Cultivating Peace

Thich Nhat Hanh in Vietnam (2007)In this 2007 dharma talk, we go back to the Vietnam trip (February 21 to May 9) that focused on the Great Requiem Ceremonies across the country. The purpose of this trip was to to heal the last wounds of the war. The date of this recording is May 7, 2007 and it is the last talk of the Vietnam tour.

It is possible to cultivate peace as individuals, as families, and as nations. We need to begin with understanding and love – this is the foundation of peace. Our peace begins with our in-breath as we bring our mind back to our body. The breathing is the bridge connecting our mind and body. Do we know our conditions of happiness to live happily in the present moment? There is also the wisdom of non-discrimination in Buddhism.

Four elements of true love – maitri, karuna, mudita, and upeksha. The wisdom of non-discrimination (29:45) – a topic that is very crucial for our own peace and for peace in the world – a very important element of true love.

The Three Kinds of Powers (49:55). We need to discover that the Buddha was a human being. The source of wisdom in Buddhism can help us overcome our despair. Spiritual power can be attained through our daily practice. The first is to cut-off. For example, to cut off from our craving, our anger, our despair. We do this by looking at the nature of suffering. The Buddha did this and you can to. The second power is insight. We cultivate this through our meditation. The third kind of power to cultivate is the power to love, to forgive.

The practice of mindful breathing and mindful walking allows us to be present in the here and now. When you practice like this, each breath and step can bring you to the pure land of the Buddha and touch the wonders of life.

Thay responded to a series of questions from the audience.

  1. How do you practice offering love to someone who does not want that? (55:02)
    Can you teach us how family can practice beginning anew? The practice of deep listening and loving speech. Practicing peace. (58:02)
  2. A question about impermanence. Is nirvana achievable and is it permanent? (1:11:52)
  3. A question about anger. Working with children in the classroom caused me to lose my temper often because I couldn’t control the class. (1:23:52)
  4. How do we help people to live in peace when they live in poor environments. (1:29:27)
  5. What is the difference between “non-discrimination” and “forgiveness” when defining the fourth element of true love (upeksha)? (1:39:07)

At the conclusion of the questions (1:41:42), Thay shares a little bit about the prayer ceremonies that were organized during this tour for those who died in the war and for those who died at sea. There were three ceremonies – one in the south, one in central, and one in the north of Vietnam where we practiced sitting meditation, reciting the sutras, and doing charity work. We transferred the merit of our practice to the dead people. The sharing concludes with an English translation of the readings used during the ceremonies.