My visit with Thich Nhat Hanh

After the SIBA convention in New Orleans, I was invited to meet with the venerable Zen Buddhist monk,
 Thich Nhat Hanh , by his friend and editor,  Rachel Neumann. They were both staying at the Magnolia Grove Meditation Practice Center, which is located far out in the country, near Batesville, deep in the heart of Mississippi.

I was amazed by how many people were already there. You can sign up for a week's worth of his teachings whenever he travels here from his home in Plum Village, France.

Accommodations are very limited so most everyone brings a tent.

The grounds of the Center are particularly beautiful.

The monks that stay there year round sell items like stationery, photographs and signed original prints.

Here I am with my host, author and Thich Nhat Hanh's editor, Rachel Neumann.

Rachel's own marvelous book, Not Quite Nirvana, tells her story of how she became his editor. "A funny and incisive memoir of how a skeptical, fast-talking New Yorker became the personal editor for Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh and  slowly and reluctantly started to absorb mindfulness practice."

Rachel is also the editorial director at Parallax Press, based in Berkeley, CA. Some of Thich Nhat Hanh's best books are published by them, here are just a few.

Finally, as the day warms up just a bit, we see him approach from his bungalow.

Here I am being introduced to "Master Thay" (pronounced "tie") by Rachel.

Before the question and answer session, the choir sings some Buddhist hymns.

As you can see, the Meditation Hall was filled to the brim with friends and followers.

Ones with questions were invited to walk to the front and ask what was in their hearts.

The exquisite stained glass window that graces the back wall.

All around the buildings I find little notes of inspiration tucked away.

Here you can wash your hands and feet.

Shoes are not allowed inside.

"Noble Silence", I like the sound (sorry) of that.

A walk around the grounds shows me many examples of beauty and peace.

Ah, I feel relaxed already.

This is the bell that when rung, everyone stops to appreciate the moment and meditate on the sound of their breathing.

As I lay down under the pagoda, I saw this moon directly above me.

There were several crates with statues arranged around one of the meadows. I assume that they had just recently arrived and would be placed in the appropriate spots.

As the bell sounds, everyone stops what ever they are doing to appreciate the moment.

Just before mid-day, Master Thay goes for a "walking meditation". Hundreds of his followers walk, very slowly, behind him as he makes his way through the woods.

After reaching a beautiful field, they all gather around him to sit in total silence for about 20 minutes.

On the walk back there is such a feeling of calmness and joy.

Thank you Rachel, for inviting me to this very special place and to meet Master Thay.


Kyle Guglielmo said…
I really enjoyed this post!

Best wishes to you, Jon.

Kyle G.
BloBB said…
Thank you for sharing this!
Lotus said…
I was present at this retreat and it was beautifully transformative. thank you for posting the lovely photos...was nice to relive the retreat. :)

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