Thay's talk is brilliant: he moves effortlessly from buddhist tales to Jean Paul Sartre to neuroscience. "Can you believe he's 81?", someone murmurs.
Afterwards, they have Q&A in Vietnamese. There are a bunch of difficulties for our English translator (equipment acting up, remembering to speak in English and not French or Vietnamese). When it's over, I watch him stand up with relief - I am the only one in the English section - everyone else has left during the session. "That was the worst job ever", says the Vietnamese monk. We laugh.
The day is really enjoyable. Walking meditation feels easier. The fear of hunger has lifted. In the afternoon, we walk around the vineyards and orchards, and even fit in a nap (or two). In the meditation hall we do an exercise called 'total relaxation'. Pretty much everyone falls asleep.
Stalls of Vietnamese treaty things appear at random intervals: spring rolls and dumplings and pastries shaped like lotus flowers. The Potwashers are getting on brilliantly. After dinner we wash our own plates, then take care of the giant pots. I'm stacking the last of the plates in the dining hall. "The plates will be taken to be sanitized", someone tells me."In the dishwasher."
There's a dishwasher???