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Buddhadharma : Winter 2009
23 winter 2 00 9 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly thich nhat hanh denounces attack on Vietnamese monastery a mob armed with sticks and hammers attacked bat nha monastery in Vietnam’s central highlands in late september, driving out nearly 400 followers of thich nhat hanh and vandalizing the monastery. as word of the crackdown spread, the situation quickly escalated into a crisis that drew protests from around the world, focusing attention on human rights abuses and the lack of religious freedom in the communist country. authorities accused the young nuns and monks of illegally occupying bat nha and trying to sabotage the government. thich nhat hanh wrote a letter of protest to Vietnamese president nguyen minh triet that criticized the police role in the eviction, which followed months of mounting harassment and threats against the bat nha monastics, some only in their teens. he called upon everyone to write letters protesting the crackdown. “the Vietnamese government and the religious committee have won,” brother trung hai, a bat nha teacher, said on the website of plum Village, thich nhat hanh’s mon- astery in france. “their victory is that bat nha is destroyed. everything is smashed. all the monks and nuns have been evicted and the buildings have been stripped bare.” the nuns and monks were given refuge in the small temple of phuoc hue in the nearby town of bao loc, but police surrounded the temple and sealed it off, disrupting attempts to get food and other necessities to those inside. authorities were reportedly conducting searches and interrogations, and mobilizing police from other regions to frighten the nuns and monks into leaving for fear of harm to their families. “collective awareness will help not only our monastic brothers and sisters in bat nha, but also help improve many other conditions in Vietnam,” sister dang nghiem, a student of thich nhat hanh who is working with the help bat nha monastery initiative, told Buddhadharma. bat nha was founded during thich nhat hanh’s return visit to Vietnam in 2005 after thirty-nine years of exile. from 2005 to 2008, more than $1 million was donated by his supporters to develop the monastery. meanwhile, thich nhat hanh has been on his biannual teaching tour of the united states. he held a retreat in massachusetts with 900 members of his east coast sangha, but subsequently had to cancel his participation in a retreat in colorado when he was hospitalized for two weeks with a lung infection. he sent a handwritten letter to about 1,000 sangha members gathered at estes park explaining the situation. with his health restored to the point where he could resume his tour schedule, he held a retreat at deer park monastery in escondido, california, in late september, followed in early october by a retreat at blue cliff monastery in pine brush, new york, and a public talk and day of mindfulness at the beacon theater in new york city. Bringing mindfulness practice to troubled youth the khyentse foundation recently awarded a special grant to the mind body awareness project (mba) recog- nizing this unique program as a possible “new national model for the rehabilitation of incarcerated youth.” the foundation, started by dzongsar khyentse rinpoche, awards grants to initiatives it believes will have a long- term dharmic impact on society. mba, founded in 2000, is based partly on co-founder noah levine’s experience in santa cruz Juvenile hall, which he chronicled in his book Dharma Punx. mba’s training program combines mindfulness medi- tation, emotional intelligence exercises, and movement disciplines such as yoga and tai chi, to teach incarcer- ated and at-risk youth methods to counteract destructive patterns of addiction, violence, and crime. based in inner-city oakland, california, the program serves 1,500 young people in nearby prisons, juvenile halls, detention camps, group homes, schools, and teen centers. the ten-module program begins with learning to appreciate one’s true nature as good, and proceeds through a variety of skills that focus on transforming how participants work with their own mind states and interact with others. mba also trains staff in other youth-assistance organizations and emphasizes attention to youths during the critical period following their return to the community from prisons and detention facilities. the mba’s advisory board includes mindfulness- based stress reduction founder Jon kabat-Zinn, emo- tional intelligence specialist and author daniel goleman, and george mumford, who trained the los angeles lakers in mindfulness meditation and helped develop the mba curriculum. news Culture news Culture news Culture