Even before his passing in early 2022, Thich Nhat Hanh’s stroke in 2014 meant mindfulness practitioners around the world – especially those practicing in the Plum Village tradition – could no longer hear him give his much-loved Dharma talks.
For those of us who used to join in months-long retreats like the Rains Retreat or Winter Retreat when Thay (as Thich Nhat Hanh is dearly referred to) was still manifesting, we can recall ourselves entering the meditation hall sitting quietly and tuning in to the rich teachings he had to offer us in Vietnamese, English and French.
At one point at the beginning of the three-month winter retreat 1997-1999, Thay said, “In this retreat, we’re going to have at least two English Dharma talks during the Christmas holidays, and a Dharma talk in French. Meanwhile, all other Dharma talks will be in Vietnamese” (excerpted from this talk). This means many of Thay’s teachings in Vietnamese have never been available to the English-speaking world.
However, we’re pleased to inform you that these Vietnamese teachings can now be found on the Plum Village App. These include English subtitles carefully translated by the Thich Nhat Hanh’s Talks (TNHT) project, with the support of monastic and lay Dharma teachers a little bit everywhere around the world.
Carefully translated and edited based on the 16 pages of “Guidelines For Subtitling and Translating Thay’s Talks from Vietnamese into English” provided to the TNHT translator by the Plum Village Monastic Editorial team, the videos have also been consulted on with the monastic Dharma teachers in the US, France, and Vietnam – as well as lay Dharma teachers in the US and Canada – with details being crosschecked with relevant materials available in print and online authored by Thay and the wider Plum Village community.
The videos are also accompanied by suggestions for mindfulness songs, chants, relevant reading, videos, and websites to help deepen your daily mindfulness practice.
A few things about the TNHT project
A majority of Thay’s teachings translated by TNHT project comes from Làng Mai YouTube Channel by Plum Village. Occasionally, some excerpts come from TCT Phượng Trần – a YouTube channel run by a core member of the Vietnamese-speaking Sakura-Lotus Sangha in Tokyo, Japan.
Original Vietnamese transcripts of these talks are sometimes published on the Làng Mai website by the monastics, and the TNHT project uses this valuable material whenever possible.
Having been exiled in 1966 from Vietnam due to his opposition to the Vietnam War and refusal to take sides, Thay spent the majority of his teaching life in France. These Vietnamese talks record Thich Nhat Hanh’s teachings in the West from the early 1990s (after the Sweet Potatoes and Persimmon Village were established prior to the 1990s) until 2014 (when he experienced a stroke which restrained his ability to communicate) – together with talks given during three short visits in Vietnam between 2005 and 2008 (like this one), when he was finally permitted to return after 39 years of exile.
Note: These talks, like all talks, have a context. It’s helpful to remember this when listening so we have an open mind to the cultural, time-specific, and environmental settings of their recording. 🙏
How can I find the videos on the Plum Village App?
The easiest way is to search for the “English subtitles” or “EN subtitles” label on the app to see all these video talks in one place.
You can also manually locate these videos in the Ask a Zen Master category, Short Teachings category (for videos shorter than 30 minutes) and in the Thich Nhat Hanh Talks category (for videos longer than 30 minutes.)
How can I find these videos on the Plum Village App YouTube channel?
You can go to the Search bar on the App’s YouTube channel and search for “English subtitles” or “EN subtitles” label.
These videos are also available on the App’s YouTube channel in several playlists, including Short Teachings, Dharma Talks, or Ask a Zen Master.
🔔 Make sure you turn on the captions: You will need to turn on captions when watching these videos by looking for CC button or Captions dropdown menu. (So far these talks are only available in English, but we hope more languages will be added by subtitling volunteers to meet different language needs.)
Feeling inspired to translate these talks into your native language?
Many of these Vietnamese Dharma talks were given in front of multinational audiences and a number of others in front of Vietnamese-speaking audiences only, with the universality of these talks being all the same.
Although many talks were simultaneously interpreted and transcribed by monastic brothers and sisters to languages like English or French and were published as books, not all Dharma talks get translated. Given that Thay gave a huge number of talks over the course of his time, keeping and editing such many talks takes an enormous amount of time and dedication, versus the packed schedules observed by the Plum Village monastics.
Using the English translation provided by the TNHT project, you can help Plum Village translate them into your native language(s) and bring Thay’s teachings to those speaking your language by following this instruction, which also shows you where to get help should you have any questions or concerns along the way.
We always appreciate hearing from you, including about the impact these teachings have on your practice and life.
As this is an ongoing project, do keep an eye on Latest Updates on the App for further additions.
☁️ As has been the case with Buddhist teachings for millennia, there is no charge for the Plum Village App and its digital content. However, if your means allow, please consider offering a donation to support our small team’s continued work on the app.