How to Promote World Peace

From the Rising Tide Meditation Hall at a retreat at Magnolia Grove Monastery in Batesville, Mississippi during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is a session of questions and responses from those at the 6-day retreat with the theme Healing Ourselves, Healing the World. The date is September 28, 2013.

  1. How do you deal with depression?
  2. How is it possible for humankind to achieve world peace?
  3. How do I help a friend who is depressed?
  4. How can I help a friend who has a problem with his parents and has suicidal thoughts?
  5. How can I help a friend who speaks in anger to his mother and to be less angry?
  6. What do you do when you are stuck between two paths in your life?
  7. What is the Buddhist perspective on mental disorders, particularly personality disorder, and how a family can heal with this ongoing challenge?
  8. How can I practice with my fear of dying?
  9. What is the essence of true love?
  10. Should we act as a human shield to raise awareness and to stop war and violence in the world?
  11. Concerns about consumption of products with less integrity.
  12. How can I work with the historical suffering of the Jewish community?
  13. I would like to offer walking meditation and do you feel that I am qualified?
  14. How does this sangha influence the other sanghas we have created, such as government?
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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.

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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.

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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.

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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?
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