Tag Archives: suffering

The Breathing Room

This talk from the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village is dated Thursday, March 27, 2014. The talk on this day is in English.

14:44 The Breathing Room
22:54 Inviting the Bell
33:10 Conditions of Happiness
43:30 Mindfulness of Suffering

Thich Nhat Hanh begins with a recollection of a retreat for children. During walking meditation, we proposed they use “yes, yes” and “thanks, thanks” for each of their steps. We can say yes and feel thankful. There are so many things we can say yes to. We can appreciate these things – our body, our eyes, etc. With our eyes we can see the blue sky and the mountains. The practice is breathing in, I am aware of my eyes and am grateful they are in good condition. We do the same with other parts of our body. Like our heart. With this awareness, we can take better care of our body and allow it to be restored. In the “Sutra on the Contemplations of the Body” the Buddha taught us how to look at all the parts of the body. We use mindfulness to project light onto every part of our body. This can bring us happiness, love, and compassion. Thay provides more instruction on this practice.

If you are a leader of a corporation, you may wish to incorporate and offer a session of total relaxation. This is not a loss of time. The same can be done by a school teacher for the students. Parents too, if they know the practice, can offer a session for the family. In a civilized society this can be very good. We can also create a tiny meditation hall in the home; a space where the bell can be located and we can practice in a safe space. Every time you feel restless or confused or irritated, we can walk to that place – the breathing room – and stop all the thinking and calm our body and mind. Thay recalls a story of how to open/close the door when he was a young novice that he then relayed to Thomas Merton.

In our small breathing room, we should also have a bell. This is a territory of mindfulness. There are four lines to learn when inviting the bell after we breath in and out three times before Inviting the Bell. Thay teaches us how to invite the bell and why mindful breathing is so important.

There are many conditions of happiness. In Buddhism, we have many versus to help us practice mindfulness. For example, for when turning on the water faucet. Are you aware of your conditions of happiness? Teaching continues on how this related to the breathing room and why it’s important for the family. This is the art of happiness.

This is part of the 7th & 8th mindfulness exercises in the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Mindful Breathing. We should not run away from our suffering. We can learn from our suffering. This ties right into the Four Noble Truths. We can learn to listen to our suffering without fear without running away through consumption. With mindfulness we have the energy to take care of our suffering.

The practice of looking and listening deeply. Meditation is the time to look and listen to understand our suffering. This brings about understanding and compassion. If you know how to suffer, you suffer much less. You cannot take happiness out of suffering and cannot take suffering out of happiness.

Perception and Reality

Originally given in Vietnamese, available from Lang Mai, the talk from the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village is dated Sunday, January 19, 2014 and is the nineteenth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. English translation, available below, is by Sr. Tue Nghiem. We begin with a teaching on the art of happiness and the art of suffering and how the body and mind work together. The second half of the talk returns to our sutra study by looking at perception and reality.

0:00-9:07 Chanting
9:28-29:36 Art of Generating Happiness
29:36-37:54 Art of Suffering
37:55- 50:25 Mindfulness of Body
50:25-1:07:11 Direct Perception
1:07:11-1:20:25 Representative Perception – Manas
1:20:25-1:32:52 Mind consciousness in Dispersion
1:32:52-end Reality as Form

If we know how to use our time, we can learn a lot in only a week at Plum Village and when we return home we can continue our practice. Mindfulness helps us generate peace, joy, and happiness. This can realized in every breath and step. We can use mindfulness, concentration, and insight. Mindfulness is happening in our body, feeling, and perception. It helps us know what is happening right now. We all have mindfulness energy. A second meaning for mindfulness is to remember, to recall. Our experiences of the past. With our mindfulness we can have insight. Do we know how to make use of our insight? Concentration is focusing on something. We can dwell stably in the present moment. An experienced practitioner who can generate joy, peace, and happiness in every step and every breath. While we are here at Plum Village we can practice so that we can also do it when we return home. This is the art of generating happiness.

How are we not caught by things worthy of pursuit? Our attachments prevent us from being happy. We can be happy when we let go. Mindfulness can also help us manage our suffering, our painful feelings and emotions. In doing so, we can suffer less. This is the art of suffering. We can use our suffering to generate our happiness. Love and understanding bloom from the mud of our suffering. In only one week we can generate and learn this practice.

First, there is mindfulness of the body. When we breath-in, we bring our mind back to the body. This is the first fruit of the practice. We have some exercises to become more aware of our body. How do we practice with mindfulness of our body.

The other day we began to learn the three objects and we continue here. Direct perception – things in themselves. Suchness. Reality as it is is a direct and correct and right perception. Subject and object of perception that always go together. What does science and Buddhism have to say about this? True direct perception sees the unity of subject and object. This includes consciousness of a object. Our practice is to break through ideas and the more we can do this then the more we can be happy. We can take away the discrimination of things.

Store conciousness has this true and right perception but manas does not. Manas is the desire to live coming from sttore conciousness but considers the body as a self. It is obstructed. This is an erroneous direct perception. The object of manas is only a representation of reality.

Mind consciousness in dispersion. When in this condition, there is no mindfulness and can be easily be influenced by manas to look for pleasure and avoid suffering. If we have mind conciousness, then we can see the Four Kinds of Nutriments. We have to know to inhibit and shine light manas so the amount of “mud” is in moderation so we can grow the lotus. We need some amount of mud.

Direct perception. Erroneous perception. Wrong perception.

In the 30-verses, we see the three natures. The tendency of conciousness to cut reality into pieces. Interdependent co-determination. Memory and mere image.

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.

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?

Why do we practice walking meditation?

July 8, 2013. 100-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village during the 2013 Summer Opening. This is the first talk of the summer.

Note: the brief segment at the beginning is missing.

We begin with a 25-minute introduction on listening to the chant. The art of suffering. If we know how to suffer then we suffer much less. It’s like an organic gardener who knows it is useful to keep the garbage in order to nourish the flowers and vegetables. Understanding suffering is very important and we can use the energy of mindfulness to take care of our suffering. This is the heart of the Buddhist teaching. The first noble truth is there is suffering. The monks and the nuns will practice chanting this morning saying the name of Avalokiteshvara. They are getting in touch with the suffering.

The monks and nuns begin chanting the name Namo Avalokiteshvara from 25-minutes to 48-minutes. The main talk begins at 53-minutes into the recording.

As meditation practitioners, we should know how to generate peace, happiness, and joy. We can do this while walking, sitting, eating, drinking, etc. We can train ourselves. Listening to the bell is a reminder. Being alive in the present moment. It only takes 2-3 seconds to being mind and body together.

We have a 30-minute explanation of how and why we do walking meditation.

If you know how to handle the present moment then we are taking care of the future. I have arrived. I am home.

Create a Moment of Happiness

March 10, 2013. 45-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village during the Daffodil Festival. We have been quiet here on the archive because the sangha took time for lazy days as well as a monastic retreat (not distributed). This talk is given in English and the sangha is preparing for the arrival of 600 French in the coming week. A few suggested subjects for the retreat include: happiness is possible, healing is possible how to live more deeply, coming home, do not wander anymore, and go as a river.

The practice of Plum Village can be seen in two points. First, how to recognize the suffering and embrace it and transform it. We cannot avoid suffering. If you know how to suffer, you will suffer less. The art of suffering. We have blocks of suffering, but how to handle the little sufferings? How do we support those attending the retreat? How do we prepare the space so they know that healing is possible with every step and every breath? There is no way to healing, healing is the way. In order to heal, we have to stop. The Five Mindfulness Trainings can help us with this practice. They have the power to heal. It is possible to create moments of happiness in our daily lives. Learn how to enjoy and savor the little happinesses in life. Can you create a moment of happiness?

What can we do about the mental discourse in our head? Radio NST (Non-Stop-Thinking). One practice is to feel our body and our feelings. We can practice walking meditation. It is an opportunity to create moments of happiness and to heal. Eating in mindfulness is another practice. Being aware of the food and members of the sangha around you. This is not hard labor. The dharma is lovely and every minute of the practice can be healing and transforming.

Available here as a audio download or a video.

Many Pairs of Opposites

January 3, 2013. 110-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the seventeenth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk is given in English and we begin with a chant.

There ia a sutra on the contemplation of the body and the body is a big subject of meditation. There is much suffering and misery in this world and some people want to get out of this world. Is there a way to get out of the world of suffering and misery by looking into your body? We can see the four elements – water, air, earth, and heat – in our body. There are six sense organs that can produce the six consciousnesses. When you look into the body deeply, you can see it is a community. Can you see all our ancestors by looking into the body? Is there a self? If we heal ourselves, we can heal our ancestors. We don’t just practice for ourselves, we practice for all our ancestors. Our body is a treasure and we should take care of our body. There is a Buddha in the body. How do we practice? The dharma and the sangha. We organize a “resistance” to keep our practice alive.

At about 30-minutes into the recording, we continue with the subject matter for the Winter Retreat. Pairs of opposites. We hear a teaching on the concepts of birth and death, being and non-being, ultimate and conventional truth, sameness and otherness. Interbeing and the path leading us to the ultimate truth. Everything is a formation, a conditioned dharma. Samsara and nirvana. You may wish to review the video, Thay wrote on the board quite a bit for this segment of the talk.

There is a way a path to this wisdom of adaptation.

Nirvana and Samsara

December 27, 2012. Dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat) and this is the the fifteenth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk was originally given in French and this is the English translation.

What does it mean to have a spiritual dimension in our life? Why is it important for daily life?

The Four Noble Truths and the path in the second versus the path in the fourth. Two paths to choose. To well being or to ill being. We in Plum Village look at these two paths with the eyes of Interbeing.

What creates suffering? How do we take care of our suffering? The path leading to awakening. How and how much time does it take to reach enlightenment? Enlightenment is available in every moment. There is no way to enlightenment, enlightenment is the way. This is the teaching of Interbeing.

Love and reconciliation. What is nirvana? Is nirvana possible? What is the relationship to samsara?

The Buddha taught the Three Dharma Seals.

  1. All formations are impermanent.
  2. All things are without self.
  3. Nirvana

The Uncultivated Mind Brings Suffering

October 25, 2012. 105-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is enjoying the Autumn Retreat and this is a Day of Mindfulness.

Last week we learned about the Four Kinds of Nutriments and having to do with the Fifth Mindfulness Training.

Power. Some people think if they have power, they will be happy. It takes a great deal of understanding. The mind of love; of enlightenment. Bodhicitta. This comes from the practice of mindfulness and concentration. Understanding your own suffering helps you understand the suffering of others around you. I’m the family and in the nation. Love and understanding. Understanding is the foundation of love. The mind left uncultivated will bring lots of suffering. We need a spiritual dimension in our daily life. This is our practice. Bodhicitta is a tremendous source of energy.

Mental formations. There are mental formations that make us suffer, but they can be transformed.
Samadhi. Maintaining awareness.

Meditation on impermance. We have to keep this alive in us. Treasure the moments we have. Impermanance is a characteristic of life.

The Three Doors of Liberation. Concentrations. Emptiness. Signlessness. Aimlessness. This teaching includes an exploration of birth and death. Being and non-being. Impermanance. Non-craving. Nirvana.

Download

It begins with Right View

August 21, 2012. 102-minute dharma talk given in English, with simultaneous translation into German, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the second Dharma talk offered by Thay in the German Retreat at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

In a talk for the children, Thay talks about being a seed of corn and how we too began as a tiny seed.

What is the connection between happiness and suffering? If suffering exists, something else exists at the same time. It is like the left and the right. If suffering is there, there must be a cause. We can see this teaching in the Four Noble Truths. The Buddha taught a path from the cessation of suffering to happiness. It’s called the Noble Eightfold Path and it begins with Right View. With Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration, we can have breakthrough to Right View.

Conventional truth and Ultimate truth.