Brother Pháp Dung is the Abbot of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Deer Park Monastery in California. He grew up in Los Angeles, trained as an architect, and is now a senior disciple of Thich Nhat Hanh, loved by young and old for his dynamic creativity and urban cool. He is one of the senior monks spearheading the Zen Master’s project of training teachers to bring mindfulness into education, business, politics and healthcare, and is a consultant producer on the upcoming feature documentary about Thich Nhat Hanh and his sangha, Walk With Me.
This is an excerpt from an LA Times interview: [Pháp Dung is] a Vietnamese refugee who came of age as a San Fernando “Valley Boy” break dancing and skateboarding. He says he struggled in school, fending off racial taunts, before eventually graduating from USC and working as an architect in Santa Monica. But after a few years, he says, he began to feel that his profession was “all about money and ego,” with scarce opportunities to design socially meaningful projects. He visited Deer Park several times for retreats, was captivated by the gentleness he found there and decided to become a monk. ”I’d found a way of living that was much more meaningful,” said the abbot, who frequently works with troubled youth. “The way it helps people is much more direct.”
Sister Đẳng Nghiêm came to the United States as a teenager. She received her M.D. at UCSF School of Medicine before she became a nun in 2000. She is the author of the book Healing: A Woman’s Journey from Doctor to Nun. Sister Đẳng Nghiêm is sought out by teenagers and young adults looking for guidance on how to heal from experiences of abuse and how to find strength in the face of many of the pressures society puts on young women. She currently lives at Blue Cliff Monastery, New York. She looks forward to meeting all of you on this Viet Wake Up Tour.
Br Pháp Nguyện immigrated to the U.S. with his family at the age of 13 and settled in Seattle, WA. He graduated from the University of Washington with two degrees: International Business and Finance. He worked in the financial field for a number of years before moving to Plum Village in France to become a monk in 2008. During the last few years, he has been traveling with Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village delegation around the world to teach about the art of mindful living. His knowledge and experience in the world of business has helped him find ways to bring the practice of mindfulness to those in the corporate world. As he advances in the practice, he discovers a totally new level of life and that there is so much to learn, to appreciate, and to enjoy in this world. He is happy to meet, to share, and to explore together with the young people about life through the practice of mindfulness. He also enjoys drinking tea, lying on a hammock, playing tennis and sharing the art of mindful living with people from all walks of life.
Sister Bội Nghiêm ordained as a nun in Plum Village in August 2005 and is now a residential nun at Magnolia Grove Monastery in Mississippi. She immigrated to the USA with her family at the age of eleven. She first encountered the practices of mindfulness in the Plum Village tradition in the summer of 2001 while visiting her sister, who is a nun, in Maple Forest Monastery, Vermont. After that experience, she felt something was happening inside of her; she couldn’t explain it to anyone, even to herself. For the first time in her life, she became aware of her breathing. However, not long after leaving the monastery, the forgetfulness of being aware of her breathing and enjoying the present moment returned to her. A strong desire of wanting to find a spiritual path came to her in 2004. She decided to visit Deer Park Monastery, California in August of 2004 during a school break. Witnessing the simplicity and the happiness the monks and nuns have, she knew this is the path she wanted to undertake for the rest of her life. Due to financial difficulty, she was only able to buy a one-way ticket to Plum Village in October 2004. While in Plum Village, she knew “This is it.” For her, a place where there is no drinking and no smoking, that is heaven. Therefore, a return ticket back home was never bought. She is now happily practicing with the community, smiling to her monkey mind, and continuing to learn the art of mindful living with her spiritual Brothers and Sisters. Her favorite hobbies include reading motivational books, listening to inspirational music, holding her mother's hands, drinking tea with her Brothers and Sisters and following her breathing (when she remembers :)). It is her deep wish and joy to see the young people practicing mindfulness, experiencing bliss in life in this present moment. An occasion like this is precious to her because this is an opportunity for her to learn, to live, to play, to offer and to smile with the young people.
Br Pháp Khải immigrated to the U.S. from Vietnam as a refugee with his family at the age of 15 and settled in Northern Virginia. He graduated from George Mason University with a degree in MIS. He worked in the IT field for a number of years before moving to Plum Village in France to become a monk in 2009. His encounter with the book “Old Path White Cloud” has inspired him to embark on his spiritual journey. To him life is so rich of wonders to discover much more than just playing with those lines of codes and algorithm in the cubical. On lazy day he enjoys playing sport with his young brothers and make friends with the guitar when he has a chance.
Sister Lân Nghiêm was born in Vietnam. She came to the U.S. to study dental hygiene. She became a nun in 2009 and currently resides at Blue Cliff Monastery in New York. She likes to play with children and share the mindfulness practice with young people. She is joyful, creative, loving to laugh and to work with young people. She has a brown-belt in Karate.
Sister Bạch Nghiêm grew up in Los Angeles. She is accountable and responsible, taking on tasks willingly and with a fresh smile. She is joyful, ready for adventures with her brothers and sisters and young people at anytime. She is a teenager at heart, and she loves to work with young people. She was excited about this tour since the very beginning.
Sister Bách Nghiêm was born in Vietnam and grew up in Florida. She is dearly cherised by our brothers and sisters in the community. She is kind, generous and profound. She is youthful and playful, using words creatively. She is also a great chef, and she often cooks for our Teacher. Two of her biological brothers are also elder monastics in our Plum Village tradition. She is often shy in front of a crowd, but because she loves to support young people, she has agreed to come on this tour with all of us. Her presence is a great gift to us all!