Our Practice

Every Sunday evening, from 6:30 - 8:30pm, we come together to meditate, to deepen our understanding of the practice of mindfulness, to encourage and inspire each other through dharma sharing and mindful actions, to support one other through difficult times, and to celebrate the wonders and joy of life. We meet at the Buddhist Vihara, 5017 16th Street NW, Washington DC. Our practice enables us to calm our minds and hearts. We learn to stop, breathe, listen more deeply to ourselves and to each other, so that we can respond with compassion and love to all that arises within and around us. We are inspired by our teacher Thich Nhat Hanh; he is a Vietnamese Buddhist Zen Master, global spiritual leader, and peace activist. We call him Thay, or teacher in Vietnamese (pronounced like a necktie).

A key tenet of Thay’s Buddhist tradition is that each one of us is already a Buddha—our enlightenment is inherent within us, and the practice of mindfulness is the tool to bring this truth to our full awareness. Thay writes: “We have the capacity of being compassionate, of being understanding. We have the seeds of forgiveness and joy and peace and liberation within us. That’s is the Buddha inside.”



Already a Buddha

We think it’s important not to focus too much on how calm your mind gets while you’re meditating, or how many insights arise. What really matters is your intention to align your actions with your highest intentions. Even one moment of settling your mind and heart is a moment of cultivating goodness, which in turn opens your heart and mind towards still more goodness, love and wisdom. And at some point along the long path, our practice starts to become inseparable from our life. Our practice becomes our life and our life becomes our practice.



Engaged Buddhism

The Buddha taught a path of liberation. The term ‘Engaged Buddhism’ refers to Buddhists who are seeking to apply the insights from meditation practice and dharma teachings to social action, confronting situations of social, political and economic suffering and injustice. It is central to our practice. The term was coined by Thay in 1954, when he and his sangha made efforts during the Vietnam war to respond to the suffering they saw around them. This included adopting the non-violence activism of Mahatma Gandhi and the Reverend Martin Luther King.

Our friends at Blue Cliff Monastery have compiled an excellent working list of resources for people addressing racial justice and implicit bias on their path of practice. They are working to develop connection between Sangha members doing this work across the country.


Order of Interbeing

The Order of Interbeing, or OI, was formed by Thich Nhat Hanh in the mid-1960s, at a time when the Vietnam War was escalating and the teachings of the Buddha were desperately needed to combat the hatred, violence, and divisiveness enveloping his country. On the full moon day of February 1966, Thay ordained six members into the Order, three men and three women. Today, the OI is an international community of monastics and lay people who have committed to living their lives in accord with the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings - a distillation of the Bodhisattva teachings of Mahayana Buddhism. Several members of our sangha are OI members, and two have gone on to become nuns in the Plum Village monastery in France.


Donations

Participation in WMC is free; there is no charge. But if you can afford to contribute something, you will find donation boxes, or dana boxes. Dana is a gift from the heart, bringing joy and benefit to both the giver and the receiver. Anything you feel able to give goes to WMC activities, including donations to the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation, the Vihara for use of their space, scholarships for retreats for sangha members, maintenance of our library, and other expenses. If you prefer, you can make donations - one-off or monthly recurring donations - via Paypal.