Plum Village, the renowned Buddhist training center near Bordeaux in France, has become a site of eager pilgrimage by Buddhists from diverse cultures and religious backgrounds. They come to participate in the community founded by
Vietnamese Zen monk Thich Nhat Hanh, the celebrated master who has taught at
Columbia and Princeton and lectured to rapt audiences the world over. These
chants and prayers are both helpful in their specificity and fascinating in
their revelations about daily life at Plum Village. Included are prayers for
annual rituals (such as celebrating the Buddha's birthday) alongside daily reflections on "hugging meditation" or the Three Jewels.
Most of the prayers are derived from classical Buddhism and are often didactic in their explicit repetitions of core Buddhist teachings about compassion (some
are meant to be recited by young Buddhists).
Despite the prayers' classical formulations, this book also reflects Thich Nhat Hanh's contemporary emphasis on
ecumenism. "I see Buddha or Christ or the patriarchs and matriarchs as my
teachers, and also as my spiritual ancestors," reads one prayer of gratitude. Such a commitment to finding interfaith common ground may be
unusual in Buddhist chant, but it is not so odd for Thich Nhat Hanh, who has
authored numerous bridge-building treatises on Christian-Buddhist dialogue,
including "Living Buddha Living Christ" and "The Raft Is Not the Shore."
This practical, easy-to-use prayer book will
assist both new and experienced Buddhists in claiming nirvana.