Tag 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)

What is God?

July 25, 2013. 77-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet of Plum Village during the 2013 Summer Opening. This is the eleventh talk of the summer and it is a session of questions and answers.

Children

  1. How can I stop worrying?
  2. When I’m angry, how do I let my anger out?
  3. What is God?
  4. Why do I suffer?
  5. What can I do to not have friends exclude me?

Adults

  1. How can Buddhism help in serious illnesses?
  2. What is your teaching on reincarnation?
  3. How can you treat … Question on love?

Be Yourself. Be Beautiful.

July 18, 2013. 95-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet of Plum Village during the 2013 Summer Opening. This is the seventh talk of the summer and this is a session of questions and answers.

Children

  1. Why are there bad days and why are there good days?
  2. Where does the spirit go when it leaves the body?
  3. How did Thay become a monk?
  4. What is the difference between the soul and the spirit?
  5. How old do you have to be to become a monk?
  6. How can I make my mother happy when she is angry with me?

Adults

  1. Do we have to forgive everything and how can we do that?
  2. A question about students and masters.
  3. If Buddhism supports the love of nature then why doesn’t it support romantic love?
  4. How can I help people who have sadness and loneliness in their hearts?
  5. Question about the “be yourself. Be beautiful” verse And Mother Earth

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 In, I Know I am Alive

October 8, 2011. 109-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, NY. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the third dharma talk for the Stepping Into Freedom, Savoring Life Retreat.

The Buddha is a teacher of love. At the time of the Buddha, the people of India were followers of Brahma and Brahma was love. So the Buddha taught about love and gave us the Four Elements of True Love – the Four Brahmaviharas.

The first element is maitri, It’s a difficult word to translate, but many people translate into lovingkindness.  Loving oneself is the foundation of loving someone else. The Buddha made himself happy and then he helped other people be happy. When you have freedom and calmness, then it is easy to help other people be happy. The second element of true love is karuna. This is usually translated as compassion. This is one is to remove suffering, to transform suffering. The third element is mudita – this is joy. This is the sign of true love. And most of the truth lies in the fourth element – upeksa. Scholars have usually translated this as equanimity but Thay shares the real meaning is non-discrimination. In true love there is no place for discrimination.

The wisdom of non-discrimination. In the teaching of the Noble Eightfold Path, the Buddha speaks of Right View. Right View is the type of insight that is free from discrimination. Right View is usually mentioned as the first element of the Noble Eightfold Path, but it also comes from Right Concentration and Right Mindfulness. Coming from Right View, we can produce Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, and Right Diligence. Today we will focus more on the practice of Right View and Right Concentration, but these are the eight elements of the path proposed by the Buddha. It is the Path of True Love. When we take the Five Mindfulness Trainings, they represent this path.

The teaching of no-birth and no-death, being and non-being. This has to do with the practice of emptiness, one of the three doors of liberation. There is a word, Sahabhu, it means co-being. We cannot exist by ourselves. Thay also speaks of our ideas and notions, including the notion of impermanence. Do we have insight?

Action has three aspects. Thinking. Speaking. Body. This is our product. Our continuation. Anything you produce will bear your signature. This is karma. We are our action.

With this path we can create happiness. True understanding and compassion.

You may listen or download the audio from this site or watch the video.

Responding to Violence

August 22, 2011. 107-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 Question and Answer session of the Body and Mind Are One retreat.

Thay answers question first from the children, from young adults, and older practitioners:

  1. Is meditating about having fun?
  2. Does the Buddha live in the bell?
  3. Can the bell be another color besides black?
  4. Is meditating healthy?
  5. What is the most important thing I can do to build Sangha?
  6. If the men in power in this country were to ask you for advice, what would you tell them?
  7. Is it ever appropriate to respond to violence with violence?
  8. How do we respond to health care workers and hospitals that have led to the death of family members?
  9. Is it wrong to take someone’s life in the case of the death penalty?
  10. How do I know when I’m truly ready to love and help others, and how do I know when I am ready for a long-term commitment?
  11. How do we practice letting go in a healthy way before tension builds?
  12. Would you consider permitting neuroscientists to study your mind, and the minds of brothers and sisters?

The talk is available below. A video version is available: questions and answers.

A Deep Volition of Practice

August 12, 2011. 85-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from War Memorial Gym at University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this talk is a question and answer session.

Children

  1. How did it feel when you left your country?
  2. Where did you learn to become mindful and to breathe?
  3. Do you think you’ve reached the highest level of Buddhism? Oh, can you play soccer with the kids today?

Teens

  1. Do you believe you have reached the stage of enlightenment, and if not do you think you will at some stage in your life?
  2. What was it like being on the Oprah Winfry show?
  3. What is the goal of Buddhism?
  4. I have self doubt and negative thoughts that keep me from enjoying myself; how can I overcome this?

Adults

  1. What are the best ways to connect with my volition to offer love?
  2. My suffering comes from chronic illness with a lot of physical pain and I am also an activist who cares very deeply for the world which leads to despair. What practices do you suggest for this type of suffering?
  3. What would be a good way to bring mindfulness to the inner cities?
  4. Awakening of the Heart. Are we as a society moving from the intellect to the heart? Is there a shift in our collective consciousness?

The talk is available below. There is a video version available too.

Happiness is Made of Non-Happiness

July 22, 2011. 86-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat.

The art of happiness. We have to practice in order to be happy. There is also the art of power. Some believe if we have power then we will be happy.

There are three kinds of power: the power to cut off, the power to love, and the power to understand.

We have no courage to cut off, and that is a power we can cultivate. If do not cut off our craving, our angry, our despair, and other cravings then we suffer. This is a spiritual power. if we can do this, we can be a free.

The power to love, to accept, to forgive, to embrace. We suffer because we cannot accept, because our love is not large enough. Thay shares the story of salt and water. When our heart is large then we don’t suffer. We can cultivate this power of love.

The third is power to understanding. This is the foundation of love. The second noble truth speaks of understanding out suffering. We have to understand our own suffering first before we can understand the other. The Three Doors of Liberation can help us with this power.

Thay would like to write another book call The Power of Suffering. There are ways to suffer. In the teaching if the Buddha, happiness and suffering go together. It is like the above and the below; like the left and right. When we realize that happiness is made up of non-happiness elements, we are able to make good use of the mud of our suffering to grow a lotus flower. If you know how to suffer then you know how to create happiness.

In the Sutra of Mindful Breathing, there are sixteen exercises that can help us understand our suffering.

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

Miracle of Being Alive: The Greatest of All Miracles

July 15, 2011. 86-minute dharma talk from Stillwater Meditation Hall in Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France with Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat and it is the second week.

Thay continues the teaching on mindfulness of breathing, summarizing the first eight steps of the Sutra on Mindful Breathing (he spoke of it during the July 13 dharma talk). The first four help us take care of our body. With the fifth, we touch the realm of feelings.

He teaches on dealing with difficult emotions, including how we can help those loved ones who feel they need to commit suicide because of an emotion. Belly breathing. Focus on your in breath and out breath, following the rise of abdomen. We should remember that emotions are impermanent. We have can peace, solidity, and freedom.

From the realm of body and feelings, we come to the ninth exercise which is the realm of the mental formations. Formation – samskara – is a technical term. The flower is a formation because it is made of non-flower elements. In the Buddhist tradition, there are 51 mental formations. We learn the relationship between mind consciousness and store consciousness and the concept of seeds (bija). We can practice selective watering. In a relationship, we can use a Peace Treaty. He tells the story of a couple whose love is revitalized by the practice of watering good seeds. The ninth exercise is about gladdening the mind.

At the end of the talk Thay shares about the four practices of Right Diligence. It means we should continue our practice. Don’t allow the negative seeds to become a mental formation. If a negative seed becomes a mental formation, we shouldn’t allow it to stay too long, but not by way of suppressing. When you recognize a good seed, try to touch it and bring up. Finally, try to keep the good seeds present as long as you can.

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