Category Archives: Applied Ethics

Questions and Answers with Educators

This is the third day of the Educators Retreat at the University of Barcelona. Thich Nhat Hanh, along with the monks and nuns of Plum Village, are on their first tour of Spain this month. In this session, Thay responds to questions from those attending the retreat. The date of the recording is May 11, 2014. The audio and video links are available below. The timestamps included here are for the AUDIO recording only.

  1. How do we bring this practice into our daily life? (2:32)
  2. How can mindfulness help transform the toxic seeds in our subconscious? (9:45)
  3. How can we find a new path for young people in society today? (17:20)
  4. Could you explain a little more about mindfulness of suffering. (26:53)
  5. How do I forgive myself for pain that I have caused and how do I forgive others? (40:30)
  6. How do I plant the seed of mindfulness in my 34 year old? Is this to young? (54:18)
  7. How can we help children to look deeply at the root cause of their suffering? Anger. Anguish. Fear. (1:07:02)
  8. How can men today become softer? (1:13:44)
  9. With limited time, how can I help people who are suffering? They don’t want to hear to embrace suffering. (1:24:18)
  10. How can a young sangha with little experience protect itself? (1:35:44)

The Five Mindfulness Trainings for Educators

This is the second day of the Educators Retreat at the University of Barcelona. Thich Nhat Hanh, along with the monks and nuns of Plum Village, are on their first tour of Spain this month. In this talk, Thay teaches the Five Mindfulness Trainings. The date of the recording is May 10, 2014. The audio and video links are available below. The timestamps included here are for the AUDIO recording only.

0:00 Verses of Practice
15:16 Protecting Life
27:26 True Happiness
34:10 True Love
49:35 True Communication
1:10:55 Consumption

When Thay became a monk at the age of sixteen, he was given a book of verses to memorize. One of those verses is for waking up in the morning.

Waking up this morning, I smile.
I have 24th Rand new hours to live.
I vow to live these 24-hours deeply.
I vow to look at those around me with eyes of compassion.

We learn these verses to practice mindfulness. Thay shares a few other examples to help to stop our thinking. There are about fifty of these verses for a novice to memorize. We have written new ones today, such as telephone meditation. We can use this to improve the quality of our communication. Everything we do can can be done in mindfulness.

The practice of mindfulness can be very concrete. There are five areas we can consider. The first is to protect life. Our life as well as the lives of others, plants, animals, minerals, and the earth. This is the first mindfulness training. What does this mean? How do we practice with this and what can school teachers and parents do with this training? Everywhere young people are killing themselves because they don’t know how to handle a strong emotion. We can use mindful breathing and can see that an emotion is just one little part of a person. We can deep belly breathing and take care of the strong emotion.

The second realm of the practice is true happiness. The topic of true happiness should be explored to see what it means. True happiness is made of understanding and love. Love is born from understanding. Understanding is a practice and a true element of happiness.

The third area is the practice of true love. Sexual desire is not true love. Many young people do not know what is true love. True love is made of compassion, loving kindness, and nondiscrimination. These are the elements of true love.

The fourth aspect of mindfulness is the practice of loving speech and deep listening. This is the fourth mindfulness training. This practice should begin in the family first and then we can bring it into our school and classrooms. How can we restore communication and reconcile? What can we do in the classroom to help students to suffer less?

The fifth mindfulness training has to do with consumption. Our society is a society of consumption. This is an idea about happiness. This concept of consumption is taught in the context of the four kinds of nutriments. The first kind is edible food. The second source of nutriment is sense impressions. What are we consuming in our conversations, in the media, and on internet? The third nutriment is volition. Our aspiration or deepest desire. The last source of nutriment is consciousness. What are the seeds in our consciousness and do we know how to water the good seeds?

The Five Mindfulness Trainings are a very concrete expression of our mindfulness practice. Happiness is possible. Compassion is possible. Healing is possible. And a school teacher should learn to embody this kind of practice for transformation and healing to take place.

Four Energies and Mindful Educators

Thich Nhat Hanh along with the monks and nuns of Plum Village are on their first tour of Spain this month. An Educators Retreat at the University of Barcelona and this is the first talk providing an orientation to the practice taught by Thay. The date of the recording is May 9, 2014. The audio and the video are both available below.

We begin with an introduction to the practice of breathing and the role it plays in mindfulness practice.There is an energy of mindfulness that is born during the time we are breathing. Life is available in the present moment because the past is already gone the future has not yet come. To go home to the present moment is easy…breath in mindfully. We can get in touch with our body when we are breathing mindfully. Our body is the first wonder of life. Maybe when we get in touch with our body, we may notice tension in our body. If we notice this tension while breathing, we can release this tension while breathing out. If we learn to do this well, then we can learn to transmit this to our students. There is another energy of the practice called concentration. This energy is born from the energy of mindfulness. It let’s us focus. (Editor’s Note: short skip in the recording here) The third energy is insight. Insight arises from concentration and mindfulness. The French novelist Camus spoke of this through the story of the prisoner. Breathing in, I know I am alive. This is already an insight and it is a true miracle. Mindfulness allows us to live deeply each moment we are alive and has the power to liberate us.

Conditions of happiness. Can we see all the conditions of happiness right here in this moment? We can begin with mindfulness of our eyes. A good practitioner of mindfulness should be able to create a feeling of joy and a feeling of happiness at any moment. The practice of walking is another method to discover a moment of happiness. I have arrived.

True happiness is made of mindfulness, concentration and insight. And this will bring compassion, love, and joy.  This is the art of living. With this practice, you can also handle a painful feeling or emotion. Many of us consume in order to not encounter our suffering. We are afraid of our own suffering. Mindfulness can help you know how to suffer. How do we do this? We can use mindfulness to not be overwhelmed by the pain inside. We can recognize and embrace the pain. Once we learn this practice, we can do the same for our students and help our students to suffer less as well.

Understanding will always bring about compassion. Compassion is the fourth kind of energy and has the power to heal and transform anger. Once we know our own suffering transformed, how can we help another person to suffer less.

Thay draws a circle representing the school teacher. How do we work with difficult aspects in our school environments. We can start with our loved ones, then our colleagues, and finally our students. The first thing to do is going home to ourselves through the practice of mindful breathing and mindful walking. We can do this with the support of co-practitioners.

Instruction on walking meditation, mindful eating, and listening to the bell.

Happiness for Young People

This talk from the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village is dated Thursday, March 13, 2014 and the sangha has just finished a couple weeks of lazy days following the winter retreat. The talk on this day is in English and begins with a lesson on mindful breathing to release tension and painful emotions followed by a teaching on the Four Kinds of Nutriments. The second half of the talk includes a special ceremony and discussion with the vice chancellor of the University of Hong Kong.

1:08 Chanting
8:00 Hearing the Bell
14:26 Mindful Breathing to Relieve Tension and Painful Emotions
21:54 Letter to Death Row
30:00 The Four Kinds of Nutriments
57:29 Ceremony to Confer Honorary Doctorate Degree to Thich Nhat Hanh from the University of Hong Kong
1:17:40 Thay Responds to Degree
1:30:40 Dialogue between Thay and Vice Chancellor on Topic of Today’s Youth

When you hear the bell, you may want to stop you’re thinking. Use your breathing to be aware that you have a body and smile to your body. It is a wonder. Practice mindful breathing we bring our mind home to our body. We are fully alive when we do this exercise. Our body is already a wonder of life.

When you’re mind is not with your body, it is not truly alive. We need an embodied mind. In the Sutra of Mindful Breathing, the Buddha proposed sixteen exercises. The third exercise is breathing in, I am aware of my body. You’re body is your first true home. The next exercise is to release the tension in your body – the fourth exercise.

We can also calm our painful emotions (the seventh exercise). We should not run away from our painful feelings. Many people in society consume min order to avoid thier painful feelings. With these exercises you can generate the energy of mindfulness. The pain is an energy and so is mindfulness. Mindfulness can embrace your pain (the eighth exercise). We can suffer much less.

Yesterday Thay received a letter from a young man in America who is a pen pal of a man on death row. The person in prison is a practicing Buddhist who has found relief from the teachings. They have been reading The Heart of the Buddhist Teachings together. Thay responds to the letter by talking about fear, anger, and despair that people suffer from both within and without. We can practice compassion and then we can be free. There can be freedom in prison.

Today we are going to have a discussion on the topic of youth. All of us need a good environment. Teachers and parents should come together to create a good environment for our young people in order to suffer less. The Buddha said that nothing can survive without food. There are several kinds of food. In the Sutra of the Four Nutriments can be helpful as a background to understand. In this sutra there is a story of a family crossing the desert and they have to make a very difficult decision to kill their child in order to survive. The first kind of nutriment is edible food. We have to eat in such a way to preserve compassion in us and not to eat the flesh of our own sons and daughters. The second kind of nutriment is sensory impressions. This comes from eye, ear, nose, ear, body, and mind. When we watch television, we consume. When we use the internet, we consume. Even conversation can be very toxic. Educators and parents should practice mindful consumption to set an example for our young people to preserve our well being. The third kind of nutriment is intention/volition. This is the deepest desire in us – our deepest desire may be good or it may be destructive. Helping young people to suffer less or to work for the environment or work for peace, these are good intentions. Last year at Google, they asked Thay to talk about intention. What do we want to do with our life? Our deepest desire? Is it to practice to help people to suffer less, then that is a good intention. And the fourth kind of nutriment is consciousness – consciousness as food. There is individual consciousness. We carry with us the suffering of our parents and our ancestors. We should have a teacher or friend to help us come out of the dark corner of the past. Practicing appropriate attention, that is good food. There is also collective consciousness. We can feel the collective energy of mindfulness and compassion in a positive environment. To help young people, we should reflect on the kinds of nutriments we are providing them. Nothing can survive without food.

Thay Phap Luu introduces the conferring of a Doctor of Social Sciences honoris causa degree for Thich Nhat Hanh from the University of Hong Kong in advance of the 190th Congregation on March 18, 2014 in Hong Kong. The Vice Chancellor of the University and other professors are present to offer the degree. The honorary degree is a very old and cherished tradition of the University and past degrees have been given to Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Bill Clinton. Following the degree conferring, Thay offers a few words (10-minutes) in response and as a message to those at the University of Hong Kong. We continue with a dialogue between Thay and the Vice Chancellor on the subject of today’s youth.

What can we do more to help our students to provide a better environment?

In our restless world today, there is frustration and unhappiness in graduates not being able to find work and career. What insight can you share to help young people feel more satisfied and content with the future?

Note from the Editor
Thay has offered us a vision of building an online monastery, or online temple, where practitioners may come not just to receive information, but to practice online: to follow their breathing, experience guided meditation, interact with monastics and lay practitioners, etc. This archive of Thay’s talks is a component of this vision.

We are using a new service (Patreon) that allows for you to become an ongoing patron for this archive. Each patron can make a donation, as little as $1 per talk, to be donated automatically on a monthly basis. Payments are made by credit card or PayPal and patrons can be anywhere in the world. When you visit the site, you identify the amount you want to give for each talk, identify a maximum amount per month, and provide your mailing address. If you are in the United States you can have a tax deduction through the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation.

Please visit our Patreon page: Thich Nhat Hanh is Creating Happiness.

The Tea Inside the Calligraphy

August 14, 2013. 118-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the third dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Happy Teachers will Change the World. We begin with two chants from the monastics.

Topics

  • The cloud in the tea
  • Teaching on no birth, no death
  • The tea inside the calligraphy
  • The Four NobleTruths
  • Interbeing – ill being and well being
  • Nothing can survive without food
  • The noble (eightfold) path that leads to well-being
  • The Four Kinds of Nutriments
  • Sutra of the Sons Flesh
  • Right View
  • Mental Formations – the Five particulars
  • Being and non-being
  • No birth and no death
  • Right Thinking
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action

Introducing the Four Objects of Mindfulness

August 13, 2013. 91-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the second dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Happy Teachers will Change the World. We begin with two chants from the monastics.

Talk for children
Story of a dream Thay had 20-years ago. A dream of being a young university student with a famous teacher. A music class. This is followed by a teaching on how to be a good bell master.

Main Talk Topics

  • Practicing mindfulness in a meeting
  • Establishing space in the home for practice
  • Slow walking to arrive
  • Mental formations
  • Four Objects of Mindfulness (body, feelings, mind, objects of mind)
  • Selective watering (True Diligence)
  • Eating meditation

The Way Out is In

August 12, 2013. 76-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the first dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Happy Teachers will Change the World.

Topics

  • Listening to the bell
  • Releasing tension in our body with mindfulness at any time
  • Generating joy and happiness
  • Being aware of our conditions of happiness in the present moment
  • The practice of mindfulness can also help us handle a painful feeling or emotion
  • There is a deep connection between suffering and happiness
  • Compassionate listening – mindfulness of compassion
  • Global ethics – how to release tension, reduce pain
  • Sixteen exercises on mindful breathing (briefly mentioned)
  • Store and mind consciousness – seeds
  • 51-mental formations, such as anger and mindfulness
  • The suffering inside the school teacher and inside the student
  • The way out is in – we must take care of ourselves first then for the other person
  • Supporting our young people and teaching them how to love

Opening Mindfulness Retreat for Educators

August 11, 2013. 55-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the opening session of the 6-day retreat.

In this short talk, the focus is on the Art of Suffering and how chanting the name of Avalokiteshvara can help open us up to our suffering. In the last segment of the talk we have a teaching on walking meditation.

Cultivating Peace and Happiness in School

May 18, 2013. 62-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the Hong Kong Institute of Education. The sangha is on the spring Asian Tour and this talk is given in English with simultaneous translation into Chinese. This is a Day of Mindfulness for educators and students.

There are a few practices a teacher can use in order to bring happiness to herself and the classroom. Mindful breathing and the energy of mindfulness. The pure land is here and now … you don’t have to wait until you die. Joy and happiness are possible in the present moment.

A good teacher knows how to take care of himself. Harmony is possible in herself. If we practice mindful breathing and mindful walking then we can create joy and happiness whenever you want.

The language of loving speech.

The story of Henry who was a mathematics school teacher in Toronto who transformed himself and his classroom.

Thoughts of Compassion

April 8, 2013. 116-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Mahachulalungkornrajavidyalaya University in Bangkok, Thailand. The sangha is in the 5-Day Applied Ethics Retreat as part of the spring Asian Tour. The talk is given in English with simultaneous translation into Thai. This is the final talk of the retreat.

How do we apply the dharma into our daily lives? What is Applied Buddhism? In the last five years we have been trying to offer the teachings in non-Buddhist circles through classes in Europe and Hong Kong. We have now started to use the term Applied Ethics. This means translating Buddhism into a secular language. Today we will spend time on the teachings of Applied Ethics.

Thay reads a question from one of the attendees about deep listening. The story of family in deep sadness and exists in silence but lives in the same house. Teaching on the Four Noble Truths. What is suffering? How can we live simply and build brotherhood and sisterhood? Practicing with Right View can relieve the suffering. What do we mean by right view?

Birth and death. What are our ideas about birth and death? What is being and non-being? Illustrations of a cloud and a flower. Interbeing allows us to transcend these notions. Applied ethics is to apply more beauty, more solidity.

Nirvana. Karma. Sangha.

Every time you have a thought of compassion or understanding, you should write it down.