A Week of Dialogue and Discovery

Br. John Wong, Custos of Singapore-Malaysia-Brunei and a member of the OFM Commission for Dialogue, spent a week in February with the Order of Interbeing, a Buddhist monastic family founded in 1966 by the renowned Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.

From 9-11 February, Br. John visited Sangha Salento (Lecce, Italy) for “Three Days Together,” a program he co-led with the Italian monk Br. Phap Banh. The weekend united Buddhist mindfulness exercises with Gospel passages for meditation on Christ’s invitation in Matthew 11:29-30:  Rest in me. The publicity artwork, which depicted Christ inviting a disciple to find rest in him, was an original piece by Br. Phap Banh.

On the significance of the weekend, Br. Phap Banh told Br. John, “There is something very nice in an Italian Buddhist Monk and a Christian Malaysian Monk meeting together to offer peace. Many Italian people, hurt by Catholicism, are looking for something true, something alive in other religions. The teaching of [Thich Nhat Hanh], so simple and so deep, is bringing me to my true home: to Jesus alive in us. This is the best gift we can offer to ourselves and to the others.”

From 12-17 February, Br. John visited Plum Village, the monastic home of the Order of Interbeing in New Aquitaine, France. Br. John joined the monks and nuns of Plum Village in their mindfulness exercises, fraternal life, and preparations and celebrations of the Lunar New Year.

Br. John is working presently with the Order of Interbeing to develop a workshop for Franciscans working in Buddhist-majority countries and/or desiring dialogue with Buddhists. Please see “ofm.org” for future announcements.

It was in this of spirit of encounter and discovery that Br. John left Plumb Village and joined the Commission for Dialogue for its meeting in Mostar.