I felt very peaceful this morning when I saw Thay Thich Nhat Hanh’s poster in the hallway. He was holding a bell with a smile just like the way he looked when I met him 5 years ago.
I am a baptized Catholic Christian and my husband is a Buddhist. I wanted to learn more about his faith. My husband’s colleague is a dedicated member of the Plum Village group. She drove me to the south of Salabury in Thailand. There was a one day retreat in the temporary Plum Village centre.
We arrived early in the morning. The place was on a mountain, beautiful scenery. The monks were walking slowly with a big smile on their face. Even the dogs looked very happy there. I felt the serenity among this community.
We sat down for a vegan breakfast. It was Thai tofu green curry with a lot of fresh green herbs. My friend told me that the Plum Village community were very active environmentalists. A young monk came to greet me and asked, “Hi Madam, what brought you here?” I answered sheepishly, “Uh.. I am actually a Christian. But I am curious about my husband’s faith.” He smiled, “It is a good thing to be a Christian.” I was surprised. I thought he would try to convert me to be a Buddhist. He said, “I feel happy to see you here. If you want to know about Buddhism, I got two books for you.” He went to his room and grab two books for me. Then He said, “Enjoy your day here.” He bowed to me and left. I really admire the space that he gave me to explore. I like his open and relaxed attitude.
After that I saw a 50-year-old Asian man walking slowly with a big crowd following him. Later I learned that he was already 84 years old! I heard from my friend that Thich Nhat Hanh came from France, so I thought he was a westerner. He greeted the others and the children with high respect. We sat down and meditated for a while. I actually had no clue what meditation was at that time.
During the dharma talk, Thich Nhan Hanh talked about his story of becoming a monk and his journey in developing engaged Buddhism. He said his vision was to promote world peace without boundaries. I met people from different backgrounds, like Muslims, Judhist, Catholics, Christians, etc. I can see that he was succeeding in doing it.
After the retreat, I read many of his books and I have been practicing mindfulness since then. I feel a lot stronger and happier than before. I feel very grateful for his teachings. Thank you very much Thay! I wish you will recover soon.