This is long but so worth reading!
This is quite incredible! A friend sent me this letter. A must read. Thich Naht
Hanh at the World Bank!
Written by Mitchell Ratner is a meditation teacher in the DC, MD area.
Plum Village at the World Bank, September 10, 2013
Dear Still Water Friends,
Earlier this week I had the good fortune to participate in two remarkable events
at the World Bank. On Monday, there was a panel presentation that included The
Venerable Thich Nhat Hanh; Professor Richie Davidson, widely known for his research
on mindfulness and neuroplasticity; and Dr. Jim Kim, the President of the World
Bank, who previously served as the Director of the International Health Organization,
and as the President of Dartmouth College.
On Tuesday, Thich Nhat Hanh and thirty-seven Plum Village monastics led a Day of
Mindfulness in the atrium of the World Bank led by . The approximately six hundred
participants at each of the events were almost all employees of the World Bank and
and the International Finance Corporation.
Both events grew out of Dr. Kim’s remark shortly after President Obama nominated
him to the World Bank position in 2012. When he was asked to name his favorite
book, he replied, The Miracle of Mindfulness by Thich Nhat Hanh. The answer led
to an on line correspondence with a Plum Village monastic, and, in time, to an invitation
for Thich Nhat Hanh and the monastics to come to the World Bank.
Judging from the comments made during Question and Answer sessions, the participants
were delighted to have the events at the World Bank. One participant offered her
gratitude to Thich Nhat Hanh and the monastics for bringing a quality of presence
to the bank that she was more accustomed to experiencing at her church. Many participants
asked questions about how they could apply the mindfulness practices they had learned
to their daily lives. Some wondered how a commitment to meditation and mindfulness
might affect their professional lives and the organizational culture of the world
I especially appreciated Dr. Kim’s response to a question about whether meditation
encourages or requires a distancing from the problems of the world. Dr. Kim began
by talking about a panel he had been on with the Buddhist monk and writer Matthieu
One of the most eminent scientists in the United States asked this question: « It
makes me so uncomfortable because you are telling me to become detached when in
fact there are real problems in the world. Are you asking us to go off in some
kind of mindful bliss and let the world just go to hell?
Matthieu Ricard said: « You know I am not asking you to ask the problems of the world
to go away. . . . We are not asking you to disengage. But would it help you to deal
with those problems if you felt happy and if you were able to focus your mind? .
. . We would argue that your ability to engage those issues is going to be much,
much, greater. »
When he was first reading Thich Nhat Hanh’s books, Dr. Kim noted that what excited
and inspired by what was then called Engaged Buddhism:
No one was more involved in the realities of what was happening in Vietnam in the
1960s than Thay’s group [The School for Youth and Social Services]. It had nothing
to do with not being engaged in the most important problems. But it was his approach
to these problems.