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Lions Roar : September 2007
SHAMBHALA SUN SEPTEMBER 2007 55 exhausted. You’ll be burnt out. That is why you have to find ways to maintain your practice, maintain your solidity, your freedom, your peace while you are doing the work. “Nonviolent action,” he continues, “is an expression of your love. Society has so many social ills as a result of development and globalization. If you have true love, you see what you can do to transform the problems of drugs, alcohol, violence, and the breaking up of families. There are so many, many ways for you to express your love.” TEN THOUSAND HEARTS Following his first visit back to Vietnam, Thich Nhat Hanh estab- lished the Prajna Monastery, near the town of Bao Loc, about six hours south of Saigon by bus. It is a beautiful complex of temples, meditation halls, and dormitories, perched on a hillside surround- ed by groves of pine trees and coffee plantations. The valley below is laced with soft, meandering, red-dirt trails that are perfect for walking meditation and dotted with small pagodas for quiet sit- ting. At one end of the valley, a giant white Buddha sits under a tree, and at the other end there is a giant white Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of compassion, her soft countenance glowing. A graceful temple with sweeping arches and cool tiles for devotion and meditation is flanked by lions on each corner, dharma protec- tors of fierce compassion. A sign carved in stone at the foot of the hill reads: “I have arrived. I am home.” Originally, there was only a single temple here. The abbot was a strong supporter of Thich Nhat Hanh. All through the years of Thay’s exile the abbot maintained contact and helped with the Plum Village social-work projects that spread throughout this re- gion. When Thay came back to Vietnam for the first time three years ago, he inaugurated a new monastery on the surrounding lands. In the brief time between the visits, this enormous center of peace has sprouted. Three hundred new monks and nuns live here, and more are being ordained all the time. This represents a reinvigoration of the Buddhist sangha in Vietnam, in the Plum Village tradition. After a “Lazy Day,” a day without responsibilities, we begin a for- mal meditation retreat, along with ten thousand Vietnamese par- ticipants. No one anticipated such a turnout, but it’s evident that there is a great hunger for the teachings here. We sit together, ten thousand hearts, taking in the soft radiance of a teacher return- Clockwise from top left: Temple at Prajna Monastery; Thich Nhat Hanh hugs the abbot from the temple in Dalat; a statue at Prajna Monastery; Thich Nhat Hanh gives a dharma talk at Phap Van temple, his first stop in Vietnam. PHOTOSBYVELCROWRIPPER SEPT 50-57.indd 55 SEPT 50-57.indd 55 6/25/07 5:03:23 PM 6/25/07 5:03:23 PM