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”

The Pavarana and Rose Ceremony – Sunday 21st of August, 2011

The Pavarana Ceremony marks the end of the three months rains retreat for Buddhist monastics. At Plum Village monastic brothers and sisters have the practice of Shining Light, which is considered essential for building a harmonious and healthy sangha. It is a practice based on the traditional Pavarana Ceremony where each monastic sincerely requests the sangha to show them the strengths and weaknesses of their practice, as well as offer practical guidance necessary for progress on the spiritual path. It was particularly moving to have the four-fold sangha be present to support and witness the sprouting brotherhood and sisterhood as we completed our first rains retreat together at our new ‘home’ on Lantau Island. The fifth mantra “This is a happy moment” was palpable as we recognised the conditions of happiness around us. It was perhaps especially highlighted for the brothers because for the last 2 years they have been practicing in cramped conditions in busy, polluted and complex down-town city life. During this period the four-fold sangha was incomplete without the presence of sisters, but now they are here and more than happy to join forces with the brothers and the lay sangha to develop the future of the AIAB in Hong Kong.


After an informal family lunch together, we celebrated the Rose Ceremony – an opportunity for everyone to connect with their parents and ancestors. To express gratitude to our parent(s) still alive or passed on, and to acknowledge the good seeds that they have transmitted to us. To practice seeing ourselves not as individuals but as a link in the chain of continuous life that flows from one generation to the next. The Buddha hall was packed with family members, and the children made the event so special with their fresh presence as they offered the roses to the Buddha then pinned them on Sangha members. Personal sharings and songs to remember the love our parents have shown us resonated the hearts of all present. For more photos of the Rose Ceremony please click on our Breathing Room Magazine Photo Album link. Below is one of the sharing by a Sangha member, Corrin Chan.



Dear Father by Corrin Chan

Today, the 21st of August, 2011 is the Rose Ceremony organised by Plum Village Hong Kong at Lotus Pond Temple. Last year I attended both the Rose Ceremonies at Plum Village France and in Hong Kong. At that time, I was wearing 2 red roses. When I looked at friends around me, I saw many white roses.  I looked at my 2 roses, I felt very blessed and comforted that my 2 roses were red. I felt like a lucky child still with my parents’ love and presence. This year, there is a little change.  There will be one red rose and one white rose on my chest.  And, this white rose is you, Father.

A year ago, when I saw the red rose of you, I was also seeing the white rose of today, because I saw that some day these 2 red roses would also become white, and I began to treasure the time that I could be with you. Even though that was my wish, I was always busy looking after my own work, my daughter and family, and I could not spend as much time as I wished to take care and pay attention to you.  Father, please forgive my absence during your difficult times.

When I thought of the moment that you fainted alone in the house due to the stroke, it really hurts me. You must have felt lonely and helpless. I was not by your side at that important moment of your life. As parents ourselves, it is difficult to share the same attentiveness, patience and love to our parents as we do for our children.

Father, please forgive my unmindful speech to you. Those words were out of my emotions, unhappiness and anger. We can be kind to our friends, but we can hurt deeply people who are closest to us.  I must have hurt your by my unmindful thoughts, actions and speech. My wildness and unwillingness to listen to you might have caused you worry and suffering.  Dear Father, please forgive me, since this is not truly me.  Deep inside, I love you very much.

I have never said I love you in all my life.  But, when you were in a coma, I whispered gently and softly in your ear,  “Dear Father, please feel relieved and let go, and not to worry about me. I love you very much and we will always be together.” Dear Father, I know you can hear me, because you are in me, and I am your continuation.

I remember I was a difficult child.  I was rebellious and stubborn. I did not want to listen to my parents. I wanted to be myself and independent. I wanted to be free. One time, you hit me very hard. I was such a stubborn child that I did not move and was holding down my tears when you hit me. I was very angry with you. Afterwards, I was so tired that I fell asleep. I felt your hands caressing my forehead, like you were saying sorry that you hit me so hard.  After that you never hit me again.  I think it was because it hurt you too much.

Dear Father, realising that the red rose would turn into a white one some day, I started to treasure the time that you were with me. I tried to call you from time to time to make sure that I could hear your voice. I listened attentively when you shared about your life, your parents, your happiness and difficulties. What I have done for you cannot be compared to what you have given me.

Father, one time you did not feel well. I bought you packs of Chinese medicine and helped you to soak your feet in the medicinal water. Father, that was the first time I caressed your feet. I saw the old wrinkled skin and swollen feet. The marks of time and hardship have left traces on your feet. I cried inside. I felt the suffering and difficulties in every cell of your body. But Father, I knew that you were happy. Thanks for giving me the chance to wash your feet.  This is the noblest job that I could do for you, to wash the feet of a man who has walked 90 years of his life, giving his life and love completely to his family. I am grateful for the precious gift your have given me - this body of mine. You have taught me to be an honest and upright person, like you, a man who loves his friends, who is kind and always willing to help others.

Dear Father, I never imagined how I could face that moment of losing you, and how sad I would be. But, that moment came, and when I arrived at the hospital after your last breath, I returned to my breathing and chanted 'Avalokiteshvara', the name of Mother Compassion, for you.  When I looked deeply, I could see that my father has never been born, and will never die. This is an important moment of your transformation. The compassionate, solid and peaceful energy is needed for your beautiful transformation. At that time, I felt absolute peace, solidity and calmness.  As I am deeply connected with you, father, I knew that my calmness was your calmness, my peacefulness was your peacefulness, my solidity was your solidity. It was a moment of brightness and serenity. A part of me resisted your death. Your body was leaving me, but not you. You are already here with me. Whenever I touch my forehead with my hand, I know you are touching that little girl in me again. And I feel comforted by your presence.

Nothing can be created into something, and something can never disappear into nothing. There is always continuation. There is always transformation. The form of existence would appear when the conditions are sufficient, and disappears when the conditions are not. Father, you were already there before the meeting of your parents. I am the continuation of your existence, and will carry on to countless generations to come.  I feel blessed that now every moment, I can be practising with you, walking mindfully with you, eating mindfully for you, because you are now not limited by your body. The river does not cry when the cloud disappears, because it knows that the cloud has become rain and will return to the river.  Your dear daughter should not be crying when she realises that you have transformed into everything that returns to the universe.

As your daughter, my job is to ensure a beautiful continuation of you, in my speech, action and thoughts. How? By asking myself “Are my words, actions and thoughts bringing out love and understanding? Do they bring about harmony? Do they bring happiness to myself and others?”

Dear Father, you have said, “My life is complete, and I can leave anytime.” Yes, you have left, completed your job in life with no regrets. I want to be like you, to be able to peacefully let go of my body and everything at the moment of Transformation. There is nothing we can carry forth at the moment of Death, not our money, our loved ones, our body, our houses, our books, our degrees, our credit cards......What would continue is the energy that we have generated.

Dear Father, thank you for teaching me how to live, how to die, and how to ride peacefully and joyfully over the waves of Life and Death.

To all Fathers and Mothers,

Your beloved children are now offering 3 bows to you from our heart.

"Food for Practice"

We often hear the phrase “food for thought” referring to phrases or quotes from inspirational figures that make us reflect about our lives and the issues that touch a deeper part of our being. Thầy always encourages us not to connect with Buddhism in an intellectual way, not to view it just as an interesting philosophy of life, or to think of the Buddha as an all-powerful Being who can make your prayers and wishes come true. Instead, he patiently and lovingly reminds us  to apply the Buddha’s teachings in our daily life. To use the teachings as tools to help us understand ourselves and others, and learn to reconcile, enhance and nurture our relationships with our loved ones and our community. This is how the Buddha would have intended his teachings.

So if you’re feeling hungry for something to fill that sense of emptiness inside, or you're having a "down-and-out" moment lacking in joy, peace and happiness.  Instead of immediately going to the fridge, the convenient store or a fast food outlet, or even to a cinema or bar you can visit this space and take in this offering of nutriment for your spirit. We hope to offer you some ‘food for practice’ on a regular basis. You can connect to this space on a needs basis, or make it a regular dose of spiritual 'vitamins' for good health and well being. Take the offering in, and hold it in your being like a koan. Contemplate it in your consciousness, and find creative ways to apply it in your daily life. Then, be totally open to whatever outcomes that may arise. You may even want to keep a log book to monitor and reflect on the practices that you experimented with, how it turned out and what you have observed.

After trying it out for a week or so you may want to email us, or come to a Day of Mindfulness on Sunday and share with everyone your experience, any challenges or questions that came up. Mainly, it’s about your opportunity to try out the Buddha’s teachings, enjoy the process of learning about yourself (and others for that matter!), and enjoy the flower and fruits that come of it.
May the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and cosmos support you on your path of discovery.



A lotus for you, a Buddha to be.


13 July, 2011

The Jewel in the Rock – meditation on unfavourable conditions

By Sam Ng

Recently, I have been reading a book written by Thầy where he explains about unfavourable conditions. He wrote that even bad conditions can sometimes bring a good outcome. Just like when the weather is bad, the thief cannot do bad things. It made me think, what is my current unfavourable condition?

A few months ago due to work pressures I quit my nursing job, and moved back to live with my mom. I began to enjoy the few months of being job-free. However, recently when I wanted to get a new job, I found that the market didn’t have my favourable post.  I started to think... “Can this unfavourable situation bring me a good outcome?” Suddenly, I found my mom sitting opposite me while we were having lunch together one day. I stared at her for few seconds. She is now 65-year-old and retired. Everyday, because I am so focused on my personal matters that I am not really aware of her presence.

Since we were having a meal together at the time, I picked up some vegetables and put it into her bowl (to express my gratitude). I started to ask her the price of the vegetables, how this or that dish is cooked, what news she had heard about our neighbours...

I found that she is an expert in the market place. She knows which cucumbers are good in quality and cheap in this season. She knows the daily news better than me. Although she accumulates a lot of negative energy, she is simple-minded and talkative. I find that she tries her best to take care of me. (eventhough what she does is old style and not up to my expectation...haha!)

I believe, even decades later, when I remember this period of time, I will still feel happy and lucky to have shared closely with her during these few months. This is the good outcome of my unfavourable conditions. It seems that sometimes we can find happiness in affliction. Thank you Thầy for your teachings. Dear Sangha, thank you for your presence and deep listening.

SamwithMumSam with his Mum

Food for practice: What are your unfavourable conditions at the moment? Can you see the jem hidden in it?


June, 2011

The practice of "Being lazy"

On our 'lazy days' or 'lazy nights' after a Day of Mindfulness, brothers and sisters take time to 'dine out' at the finest restaurant on Lantau Island, "Freedom Rocks". It is inexpensive, so nourishing for body and mind as we appreciate the Earth's generous beauty, and our togetherness in brotherhood and sisterhood.


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This week why not try the practice of 'being lazy'. Take time out to be lazy, have no plans and projects (or at least put them aside for some time) to really enjoy the presence of your loved ones. Maybe do something pleasant that you haven't done for ages, or do something new and nourishing that you have been wanting to try but haven't found the time yet. Allow yourself to savor the conditions of happiness that you already have in your life so far.