for their safety. The energy of love is gently enveloping the mountains and hills of this area. It has the same name as the park where the Buddha offered his first teaching after attaining enlightenment, 2600 years ago in India. Out of respect for the land ancestors, and the native people who called this land Deer Park, we have named the practice center, Deer Park Monastery.


Many dear friends, throughout the year, have silently brought rice, tofu,  noodles, bread, fruits and vegetables to support the community. Others have beautified the landscape by cutting grass, creating beautiful stone paths, and planting numerous trees. Over 300 new trees have been planted during the past spring. Without this deep friendship, the transformation of Deer Park could not have been so spectacular. You who have visited Deer Park in September 2000 will not recognize the Deer Park of today.

Every Sunday and Thursday is a Day of Mindfulness, when the monastic community is joined by visitors and neighboring friends for sitting meditation, walking meditation and Dharma talks by Thich Nhat Hanh (via video or a transcontinental-telephone connection). On Sundays resident Dharma teachers share the Dharma and their own practices. On the first Sunday of every month families come for the Mindfulness Trainings recitation. There is a program for children and teenagers on this day as well.

In early July, 2001 Deer Park Monastery celebrated her 1st Continuation Day. Around 175 people came to enjoy walking meditation in the fresh morning air, a Dharma talk by the Abbott, Thay Giac Thanh, a picnic lunch and a joyous outdoor tea mediation in the Oak Grove. Already, many hundreds of adults, children and teenagers have come to practice at Deer Park, imprinting their mindful and joyful steps of peace on the land. So many friends now consider Deer Park their spiritual home, a place to take refuge, and a place to cultivate their love and understanding.

We know that many of you have already contributed so much energy to Deer Park, through your sincere practice and also your financial support. Several hundred practitioners have generously offered money since the time we first found the property until now.

We have already paid for three-quarters of the land, but we still need to pay $1.2 million for the remainder of the property. Since our last letter to you in April until now, you have offered to Deer Park Monastery $143,000 in donations and 207 interest-free loans of $1 ,000 each ($207,000). This leaves $770,000 still to be raised. If we cannot pay this amount by August 5, 2001 we will have to pay $65,000 in interest each year. It breaks our hearts to see that your contributions, including many from families with modest resources and young people who contribute $5 or $10 a month, go to interest payments. We know that you would prefer to have your contribution pay for food, utilities, construction and other operations of Deer Park, rather than for interest payments.

We would like to ask those of you who are not able to give to offer interest-free loans for three years. An interest-free loan of $1,000, $2,000, $3 ,000, $5 ,000 or $10,000 will help us to pay for the final portion of the land of Deer Park. We will be able to pay you back as soon as the next books of Thay are sold.

We were very moved when an old grandfather brought to Deer Park Monastery $8,000 as a loan. He said it was difficult to persuade his adult sons and daughters to make a donation, but he succeeded, and each of them agreed to let the Monastery borrow one thousand dollars for 3 years without interest. Looking at the grandfather and his loan, we saw immediately his great-grandsons and great-granddaughters, to be born in 20 years, running joyfully in Deer Park Monastery practicing peace, looking deeply, learning great understanding, and great love, thanks to this loan.


We, Sister Chan Khong and the brothers and sisters of the Plum Village community are not reluctant to ask for your help because we see clearly that we do not ask for the money for ourselves. We, 135 monastics trained by Thay Nhat Hanh, have committed our lives to serving others. We live and eat simply, with no personal bank accounts or property of our own. We have given our youth, our love and our practice, hoping that the world will be better now and for the future generations to come. Please share this letter with your friends and dear ones.

Please accept a beautiful fresh lotus I just picked up from the pond in Plum Village (we have five lotus ponds with countless pink and white fragrant flowers) for you and for all your descendants who will certainly continue your spiritual path.

- Sister Chan Khong and the brothers and sisters of the Plum Village community



Photos courtesy of Plum Village

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Sangha News

The Sciences of the BuddhaA Twenty-one Day Retreat for Buddhists and Scientists

By Thich Nhat Hanh


In Buddhism there are two kinds of truth: conventional truth (samvrti-satya) and absolute truth (paramartha-satya). In the framework of the conventional truth, Buddhists speak of being and non-being, birth and death, coming and going, inside and outside, one and many, etc. The Buddhist teaching and practice based on this framework helps reduce suffering and bring more harmony and happiness. In the framework of absolute truth, the teaching transcends notions of being and non-being, birth and death, coming and going, inside and outside, one and many, etc. The teaching and practice based on this insight help practitioners liberate themselves from discrimination and fear, and touch nirvana, the ultimate reality. Buddhists see no conflict between the two kinds of truth and are free to make good use of both frameworks.

Classical science, as seen in Newton’s theories, is built upon a framework reflecting everyday experience, in which material objects have an individual existence and can be located in time and space. Quantum physics provides a framework for understanding how nature operates on subatomic scales, but differs completely from classical science, because in this framework, there is no such thing as empty space, and the position of an object and its momentum cannot simultaneously be precisely determined. Elementary particles fluctuate in and out of existence, and do not really exist but have only a “tendency to exist.”

Classical science seems to reflect the conventional truth and quantum physics seems to be on its way to discover the absolute truth, trying very hard to discard notions such as being and non-being, inside and outside, sameness and otherness, etc. At the same time, scientists are trying to find out the relationship between the two kinds of truth represented by the two kinds of science, because both can be tested and applied in life.

In science, a theory should be tested in several ways before it can be accepted by the scientific community. The Buddha also recommended, in the Kalama Sutra, that any teaching and insight given by any teacher should be tested by our own experience before it can be accepted as the truth. Real insight, or right view, has the capacity to liberate and to bring peace and happiness. The findings of science are also insight; they can be applied in technology, but can be applied also to our daily behavior to improve the quality of our life and happiness. Buddhists and scientists can share with each other their ways of studying and practice and can profit from each other’s insights and experience.

The practice of mindfulness and concentration always brings insight. It can help both Buddhists and scientists. Insights transmitted by realized practitioners like the Buddhas and bodhisattvas can be a source of inspiration and support for both Buddhist practitioners and scientists, and scientific tests can help Buddhist practitioners understand better and have more confidence in the insight they receive from their ancestral teachers. It is our belief that in this twenty-first century, Buddhism and science can go hand in hand to promote more insight for us all and bring more liberation, reducing discrimination, separation, fear, anger, and despair in the world.

In the beautiful setting of Plum Village, from June 1-21, 2012, scientists and Buddhists will practice sitting together, walking together, and sharing their experience and insight with each other. The practices of mindfulness and concentration can help scientists to be better scientists and in this way, Buddhism can act as a source of inspiration, suggesting directions for future investigation and discovery. Conversely, we will explore how insights from science can be useful, not only to develop technology and improve our material comfort, but to reduce the suffering of individuals, families, and society. This retreat will bring a lot of joy and confidence in both traditions as we find out that good science and good Buddhism can be much and do much for the well-being of the world.


Thirty Years of Plum Village

On June 16, 2011, during lunchtime in the Assembly of Stars Meditation Hall in Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, Thay called the brothers and sisters who were twenty-nine years of age, including the lay friends, to come up in front of the Sangha. Thay shared that the year they were born, Plum Village was also born—that they were the same age as Plum Village. Next year, they will be celebrating their birthday along with the 30th Anniversary of our beloved Plum Village community. Thay invited this group, and the whole community of the Plum Village tradition in France and the world, to help contribute to an anniversary celebration. Let us come together to nourish our brotherhood and sisterhood and to deepen our practice. Let us look into how we can celebrate Plum Village in a meaningful and deep way. Let us find ways to record and share the history of the Plum Village manifestation as a gift for our beloved teacher, Thay. To contribute your ideas and energy, please contact Brother Phap Dung at phapdung@dpmail.net.

Love Resounds Remembering Nathaniel (Nacho) Cordova, True Mountain of Compassion

By Jerry Braza


On July 16, 2011, our brother Nacho Cordova died in a motorcycle accident near the Oregon coast. Nacho continues to ripple like a wave through the hearts of his family, the worldwide academic community, and the Sangha. At his memorial service, one word resounded like a bell of mindfulness: LOVE.

Nacho clearly wanted the best for every person, as demonstrated by his deep, mindful presence and practice of loving-kindness. His Dharma name, True Mountain of Compassion, exemplify his ability to be there for others, especially when they were suffering. Despite his busy schedule, he found time to listen deeply and often followed the listening with compassionate action. His warm smile was a reflection of his open and loving heart. Nacho had the unique ability to bring joy and water the seeds of love in every person he met, and he left everyone feeling that they were his best friend. Through his practice he found a refuge within, and he had the ability to see all perspectives clearly, which allowed him to be centered and available with a clear mind and loving presence.

Nacho’s favorite quote was by Basho: “The temple bell stops, but the sound keeps coming out of the flowers.” Nacho continues in all that is beautiful in our world as well as in the hearts and spirits of his wife, Michelle, and his children, Alex, Phoenix, and Terra.


In remembrance of Nacho, please consider honoring the family with a comment or reflection on the beautiful blog that began the day he died: http://nacho-cordova.blogspot.com/

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Plum Village Smiles

Plum Village  is  not  a Vietnamese temple set on European  land.  In  Plum Village, we see the Indian culture, the Chinese culture, the Vietnamese culture, and the Western culture. When we look carefully, we see that non-Plum Village elements exist in Plum Village. Consequently, Plum Village is also an object of meditation. The deeper we look, the more clearly we see it.... If we look deeply, we see that Plum Village is also unborn and undying.- Thich Nhat Hanh




Anh Thieu came from Vietnam by boat with his wife and two children. They were the first people to help us start Plum Village. From the winter of 1982 to the summer of 1983, we had to work a lot. In early 1983, we began to plant some trees in the Upper Hamlet. The first trees were six umbrella pine trees. -- Thich Nhat Hanh




If you come to Plum Village, you have to take home with you no less than Plum Village in its entirety. Bringing Plum Village home, you will be able to survive longer. The teaching and practice of “I have arrived, I am home” always complements the teaching of “going as a river and not as a drop of water.” If you are a drop of water, then you will evaporate halfway; but if you go as a river, you will surely reach the ocean. - Thich Nhat Hanh




Photos courtesy of Plum Village, Eileen Kiera, and Lyn Fine. Quotes reprinted from I Have Arrived, I Am Home (2003) by Thich Nhat Hanh with permission of Parallax Press, Berkeley, California, www.parallax.org.

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Wake Up

A Collective Aspiration By Brother Phap Luu


In May 2008, Phap Thanh, Phap Ho, Phap Xa and I went to see Thay in Hanoi before flying back to the United States. From the time we arrived until the moment we walked out the door, Thay discussed just one thing: how we can find ways to share the practice with young people? I was living in Deer Park at the time, and there were plenty of young people coming and going. We hosted college retreats, and even a group of college students who came to stay for two weeks. What Thay wanted to begin was an international movement for young people.

Back in Plum Village that summer, Thay continued to press the issue. Phap Linh and Hien Nghiem, only recently ordained as novices, received the full momentum of Thay’s message, and soon, along with many other young monastics and lay friends, they were mounting a website, making films, and finding new ways to reach the youth. At one point, Phap Linh called and asked if I wanted to be the main contact for Wake Up in the States. The program was already present in Thay and Sister Chan Khong’s School for Youth and Social Service in Vietnam, and it was continuing in the youth retreats in Plum Village. A movement was taking form.

It became clear to me that this was not just about sharing the practice of mindfulness with young people; that would make it seem like I had everything sorted out already, and I just needed to pass the wisdom on to them. Wake Up is about finding the answers together. Our ecological communities, our diversity, our aspirations, and our confusion form a common base of happiness and suffering, and these issues are in no way settled once and for all.

Refuge in Harmony

The spirit of Wake Up is a collective aspiration to figure things out together, in our own minds and bodies, as best we can from moment to moment. This means coming back to our breath in times of stress and taking refuge in each other’s insights, even when we’re convinced our idea is best. It’s about waking up to the presence and aspirations of our brothers and sisters, even when we disagree with them, and finding harmony amidst our myriad strands of culture, race, gender, and class.

Wake Up tours are specifically tailored to meet the physical, emotional, and financial needs of young people. Using the spaces that are graciously offered to us, we sum up the basics of the Plum Village tradition for young people. We keep the talks short and the practice simple. We sit, breathe, walk, eat, relax, listen deeply, and speak with mindfulness and love. Every two-hour session has a period for “down time,” when the monastics and young lay practitioners can get to know the first-timers and connect emotionally with them. Also, we try to remove financial obstacles by making everything low-key, from traveling in a van packed with monastics to sleeping on Sangha members’ floors. As always, much depends on the generosity of more mature practitioners who give from the heart.

In 2010, we initiated two Wake Up tours—the first in the United Kingdom and the second in my homeland, the United States. Seven monastics went to the UK in the spring, while eleven of us made it through the northeastern U.S. tour last fall. Thay advises us to go as a river when we travel. Though that has meant, at times, coursing along two or three different channels as we pass an island, the river always comes back to itself.



In Your Hands

These rivers will soon be coursing through your neighborhood. After this edition of the Mindfulness Bell is published, the Wake Up Tour will have flowed through California, at times in conjunction with our brothers and sisters in the Against the Stream movement (founded by friend Noah Levine, author of Dharma Punx). Some pools will swell in Italy, and five young monastics will go to the three largest cities in Spain. Brothers and sisters from the European Institute of Applied Buddhism will support a tour in the Netherlands, and plans are in the works for the first tour in Germany and the second tour in the UK this fall.


Written words can do little to put you in touch with the energy of the Wake Up movement. If you’re moved by this, please check out the numerous resources we have online: • The Wake Up website: http://wkup.org, and local sites: http://us.wkup.org, http://uk.wkup.org, etc. • Wake Up on Facebook (try searching by country or area) • Videos from the tours on YouTube, Vimeo, and the Wake Up website

We are still in the midst of pulling all of the resources together in a coherent way, but that is another beautiful thing about Wake Up: it’s a grassroots movement and it is already in your hands. We don’t even know all of what is out there, because new retreats, songs, poems, and stories are being created every day.

If you’re young, start a Wake Up group at your school or at home. If you’re more mature, find ways to support Wake Up morally and/or financially. You could offer a space for a Wake Up group to meet, be available and present to support Wake Up groups (but let them lead themselves!), or buy them a ticket to Plum Village or to a retreat near you.

Thank you for your love, care, and support. There is no limit to how far this can go.

mb60-WakeUp4After graduating college and spending some years living and working in Spain and France, Brother Phap Luu (Brother Stream) was ordained as a monk in 2003 at Plum Village. He received teaching transmission from Thich Nhat Hanh in 2011. He has helped to guide retreats in Europe, Asia, and the Americas. He grew up amidst the forests and rivers of western Connecticut, and now lives in the Dharma Cloud Temple of Plum Village.

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