This is your first article of the month! You can read 5 articles each month. Subscribe now to read as much as you want.

To Live Awake

Sangha Building in Colombia

By Nicolás Bermúdez and Maria Victoria Rivera

Monastics teach tangerine meditation, Colombia, 2015. Photo by Andres Uribe

We began reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s books some twenty-five years ago, while travelling along rainforest rivers and working with indigenous communities. Later we stumbled upon Dharma talk transcripts and fell in love with the living wisdom that enlightens everyday life.

In 2014, a group of monastics came on tour to Colombia for the first time, and in 2015, a new group came for a second tour. We organized retreats, public talks, and workshops in order to share teachings on mindfulness. During the 2015 tour, the monastics’ energy was a source of happiness and inspiration for more than 1,400 people who wanted to deeply practice the teachings of the Buddha and Thay.

The monastics watered in us the seeds of practice and the sense of how important the collective practice is. This has been a key element in our inspiration for Sangha building. We feel and understand, on a deep level, the huge potential of taking refuge in a Sangha. The monastics’ visit helped us get to know people who are going through a similar search and path, and this has been crucial for us to make a dream come true: to have a group to practice with and to make the practice easier, more frequent, and part of daily life. The monastics’ loving presence helped us see this is not only important but also feasible!

Now we feel there are others with whom to practice, and we feel stimulated to practice together. It is great to feel accompanied and supported, and great to be so close at heart with other Sanghas in the world, to be part of the global Plum Village community.

Through the monastics’ tour and the collective practice they stimulated, we have learned a great deal about deep and vital is­sues that make our lives more vibrant and joyful and happy. One of those things is compassion: we have understood the meaning and importance of compassion, and this has moved us to seek it out and to cultivate it for ourselves as well as other people, close and distant, and every other living being. Today we feel more compassionate in our relationship with Mother Earth.

The monastics’ tour and the consequent process of Sangha building in Colombia have shown us how important this collective practice is for young people. Our Sangha is a very rich and diverse intergenerational group, where our three daughters (ages twenty-one, nineteen, and fifteen) have been nourishing their spiritual lives. It has been beautiful to see how many young men and women are embracing a deep aspiration of spiritual growth and personal transformation; it has been beautiful to honour their process and to be part of it.

As a nuclear family of five, we are grateful to have the Sangha as a refuge. Our daughters have given testimony that the Sangha has made our family change in meaningful ways. It has helped us live with more harmony and less quarreling, stress, and aggressive­ness. The practice inspired in our family through the monastics’ visit and the local Sangha has helped us purify our love and find a sacred space for forgiveness and beginning anew.

We would like to thank dear Thay Thich Nhat Hanh, the Plum Village community, and our beloved monastics who visited Colombia. Support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation was also crucial to help us organize the tours as a local Sangha. The monastics’ visits were like a wonderful gift of refreshing rain that helped our seeds of mindfulness germinate and manifest. The precious seeds we often forget or leave asleep are thus awakened, watered, appreciated, and fertilized.

Nicolás Bermúdez, Joyful Mountain of the Heart, and Maria Victoria Rivera, Joyful Life of the Heart, are members of The Open Dharma Door Sangha in Bogotá, Colombia.

Log In

You can also login with your password. Don't have an account yet? Sign Up

Hide Transcript

What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

00:00 / 00:00
Show Hide Transcript Close
Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!