Following in the footsteps of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh, his monastics will lead a teaching tour across the United States later this year, with retreats planned at each of the International Plum Village Community’s three U.S. monasteries, in New York, Mississippi, and California.
The first U.S. tour since Thich Nhat Hanh’s passing in January 2022, the Beloved Community Tour will include mindfulness retreats open to everyone plus special tracks that may be of particular interest to educators, healthcare professionals, and scientists.
The monastics will gather at Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, N.Y., Aug. 2-25; Magnolia Grove Monastery in Batesville, Miss., Aug. 25-Sept. 20; and Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, Calif., Sept. 20-Oct. 24. Registration for the retreats will be available on the websites of each monastery by May 1.
The U.S. tour begins at Blue Cliff Monastery (New York) Aug. 9-13, with the Happiness is Here and Now Summer Family Retreat. The retreat will offer a special track for educators interested in learning how mindfulness can support teaching and learning. The Blue Cliff annual retreat for Vietnamese speakers will follow, from Aug. 16-20.
The next stop will be Magnolia Grove Monastery (Mississippi), where the I Have Arrived I Am Home Retreat will be held Aug. 30 to Sept. 3 (in Vietnamese and English) with a special transmission of the 14 Mindfulness trainings. A specialized retreat for healthcare workers, first responders, and caregivers will be held Sept. 6-10.
Deer Park Monastery (California) will host the popular The Buddha the Scientist Retreat Sept. 26-Oct. 1 with a focus this year on mindfulness and public health, and a much loved retreat for Vietnamese speakers Oct. 4-8.
Brother Phap Dung, a senior monastic Dharma teacher and former abbot at Deer Park, said Thich Nhat Hanh (or “Thay,” which means teacher in Vietnamese) began touring North America in 1968, initially to speak out about the Vietnam War. Over time, his talks evolved into retreats, where Thich Nhat Hanh and his monastic students taught the practice of mindfulness–sitting, walking, and eating meditation–to help sow seeds of peace.
“Thay brought so much beautiful and warm energy to his retreats: the energy of mindfulness, compassion, and joy,” Brother Phap Dung said. “We’re so happy to carry on that tradition, and to know that Thay’s energy is still very much alive at each of our monasteries.
“This will be a wonderful opportunity for people across the country to come together, meditate, breathe, walk, and share their hearts with one another,” he added.
Thich Nhat Hanh’s tours were also inspired by his friendship with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.. The pair, who met on several occasions, spoke about King’s ideas of a Beloved Community and found they shared an aspiration to bring together people of every ethnicity, race, culture, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity, and country of origin.
When King was assassinated in Memphis, Tenn., in 1968, Thich Nhat Hanh declared that “this country is able to produce King but cannot preserve King.” He also vowed to continue the work of building the Beloved Community. It’s in that same spirit that this year’s tour was conceived by the three U.S. monastic practice centers founded by Thich Nhat Hanh.
“With the Beloved Community, there is no boundary to our love for one another,” Sister Hoa Nghiem, a senior Dharma Teacher of Blue Cliff Monastery said. “It includes people, animals, and plants as part of Mother Earth herself. Through our collective mindfulness practices, we realize the Beloved Community here and now: building siblinghood and strengthening the multifold sangha, the community of mindfulness practitioners on the path of awakening.”