MONKS, NUNS, and SANGHA MEMBERS AVAILABLE FOR INTERVIEW
All of the monastics can speak to the practice of mindfulness, the monastic life, Buddhism, community-building, deep listening, mindful speech, and the inner transformations that can take place as a result of mindfulness. Their specific areas of interest and experience are described below.
Sister The Nghiem (Sister True Vow)
Sister True Vow, currently the abbess of White Crane Hamlet at Blue Cliff Monastery, is a second-generation Vietnamese-American who grew up in Pennsylvania. She is one of the pioneers of Blue Cliff Monastery, helping to guide its transformation from a family holiday resort into a mindfulness practice center. As a musician, she has composed several chants and songs since becoming a nun. She has a deep interest in Buddhist psychology and its connection with Western psychology, merging the two to help people heal and touch their fullest potential.
Sister Dang Nghiem (Sister D)
Sister D moved to Arizona from Vietnam in her teens, and studied to become a doctor. She is the author of the book Healing: A Woman’s Journey From Doctor to Nun, and Mindfulness as Medicine: A Story of Healing Body and Spirit. Sister D is sought out by teenagers and young women looking for guidance on how to heal from experiences of abuse and how to find strength in the face of many of the pressures society puts on young women. She currently lives at Magnolia Grove Monastery, New York.
Brother Phap Vu
Brother Phap Vu is a Scottish-American who was one of the first residential monastics at Blue Cliff Monastery. He has a strong and active involvement in building a monastic and lay community in the U.S. He is well versed in Buddhist history and psychology and is committed to sharing this knowledge with a Western audience. He has been very involved in the development of Blue Cliff Monastery, playing an active role in the design, renovation, and “greening” of the monastery’s buildings and grounds.
Sister An Nghiem (Sister Peace)
Sister An Nghiem (Sister Peace) is an African-American nun who has dedicated her life to bringing the practice of mindfulness to people around the world – from educators and young adults to artists and politicians. She is a key liaison for the Thich Nhat Hanh community with the Dharma Primary School in Brighton, England, the first school to base its entire curriculum on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh. Sister Peace has been actively involved in sharing her experiences in the practice of mindfulness to help people understand the aspiration of Thich Nhat Hanh and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. to build the Beloved Community. She currently lives in Plum Village, France. Before Sister Peace became a nun, she lived in Washington DC where she worked for the Mayor’s office. She has been an ambassador of Thich Nhat Hanh’s calligraphic art in Thailand, Germany, France and the US.
Sister Trai Nghiem (Sister Purification)
Sister Purification is a Japanese-American classical violinist who has played in many orchestras around the world. Since becoming a nun she has brought the Buddhist practice and music together to bring healing energy into the world. She is active in sharing the practice of mindfulness with young people in Japan through Thich Nhat Hanh’s Wake Up Movement (a movement that shares the practice of mindfulness with young people to help create healthy communities). She has published articles on mindfulness in Japanese and assists in translating Thich Nhat Hanh’s books into Japanese. She currently lives in Plum Village, France.
Brother Phap Dung (Brother True Dharma Embrace)
Brother Phap Dung (meaning “Brother True Dharma Embrace”) is the Abbot of Thich Nhat Hanh’s Deer Park Monastery in California. He grew up in Los Angeles, trained as an architect, and is now a senior disciple of Thich Nhat Hanh, loved by young and old for his dynamic creativity and urban cool. He is one of the senior monks spearheading the Zen Master’s project of training teachers to bring mindfulness into schools, businesses, politics and healthcare settings, and is a consultant producer on the upcoming feature documentary about Thich Nhat Hanh and his sangha, Walk With Me.
This is an excerpt from an LA Times interview: [Phap Dung is] a Vietnamese refugee who came of age as a San Fernando “Valley Boy” break dancing and skateboarding. He says he struggled in school, fending off racial taunts, before eventually graduating from USC and working as an architect in Santa Monica. But after a few years, he says, he began to feel that his profession was “all about money and ego,” with scarce opportunities to design socially meaningful projects. He visited Deer Park several times for retreats, was captivated by the gentleness he found there and decided to become a monk. “I’d found a way of living that was much more meaningful,” said the abbot, who frequently works with troubled youth. “The way it helps people is much more direct.”
For interviews, please contact Stephanie Davies, firstname.lastname@example.org,or (347) 581.7141.