Reflections from Plum Village

By Emily Chambers

The time we spent at Plum Village was my personal favorite so far. I feel like I learned so much from our sisters and brothers that I know I will be able to hold with me as I make my own path and venture my way through life.

To be more specific, we were taught the five mindfulness trainings. The first is the Reverence of Life. To be aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, have compassion for all living things and to acknowledge that harmful actions come from anger, fear, and impatience from discriminant thinking within oneself.

The second mindfulness training is True Happiness. “True Happiness is not possible without understanding and compassion. Running after wealth, fame, power, and pleasure can bring suffering and despair” (Precept Recitation Ceremony p. 19). In order to be truly happy, you must live in the present moment. A person can find true happiness through the most simple things in life. From waking up in the morning and absorbing everything you see, being grateful for sight and vision, to taking a single bite from a meal. Understanding and appreciating where the food came from and how it nourishes your body. If you are full of compassion and understanding, then there is no reason to be unhappy.

The third mindfulness training is true love. “Sexual desire is not love and sexual motivations by craving cannot dissipate the feeling of loneliness but will create more suffering, frustration, and isolation” (Precept Recitation Ceremony p. 21). When two people come to understand that body and mind are one, only then will they find happiness in this practice.

The second to last training we were taught was the practice of Loving Speech and Deep Listening. Being aware of the pain and hurt caused by harmful words and inability to listen to others who confide in you. This training teaches those to be mindful and to think before you speak. Words can have a very positive or negative effect on people by either promoting happiness or suffering.

The last of the teachings is Nourishment and Healing. Being committed to practicing good physical and mental health and encouraging it to those around you.

I think this week impacted me so much because I learned how to be mindful and live a happy life from within myself rather than relying on what is around me. I know now that instead of regretting my past or worrying about my future, living in the present moment is what makes me most content.

All photos were taken at Thai Plum Village in the Pak Chong District of Thailand: