Love and Happiness

Lotus Pond

It was Thanksgiving Day in Plum Village on November 25, 2004. The sangha gathered in Lower Hamlet, Plum Village during the Fall Retreat and Thay gave a 45-minute dharma talk on the topic of love and happiness.

The telephone line should be called the “compassionate line.” We hope this line can be established everywhere so that young people in their suffering, despair, and strong emotions can have someone to talk with. Suicide is a real issue and young people they feel lonely and suffer so much. Who can they talk with? Someone who has the capacity to listen. Each of us can make a vow to be that person who has the capacity to listen. Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of deep listening. Compassionate listening. We have to cultivate this capacity and transform ourselves in this bodhisattva. Without the capacity of listening deeply, we cannot understand.

According to the teachings of the Buddha, love is born from the ground of understanding. We can apply this in our relationships and our families. Understanding is not something that happens “just like that” – it takes time and we have to give our ideas, our views, our prejudices, our judgment.

Understanding what? The difficulties and suffering of the other person. The deep hope and desire the person has. The kind of obstacles the person is experiencing. We can ask the other person, “do you think I understand you enough?” Once you understand, you can stop doing and saying things that cause the other person to suffer. Then you have True Love. This is the practice of love.

Do we understand ourselves? The nature of our own suffering? Everyone has an idea of happiness and we may strive for that idea. But, can we see that happiness can come from any direction? Joy comes from letting go and the first thing we can let go of is our idea of happiness.

In the Buddhist teaching of love, there are four elements. The first is maitri – friendship, brotherhood, loving-kindness. And the second is karuna – capacity to understand the suffering and help remove and transform it – compassion. Mudita is the third element – joy – your joy is her joy, her joy is our joy. The last element is upeksha – nondiscrimination. This is a higher form of love. The four qualities have no limits – infinite love – these elements are also call the Four Unlimited Minds.

The bodhisattva of love is in you.

 

Fresh Opportunities of Abundance

As we continue to send Thay our lovely energy of healing, we look back to a dharma talk he gave on January 26, 2003 from the Dharma Nectar Temple, Lower Hamlet, Plum Village. The sangha is in the middle of the Winter Retreat and the lunar new year is approaching. This short dharma talk (48-minutes) begins with a monastic chant in Vietnamese.

The Buddha teaches we should try to make our practice pleasant, joyful, and nourishing. There are several different types of joy. Mindfulness is the key to exploring. How should a practice center be organized? Are we creating the right conditions?

The two sentences for the coming lunar year (2003) are part of the practice – All misfortunes entirely away. Fresh Opportunities seen in abundance. – we post these in order to remind us of our practice. We have many opportunities to practice all around us. Can you write down all the opportunities available to you? Mindfulness will help us touch these opportunities.

Other kinds of joy. Sangha building. Helping our brothers or sisters in the community can bring both a lot of joy. This is based on understanding and love. There may also be a kind of joy based upon craving. Craving for recognition and praise. Can you learn to operate as a sangha? How?

You don’t need to be #1 to be happy. The teaching is a teaching of no-self. Inferiority. Superiority. Equality.

How can we take care of our ups and our downs? We cannot hide our suffering. How to ask for help?

The 51-mental formations in the boat of self. We have the five universal and five particulars – these are travelers in the boat of ourselves. They can also form a team and work together. Mindfulness and concentration. We have to learn to live in harmony with the sangha of self.

Smile and breathe. Enjoy the gem.

Evolutive Dharma

From the archives, this talk by Thich Nhat Hanh was given during the 2002-2003 Winter Retreat (January 19, 2003) from the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village. The one-hour talk begins with a short chant in English by the monks and nuns.

The living Buddha. How do we get in touch with the living Buddha? When we think of the Buddha, we have a notion. We think of Shakyamuni. If we are caught by the notion of the historical Buddha we cannot be in touch with the living Buddha.

The practice of signlessness. With the eyes of signlessness, we can recognize the cloud in the tea or the ice cream. This is not something metaphysical or abstract. We see people and things in their new forms with the eyes of signlessness. We can be free from our ignorance. Impermanence makes life possible. It allows the Buddha to grow beyond his 80-year lifespan.

The living Dharma. The living dharma is something you can see for yourself, something that grows. The dharma needs to be offered in an intelligent way: it must be the right teaching for the right person, it must be flexible, and it must be able to grow.

The notion of the evolutive dharma. The nature of Interbeing can help us touch our true nature. Buddhism is only made of nonbuddhist elements. Buddhism has no fixed identity and is evolving. It’s like a Bodhi tree remains the same tree even as it grows in different directions. The living dharma is alive, moving, and growing.

And the living Sangha has the living Buddha and living dharma inside. Practice in an intelligent way and don’t be caught in fundamentalism. Even in the Buddha’s lifetime, the Dharma and Sangha were evolving. Fundamentalism is our enemy.

Thanks to our practice and our enlightenment, Mahayana Buddhism can grow. Different types of concentrations – impermanence, nirvana, no self – will help us grow in the practice.

 

Francophone Educators’ Retreat

Dear listeners. As you know, Thay is in the hospital recovering from a brain hemorrhage. This fall, Thay has been able to given one dharma talk and that was for the Francophone Educators’ Retreat in Upper Hamlet on October 27, 2014. The talk is 30-minutes long, available in audio only, and is given in French (without translation). Though we may not all understand the words, please enjoy the talk.

 

The Practice of True Presence

This is the second dharma talk of the “The Mind of Love Transforms All Difficulties” retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh at the New Hamlet of Plum Village in France. The talk is given in English with simultaneous translation into Italian. In this very short talk on August 29, 2014, Thay teaches on the elements of love and the four mantras. Both the audio and the video are available below.

Mind of love – bodhicitta. Why not the heart? Bodhi is to wake up. It begins with understanding the suffering in ourselves and then we can begin to see the suffering in the other person. Then we can help him or her to suffer less.  What is love? Love me to be there. The practice of mindful breathing and mindful walking can help us to be there for ourselves and for our loved ones. What are the elements of true presence? Am I a true lover?  You can answer this question yourself by looking to see if you have these four elements.

The four mantras of Plum Village.