Opening Up to Love by Namsai
Thai Plum Village didn’t give me happiness, peace, nor did it give me new life, new identity, nor any value of life. But Thai Plum Village has always been there for me, embracing me whenever I was at my weakest. Thai Plum Village has helped me to open my own heart, to love myself, and everything that is a part of me. It has taught me to open my heart to the whole world.
All the beauties around me I hadn’t been able to see, Thai Plum Village helped to open my eyes. All the ugly things I had never valued, Thai Plum Village helped me to broaden my attitude. I don’t know what to call this thing Thai Plum Village has given me or perhaps the things Thai Plum Village have given me are so many that I cannot name each and every one of them. But I will call them altogether as ‘love.’
I have learned from Thai Plum Village that this word has such deep meaning and is full of beauties. If there is any word on earth that best explains what I got from Thai Plum Village, this is it.
Taking Care of Anger by Penjuree
I have been observing my own anger for years, trying numerous ways to take care of the little monster inside my heart, trying to understand, and trying not to judge or blame things that happen unintentionally. Then I started to realize that anger is not a strength, but it is an internal weakness I do not express. The origin of this weakness is my sensitivity and good means. Because I care, I get angry. If I do not care, it cannot cause me anger.
The society often judge and blame angry people from what they see because angry people look dangerous and unattractive. However, if we look from a different perspective, we will see their sensitivity and good means. Then we will not have to cover up or push angry people out of our circle. We just recognize the ugly and give it some space. We do not judge in a hurry their imperfection. We give them a chance to choose their own way to take care of themselves.
How many times have we all suffered from carelessness caused by anger?
I do not write to defend angry people or to tell a method to cure anger quickly, but I believe that nobody wants to be angry. How many times have we all suffered from carelessness caused by anger? It is not easy to face it, but whenever we tend to get angry, and if we are brave enough to go face-to-face with it, we may find values and meanings in this ugly little storm.
True Happiness by Mac
I like the atmosphere of Thai Plum Village. Somehow, to be here makes me feel comfortable, despite the fact that there are not many facilities and conveniences. What I can feel clearly are smiles from the heart of monastics and lay practitioners, the friendliness, relaxation, beautiful minds, and good hearts of everyone.
The deep teachings, yet simple to understand, of our Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh give us the clear picture of true happiness. Happiness is the way in the present moment. Happiness is in our breathing in and breathing out. It is not something that we have to grab from objects or from what is far away. This training is the most fun and the most useful subject in life I have learned so far. Everybody in the Sangha is also practicing and taking these 5 Mindfulness Trainings together until it can generate an overall peaceful and beautiful atmosphere.
Thai Plum Village teaches me and trains me to be the person who I want to be.
Everyone might have a different reason for coming to Thai Plum Village. For me, Thai Plum Village teaches me and trains me to be the person who I want to be. I have more love, and I have more respect toward myself. I am able to be truly happy with the present moment. This is enough to fulfill my heart, and it also gives me the power to pass on the good things that I have received to others.
The Energy of the Sangha by Sarahsara
The first time I joined the retreat at Thai Plum Village, I really didn’t know about Thai Plum Village before. The year I joined the retreat, Thay came to Thailand. That was very nice for my first retreat because I could be with myself truly as I had never been before. I dwelled with my breath; I did my routine not in a hurry; I lived mindfully, and I even was aware of walking every single step. I felt the energy from Thay, the sisters and brothers, and the Sangha. Those were the 10 days of getting back to my true home, and the seeds of Thai Plum Village were also planted in me.
I joined the retreat again two years later, and that was my first time for the Wake Up retreat when Thay returned to Thailand again. Practicing with the Thai Plum Village family gave me a good energy, and I was always fresh and renewed. It was a kind of energy that motivated me to do something to change the world, like the lyrics in the Wake Up song, ‘We are planting seeds for new community. It’s time to wake up!’ So this is the motivation that is making me want to be a volunteer in a future retreat.
An anxiety I previously had about being a volunteer was transformed into courage, which made me pleased to support new practitioners.
I decided to be a volunteer in a Wake Up retreat the following year. An anxiety I previously had about being a volunteer was transformed into courage, which made me pleased to support new practitioners. I’m not sure how and when it will be transformed. I only know that I feel good when I’m with the Sangha and I’m doing something for the Sangha. And when I feel suffering, I just remember the time of practicing together. I can feel the Sangha’s energy with me every time I need it and that can heal me. Those are the reasons that make me want to support other people.
Furthermore, being a part of the Sangha and Plum Village transform me to be better, and my family can touch my transformation. When I transform, my family also transforms. This is a little success of my practice. I begin first with myself and then transfer the energy to my loved ones. I believe in the Butterfly Effect Theory that the cause of great things always comes from very little things, the same as the things I’ve done.
Protecting Life by Dao
I received the Five Mindfulness Training during the Wake Up retreat: I am in love with Mother Earth. After every Full Moon day, I intend to only eat vegetarian. The fact is that I’m working, so there are some obstacles, such as my company’s dinner event in a Five Star Hotel or hanging out with friends at my favorite restaurant. However, I can still enjoy with that event peacefully, even if I can eat only vegetables, some bread, or some drink without alcohol. Also I need to talk only about positive things and true things (even if it is difficult). I try to continue breathing in and out peacefully. This is helping to give me more happiness and harmony. I am proud that I can practice the Five Mindfulness Training continually.
When I’m practicing to protect the life and when I see the little worm on the ground in the park (I actually don’t like worms or any reptile), I want that worm safe from people so I move the worm out of the walk way and also small ants in the coffee cup. Before I use the cup, I check if there are any ants or insects. If there are any, I just let them out. By breathing in and out for a while, we can save more life. Another option is when you have time, you can invite your friends to do some activity, such as donate blood at Red Cross, buy food for stray dogs, etc. These are the things we can practice and pass the compassion to others.
By eating vegetarian food on every day of the Full Moon, we can show to others that it is easy to select a day, such as your birthday, so you can reduce your meat consumption. You can choose to eat vegetarian only one meal per day or three meals per day. If many more people do it continually, we can reduce the global warming as well. Also, we will also get healthier without destroying life.
Family and Work Relationships by Vasu
I have a bad relationship with my father. He always talks loudly while I stay silent. The longer I stay silent, the louder he is. That makes me want to avoid talking to him. However, when I am able to come back to my awareness, my breath, and I can calm myself down, then I can listen to him deeply. It helps me to understand what he truly wants to communicate effectively. Consciousness and breathing are the keys that help me build good relationships with my family.
Consciousness and breathing are the keys that help me build good relationships with my family.
They also help me at work. I work as a teacher and have to face a lot of unexpected problems in the classroom. It can be a problem for students, parents, or directors. It is normal for children to play and be a little naughty, but sometimes it gets too much. The result of practicing to be aware and following my breath is the main factor that keeps me calm. We need to take care of ourselves before finding a way to take care of these children. Practicing awareness and applying it to my life is a lot of fun because it allows me to discover different ways and tricks to get a hold of the students and emotions within my mind.
Being of Service to Wake Up by Pusanisa
Being a Wake Up volunteer with Plum Village is a wonderful way to continue and support my practice that I learn from Thay. It makes me smiles every time I help, whether they are just little tasks or challenges. Gratitude and happiness arise within me when I can feel the transformation and the joy within each retreatant. It is such an amazing thing; from the first day that we don’t know each other to when we become a spiritual family. Having true friends in the Wake Up movement make my practice and my life meaningful and beautiful. I’m in gratitude to the great support, deep listening, and good reminder; all of these are a pack of trust and guarantee that we all will always have each other to continue to walk the path together mindfully.
Gratitude and happiness arise within me when I can feel the transformation and the joy within each retreatant.
We are like the small grasses in a big forest. We are like the water in the river that flow together; have drop after another drop of water coming into this one river that continue its flow. Therefore, we are very pleased to welcome you, the new Wake Uppers, to join our wonderful stream together, mindfully. 🙂
Flowing as a River by Orapan
Going to Plum Village is like going back home where there is delicious food and people who all get along so well despite different backgrounds. It is fun to be around people with same attitude. It is blissful for not having to overthink. I just have to be in the present moment and for the activity I am participating. Maybe it is because I am so much of a thinker that I get sick of thinking. When I am in Plum Village, I don’t need to think. I just go with the flow of the activity and enjoy it without having to think of what to do next or even what to eat.
Taking Refuge in the Sangha by Chulika
Before, I did not have a lot of faith. I sometimes read about Zen. I tried meditating, but I did not succeed. Looking back, I was always in kind of a flux of happiness and suffering, but I had no way of balancing it until something shocking happened in my life. I suddenly thought that I had to change. I wanted to be happy. I wanted to see values within myself.
I turned to meditation. I listened to Thay’s Dharma talks and decided to try practicing in Plum Village’s Wake Up retreat in Chiangmai. It was an important journey. I traveled alone and I discovered myself. Then, I decided to receive the 5 Mindfulness Trainings. I met many practitioners and communicated with the Sangha a lot. There is no way my heart will ever be strong enough to walk through the storm alone.
I am very lucky to have had a chance to learn, look back at how I had been wrong, and reflect on my life in the now.
By reading Thay’s books and listening to the talks of brothers and sisters in Plum Village, I have come to understand many things – things I thought I understood, but I truly did not. I don’t just take the messages and let them go, but I relate them to my life and I try to recognize them. I am very lucky to have had a chance to learn, look back at how I had been wrong, and reflect on my life in the now. Even though I have just started taking this new class in life, I can say that it is my favorite class.
Thanks to Thay and Plum Village for being another carrier that helps to bring me through the storm. I will try to practice and learn as much as I can.
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