News & Updates
May Dharma Talk
Sunday May 26 from 6:30PM - 8:30PM
Buddhist Vihara, 5016 16th Street NW, Washington DC.
We are delighted to announce that Brother Phap Vu of Blue Cliff Monastery will return to give a dharma talk on the evening of Sunday May 26 at the Vihara, part of our usual Sunday evening sangha meeting. Brother Chan Phap Vu - True Dharma Rain - is an American monk who began practicing the Dharma through the Chinese Chan tradition in the mid-90s, and was ordained at Plum Village in 2003.
Thay’s final mindfulness lesson: how to die peacefully
In 2014, Thay had a stroke at Plum Village. He was unable to speak after the stroke, but continued to lead the community, using his left arm and facial expressions to communicate. In October 2018, now 92, Thay informed his disciples that he would like to return home to Vietnam to pass his final days at the Tu Hieu root temple in Hue, where he became a monk at age 16. Thay had been exiled from Vietnam for his antiwar activism from 1966 until he was finally invited back in 2005. But his return to his homeland is less about political reconciliation than something much deeper. And it contains lessons for all of us about how to die peacefully and how to let go of the people we love. Brother Phap Dung explains it this way:
“He’s definitely coming back to his roots. He has come back to the place where he grew up as a monk. The message is to remember we don’t come from nowhere. We have roots. We have ancestors. We are part of a lineage or stream. It’s a beautiful message, to see ourselves as a stream, as a lineage, and it is the deepest teaching in Buddhism: non-self. We are empty of a separate self, and yet at the same time, we are full of our ancestors.
“He has emphasized this Vietnamese tradition of ancestral worship as a practice in our community. Worship here means to remember. For him to return to Vietnam is to point out that we are a stream that runs way back to the time of the Buddha in India, beyond even Vietnam and China.
“The first thing Thay did when he got there was to go to the stupa [shrine], light a candle, and touch the earth. Paying respect like that — it’s like plugging in. You can get so much energy when you can remember your teacher. He’s not sitting around waiting. He is doing his best to enjoy the rest of his life. He is eating regularly. He even can now drink tea and invite his students to enjoy a cup with him. And his actions are very deliberate.
“This transition period is his last and deepest teaching to our community. He is showing us how to make the transition gracefully, even after the stroke and being limited physically. He still enjoys his day every chance he gets.
Letting go is a practice not only when you reach 90. It’s one of the highest practices. This can move you toward equanimity, a state of freedom, a form of peace.”