There have been people who have asked us: “Who are you to change the monastic codes made by the Buddha?” Our answer is always: “We are the children of the Buddha. We are his continuation, and we are practicing to carry out his wishes." […] For Buddhism to remain a living tradition, the teaching and practice should remain relevant. […] We are certain that the Buddha counts on the insight, intelligence, and courage of his descendants to continue making the path of liberation accessible and open to our current generation. Therefore, revising the teaching and the practice is truly necessary.
-- "Freedom Wherever We Go: A Buddhist Monastic Code for the Twenty-first Century", by Thich Nhat Hanh
I never expected that I would feel so disoriented and uncomfortable in a Buddhist monastery -- much more so than during a previous week in Taize, a Christian monastic community. After all, I have spent months in meditation centers and Buddhist monasteries, and have been feeling increasingly at home.
But that's exactly how I felt when I first arrived at Plum Village, a monastery founded by Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh (called "Thay" by his students) in southern France, and the largest monastery in Europe. I stayed for one week there during the Summer Opening Retreat -- the "largest and most festive retreat" of the year. My discomfort lasted -- and evolved -- throughout the week :)
Seeking reconciliation and peace involves a struggle within oneself. It does not mean taking the line of least resistance. Nothing lasting is created when things are too easy.
-- Brother Roger’s unfinished letter
It was Sunday again in Taize. That time of the week when some people come, and some people go. Actually, it is thousands who come to spend a whole week in this small "village" in rural France. During peak summer months, up to six thousands people -- mostly youth -- come from all over the world to Taize each week. That’s over 100,000 pilgrims every year. They've been coming for over half a century -- and are still growing.
People -- from the Pope to politicians wishing to capture young hearts -- have been wondering for decades why the youths keep coming to Taize. Nobody really knows. In fact, materially, Taize has little to recommend itself. The food is famously bland. The church looks like a self-storage warehouse. The housing has the feel of a temporary summer camp. There's nothing noteworthy to "see" for tourists, or to "do" for entertainment.
Yet, the youths keep coming.
A pilgrimage around the globe by bicycle, in service of the ecological and spiritual awakening of our time.