11th of September, 2011
A joyful encounter between young professional leaders and happy monastics.
Today was a very wonderful Day of Mindfulness at Lotus Pond Temple because the AIAB hosted a group of 60 young people involved in a Leadership Communication Skills (LCS) program. The group is led by Walter Ngai, and one of its aim is to inspire the use of Buddhist virtues and practices in the professional careers of young people so that their lives can be less stressful and more meaningful. This weekend was the beginning of the third program, and the first time they have introduced the practices of Plum Village into their orientation. The day was so successful and joyful.
Sr. Thuan Nghiem hit the mark with her Dharma Talk to the young professionals, using scientific terms to explain the benefits of daily mindful practices such as breathing, eating and walking to reconnect with our body and the present moment. When we are disconnected from ourselves, we are less able to regulate our behaviour, which then leads us to do and consume in ways that bring about disease and disorder in our body and mind. She said that “wholeness and connectedness are most fundamental in our nature as living beings”, and “without awareness of the self regulatory systems in our body, we over-ride its efforts to restore balance and order”. She explained that the word “medicine” means the ‘right inward measure’ is restored when the body and mind is disturbed by disease or illness, and “meditation” is the process of perceiving directly the right inward measure of one’s own being through careful, non-judgmental self observation - mindfulness.
Regarding leadership, she said one element of a good leader is firstly to understand ourselves, our needs, habits and suffering, and from there we can better understand others and be more aware of their needs. This is a democratic and compassionate style of leadership in which our daily interactions can be conducted according to the three virtues, namely 1) cutting off afflictions by letting go of hatred, ignorance and delusion, 2) virtue of loving-kindness and gratitude, and 3) virtue of wisdom. The youthful audience was curious and captivated, as was reflected in their sharing at the end of the day. One LCS participant said that his perception of temples is that they are basically tourist sites, and monastics are mostly elderly people. But today coming here he can see that there are young practicing monastics with happy smiles, and who talk about things that are relevant to his daily life. This has inspired him and he would like to come back.
We thank you Dabby Au for some of the photos in this article, he is the official photographer and graphic designer of WFCS.
We were honoured to have the abbot of Wang Fat Ching Sze (where the LCS program is hosted), the Venerable Dharmapala come to visit and share our vision of bringing applied Buddhism and building a sense of community to young people. We were also blessed with good weather even though several times during the day it could have rained. This allowed the Sangha to fully enjoy being in touch with nature through eating and walking meditation outdoors. Below are other feedback from some young people in the orientation camp of the LCS program.
“Plum Village Hong Kong is a very good place as it's not much tourist and all the Sisters are young and friendly, which fit in our theme very much. I can never forget the smiles of the Sisters and Brothers there and please forward our thankfulness to them to allow us to enjoy a calm weekend with mindfulness practice in this highly stressful, busy city! – Sharon Tse”
“I felt grateful to practise meditation and enjoy sharing within the community of Plum Village. Especially I treasured the time to commemorate the 10th anniversary of 9/11 and welcome Mid-Autumn Festival with a group of young companions. I am thankful of knowing the Sisters and Brothers from Plum Village and I hope to revisit them in the near future. – Stella Leung ”
“I have a great time at Plum Village Hong Kong. The pressure from everyday work sometime drives me crazy. I really appreciate your teaching in meditation methods as it can keep my mind free of unhappy thoughts temporarily. The Dharma Talk gave me an insight into meditation and leadership. I consider the visit as a valuable experience and am looking forward to meeting you again in the future. - Johnny Lu”