Plum Village in the Middle East
Plum Village is dedicated to creating an environment in which healing, understanding, happiness, and peace can blossom and grow. The brothers and sisters of Plum Village Monastery have the aspiration to continue our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh’s, long history...
Plum Village is dedicated to creating an environment in which healing, understanding, happiness, and peace can blossom and grow.
The brothers and sisters of Plum Village Monastery have the aspiration to continue our teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh’s, long history of deep listening and sharing mindful practices with people living in areas of conflict and war. Thay first led a retreat in Plum Village for Palestinians and Israelis in 2003, where he offered insights based on his own experiences in the war in Vietnam and Buddhist teachings.
To realize their aspiration to continue Thay’s efforts, a monastic delegation from Plum Village travelled to the Middle East and then hosted young people from that region at a Plum Village Wake Up Retreat. We were able to offer two cycles of this outreach in 2018 and 2019, but we were unable to travel during the pandemic of 2020 and 2021.
This year, we are able to resume this transformational work. In July, a group of 10 young Palestinians will come to Plum Village France for the Wake Up Retreat and in 2023 a group of monastics is planning to travel back to Palestine and Israel.
Below you can read about the monastic teaching tour and Wake Up retreat in 2019. The 2022 program will follow in the same vein.(Left to right) Sr. Mai Lam, Br. Phap Lai, Br. Duc Pho and Sr. Luc Nghiem enjoying drinks with people we met along the way during a hike in Battir, West Bank, 2019.
The Visit to the Middle East
During their journey to the Middle East, the monastics from Plum Village hosted a multiple-day retreat and single days of mindfulness in natural surroundings. They sat with local sanghas and conducted events open to the public. They met with local peace groups, as well as students, teachers, artists, businessmen, environmentalists, and refugees, with the intention of listening, learning, and sharing mindful practices that might help these people of a region that has endured conflict for more than 70 years. The goal was to water the seeds of peace, equanimity, and happiness.
In our three weeks we learned that we do not have any solutions, nor any advice to give, but that we can listen and show others how to listen, first to their own suffering, second to the suffering of their neighbours, and maybe one day they will understand that their enemy also suffers.Sister Mai Lam
Coming to Plum Village
The invitation to young people from the Middle East to join the 2019 Wake Up Retreat, was designed to nurture a community of mindful listening, peaceful meditation, compassion, and healing. That summer, the brothers, sisters, and lay volunteers of Plum Village found these young people eager to meet together and discover new ways of seeing and dealing with their world.
One participant in that Wake Up Retreat later wrote us:
Your hand of loving kindness and generosity helped us immensely. Your assistance became our in-breath, and our out-breath when we lost our own. It reminded us we are not alone in the world; that we inter-are.
I was inspired when 600 Wake Uppers from around the globe howled in a single voice at a full moon rising over the Buddha hill in the pine forest of Upper Hamlet. The call of the bell united our 20 languages into one in-breath, one out-breath. We danced to each other’s music imagining a brighter future by experiencing a lovely present moment. It was a lovely worldwide moment. A moment with roots of hope and stems of peace. We are filled with radiant hope in our next mindful steps towards peace in ourselves, peace in the Middle East, peace in the world.Young people from the Middle East (and their monastic friends) who came to Plum Village, August 2019
A Final Note on Plum Village’s Efforts in the Middle East
Plum Village’s work in the Middle East can only happen with the support of our friends and family. More than half of the young people who came to the Wake Up Retreat received financial aid provided by generous donors to help cover their travel costs, including not only airfare, but also such things as visas and border taxes. If you would like to support Plum Village’s efforts in the Middle East please visit our donation page.
Our deepest thanks go out to you.