Thich Nhat Hanh: “Walk With Me”

The documentary Walk With Me is now screening in London until Jan 29th; other UK locales as well. Full listings in link above.

Synopsis from the official film site, as well as the visual of Thay above:


“Slow down and breathe. This contemplative journey follows in the steps of Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh and is a rare insight into life within a monastic community. The sun rises. Everything is calm and still. Life is beautifully serene as Benedict Cumberbatch’s composed, meditative voice reads an extract from Thich Nhat Hanh’s early journals. So begins Max Pugh and Marc J Francis’ (Black Gold, LFF2006) fascinating and immersive exploration of what it means to devote one’s life to mindfulness. With unprecedented access to the famous secluded monastery of Plum Village in the South West of France, Walk With Me captures the daily routine and rituals of monks and nuns on a quest to develop a deep sense of presence. It is an insightful rumination on the pursuit of happiness, living in the present and our attachment to material things – a welcome remedy to the stresses of city life and a world in turmoil.”

Laure Bonville, London Film Festival

A quick scroll through the comments left on the“>original Facebook post highlighting the film has raised some food for thought for me.

This serves as a gentle poke to myself that my brief one-day visit to one of Plum Village’s three hamlets in Burgundy open to laypeople (I was at Upper Hamlet in Thenac; last year remains on my list of posts I have wanted to write but never got around to due to lack of time/opportunity/energy.

One of the reasons that post has languished in me unwritten is perhaps because there was something mismatching between my hopes/expectations before my visit, and the actual day that transpired, and I haven’t figured out why yet. I simply haven’t had the chance or inner space since the visit to contemplate on this mismatch to clarify what did not ring exactly true for me.

I share this personal backdrop briefly here because I feel responsible for the things I post/share/write on. The variety of comments left on the original page has made me wonder again about my experience last year. Especially as I have heard briefly from the personal experiences of two friends since then (both American), who visited two different branches of Plum Village with their young families and enjoyed their time there a lot.

So – intriguing.

Fwiw – my position is that I would visit Plum Village again, ideally for longer next time.

I would also educate myself better on Thay and his work. I know next to nothing still. And perhaps that was the most disappointing thing about reading the comments for me… those in particular which expressed similar threads of disappointment that they had wanted to learn more about him and his work through the film (which is certainly my personal motivation) but were left wanting.

I would also personally pick a month with better weather. It was pouring with cold rain for most of the day that I was there. Given the midsection is a meditative walk through the forest, and the (basically-equipped) buildings can be a little distance away from each other/some were exposed to the elements (trying to warm up with a mug of tea in a little open pavilion while the wind is driving the rain in here there and everywhere is a bit difficult)… I was woefully unprepared for the unseasonal temperatures and precipitation, and if I do it again in another spring or autumn I will make sure to be better-equipped with sturdy outdoor clothing etc.

And yes, I want to watch this anyway.
Very much.
(Otherwise I wouldn’t have bothered posting it here.)
I found the 90-min telecast lecture of Thay, watched in silence and solidarity in the lecture hall by the hundred-plus of us who were there that day – a mixture of longer residents and day visitors like me – deeply moving, beautiful, wise, and useful.
Could I have gotten the same experience watching that lecture by myself?
It’s different.

There. I just wanted you to have that context. I have had the incredible privilege of hearing a small number of the world’s most extraordinary Buddhist practitioners, scholars and teachers talk live now, since Ciara and I went to our first Mind and Life in 2010 and heard His Holiness the Dalai Lama speak together with the likes of Matthieu Ricard (speaking live in London end of this month btw! I’m going to the 29th Jan but am so interested in the 30th Jan discussion topic in particular I am actually wondering whether I should go to both. Links here:

Mon 29 Jan 6.30pm at Action for Happiness in Euston:…/beyond-the-self-with-matthi…

Tue 30 Jan 6.45pm at UCL:…).

And what I can tell you – which those of you who read enough of me will understand why this gets so to me –

I have never heard anyone speak about beauty like Thay.

Not just that. He speaks and writes, about the beauty of life and living, with a beauty in itself that I found myself responding to with absolute heart-opening involuntariness.

Enough from me here; got to get back to my day. Hope this unmeditated scribble gives you something useful to consider, and would love to hear your thoughts on any of these topics or your experiences of the film itself.

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