Category Archives: Compassion

The Way Out Is In

This talk from the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village is dated Sunday, March 30, 2014. The talk on this day is in English.

0:00 Present Moment
14:05 The Feelings
29:04 The Body
37:20 Mindfulness of Compassion (Listening)
1:12:45 Story of Suicide and Transformation

When you breath in, you bring your mind home to your body. A lot of time, your mind is not with your body. But when they are together, you are truly in the here and the now for your transformation and healing. It is wonderful be present and your breath becomes the object of your mind and you can become a free person. You can cultivate freedom. You don’t need to be influenced by your fear and anger. We can make good decisions. The bell of mindfulness can call you back to the present moment. Walking can also bring us to the present moment. Every step. This is the basic practice to touch the wonders of life. At Plum Village, we should learn to breathe and to walk in the present moment.

In the last talk, we learned the 7th and 8th exercises of mindful breathing. The 7th is being aware of the pain within myself. When we have a painful feeling, we know it! Do we know how to handle it or do we cover up the feelings with consumption? We can be stronger with the energy of mindfulness. The energy of mindfulness sees thee energy of pain. And the 8th exercise is to calm down the painful feeling. Holding the child of suffering – embracing tenderly.

What is exercises five and six? Five is to generate a feeling a joy. And the sixth is to generate happiness. We can always bring about a feeling of joy and happiness whenever we want. How? The oneness of body and mind. The sixth exercise is the art of happiness where the seventh and eighth are the art of suffering.

The first four exercises are about the body and the next four are about the feelings. The third is the awareness of body. When you go home to your body, you may notice pain and stress in your body. This makes you suffer. The fourth is to release the tension in your body. Calming your body. This takes care of our body. We them review the first two exercises. One week at Plum Village is enough time to learn the art.

Last time we also spoke about listening. When we have the energy of mindfulness and concentration we can look deeply into the nature of our own suffering. Understanding our own suffering lets us understand the suffering of our parents and our ancestors. We need mindfulness and concentration so we are not overwhelmed by the suffering of ourselves and others. This is the practice. Understanding brings about compassion. Everyone should learn to cultivate compassion. The practice of deep listening and loving speech can always restore communication and bring about reconciliation. What is loving speech? We practice mindfulness of compassion. Thay shares the story of being the Israelis and Palestinians together at Plum Village.

Thay then shares a story of a woman in America who wanted to commit suicide and how she was able to transform her suffering.

The way out, is in.

The Other Person

May 24, 2013. 84-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Hong Kong. The sangha is on the spring Asian Tour and this talk is given in English with simultaneous translation into Chinese. The theme of the retreat is Happiness is the Way.

Thay has a few questions to ask the audience and the questions might touch something very deep in you. It is about the “the other person” in your life.

Are you in love? Are you still in love? Do you want to reconnect with the person you used to love? Do you think that he or she is happier than you are now? Do you have the time for each other or are you both to busy? Have you been able to preserve your freshness and beauty for yourself and for the other person? Are you capable to offer him or her freshness and beauty everyday? Do you know how to handle the suffering in yourself? Are you able to help handle the suffering in the other person? Do you understand your own suffering and the roots of that suffering? Are you able to understand the suffering in the other person? Do you have the capacity to help the other person suffer less? Have you learned the way to calm down the painful feelings and emotions? Do you have the time to listen to yourself, your suffering, your difficulties, and your deepest desire? Do you have the time to listen to him or her and help him or her to suffer less? Do you know the Buddhist way of restoring communication and bringing reconciliation? Are you capable of creating a feeling of joy and happiness for yourself? Are you capable of helping the other person to create a feeling of joy and happiness? Do you really think you have a clear spiritual path to go? Do you have the feeling of peace and contentment within yourself? Do you know to nourish your love everyday?

It is possible to create a meditation hall on a bus or train and then use the time to nourish and heal yourself. You can use the exercises from the Anapanasati Sutta. The first exercise is to become aware of your in-breath and your out-breath. We can cultivate energy to help heal and nourish. The first energy is mindfulness. This energy can be cultivated with just one in-breath. The second energy we can generate during breathing is concentration. The third energy is insight. This is a kind of vision/wisdom that will help liberate you from suffering. This is enlightenment itself – it can come in just a few seconds! To be alive is a true wonder, a true miracle.

I am alive. Stop the thinking. Enjoy breathing.

The second exercise is to follow your in-breath and your out-breath all the way through. With the third exercise, you become aware that you have a body. Next we calm our body and release the tension and restore peace. Even if we only have a few minutes, we can use these exercises to restore ourselves. Generating joy is the fifth exercise. Next we become aware of the painful emotion that in us – we don’t try to run away from our pain. From here we calm down the pain.

Understanding suffering always bring compassion. We can restore communication with the other person and end suffering.

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.

Just Walk and Heal

December 24, 2012. 118-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat) and this is the special Christmas Eve dharma talk (and the fourteenth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha?)

Begin with a teaching on listening to the chant. Learning to recognize our own suffering and the suffering of the other person. We can then generate compassion. The monastics then chant the name Namo ‘valokiteshvaraya.

The practice of going home is a very deep practice. We need the energy of mindfulness. We don’t need a plane or train ticket to go home. There is a station – Radio NST – (non-stop thinking) and this doesn’t help us arrive home. Walking and breathing allow us to arrive. The more you are mindful and concentratesd the more pleasant. Help you stop the thinking and the worrying. Just walk and heal.

“I have arrived. I am home.” This is the best dharma talk we have in Plum Village. We do not have to force ourselves to breathe or to walk. It can be really pleasant. There is no way home, home is the way. The Buddha taught about the island of self.

Loneliness is an illusion. It is a wrong perception. Every breath and every step can help us see this. The teaching on “going home” is very strong.

Thay explores the living Christ. We reflect of the birth of Jesus into this world as the son of man. Did he exist before this time? What do we mean by birth?

Science and Buddhism. Matter and energy. Nothing is born. Nothing dies. Our true nature is of no birth and no death. This is the ultimate truth.

There is no being, no non-being, only Interbeing. When we celebrate the birth of Christ, we can look deeply into this teaching of no birth and no death.

Cooling the Flames in Dublin

April 11, 2012. 160-minute recording given at he Dublin Convention Centre by Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is on the UK and Ireland Tour and this is the public talk in Ireland. Though it has been over twenty years, this is Thay’s second trip to Ireland. The recording begins with singing and a guided meditation led by monastics.

At 23-minutes into the recording, Thay gives an introduction to chanting. With compassion and love, we can be a happy person. How can we generate understanding and love as energies? They can be generated by a spiritual practice, a spiritual dimension. A nation can do the same. We have to learn how to handle our own suffering. Suffering within ourselves and in the world. The monastics have learned to generate compassion by chanting the name of Avalokiteshvara. We listen to the chant 43-minutes into the recording.

The main talk begins at 1:04 into the recording. Mindfulness is an energy for our practice. We can begin with breathing and discover the conditions of happiness in the here and now. At the conclusion, about 2:13 into recording, there is a period of questions and answers.

Cooling the Flames: Live from the Convention Centre Dublin from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

Namo’valokiteshvaraya Chanting

July 29, 2011. 32-minute dharma talk and chanting with Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat.

Thay describes, before the chant, how to put our attention while listening to the chant.

The talk and chant are available below. There is a video version available too.

The Eye of Compassion

January 2, 2011. 81-minute Dharma Talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh, from the Stillwater Meditation Hall of the Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France.

“We know how to embrace suffering. We see immediately that the other person suffers too. You understand him or her. We see the other person with the eye of compassion. The eye of compassion exists within us. We see that the other person is a victim of his own suffering. He or she makes others suffer. And when we see that, we have no more anger.

“Let us listen to each other. Let us be there for each other. This is applied Buddhism.”

Listen deeply. Consumption. First noble truth. Accepting our suffering. No mud. No lotus. When we embrace our suffering, we suffer less. We can look with the eyes of compassion.

This practice of deep listening can be applied between political groups, in society, in the classroom, in the family.

Let’s listen to each other. That’s the slogan for the new year.

Let’s be there for each other. The second part of the slogan.

The talk was given in French with English translation and is available below (original French and Vietnamese audio are also available, as well as video version).

Peace, Understanding, and Compassion

August 24, 2010. 100-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh in Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, Dharma Cloud Temple. The talk occurs during the Retreat for Young People with the theme Truly Alive.

Thay feels alive to me when he begins by saying this is “dharma talk a la carte” and that he’ll invite about ten questions to get them started. He writes the questions on the white board and after about 20-minutes of audience questions, there are significantly more than ten questions. Our Teacher seems to enjoy hearing the questions as he continues to write on the board.

After the bell, we are reminded that all the questions appear to be linked together and if we answer one question then we can answer all the questions. The remain hour is spent hearing about peace, understanding, and compassion. The premise of this discussion is that even if we do get what we need, we still suffer. Examples of this are everywhere.

The question is how can I understand my own suffering. It is the art of listening. You have to train – to practice mindful living – so you can listen to the suffering in yourself. Intention is not good enough.