Category Archives: Five Mindfulness Trainings

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.

To Meditate is to Look Deeply

May 25, 2013. 87-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.

To meditate is having the time is to look deeply. We first take the body. This is the object of our meditation. Mindfulness of body. We review briefly the realms of  the exercises on breathing: Breath, Feelings, and Mind.

The focus of the talk is on the mind. We start with the concept of mental formations. How do we work with and identify our mental formations. To meditate also means we sit at the river of mental formations and recognize each as they go by. What is store consciousness and mind consciousness? We can water the good seeds in our consciousness. Let us vow to water the good seeds in ourselves and in the other person. The practice of selective watering. The practice of Right Diligence.

This brings us through the for ten exercises from the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Mindful Breathing. There are six more but we’ll continue another day.

The talk shifts to the Fifth Mindfulness Training (35-m) on consumption. The Sutra on the Flesh of the Son illustrates consumption. It speaks on four kinds of Nutriments. The first is edible food.

The second is sensory impressions. How do we consume media, products, etc. The third is volition. What is your deepest desire? The fourth food is consciousness.

The teaching of Interbeing.

The Ground of Right View

June 12, 2012. 111-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village during the 21-Day Retreat with the theme The Science of the Buddha. The talk is given in English and this is the eighth dharma talk (of 15).

Seven Factors of Enlightenment (relaxation, joy, investigation, etc)
Separate investigation of phenomena and noumenal

We should not mixup the two dimensions of conventional and ultimate. When considering the Four Noble Truths, the first two must be investigated in the realm of conventional truth. Conditional Dharma. The same cloud can be both investigated from conventional truth and ultimate truth.

The Second Noble Truth and the Fifth Mindfulness Training can be described in terms of food. Nutriments. The Sutra of the Son’s Flesh gives this teaching on nutriments. Thay explains the Four Kinds of Nutriments: edible foods, sensory impressions, volition, and consciousness. Discusses Mencius’ Mother (China); also known as Meng Ze.Thay would like to see the Sutra on Four Kinds of Nutriments in the next edition of chanting book.

Mindfulness in schools.

Inclusiveness is the Love of Jesus

April 14, 2012. 95-minute recording given at Gleneagle Hotel in Killarney, Ireland by Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is on the UK and Ireland Tour and this is the second dharma talk for the Mindful Living Today retreat.

We begin with a new chant with the inviting the bell and listening to the bell Gathas. The chant is accompanied by traditional flute.

To meditate means to have the time to be calm and to look deeply. Anyone can learn and teach meditation. Connecting with our mother, especially if she is still alive, and we can use the second mantra to be happy she is still alive. Don’t wait. Darling, I know you are there and I am so happy. We can use this with our loved ones. And for those without our mother, we can look for her in the palm of our hand. Thay then uses the hand to illustrate the wisdom of non-discrimination. If we meditate deeply we can learn this wisdom.

The first mindfulness training is about protecting life. A human is made of non-human elements. To protect the environment and other species is to protect ourselves. This is deep ecology. This is a deep practice.

The second mindfulness training is about true happiness. We have to change our idea about happiness. The third mindfulness training is about true love. Kindness. Compassion. Joy. Non-discrimination. We can reduce the suffering with true love. The fourth mindfulness training is about deep listening and loving speech. This training can open up new possibilities. It is a real peace process. How can we heal deep division? Thay provides specific instructions. Last, the fifth mindfulness training is about mindful consumption. The five trainings are not teory. It is very practical. It is the deep teaching of Jesus and the Buddha. We should keep our Christian roots and meditation can make our roots stronger.

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Applying Buddhist Teachings to the Classroom

April 2, 2012. 115-minute dharma talk given at The American School in London by Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is on the UK and Ireland Tour and this is part four (and final part) of the Educators’ Retreat: An Exploration of Mindful Education.

Memorizing gathas to help us establish mindfulness. There are four domains of mindfulness: body, feelings, mental formations, and objects of mind. Mindfulness can help us be together in these four realms. Once we have established mindfulness, we can have concentration. The final kind of energy is insight – this can liberate you from your fear. This is not the product of your thinking, it is the insight of Interbeing. True education should be based in this insight of Interbeing.

In order to see things, we need an organ (for example, the nose to receive oder). The organ of thinking it is called manas, and there is a lot of mis-perception in this organ. For example, the view of a separate self – this is at the base of all our complexes (inferiority, superiority, and equality). We can use mindfulness to gain the insight of non-discrimination. In the field of education, it is the same thing. The happiness of the students is the happiness of the teacher. We need non-discrimination to enjoy the teaching and the learning.

In the teaching of the four noble truths, the first truth is there is suffering. In education, the first thing we should do is identify the suffering and acknowledge it to each other. We have to see the truth so that real change can happen through a collective awakening. Thay continues with the application of the second, third, and fourth noble truth in our lives.

We learn about what is meant by sangha and how it can be applied to the community of teachers. What is suffering and why is it important? The last part of the talk looks closely at the Five Mindfulness Trainings.

Happy teachers will know how to generate understanding and love that will help the younger generation change the world.

A video version may be available.

Questions about Global Climate Change

March 18, 2012. 70-minute talk from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village, France. It is a rainy day today and we hear responses to a series of questions presented by a magazine in the UK on the topic of climate change and global warming.

  1. Do you believe humans can avoid a global ecological collapse, or are we driving ourselves towards one?
  2. The urban population across the world is growing. What if anything is lost by our increasing switch towards being an urban species?
  3. Are we a vulnerable species or one still in control of our destiny?
  4. There is strong support for engineered solutions to our ecological problems, for example reflecting the sun’s rays, sucking up carbon emissions, or lab-grown meat. Is this the right approach for us to be taking?
  5. Most of us in the West are still attached to a high-consumption lifestyle. We like to buy new and exciting things. Is there a strong enough alternative lifestyle out there that can convince us to leave this high-consumption lifestyle we have?
  6. Have we found a new narrative, one that can help us learn to live more sustainably before it is too late?
  7. What is the hardest part of the lifestyle you have chosen to live, and how do you attract young people to follow?
  8. Can we strive for financial and spiritual contentment, or are they mutually exclusive?
  9. Most environmentalists narrow down the problems we face into two issues: overconsumption and overpopulation. Where do you stand?

Answering Questions about Global Climate Change from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

I Know You Suffer

July 27, 2011. 93-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh, translated from the French by Sr. Pine, from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat

Thay teaches four mantras that can help us resolve difficult situations with our loved ones: 1) I am here for you; 2) I know you are there, and I am happy; 3) I know you suffer, and I want you to know that I am here for you; 4) I suffer, please help.

Thay also teaches the story of Mr. Truong and Nam Xuong, who lose their love, and her life, due to actions based on a wrong perception. “In our society we have a fear of suffering, but to understand the suffering in ourselves and in the other person is very important. When we are able to understand the suffering inside, we suffer less. And we can see more easily the suffering in the other person; we can understand them.” To go deeper into how we nourish the seeds of anger inside,

Thay explains the teaching on the Four Nutriments: 1) edible food, 2) sense impressions, 3) volition, 4) consciousness.

The talk was given in French and the English translation is available below. There is a video version available too.

Living Here and Now

UPDATE: The audio file has been fixed; thank you for the patience.

September 11, 2010. 112-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh in Singapore during the Peaceful Mind, Open Heart Retreat at the Kong Meng San Pu Jue Zen Monastery. The talk is given in English and then translated into Chinese. The theme of the talk is the art of living here and now.

Thay reminds us there are many sutras on this topic of living happily in the present moment. We have the ability to live in Amit?bha’s Pure Land. He shares the story of a businessman who brings 500 other businessmen to hear the Buddha talk. In the discourse given, the Buddha mentions happiness five times because he knew this was what the businessmen needed to hear.

It is possible to live happily in the present moment and mindful breathing and mindful walking can bring us to the present moment. Discussion of dharmakaya, the dharma body. Dharma body is the same as practice. We need a good practice and this produces living dharma; mindfulness of the dharma. To nourish the dharma body, we need the sangha body. If we cultivate a living sangha, then you can find the Buddha.

Thay spends a few minutes presenting the true love mantra. This is our ability to be present. We are reminded that breathing and walking are the key to you free. And to love someone is to offer our true presence to him. To her.

The last third of the talk focuses on the Five Mindfulness Trainings. We need to see the suffering of society and this global spiritual ethic manifested in the Five Mindfulness Trainings has been offered to the world.

Long Hand of the Fourfold Sangha

June 11, 2010. 108-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh in Great Compassion Temple, European Institute of Applied Buddhism. The talk was given Vietnamese, though you can clearly hear Thay’s voice, and is translated into English by Sister Chân Duc (Annabel).

The talk has four parts.

  1. Enjoying Every Moment
  2. The Order of Interbeing
  3. Engaged Buddhism
  4. The Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings

The last line of dhamapada, from the Chinese, is an inspiration for the early part of this talk. On my head, there begins to have white hair. My youth has been stolen. It seems like they have come to tell me that I should become a monk as soon as possible. We need to learn to stroll – to enjoy our stroll. We shouldn’t waste our opportunity of being a human. We should enjoy every moment. Taste every moment. How can this be done? Train with a sangha. Don’t wait till your hair is gray

Each member of the Order of Interbeing has to be a pillar. An inspiration. The brown color. The brown jacket symbolizes humility. We should manifest that spirit. The spirit of power of silence. The Vietnamese name is Tiep Hien. The word Tiep has many meanings. To receive is the first. To continue is second. To be in touch with (life, suffering) is third. The first thing we must do is to receive. The way Thay walks. Talks. This is his way of transmitting. The word Hien. First, it means the thing that is present. Now. The dharma  door of plum Village is the present moment. Second, it means realization. Realizing the practice. Third, manifestation. We could also add another meaning. Make it appropriate to the time and place. Actualization. With all these meanings, it can’t so easily translate into English. Therefore, we have Order of Interbeing and we must study to understand its meaning.

Engaged Buddhism means Buddhism that enters the world. Engaged Buddhism has been in our Vietnamese tradition for hundreds of years. Closely related to Engaged Buddhism is Applied Buddhism. Applied is a secular term, but it allows us to do more than simply study Buddhism but rather to actually apply the teachings to transform our suffering. There are many schools that teach Buddhism, but few that teach applied Buddhism. The Order of Interbeing members are the long hand of the fourfold sangha that stretches out to society. The lay order members are needed to do this. Build sangha.

Thay calls for a council, an assembly of Order members, to revise the Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings. This is our challenge. With the recent revision of the Five Mindfulness Trainings, they now contain all the good parts of the Fourteen, but the Fourteen are now missing new elements found in the five. A committee has already begun the work, but it needs to be expanded.

I hope you enjoy the talk as much as I did listening and making a few notes.