The Great Heron Sangha is an online community practising mindfulness and Engaged Buddhism in Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s Plum Village tradition. We are a diverse and inclusive community that welcomes everyone.
What is the Plum Village Tradition?
Plum Village in France is the first monastic practice centre founded by Thich Nhat Hanh in the West. Known as ‘Thày’, meaning teacher, he developed his iconic light and gentle style of mindfulness practice that is now familiar worldwide.
Plum Village Mindfulness has four key features:
Mindfulness as a way of life
While mindfulness is widely considered a method of stress relief, Thich Nhat Hanh long taught that mindfulness is not a tool but a way of life. The Plum Village tradition uses the Five Mindfulness Trainings, a concrete expression of Buddhist teachings, to bring an ethical and spiritual dimension to decision making. Mindfulness is also applied to all aspects of life, including sitting, walking, eating, speaking, listening, emailing, and working.
At the heart of our tradition is our community approach. We see that applying mindfulness to our daily life is not always easy. With the support of a spiritual community (or “Sangha”), the challenge can be lightened and it becomes possible both to transform our suffering and cultivate joy and happiness. We can build community in workplaces, schools, and health care environments, and together bring positive change to society.
In Chinese, there is no explicit term for "Engaged Buddhism", but there is the expression ‘ru shi fo jiao’, which means "Buddhism in the world or society." This is the same as Engaged Buddhism and it aims to make Buddhism more relevant and responsive to people's everyday lives. Today, many thousands of people worldwide follow in Thày's footsteps by practising Engaged Buddhism.
Thày established a monastic order that is dynamic, youthful, and engaged. It is also the largest Buddhist monastic community in the West. In Plum Village practice centres worldwide, the monks and nuns create a peaceful, joyful, and healing environment where visitors can take refuge and immerse themselves in mindfulness practice. The monastics’ commitment to a life of simplicity, harmony, and spiritual training ensures that Thich Nhat Hanh’s living teachings will be carried far into the future.