After being refused the right to return to Vietnam, Thích Nhất Hạnh formed a small mindfulness community 100 miles southeast of Paris at the village of Fontvannes called the Sweet Potato, the food that poor Vietnamese eat. Following Thích Nhất Hạnh's expulsion from Singapore following illegal attempts to rescue Vietnamese boat people, he settled in France and began to lead mindfulness retreats. In 1981, Sweet Potato community held its first summer retreat, which attracted more people than it could accommodate. Thích Nhất Hạnh then traveled south with his colleague Chân Không to find a larger site. They found a piece of land in Thenac, Dordogne which seemed ideal. The landowner, Mr. Dezon, didn't want to sell, so they continued looking. A few days later, on September 28, 1982, Thích Nhất Hạnh purchased a tract of land about 6 kilometers away, which is now known as the Lower Hamlet (Xóm Hạ). Later that year, a hailstorm destroyed the vineyards on Mr. Dezon's property and he was forced to put his land on the market. Nhất Hạnh bought the land and called it Upper Hamlet (Xóm Thượng). Initially, these two hamlets were named Persimmon Village (Làng Hồng), but it soon became clear that plum trees fared much better on the rocky soil, so it became Plum Village (Làng Mai).
Every year the community hosts a four-week summer retreat, which has grown increasingly popular in recent years. Attendance has grown from 232 people in 1983 to over 2000 people in 2004.
The following is the schedule for an average day at Plum Village (Làng Mai):
- 5:00am: Rise
- 6:00am: Sitting and walking meditation
- 7:30am: Breakfast
- 9:00am: Dharma Talk / Class / Presentation / Mindful work period
- 11:30am: Walking meditation
- 12:30pm: Lunch
- 1:30pm: Rest
- 3:00pm: Working meditation
- 5:30pm: Sitting meditation
- 6:30pm: Optional dinner
- 8:00pm: Personal study, Happiness Meeting, Beginning Anew
- 10:00pm: Noble silence begins
- 10:30pm: Lights out
Today, Plum Village (Làng Mai) is made up of four major residential hamlets. Upper Hamlet (Xóm Thượng) houses approximately 65 monks and laymen, as well as being Thích Nhất Hạnh's residence. Lower Hamlet (Xóm Hạ) houses over 40 nuns and laywomen. Son Ha Temple houses approximately 20 monks, and the New Hamlet (Xóm Mới), 20 minutes away by bus, houses approximately 40 nuns and laywomen.
- Robert Harlen King Thomas Merton and Thich Nhat Hanh: Engaged Spirituality in an Age of Globalization 2001
- Jean Baubérot, Franck Frégosi, Jean-Paul Willaime Le religieux dans la commune: régulations locales du pluralisme en France 2001 - p288 "On observe en effet, à Strasbourg, l'émergence d'un groupe encore informel qui se constitue autour de plusieurs personnes habituées à la fréquentation du « village des pruniers » de Thich Nhât Hanh dans le Périgord. Ce moine vietnamien ..." p289 "Bien que le maître réside en France, c'est paradoxalement aux Etats-Unis et au Canada que les centres sont les plus développés. Ce qui caractérise la voie préconisée par Thich Nhât Hanh, ce sont des méditations assises ainsi que la..."
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Plum Village.|
- Plum Village
- Lang Mai - Plum Village site in Vietnamese
- Plum Village site in French
- Community of Mindful Living Community based on the practice of Plum Village