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Studying to Love and Reside

A dialog with the “Mimosa” household of novices on their aspirations to change into a monastic, and the thrill and pains of life in a monastery.

How do I like myself and actually join coronary heart to coronary heart with others?
Once I flip 80, can I look again and say I’ve lived deeply?
What’s the objective of my life?
The place do I belong?

These common questions led a bunch of younger individuals to the non secular path, the place they’re selecting to dwell as monastics in a multicultural Buddhist group.

On the twenty fifth of January 2022 in France and twenty seventh of January in Vietnam, simply days after our trainer Thich Nhat Hanh’s (“Thay”) passing, the Sangha ordained these 35 younger individuals because the “Mimosa” household of novice monks and nuns – the final direct disciples of Thay.

We spoke to 6 of them in France to be taught of their journeys, transformations, challenges, and aspirations.

“Mimosa” household of novices

Why Turn into a Monastic?

Brother Troi Dinh Tuc (Brother “Concentrated Contentment”), a former naval officer from Italy knew he needed to be a monk 11 years in the past. 

“I didn’t know what to do with my life. I studied, tried my greatest, went travelling, and tried to be taught what happiness was. The standard methods to happiness turned out to trigger loads of struggling, and it was the identical wherever I travelled  on this planet.

My thoughts felt like a powerful automobile that I couldn’t management. Once I got here throughout the non secular apply taught by the Buddha, it made sense – Study to grasp your thoughts. Decelerate and bit-by-bit be taught to like and dwell in concord with life. Study to grasp your thoughts. It appeared very pure to me that after center college and college got here monastic coaching (laughter).

Study to grasp your thoughts. Decelerate and bit-by-bit be taught to like and dwell in concord with life.

Br. Troi Dinh Tuc from Italy

I shared this very critically with my mother and father who come from three generations of navy engineers! They’ve loads of belief and love for me and will see how the apply affected my life. I felt revered. In fact that they had doubts, particularly for the standing that I left behind, out of nothing for them! However they’re touching the worth on this lifestyle, with the notice of demise, consciousness that point is just not limitless, and that cultivating virtues is one thing significant.”

Sister Trang Lam Hy (Sister “Forest of Pleasure”) from Germany had labored as an grownup educator after which a group gardener. She got here to the Decrease Hamlet in 2016 and began the Comfortable Farm there with a bunch of sisters and mates.

“I lived a really full and fulfilling life earlier than and I may have continued that approach. However once I flip 80 and look again, did I actually join with life? My important aspiration is to the touch life deeply, to comprehend the trail and perceive myself, my thoughts. Once I mirror on the teachings and see issues in myself and have insights about myself, it offers me nice power to proceed and to attach with life.

My important aspiration is to the touch life deeply, to comprehend the trail and perceive myself, my thoughts.

Sr. Trang Lam Hy inviting the Huge Bell within the Decrease Hamlet

I reached out to 4 of my closest mates to listen to their sincere opinion, like a council, as a result of I didn’t need to make this choice all on my own. They felt so honored to be included, and I felt empowered by together with them, realizing that I’m not alone on this path.”

Brother Troi Dinh Tin (Brother “Concentrated Religion”) is a younger seeker from Belgium. “Earlier than I got here to Plum Village, I used to be in search of my place on this planet. By probability I found Plum Village and once I noticed the brothers and the individuals residing right here, I simply felt that I belonged extra to those individuals than anyplace else. It was only a robust sense of belonging though I didn’t know something about Buddhism. So I used to be probably not joking once I stated that I needed to be a monk once I first noticed Brother Dao Son (laughter).”

Brother Troi Dinh Tin (middle) with Br. Troi Dinh Thanh (left) and Br. Troi Dao Son (proper)

Sr. Trang Tam Duc (Sister “Virtuous Coronary heart”) was born and raised in Hue, the identical metropolis in Vietnam the place Thay ordained as a novice monk. But she by no means encountered Thay’s teachings till eight years in the past.

“That was the very first time I heard a chat by Thay (in Vietnamese) on YouTube. The title was ‘The Objective of Our Life’. I used to be actually struck by it and requested myself, what’s the objective of my life? Do I would like cash, energy, to have somebody all the time beside me and love me? I learn and listened to extra of Thay’s teachings and sharings from many monastics on the Plum Village web site. I knew then that I needed to dwell life as a free individual.

Sister Trang Tam Duc

As Thay stated, solely a free individual is usually a glad individual and if I’m glad, I may help myself and assist others. Two months later I wrote a letter to Thay and the sangha asking to change into a nun. Sadly I had simply acquired a scholarship to review dentistry in Japan and I couldn’t cancel it. However I saved that nice aspiration for eight years. I really feel very lucky to have discovered a non secular approach.”

Cultivating True Love – the Joys and the Pains

Is it potential to dwell a cheerful, fulfilled life and not using a associate and a bodily relationship? Is it definitely worth the problem?

Br. Troi Dinh Tuc – “I grew up in (Italy), in a tradition the place there’s loads of familiarity and bodily intimacy and it’s straightforward to discover intercourse. It was a type of refuge for me, a protected place the place my interior judgements and difficulties may momentarily be at peace.

Residing within the monastery, it’s very attention-grabbing for me to discover celibacy. It helps me to be extra conscious of my sexual power and the way it influences my methods of perceiving and interacting with individuals. To start with it was very difficult; I felt a giant lack. However I developed curiosity – why is there a powerful want? Step-by-step, I began to see how entangled it was, how unaware I used to be and the way tough it was for me to really have coronary heart to coronary heart connections. With the clear boundaries of the monastic vow, I might be extra sincere in coping with my fears, shames, and interior struggles, which then permits them to return up and stream inside my physique. I’m studying to the touch the weak interior little one that’s in search of consideration, for appreciation, for acceptance, and studying to supply that to those weak elements inside me. This can be a deep course of that’s serving to me to be compassionate towards myself and behaviors that don’t absolutely respect the sweetness and holiness of the human physique. It’s a very valuable and transformative journey.”

Sr. Trang Lam Hy – “I had long-term relationships earlier than I knew the apply and there was usually the sensation that the opposite individual has the duty to make me glad. Changing into a monastic looks like I’m taking again my duty and on the similar time, not taking up an excessive amount of duty for another person’s happiness. It’s a type of sovereignty – I utterly personal myself. It feels robust and highly effective to have this whole freedom.

It’s a type of sovereignty – I utterly personal myself.

Residing in a group, it helps already that there are moments of being collectively and sharing in regards to the day, identical to residing with mates outdoors with out having to be in a relationship. The sense of intimacy is there. I’m simply beginning to make mates locally and generally it looks like I’m married to the entire group. I’m discovering what it means. It’s so wealthy. Typically I additionally suppose, ‘Oh, I don’t know what I signed up for, to by no means have a romantic relationship once more!’ We’re all programmed to have a associate and I don’t absolutely know but what it means to let go of this and to dwell with a group. It’s fairly attention-grabbing.”

Sisters on the trail

101 Days as a Younger Monastic

Brother Troi Dinh Thuong (Brother “Concentrated Steadiness”), a musician from Germany, had an exquisite first evening within the monastic residence. “Then on the second evening I couldn’t sleep due to the loud loud night breathing and I practically had a panic assault, pondering I wanted to disrobe instantly! The second I first entered the residence, I requested myself – how does it really feel to undergo this gate? It felt in concord. It doesn’t imply 100%, however a sure proportion that we have to really feel to be in concord. My ‘interior abbot’ must really feel that there’s concord in my system. When the reply is ‘sure’, I can proceed. If not, I cease the whole lot and care for what’s inflicting disharmony.

Brother Troi Dinh Thuong (left) with Br. Troi Dao Phuong

The ceremonial side (of monastic life) is one thing I’m actually not used to. It’s one thing I don’t really feel roots for but. It’s wholesome for me to be sincere with these facets of my monastic life, to see the place I really feel it suits and the place it doesn’t. This honesty is essential in my journey. Taking up this gown makes a distinction. I see that it stands for stability, for Thay and the group and folks actually take refuge in it and worth it. I really feel humbled by that.”

Sr. Trang Lam Hy was a little bit nervous transferring into the monastic residence. “There was virtually a worry – can we dwell comfortably with one another? However then I spotted we have been simply regular individuals residing collectively. Life right here is on the similar time so bizarre and so extraordinary. I’m nonetheless arriving. Once I look again in half a yr, I’ll most likely really feel much more relaxed.”

Life right here is on the similar time so bizarre and so extraordinary.

Sr. Trang Lam Hy with Zoé (middle) and Lian (proper) who’re “aspirants”

Ordaining as Thay’s Final Disciples

When Thay handed away on January 22, many within the sangha requested, “Ought to we go forward with the deliberate novice ordination of January 25?”

“I felt very glad that the sangha determined to maintain the novice ordination as a result of it felt a significant image of continuation, of unfolding”, stated Brother Troi Dinh Thanh (Brother “Concentrated Accomplishment”). 

Br. Troi Dinh Thanh’s mom on Thay’s Deck

“The second once I heard information of Thay’s passing, my mom and I have been admiring the sundown in Higher Hamlet. The morning after, I felt drawn to Thay’s hut to witness the dawn. The wind chimes have been ringing and it was so lovely, like a message from Thay saying, ‘I’m right here. I’m just like the solar, coming and stepping into freedom. Don’t search for me in a physique. See me in all places, in you, round you, and particularly within the sangha.’”

Br. Troi Dinh Tin had been ready to ordain for a very long time and was counting the times. “The second I heard of Thay’s passing was precisely the second my household arrived. It was fairly a shock. I believed solely two issues may delay the ordination – Covid or the passing of Thay, and each occurred! I settled in my household after which went straight to the ancestral corridor and lit up an incense for Thay. I’ve by no means met Thay, however in some way I may really feel him. I don’t know if it’s simply my creativeness or a sense I had inside. I really feel a fantastic honor to ordain throughout this time, and having all of the brothers and sisters coming from the opposite facilities [for Thay’s memorial services] made it very highly effective.”

Sr. Trang Tam Duc was in Vietnam making ready to journey to France to be an aspirant within the New Hamlet. “4 days earlier than Thay’s passing, I used to be known as in to test his oral well being. I instructed Sr. Dinh Nghiem, Thay’s attendant, that I’d be leaving for France quickly. Although Thay’s eyes have been closed, they have been blinking and he was listening to our dialog. Really his oral well being was not so unhealthy. I believed that maybe he wished to fulfill me earlier than his passing. Realizing it is likely to be the final time I noticed Thay, I used to be very conscious and actually valued that second with him.

Realizing it is likely to be the final time I noticed Thay, I used to be very conscious and actually valued that second with him.

I nonetheless didn’t suppose I had an opportunity to ordain but. However the afternoon of Thay’s passing, Sr. Dinh Nghiem known as and stated, ‘Are you able to ordain? Pack the whole lot and are available instantly to the Root Temple if you’re.’ I really feel so lucky to be one among Thay’s youngest disciples.”

Peace Begins Inside

Life in a monastery can appear to be an escape from the sufferings of the world. How does your life alternative contribute to your loved ones, society, and to the world?

Br. Troi Dinh Thuong – “One of the vital lovely issues about Plum Village is that I can all the time say to individuals, ‘Hey, in case you want a spot to relaxation, you’ll be able to come right here.’ I see that folks do contact some second of readability about their life questions right here. No person is aware of what you do or cares what you do. It’s a place of refuge the place you’ll be able to relaxation from all that.

I used to be in touch with artists who’ve all of the status however determined to finish their life. It hits me each time – What if that individual had recognized Plum Village and had the possibility to return right here for 3 months? I need to contribute to this organism (known as Plum Village) to exist a little bit additional into the longer term as a spot of refuge.

Whether or not what we do is significant or not is just not about being monastic or not, however how a lot we need to contain ourselves. Plum Village is a cell of the world physique. I really feel proud to be right here.

I need to contribute to this organism (known as Plum Village) to exist a little bit additional into the longer term as a spot of refuge.

Br. Troi Dinh Thanh – “I really feel that practising right here on this group is useful for me, for society and for the world at giant. Once I first launched into the non secular path, I did ask myself – How am I contributing peace and pleasure to the world? I didn’t know then. However now it’s clear that one of the best I can do is to be at peace, to be joyful. I wouldn’t really feel proper if I used to be doing that alone, however simply the truth that we’re a group residing in concord is an instance for the world. When there’s battle on this planet, individuals can see that there’s a solution to dwell in concord, though it isn’t all the time straightforward to dwell in concord with very completely different individuals coming from very completely different backgrounds and cultures. But, we will perceive one another and love one another. That could be a concrete instance and it isn’t up within the air. That is undoubtedly a revolutionary act in a world the place usually, human relationships should not valued.

I dwell in a monastery, however I’m deeply related to what’s occurring in society and on this planet. I select my sources of knowledge with care as a result of it’s a type of meals that has the ability to construct our worldview and subsequently orient our actions. I domesticate loving ideas, speech and actions by coming again to the breath and physique to bear in mind when seeds of anger and despair manifest in me. I could not be capable of put an finish to the present wars however I’m actively contributing to forestall future wars by cultivating peace in me and round me.”

Sr. Trang Tam Duc – “I actually love my household and though I’m removed from them, with the apply, I don’t really feel I’m actually far. I really feel that I’m bringing my complete household with me. If I’m glad, I can ship that happiness to my household in Vietnam. Working towards mindfulness in our every day life and producing love and compassion assist me and assist my household. After my blood sister and I turned nuns, my household began to apply collectively. I’m very glad about that! We are able to begin little. If we now have peace in ourselves, the individuals round us can really feel that and they are often extra at peace by seeing our smiles. I’m positive that day-to-day, we may help increasingly more individuals.”

Br. Troi Dinh Tin – “My deepest aspiration is to comprehend the way in which proven by the Buddha and to proceed Thay in translating the teachings for right now’s world. Plum Village is a Buddhist monastery within the twenty first Century, so I’m right here to grasp and to stroll the trail taught by the Buddha. To play a small half in protecting the Dharma alive and to share it with individuals is a supply of nice pleasure. On the middle of my monastic life is to comprehend the trail resulting in the best happiness. It sounds very non secular, however it’s very concrete. There are clear directions and practices to help me. I want to preserve an open thoughts to see what actually contributes to happiness and letting go of attachment and identification. Voila.”

My deepest aspiration is to comprehend the way in which proven by the Buddha and to proceed Thay in translating the teachings for right now’s world.

From left: Sr. Tai Nghiem, Sr. Trang Lam Hy, Br. Troi Dao Son, Br. Troi Dinh Tin, Sr. Trang Tam Duc, Sr. Trang Linh Di

Discover out extra

  • Learn extra about changing into a monastic (Brs. Troi Dinh Thuong and Troi Dinh Tuc ordained below the “5 Yr Program” whereas the opposite “Mimosa” novices ordained for all times.)
  • Pictures from the “Mimosa” ordination ceremony in January 2022
  • Interview with the “Chestnut” novices who ordained in November 2020


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