Raising a Daughter

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By Tan

I’m lucky to live in a multicultural community with a Vietnamese culture that’s part of Plum Village. When I left Vietnam for France, I was lost. I had a lot of suffering; I asked myself who I was, where I was from, how I could keep my roots, and how I could transmit my roots to my children. Discovering Plum Village helped me leave Paris to come to West Hamlet. I feel a connection again with my ancestors. This makes me happy, because I can pass on the practice to Mailys and the Plum Village community, and I feel stable. I don’t have the impression that Mailys is different than me. She truly has a Vietnamese background, and this helps me being a parent, being surrounded by the community, and being open to one another. I have a better understanding of the cultural difference with Adrien, who’s Belgian and who’s different than me. He has other values to pass on to Mailys.

In Plum Village, since I’m Vietnamese, I feel more ease to connect with the practice because the roots of the practice is thanks to Thay’s Vietnamese background. It’s an art of living. For example, gratitude is very important for us. In everything we do, we think of those who have done then to show gratitude. This helps me to connect a lot with the practice because it touches, and it’s something I am trying to transmit to Mailys as a mother. I also learned that gratitude helps me to let go as well as visions I had before.

What I do often with Mailys and what helps me to connect with her is to do some practices adapted to her. When we eat, we stop before eating. We join our hands together and we say “Bon Appetit” to everyone with gratitude. One or twice a week, especially the weekend because I don’t work, we go into the meditation hall and I train her to invite the bell and practice the touchings of the earth. For us, Vietnamese, the Touchings of the Earth are very important because it’s a way to connect with our ancestors. The practice of Plum Village is also about inviting the bell and this helps Mailys to internalise the practice.

When our guests arrive and they don’t have this habit, Mailys comes and says, “Please listen.” It’s incredible to see how kids live in the present moment and understand quickly. However, we as adults have a hard time being conscious and stop. The monastic brothers share with us often to live in the present moment and listen to what our kids tell us. I pass on this insight to other parents: it’s truly about being in the moment and listening to a child.

Interviewed by Annica on May 11, 2019.

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