Help Heal the Wounds of Discrimination

Dedication ceremony for the sculpture of Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Magnolia Grove Monastery. Photo by Paul Davis

Dedication ceremony for the sculpture of Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. at Magnolia Grove Monastery. Photo by Paul Davis

I want to feel integrated within myself, just feeling like all parts of myself can be present. But sometimes it’s hard to feel a sense of belonging when people tell us that we’re different or “not normal”. The work that ARISE is doing is to create an openness and a space of belonging for everyone.
— Brian, Multi-heritage, Queer, Person of Color

ARISE: Who We Are

ARISE (Awakening through Race, Intersectionality, and Social Equity) is a group of mindfulness practitioners and monastics in the Plum Village tradition who have come together with the aspiration to use the energy of compassion, understanding, and love in order to heal the wounds of discrimination and social inequity within ourselves and our society. In 2015, due to the racial violence and unrest occurring in the nation, members of the Plum Village community, together with other Buddhist communities, participated in national discussions on racial and social inequities. From these gatherings, ARISE emerged with the desire to use mindfulness as the vehicle to alleviate suffering wherever it existed, knowing that the suffering of one person was the suffering of us all.

Our Aspirations

  • Co-create a network within our mindfulness practice communities for people who are interested in racial justice and social equity issues
  • Encourage the sharing of resources and share information on teachings and practices on racial and social justice
  • Co-create a sacred, courageous space for discussion and exchange on mindfulness social equity issues
  • Encourage diversity and inclusion in leadership within the mindfulness community
  • Serve as a resource by sharing ideas and facilitating ARISE presentations at retreats, regular sangha gatherings, and other events

Mindfulness in Action

The following are some examples of how your gifts to the Foundation made mindfulness teachings available to people from marginalized and underserved communities:

Many Streams, One Source Retreat: Your gifts provided scholarships to the "Many Streams, One Source" retreat and allowed LGBTQ+, People of Color, and allied young adult communities to come together and celebrate diversity. "I felt a sense of vulnerability and openness...Many who had felt invisible and unheard, including myself, had a chance to speak and be heard. We spoke from places we did not know existed, possibly because we had spent years hiding from these lonely corners. I heard so many voices (queer people of color, transgender individuals) that are usually drowned out by chatter from everyday life…[W]e spoke about coming out, struggling with our sexual identities and finding a home in our own skin. I had never had such candid exchanges with monastics before...Without outlets like ‘Many Streams, One Source,’ reluctant voices remain unheard and ideas and experiences remain unshared. We need these spaces to enrich society and heal frayed hearts."

-Jason, Queer, Asian-American, 2017 Retreat participant

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“Where Spirit Meets Action” Racial Justice panel in NYC: In response to the tragic events in Baltimore, New York, Charleston, Ferguson and elsewhere in 2015, your gifts helped sangha organizers bring inspiring panelists to New York City for a widely-attended discussion on the interbeing of spirituality and action in the struggle for racial justice. This event encouraged attendees to look deeply and act compassionately to address America's deep-rooted habit of structural racism and was a catalyst for the formation of ARISE.

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People of Color Retreat at Deer Park Monastery: Your gifts made scholarship funds available for people of color to attend the "Path of True Love: Healing Ourselves" Mindfulness Retreat for People of Color. Buddhist teachers of color were invited, and ARISE members played a strong role in organizing, staffing and facilitating this retreat.

Make a Difference this Giving Tuesday

This #GivingTuesday, ARISE is partnering with the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation to raise $15,000 in funds for projects that will use mindfulness to heal the wounds of racial injustice and social inequity. These funds will specifically focus on the following two initiatives in 2018:

1.     Retreat Scholarships for People of Color

Though retreat scholarships are offered through the U.S. mindfulness practice centers, funds are unfortunately limited. ARISE aspires to grow the retreat scholarship funds in order to support those in financial need, especially retreatants who come from marginalized communities. A gift of $100 will provide a full scholarship for someone to attend a weekend mindfulness retreat at a monastic practice center, and the goal is to provide scholarships for at least 100 people of color in 2018.

2.     Support Teachers in Bringing Mindfulness Events to Marginalized Communities

Travel costs, time constraints, and physical accessibility often make it difficult to attend retreats at practice centers. That is why ARISE aspires to bring mindfulness teachings directly to communities of color and other marginalized communities, meeting them exactly where they are. A gift as little as $20 will help make funds available for teachers of color to offer retreats, public talks, and Days of Mindfulness to these populations. Funds would help to defray costs for teacher travel and retreat expenses, and would foster greater participation by leaders of color. ARISE’s goal is to allocate $5,000 to organize 10 public talks and/or half days of mindfulness specifically for people of color and marginalized groups in community colleges, historically Black colleges, and other underserved areas that would benefit from teachings on mindfulness and practices to nourish compassion and healing.

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Continue the Legacy of Thich Nhat Hanh and Martin Luther King Jr.

Our dear teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. shared a common vision for the beloved community. Their legacy invites us to look deeply at racial, systemic, and social inequities, particularly now, when so many people are suffering the effects of violence, fear, and enmity.  As students of Thich Nhat Hanh, we are actively engaged in the practice of transformation. We are here to do the work, and we invite you to join us to bring about healing and unity within ourselves and our society.

On the path together,

ARISE Sangha and the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation

Learn more about ARISE, visit their website or follow them on Facebook


Happy 91st Birthday to Thich Nhat Hanh!

Happy 91st Birthday to Thich Nhat Hanh!

What Gift Do You Give a Zen Master?

On Wednesday, October 11, 2017, it will be Thich Nhat Hanh's 91st birthday –or as our beloved teacher likes to call it, his Continuation Day! You may wonder, “What kind of gift can I give a Zen master? A person who already practices to have all the conditions of happiness? What would be meaningful for Thay?” We would like to offer this response: We can give Thay the gift of compassion.

Thay Returns to Vietnam

Thay Returns to Vietnam

We are very happy to confirm that earlier today, 29th August 2017, at 12h35 local time, our dear Teacher landed safely at Đà Nẵng airport in Vietnam. This is his first visit to Vietnam since 2008.

In recent weeks Thay has expressed a strong wish to visit his home country once more, and the sangha is delighted to have been able to realise his wish. Thay’s trip will include a visit to Plum Village’s Root Temple, Chùa Từ Hiếu, in Huế, where Thay began his monastic training in 1942.

How My Seven-Year-Old Came to Take the Precepts

How My Seven-Year-Old Came to Take the Precepts

When my daughter was around four or five years old, she began to be intrigued by the altar, my sacred little haven of refuge. She’d go over when I was not there, pick up, and study the various adornments and sometimes even sit on the cushion, clearly mimicking me. She’d sit still for a minute at most, and then she’d run off again. Though some part of me wanted to protect my private space from the intrusion of children, later I’d be glad that I’d not discouraged her from spending time there.

On Motherhood: Lessons from a Three-Legged Doe

On Motherhood: Lessons from a Three-Legged Doe

She imparted the first Dharma lesson to me in the summer of 2009, in the midst of an especially trying day. Looking back now, I am not sure what set me off, only that the morning’s Dharma discussion had dredged up within me a deep melancholy that I hadn’t felt before. At its core was my frustration at the choices I was making as a parent. At the time, my daughters were eight and twelve. One was on the brink of teenagerdom, while the other was prone to regular temper tantrums. To put it simply, I was at my wit’s end and at some point that late morning, I had lost my temper with either one or both of my children.  In any event, I was now teeming with guilt.  I felt hopeless, tired, and very alone, as my husband (my better, calmer half), had not joined us on this particular retreat.  And so, with a heavy heart I left my children crying in the dorm for a walk in the woods. Perhaps with a bit of breathing and alone time I could cool off and find my bearings.

Together We Are One

Together We Are One

I had the opportunity to teach at a teen retreat recently, and a number of us staff were concerned about one of the youngest teens who seemed to have difficulty integrating into the larger group. The teen was shy and withdrawn, and didn’t come to activities. When they did, they would read a book rather than participate. We tried talking and listening to them and encouraging them to join in. When this met with some resistance, we simply accepted the teen and did our best to let them know they were welcome to be part of the group as they were. Other teens also reached out in different ways to help this teen feel connected.

As the week went on, the teen seemed to feel more comfortable joining in some activities and seemed to be less isolated in the big group. Then at the closing ceremony of the retreat, teens were invited to stand up, come into the center of the circle, and share something with the group. This teen, who at the beginning of the retreat appeared quite awkward and ill at ease, walked slowly to the center of our circle and shared very clearly and with great dignity that the retreat had helped them a great deal, they had learned important things, and they would be taking all of us with them after it ended. Then even more surprisingly, after the closing circle, this teen - who had spoken very little to others that whole week - stood at the door offering free hugs to anyone who wanted them!

The power of a group of people practicing sincerely together is enormous. Things that have not been possible for us up until then become possible.

Walk With Me: An Alternative Response

Walk With Me: An Alternative Response

Commercializing mindfulness is not necessarily a bad thing, but sometimes we overuse the word or misunderstand it. It’s sort of like the word “love.” We overuse it. “I love this, I love that.” We lose sight that love is really something different, something larger and deeper than “I love pizza. I love Coca Cola.” I think this film can go a long way to inform people about something other than the commercial aspect of mindfulness.

It’s more than just a fad. It’s something that’s been around for thousands of years, and it is deeply grounded in the historical lineage, going back to the Buddha and other spiritual teachers. Now, it can be presented in a way that is more contemporary and much more accessible.

2017 Lunar New Year “Parallel Verses”

 2017 Lunar New Year “Parallel Verses”

We are very happy to announce the new Plum Village practice phrases to celebrate the upcoming Lunar New Year of the Rooster!In Plum Village practice centers all around the world, we print out these calligraphies (keeping the diamond form), paste them onto colored card, and pin them up around the dining halls, meditation halls and living quarters in preparation to celebrate the Lunar New Year. We hang them (with the help of a little cotton thread) from early-blossoming Japonica and Plum branches that we bring in to brighten our rooms.