Welcome to episode eleven of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.In this episode, presenters Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and lay Buddhist practitioner and journalist Jo Confino are joined by special guest novice Zen Buddhist nun Sister Hien Tam of the New Hamlet in Plum Village. This time, they explore monastic life: why do people want to become monastics? What happens between aspiring to be a monastic and actually becoming one? And what’s it like to live in a monastery?
The two monastics talk about: their own journeys; engaging in society as nuns and monks; the secret to a long-lived community like Plum Village (40 years old next year!); individualism; transformation; conflict; practices that support the community.
Sister Hien Tam tells the story of her pre-monastic life as a busy, restless, consumerist TV writer in Korea, and the unplanned visit to Plum Village which led to her becoming an aspirant and then a nun in less than three years. She candidly shares about saying goodbye to “external expressions”; her family’s reaction; ditching her “fancy”, colourful clothes for the brown robe; following clear guidelines; sharing a room with many sisters after having lived her life alone; dealing with habit energies; inner beauty; the “Buddha company”.
In addition, Brother Phap Huu discusses moderation; aspirations; inferiority complexes; loving clothes as a monk; learning to live a simpler and happy life; growing up in a monastic community; the practices of Shining Light and Beginning Anew; observing and training new aspirants; community work days.
Jo shares his own formula for a ‘mini’ Shining Light in individual relationships, and having to face his own suffering when the distractions of the outside world fade away.Finally, Brother Phap Huu ends the episode with a guided meditation on generating peace.
Co-produced by the Plum Village App:https://plumvillage.app/
And Global Optimism:https://globaloptimism.com/
With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation:https://thichnhathanhfoundation.org/
List of resources
Plum Village Communityhttps://plumvillage.org/
‘Becoming a Monastic’https://plumvillage.org/about/becoming-a-monastic/
Beginning Anew: Four Steps to Restoring Communicationhttps://plumvillage.org/books/beginning-anew/
How To: ‘Begin Anew’https://plumvillage.org/articles/begin-anew/
‘Slow Down, Rest, and Heal: The Spirit of the Rains Retreat’https://plumvillage.org/podcast/slow-down-rest-and-heal-the-spirit-of-the-rains-retreat/
‘Deciding to Become a Monastic in Plum Village’https://wkup.org/become-monastic-plum-village/
‘Life as Monastic Aspirants in Plum Village’https://wkup.org/monastic-aspirants-plum-village/
Quotes“Be beautiful, be yourself.”“Everyone needs a spiritual dimension in their daily life to help them maintain their balance. And within ourselves, we have this seed. We call it bodhicitta. Everyone has this. It’s called the mind of love or the mind of awakening.”
“As I became a monk, I learned that that is a way of engagement that we practice – not just to be peaceful and happy for ourself, but that our practice is a way of contributing to society, to those around us.”
“I always remember Thich Nhat Hanh saying that relationships never break up out of the blue, from something major happening. It’s from the very minor drip. He talked about it like a stalagmite or a stalactite in a cave: the small drip of problems which, at the time, are very often not addressed.”
“We share our joy and we share our success. That’s r