Category Archives: Love

The Practice of Mindfulness is the Practice of Happiness

This talk by Thich Nhat Hanh is from the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village on Tuesday, December 31, 2013 on the occasion of New Years Eve. It is the fourteenth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. This talk is in English. The talk begins with a lovely guided meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh followed by a teaching on compassion to help us listen to the monastics chanting. The second half of the talk focuses on love and healing our suffering.

00:00-10:15 Guided Meditation
10:15-24:45 Generating Compassion to Relieve Suffering
25:23-44:45 Chanting the Name of Avalokite?vara
46:00-51:40 Standing and Breathing
51:40-1:12:30 Self Love and the New Year
1:12:30-1:29:50 The Second Arrow
1:29:50-end Three Energies

A few months ago we visited Stanford University on the topic of compassion. Many of us do not know how to take the mud to make the lotus. Compassion can be used to embrace and understand suffering. Without suffering, no compassion is possible. We shouldn’t run away from our own suffering. How do we do that? We can use mindful waking, mindful breathing, then we can generate the energy of mindfulness and we won’t feel overwhelmed. We can take care of the suffering inside.

In mah?y?na Buddhism we have a great being capable of overcoming great suffering and to help other people. This is the bodhisattva of compassionate listening. Avalokite?vara.  The monastics will chant her name today to help us all generate the energy of compassion. We can stop the thinking and just listen to the chant. Thay gives us instructions on how to best listen to the chant – we practice as a drop of water in a river and allow it to embrace us.

We have been discussing about home and the new year. And the first element is our body. Learning how to breath, to walk, and to build our home. The second element is our feelings and emotions. We have to learn to take care of this as well in order to have a true home.  The third element is our perceptions. We should always be asking, are you sure of your perceptions?

Do we know how to love ourselves? To take care of ourselves. If we can love and take care if ourselves then we’ll know how to take care of someone else. Self love is the foundation. We have been discussing about the new year. The year is made of time, speech, and action. The year 2013 will continue from our action. The fruit of our action will stay. Nothing is lost. This is retribution. This coming year we have the sentence “New Year. New Me.” To liberate us. We should to renew ourselves. To create a feeling of joy, happiness, and compassion. This is the practice of mindfulness.

Have you been able to enjoy the Kingdom of God, the Pure Land? The new year is your chance to enjoy it and practice. In Plum Village we have the time to walk together. We can challenge ourselves to walk in mindfulness. Every step. Happiness is possible. Mindfulness is being aware…aware of our steps. The practice of mindfulness is the practice of happiness.

Suffering is part of life. The Buddha spoke about the second arrow. It is a teaching to help us suffer much less. If we allow fear and anger to grow then we are allowing the second arrow. But don’t be afraid of suffering, especially if we know how to practice. Being aware of the painful feeling and calming the painful feeling. The first step is to suffer less. The second is to make good use of our suffering.  Our true home is in every step and in every breath.

Creating Loving Relationships

August 30, 2013. 91-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, New York during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the final dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Transformation and Healing – The Art of Suffering.

Topics

  • How to love – Four Elements of True Love (also known as Unlimited Mind or the Four Brahma Viharas)
  • Maitri (loving kindness) – capacity to offer well being and happiness.
  • Karuna (compassion) – capable of removing the pain
  • Mudita (joy)
  • Upeksha (equanimity or inclusiveness)
  • Continue instructiom on the exercises of mindful breathing (#9-#16)
  • 9: Recognize every mental formations
  • 10: make the landscape of the mind beautiful – gladdening the mind. Watering good seeds.
  • True Diligence (four aspects)
  • 11: concentrate our mind on the mental formation
  • 12: liberating the mind
  • 13: contemplating impermanence
  • 14: contemplating non-craving
  • 15: nirvana
  • 16: letting go
  • Three Doors of Liberation (emptiness, signlessness, aimlessness)

True Love and the Three Doors of Liberation

August 16, 2013. 82 -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 fifth dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Happy Teachers will Change the World.

Topics

  • Third Mindfulness Training – True Love
  • Four Elements of True Love
  • The Kingdom of God is Here and Now
  • Nirvana is the true nature
  • Three Doors of Liberation (Concentrations)
  • Man is made of non-man elements – Deep Ecology
  • Ancestors are alive
  • Birth and death
  • The Three Jewels
  • Sangha

Cultivating Brotherhood and Sisterhood

June 7, 2013. 106-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The talk is given in English with simultaneous translation into Dutch. This is the third dharma talk of the Dutch Retreat on the theme Understanding Our Emotions.

This talk begins a few minutes into the recording and we listen to two chants from the monastic sangha. The main talk begins at 16:49 on the recording.

We begin with some history on the Plum Village monastic community. Though most monastics ordain for life, we also hear about the 5-year monastic program. What is the process for becoming a monastic? There are four aspects to monastic life: to study, to practice, to work, and to play. The monastics seek to find joy in all these aspects. We cultivate brotherhood and sisterhood. If you’re under forty, you may want to try monastic life in our 5-year program.

So far in this retreat we have only spoken of negative and destructive emotions. But there are also constructive emotions such as lovingkindness and compassion. They are very powerful emotions that have the power to heal and transform. True love is made of four elements:

  1. Lovingkindness (maitri) – friendship.
  2. Compassion (karuna)
  3. Joy (mudita)
  4. Equanimity or inclusiveness (upeksha)

On the other side we have emotions such as fear, anger, despair, and discrimination. This is the kind mud that can help grow the lotus of the four kinds of love. We can come to understand the nature of our own suffering. The Buddha has also spoken on nourishment – “Nothing can survive without food.” – your love also needs to be fed or it will die. The Buddha taught on the Four Nutriments.

  1. Edible Food
  2. Sensory impressions
  3. Volition
  4. Consciousness

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.

What is True Love?

May 20, 2012. 73-minute recording given at Lower Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is a Day of Mindfulness and the monastics begin with two chants.

The Buddha taught loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Thay thinks we can add two new elements to True Love: Trust. Confidence. Thay teaches on all these elements in addition to a brief examination of the Diamond Sutra as it relates to Interbeing.

Breathing and Interbeing

September 18, 2011. 115-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Ocean of Peace Mediation Hall at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, CA. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the second dharma talk for the Vietnamese “Opening the Heart” retreat. The talk was originally given in Vietnamese and this is the English translation provided by Sr. Dang Nghiem (except the first few minutes).

We begin with a guided meditation and see our father as 5-yr old child. We cannot take the father out of the son. Today, we continue learning about the breath by using the Sutra on Full Awareness of Breathing. Thay walks us through the first eight exercises; the first two being about right mindfulness. The fifth and sixth are about joy and happiness. We get there by letting go. Let go of our ideas. We can also look for conditions of happiness. concentration can also bring. Then insight.

The talk ends with a few stories on Interbeing nature of our families, true love, and understanding.

Freeing Ourselves From Notions

August 22, 2011. 109-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the third dharma talk of the Body and Mind Are One retreat.

After a short guided meditation, Thay speaks to the children about how to play in such a way that we maintain our joy and happiness during the whole time of playing, not letting anger overcome us. If we play and we are angry we always lose. “Learn to play in such a way that neither the winner nor the loser suffer. That is the highest way of playing.” Next we learn the third mantra. It is about love. As your love grows, your happiness grows. Darling, I know you suffer and I am here for you. We also learn about the wisdom of non-discrimination.

Thay shares with us the 4th mantra – “Darling, I suffer and I want you to know. I’m doing the best I can. Please help.” If we can’t do this, it may because of our pride. You may eant to prove you can survive by yourself. We don’t let others know about our suffering, or let them help us, because of our pride, because of our anger. A practitioner knows that when anger arises they should take good care of themselves and their anger with mindful breathing until their anger calms and they can see into the wrong perception behind their anger.

Thay then shares about the 11th and 12th exercises of mindful breathing – 11) concentrating the mind and 12) liberating the mind. There are many objects of concentration but three are found throughout Buddhism – emptiness (sunyata), signlessness (animitta), and aimlessness (apranihita). These are also called the three doors of liberation. In the Sutra on Mindful Breathing, we are given four other objects of concentration – impermanence, non-craving, cessation, and letting go. We use these concentrations to free ourselves from the notions of being and non-being, birth and death, coming and going, sameness and otherness, and the four notions of self, man/human, living beings, and lifespan that the Diamond Sutra recommends that we remove. Freeing ourselves from these notions we are able to touch reality, to touch nirvana and realize our true nature – the nature of no-birth and no-death.

The talk is available below. A video version is available in two parts: children’s talk and Freeing Ourselves from Notions.

Nourishing Happiness

March 3, 2011. 72-minute Dharma Talk in French given by Thich Nhat Hanh at Assembly of Stars, Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France. This is the second day of the 5-day French Retreat and the translation is provided by Sr. Pine. The English recording is missing just the first minute or two.

Nourishing happiness and taking care of our suffering with the energies of mindfulness, concentration, and insight. How we respond to suffering is what matters.

Embracing our suffering, looking deeply we see the source (the “food”) of that suffering. Everything needs food. Recognizing the sources of nourishment is the beginning of transformation and healing. Without “food” the suffering will die.

The Five Mindfulness Trainings are an expression of what can protect us.

In eating meditation, there are only two things to be aware of while eating. The food and the loved ones around you. Silence helps a lot. This to is a basis for happiness. The Five Contemplations.

The talk was given in French with English translation and is available below. There is a French recording as well as video version too.

Teachings on Love

March 2, 2011. 100-minute Dharma Talk in French given by Thich Nhat Hanh at Assembly of Stars, Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France. This is the second day of the 5-day French Retreat and the translation is provided by Sr. Pine.

Let’s love each other. In order to be there for each other, there is a practice. We have to stop all the inner talking. Practice breathing in with Mindfulness to bring our mind back the the body. To love is offering your presence.

The second mantra of Plum Village. I know you are there, and I am very happy. When I walk with the sangha, it is exactly the same because the sangha is my love.

Walking meditation together on the hill of the 21st century. Our collective energy can heal and transform us. To walk is to love. The same can be said about sitting meditation. Peace. Concentration. Happiness.

Thay discusses a story from the Little Prince followed by a review of Pebble Meditation that is taught to children.  Four pepples: Flower. Mountain. Still water. Space.

In true love, we should enjoy each other. It has been said, to love is not to look at each other, but to look in the same direction.

Elements of True Love. Maitri. Lovingkindness. Love is first friendship. To produce happiness. Karuna. Compassion. To transform suffering. Mudita. Joy. We offer joy to ourself and the. Upeksha. Equanimity. Absence of boundary. Non- discrimination. Your joy is my joy. These four elements are the Four Immeasurable Minds.

Love begins with myself.

The talk was given in French with English translation and is available below. There is a French recording as well as video version too.