Plum Village Tradition

The Plum Village Tradition is a school of Buddhism named after the Plum Village Monastery in France, the first monastic practice center founded by Thích Nhất Hạnh. It is an approach to Engaged Buddhism mainly from a Mahayana perspective, that draws elements from Zen and Theravada. Its governing body is the Plum Village Community of Engaged Buddhism.

It is characterized by the application of mindfulness to everyday activities (sitting, walking, eating, speaking, listening, working, etc.). These practices are integrated with lifestyle guidelines called the "five mindfulness trainings", which bring an ethical and spiritual dimension to decision-making and are an integral part of community life.

The sangha is built around a common set of practices to be performed with mindfulness applied to sensory experiences (like listening to the sound of a bell) or activities, such as walking or eating in community. There are also formal ceremonial practices normally performed by the monastics (prostrations, recitations, chanting). Community practices are aimed at facilitating the release from suffering, increasing joy, and experiencing fully the present moment.

The mindfulness practices of the Plum Village Tradition are described on the Plum Village website[1] and the book Happiness by Thich Nhat Hahn.[2] To help cultivate these practices Plum Village encourages the use of Mindfulness apps, including its own devices. These practices include:

The Five Mindfulness Trainings are Thich Nhat Hanh's formulation of the traditional Buddhist Five Precepts, ethical guidelines developed during the time of the Buddha to be the foundation of practice for the entire lay Buddhist community.

In southern schools of Buddhism these precepts are typically expressed as undertakings to refrain from harm - not to kill, not to steal, not to lie, not to manifest inappropriate sexual behaviour and not to consume intoxicants. Nhat Hanh's innovation was to express these precepts with an emphasis on the cultivation of virtues on the one hand and as a practice of mindfulness on the other. Each "Mindfulness Training" has the form "Aware of the suffering caused by ----, I am committed to cultivating ----". Each training is thus an undertaking by the practitioner both to cultivate non-harming, generosity, responsible sexual behaviour, loving speech, and mindful consumption and to be mindful of the suffering caused to self and others when these virtues are absent.

As of 2017, the Plum Village movement comprises 589 monastics in 9 monasteries and 1271 communities of practice worldwide.[4] An important component of this tradition is the Order of Interbeing, which is a social network of monastics and lay people who have undertaken the .[5] There is also a community inspired by this tradition, aimed at young people between the ages of 18 and 35, called Wake Up.[6] Other initiatives include Wake Up Schools[7] and the Earth Holder Sangha.[8]

As of November 2018, there are 9 monasteries in the Plum Village Tradition.

The 40 Tenets of Plum Village are an attempt by Thich Nhat Hanh to identify and define the teachings that are maintained, taught and transmitted in the Plum Village Tradition. They focus on the key relationship of this tradition to the various Buddhist schools and their teachings. [9] These tenets serve as the foundation for the Plum Village teachings for the Mindfulness Trainings undertaken by lay and monastic practitioners.

Another distinctive feature of the Plum Village Tradition is the community structure offered by the Order of Interbeing, whose aim is to apply the Boddhisatva ideal in daily life. Both monastic and lay practitioners who undertake the 14 Mindfulness trainings - an extension and modernization of Bodhisattva Precepts by Thich Nhat Hanh - can be members of the Order. In addition both monastic and lay practitioners can receive the Dharma transmission to become Dharma Teachers in this tradition.