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The Art of Mindfulness with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh

by Emi Hailey Hayakawa, BTN, April 29, 2013

Seoul, South Korea -- Plum Village sits silently within the serene countryside of Bordeaux, France.

The peaceful country road leads to a warm outburst of sunflower fields and the endless fields of ripening grape vines.

Bordeaux, also known as the wine country, mesmerizes all passerby with the sweet fragrances of their famous grapes. During the Summer, when the Sunflower are in full bloom, the footsteps of practitioners who came from afar in search of the Buddha dharma and a peaceful mind imprint the country road leading to Plum Village.

Returning to the home of your mind is like returning to the warm embrace of your mother. Plum Village follows the essence of Mahayana Buddhism, but adapted the practice in order to fit the cultural conditions of the Western people. The melodic and serene chanting of the Buddhist Sutras in Vietnamese by the monastics of Plum Village calms the mind of practitioners.

“I have arrived. I am home.”

This is the mantra that Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, (called Thây, which means teacher in Vietnamese, by his students)  has given to all that come to Plum Village. Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk, a poet, a scholar, and a peace activist. His life long efforts to generate peace and reconciliation moved Martin Luther King, Jr. to nominate him for the Nobel Peace Prize in 1967. He founded the Van Hanh Buddhist University in Saigon and the School for Youths of Social Services in Vietnam.

Thây was the one who created the spiritual home for thousands of people across the globe. He reached his awakening amidst the tumultuous time of the Vietnam war and exile from Vietnam. Through his teachings on the Art of Mindfulness, Thây realized that Buddhism needs to change according to the current generation.

The people's deep reverence for Thây and his teachings can be felt through their actions and the teachings that they follow. In a very few words, Thây puts in very simple terms what many of us struggle to come to terms with. His teachings, "The Art of Mindful Living" is very simple and easy to understand. People from all different religion respect and follow Thây's well-spoken takes on core Buddhist ideas.

The Art of Mindful Living is the core teaching at Plum Village. The Mindfulness practice begins with observing our daily routines such as walking, eating and sleeping with mindfulness.  By perceiving the world with mindfulness, our structured daily routines are transformed into daily happiness and miracles.

The mind that is not tamed also does not follow the body. Thus, with every small step, the mind aligns itself to become mindful. When the mind begins to follow the body, happiness is no longer in the future. The practitioners that follow Thây's teachings are able to experience the happiness brought upon by mindfulness and serenity.

In Plum Village, the monastics follow their own rituals, while the practitioners spend their time casually. No one forces anybody to practice. All the practices at Plum VIllage is done voluntary.

In the eyes of the conservative Asian Buddhist, the practice programs taught at Plum Village is simple and casual.Each year, the practitioners return to their spiritual hometown, because the intimacy and relaxation of being in your hometown can awaken deep emotions.

It is here in Plum Village where one can alleviate some of the stress created from our capitalistic and materialistic society.

Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and 40 monastics from Plum Village will be coming to Seoul, Korea in May 2013, as part of his Asian Teaching Tour and offer his teachings,  “The Art of Mindfulness.” This event will be hosted by the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism, and Buddhist Television Network (BTN).

The schedule is as follows:

3 - 7 May
Weoljeongsa Retreat

10 May
Busan Public Talk at Beomeosa Temple (15:00 local time)

12 May
Day of Mindfulness at Dongguk University

13 May
Seoul Public Talk at Jamshil Indoor Gymnasium (19:00 local time)

14 May
Wake Up program at International Seon Center

On May 3rd to May 7th, Thây will be hosting his mindfulness retreat at the Woljeongsa temple, where participants will enjoy a temple-stay program while sharing their dharma experiences with Thây and Plum Village monastics. This event is open to all public and will be held in English with Korean translations.

On May 10th, Thây will give a public talk, “Peace is Possible,” to commemorate the 60th years of Peace between North Korea and South Korea.  This event will begin at 3pm and is open to all public and will be held in English with Korean translations. To arrive at Beomosa temple, take the Busan Subway to Beomeosa Station (Busan Subway Line No.1), take Exit No.5 or No.7 and walk between the two exits along the road for about 5 minutes  until you reach the Samsin bus stop. Take Bus No.90 and you will arrive at Beomeosa Temple Ticket Office.

May 12th is the Day of Mindfulness. The Day of Mindfulness is a daylong program which will be held at Dongguk University in Seoul.  During this program, one can cultivate mindfulness in our daily lives.  Other activities include walking meditation, formal lunch together with the community, and a discussion of the practice in the afternoon. All activities are led by Thây and the Plum Village monastics. The day usually ends around 4:00 pm. This event is open to all public and will be held in English with Korean translations.

On May 13th, Thây will give a public talk, “Stop and Heal,” for the Korean public at the Jamshil Indoor Gymnasium, starting at 7pm. This event is open to all public and will be held in English with Korean translations by Ven. Haemin, a Korean monastic who graduated Harvard University and teaching at the University of Massachusetts.

To arrive at Jamshil Indoor Gymnasium take the Seoul Subway Line 2 to Sports Complex Station and Exit #6 or #7.

Tickets are available on Interpark:

http://ticket.interpark.com/Ticket/Goods/GoodsInfo.asp?GoodsCode=13001577

On May 14th, the Plum Village monastics will be holding the Wake Up Program for the young people in Korea. The Wake Up program - Young Adults for a Healthy and Compassionate Society, is a world-wide network of young people practicing the living art of mindfulness, where everybody shares the determination to live in an awakened way. This event will be open to all young people (18-35years old) and will be held at the International Seon Center in Mokdong, Seoul.

For more information on Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s Korea tour in May, please access:



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