Category Archives: Public Talk

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.


Stop Waiting and Start Living

The Miracle of Mindfulness tour is underway with 50-60 monastics traveling and teaching in the USA. We have just completed the New York events at Blue Cliff Monastery and in New York City. A retreat will begin later this week in Mississippi followed by retreats and events in California. You can see the entire tour schedule on the tour site.

The recording included here is from the public talk in New York City  that took place on September 12, 2015 at The Town Hall with the theme of Mindfulness: Stop Waiting, Start Living. Our two teachers are Sister Jina and Brother Dharma Embrace. We’ve included both the video and the audio.

Sister Jina (Chan Dieu Nghiem – True Wonder) is an Irish-Dutch nun who ordained in Japan in 1985 and joined the Plum Village community in 1990, one of Thich Nhat Hanh’s first European monastic disciples. After serving as the dearly loved Abbess of Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, for 16 years, she now lives at Deer Park Monastery in California. Sister Jina’s teachings have inspired generations of practitioners around the world. She is an avid mountain-hiker, bird-watcher and to relax, loves folk-dancing.

Brother Dharma Embrace (Chan Phap Dung) is a Vietnamese-American monk who came of age as a San Fernando “Valley Boy” break dancing and skateboarding. He struggled in school before eventually graduating from USC and working as an architect in Santa Monica. Disenchanted with the corporate world, he decided to ordain on visiting Deer Park Monastery . He is loved by young and old for his dynamic creativity and urban cool. He is involved in many initiatives to bring mindfulness into schools, business, and politics.

A few of the topics covered in this talk include:

  • A Full Time Refugee
  • Taking Refuge in the Breath
  • Taking Refuge in the Bell
  • Growing Up / Anger / Suffering as a Young Man / Conditions of Happiness
  • Coming Home and Opening and Closing the Door
  • Where are my Roots
  • Celebrate Our Spiritual Roots
  • Engagement and Community
  • Questions and answers



Closing Summer Opening 2013 – You Are, Therefore I Am

August 2, 2013. 86-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet of Plum Village during the 2013 Summer Opening. This is the sixteenth talk of the summer and this is the final talk for the summer.

Thay begins a 17-minute teaching for the children on no coming, no going and no sameness, no otherness. He uses a picture of himself as a teenager to illustrate sameness and otherness. Is it the same person as a picture of him today? Thay also uses the flame of a match to illustrate. Is it the same? This is the nature of things and we can see this if we meditate. The teaching of the middle way is a very deep teaching.

Thay continues with the adults. The third pair of opposites is no birth, no death and the fourth is no being, no non-being. We can live with no fear if we remove these four pairs of opposites and have Right View. Removes discrimination and produces understanding and compassion.This is enlightenment. Awakening. Interbeing.

You Are, Therefore I Am

With Right View, we have understanding and we generate Right Speech. Speech that is filled with understanding and compassion and restore communication.

Right Action – thought, speech, and behavior. With Right View we can also have Right Livelihood, Right Dligence, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration.

A brief teaching on the Doors of Liberation – emptiness, signlessmees, and aimlessness. These too can help remove fear, anger, and despair.


Insight of No-Self

July 26, 2013. 90-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet of Plum Village during the 2013 Summer Opening. This is the twelfth talk of the summer.

The bell of mindfulness. In a short talk for children, this is something Thay wants us to bring home with us when you leave Plum Village. This can help to bring peace to the family. He then tells the story of Henry who was a math teacher in Toronto, Canada. How to be a bell master – Thay provides concise instructions for inviting the bell.

The main talk begins at 31-minutes. Karma, retribution, reincarnation teachings have been around a very long time. Before the Buddha. But this is not at the heart of Buddhist teaching. It is the insight of no-self. Teaching on the actor. Impermanence. Sameness and otherness.

To illustrate, we hear the story of a serial killer at the time of the Buddha who then joined the sangha. Transformation.

The self is only made of non-self elements. We don’t need to be dogmatic and caught by words – er can say “self” too. If you are not open then you are not Buddhist. Buddhism too is only made of non-Buddhist elements.

Non-self is Interbeing.

Right thinking is the element that goes along with this teaching. It has a lot of understanding and compassion. We continue with an explanation in several other aspects of the noble eightfold path.


Happiness is the Way

May 27, 2013. 69-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Hong Kong Coliseum. The sangha is on the spring Asian Tour and this talk is given in English with simultaneous translation into Chinese. This is the Public Talk.

Thay has a few questions to ask the audience and the questions might touch something very deep in you and provide you with insight to see the way to go. Allow the question to penetrate into your heart.

  • 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 within 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 your 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 about 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? 
  • Have you ever met a person who is truly happy? 

During the most recent retreat at the YMCA camp in Hong Kong, we learned about walking meditation. How can we arrive with every step in the here and the now. We also learned how to breatha and sit in order to transform our suffering. In order to understand and recognize the suffering in ourselves and the other person. We only need a short time of practice to gain understanding.

What is compassionate listening and loving speech? How can we create reconciliation?

Making the Five Precepts relevant to our time. The precepts and noble eightfold path are based on the insight of Right View and allow you to transcend all discrimination.

The first training is protecting life. The second is about true happiness. Next we have true love. We’ve already touched on deep listening and loving speech, the subject of the fourth. The last training is about consumption. We cover the Four Kinds of Nutriments.


Public Talk in Bangkok

April 9, 2013. 116-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Paragon in Bangkok, Thailand. The sangha is on the spring Asian Tour and this talk is given in English with simultaneous translation into Thai.

We begin with an introduction to listening to the chant by Thich Nhat Hanh. How do we have the capacity to listen that can lead to understanding? How can we get in touch with the suffering of the other person? We hear the monastics chant the name of Avalokiteshvara at 18-minutes.

The main talk begins at 38-minutes. When we hear the bell, we stop thinking and allow our body to relax.

The theme for the talk is how to suffer less, how to create happiness in our daily lives. What is happiness? Do we have time to love and take care of our beloved ones? Do I have the capacity to love? What can we offer those who we love? To love is to be there.

Using the Sutra on the Full Awarness of Mindful Breathing to cultivate love.

Walking to arrive in the present. How should we walk? What other daily activities can we do with mindfulness? Can you see the many conditions of happiness?

Editor’s Note: the very end of the talk is cutoff in the recording. We apologize for this error. 


“Oh my happiness”

September 6, 2012. 111-minute dharma talk given in English, with simultaneous translation into Italian, with Thich Nhat Hanh at a public talk in Rome, Italy.

Listening to the chant to generate powerful energy of mindfulness and peace. Mindfulness of compassion.

Everyone needs a spiritual dimension in their life. Spirituality can be with or without religion. Mindfulness is an energy that can be cultivated with awareness of our body, feelings, perceptions, and environment. Bring our body and mind together. The other energies are concentration and insight. How can we get int touch with the wonders of life?

Happiness in an intimate relationship. Finding happiness despite obstacles in our lives. A spiritual dimension can help us.

How can we cultivate civic happiness in Rome? Practicing reconciliation. Applying mindfulness to civic discourse.


Mindfulness and Inner Peace

August 28, 2012. 130-minute dharma talk given in English, with simultaneous translation into Dutch, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is a public talk given at World Forum Theatre in The Hague, The Netherlands spoknsored by the Mindful Living Foundation.

Inner peace is possible and mindfulness helps us take care of our body, feelings, and perceptions. There is a practice called mindfulness of suffering. Mindfulness is always mindfulness of something. Our suffering has often been ignored and the energy of mindfulness can help touch our suffering. The chanting of the name of the bodhissatva of compassion and deep listening – Avalokiteshvara. The monastics chant at 28m into recording.

How do we listen to the bell? How do we take care of our body and our feelings? The exercises of mindful breathing as outlined in the sutra in the Full Awareness of Mindful Breathing. A short teaching on the noble truths and Right View.

The talk concludes with a song from Sr. Chan Khong.


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.


True Peace and Happiness

March 29, 2012. 73-minute talk from the Royal Festival Hall in London, England. The sangha is on a tour of the United Kingdom and this is the first public event. The recording here is the main talk of the evening activities.

We focus our attention on our breath. One in-breath is enough to bring enlightenment. The teaching is from the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing – we look at the first eight exercises.

Near the end, a few questions are taken from the audience. (1) When you live in the here and now, do you actually forget the past? (2) How do you resolve someone pushing in front of you on the Tube? (3) How can I practice with pain I have caused someone in the past? (4) How do you practice with forgiveness?