Salesforce Invites Plum Village Monks and Nuns to Annual Conference
San Francisco-based software and cloud computing company Salesforce invited more than 20 Buddhist monastics to its annual conference, “Dreamforce 2016,” held on 4–7 October. The monks and nuns from the Plum Village meditation center and monastic community, founded and headed by the celebrated Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh in southern France, were invited to teach meditation and mindfulness techniques to conference participants.
Ven. Phap Lai, one of the monks attending the conference, explained that meditation is a way of life that, when integrated into one’s daily routine, “brings benefit to you and more happiness to you.” It is not a way for excelling at work or learning the keys to success, he observed. “What we’re offering is a way to bring a more genuine, long-lasting happiness into your way of life. That may bring fruit to your work because happier people generally tend to have certain success in the sense that they communicate better, they’re less stressed.” (Business Insider)
Salesforce chairman and CEO Marc Benioff—the world's 150th richest man, according to the Forbes List of Billionaires—invited the monks to teach meditation and mindfulness to interested attendees among the four-day event’s more than 170,000 guests and participants. In his keynote speech, Benioff thanked the monks for attending the conference and informed the audience that he had invited them to teach Salesforce staff and guests “how to meditate and calm down and relax,” adding, “We need it badly.” (Fortune)
When Benioff was designing the company's headquarters in San Francisco, Thich Nhat Hanh stayed at his house along with 30 monks. Invited to visit the tallest skyscraper in San Francisco, the monks did not approve of what they found. “They said everyone was talking all the time and working all the time, and I said, that’s what we do here,” Benioff told a group of chief information officers and company founders at the Forbes CIO Summit in Half Moon Bay in March this year. On the advice of the monks, Benioff agreed to include mindfulness areas on every floor of Salesforce’s new office building. (Forbes)
At the company’s past annual conferences, the keynote speeches have included talks on mindfulness, however Dreamforce 2016 has made a new record with 25 sessions focused on the subject along with the participation of the Plum Village monastics, who led daily sessions in walking meditation and mindful eating. In addition, the monks set up two Mindfulness Zones outside San Francisco’s Moscone Center, where Dreamforce 2016 was held.
Concluding his keynote, Benioff returned to the subject of the Plum Village monastics and their observations of US work culture from talks they gave during their stay. He recalled that the monks and nuns had said they could tell that audiences were coming to listen only to take a break from their stressful schedules. “They said people seemed trapped in buildings and could never get out,” Benioff said. “These monks really got to me in case you couldn’t tell.” (Forbes)
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Mindfulness Practice (Plum Village)