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Lions Roar : January 2013
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2013 49 asked. “The five mindfulness trainings are a direc- tion in which we go. It’s like the North Star is over there, so I’m going to go in that direction. And the farther I walk in that direction and transform, the clearer the path becomes. “We can take many paths, but the essence—the summit—is mindfulness, truth, concentration, insight. Some people may follow the trainings much more strictly and some may just follow them in certain aspects. The key is to do whatever you do with awareness and mindfulness, because the more you become aware of what, for instance, eating meat or drinking wine does to you and your body, the more you can make an informed decision about whether you want to continue.” On my last evening at Plum Village, a ceremony for the five mindfulness trainings took place at the Full Moon Meditation Hall. In the center of the hall, facing the altar decked in fruit and flowers, sat the people who were taking the trainings, and I joined them there on a purple zabuton, even though I’d already taken the trainings the year before. Sister Peace is right that none of us can ever do anything perfectly, but breath by breath, moment by moment, we all have the capacity to live the trainings a little more fully. They are aspirations we can always renew. Renewed, I filed out of the meditation hall with my dharma family. Then, as I was on my way back to Hillside for the last time, I realized I wasn’t wear- ing my watch anymore—a watch with a face that said, in Thay’s calligraphic script, It’s in the middle and now at twelve, three, six, and nine o’clock. It’s now It’s now It’s now... always. I traced my steps back but couldn’t find the watch and, with the sun going down, I felt sad because that watch was a little piece of Plum Village that I’d no longer be carry- ing home with me. Then I thought of Thay and my interview with him. “Plum Village is not so much a place that is situated in time or space,” he’d told me. “You can have it anywhere at any time. If you come to Plum Village and you don’t know how to be in the pres- ent moment, it is not the country of the present moment. But if you are in America, or in Asia, and if you are in the present moment, you are in Plum Village. When you fly back to America, you can have Plum Village on the plane. You don’t have to look for the future; you do not need to be caught in the past. If you know how to spend time with joy and peace, you are in Plum Village. You are in the country of the present moment.” ♦ Top: The Joyful Scrubbers dharma family (the author, front row, third from left). Middle and bottom: “When I eat somewhere else,” said Sister Jewel, “the food might be very tasty but I feel a difference from the food at Plum Village because the food here is cooked with so much mindfulness and love.” PHOTOSBYLINDACHOY(TOP),DAVIDNELSON(MIDDLE),YOUNGWHANCHOI(BOTTOM)