Tag Archives: suicide

Love and Happiness

Lotus Pond

It was Thanksgiving Day in Plum Village on November 25, 2004. The sangha gathered in Lower Hamlet, Plum Village during the Fall Retreat and Thay gave a 45-minute dharma talk on the topic of love and happiness.

The telephone line should be called the “compassionate line.” We hope this line can be established everywhere so that young people in their suffering, despair, and strong emotions can have someone to talk with. Suicide is a real issue and young people they feel lonely and suffer so much. Who can they talk with? Someone who has the capacity to listen. Each of us can make a vow to be that person who has the capacity to listen. Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of deep listening. Compassionate listening. We have to cultivate this capacity and transform ourselves in this bodhisattva. Without the capacity of listening deeply, we cannot understand.

According to the teachings of the Buddha, love is born from the ground of understanding. We can apply this in our relationships and our families. Understanding is not something that happens “just like that” – it takes time and we have to give our ideas, our views, our prejudices, our judgment.

Understanding what? The difficulties and suffering of the other person. The deep hope and desire the person has. The kind of obstacles the person is experiencing. We can ask the other person, “do you think I understand you enough?” Once you understand, you can stop doing and saying things that cause the other person to suffer. Then you have True Love. This is the practice of love.

Do we understand ourselves? The nature of our own suffering? Everyone has an idea of happiness and we may strive for that idea. But, can we see that happiness can come from any direction? Joy comes from letting go and the first thing we can let go of is our idea of happiness.

In the Buddhist teaching of love, there are four elements. The first is maitri – friendship, brotherhood, loving-kindness. And the second is karuna – capacity to understand the suffering and help remove and transform it – compassion. Mudita is the third element – joy – your joy is her joy, her joy is our joy. The last element is upeksha – nondiscrimination. This is a higher form of love. The four qualities have no limits – infinite love – these elements are also call the Four Unlimited Minds.

The bodhisattva of love is in you.

 

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The Way Out Is In

This talk from the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village is dated Sunday, March 30, 2014. The talk on this day is in English.

0:00 Present Moment
14:05 The Feelings
29:04 The Body
37:20 Mindfulness of Compassion (Listening)
1:12:45 Story of Suicide and Transformation

When you breath in, you bring your mind home to your body. A lot of time, your mind is not with your body. But when they are together, you are truly in the here and the now for your transformation and healing. It is wonderful be present and your breath becomes the object of your mind and you can become a free person. You can cultivate freedom. You don’t need to be influenced by your fear and anger. We can make good decisions. The bell of mindfulness can call you back to the present moment. Walking can also bring us to the present moment. Every step. This is the basic practice to touch the wonders of life. At Plum Village, we should learn to breathe and to walk in the present moment.

In the last talk, we learned the 7th and 8th exercises of mindful breathing. The 7th is being aware of the pain within myself. When we have a painful feeling, we know it! Do we know how to handle it or do we cover up the feelings with consumption? We can be stronger with the energy of mindfulness. The energy of mindfulness sees thee energy of pain. And the 8th exercise is to calm down the painful feeling. Holding the child of suffering – embracing tenderly.

What is exercises five and six? Five is to generate a feeling a joy. And the sixth is to generate happiness. We can always bring about a feeling of joy and happiness whenever we want. How? The oneness of body and mind. The sixth exercise is the art of happiness where the seventh and eighth are the art of suffering.

The first four exercises are about the body and the next four are about the feelings. The third is the awareness of body. When you go home to your body, you may notice pain and stress in your body. This makes you suffer. The fourth is to release the tension in your body. Calming your body. This takes care of our body. We them review the first two exercises. One week at Plum Village is enough time to learn the art.

Last time we also spoke about listening. When we have the energy of mindfulness and concentration we can look deeply into the nature of our own suffering. Understanding our own suffering lets us understand the suffering of our parents and our ancestors. We need mindfulness and concentration so we are not overwhelmed by the suffering of ourselves and others. This is the practice. Understanding brings about compassion. Everyone should learn to cultivate compassion. The practice of deep listening and loving speech can always restore communication and bring about reconciliation. What is loving speech? We practice mindfulness of compassion. Thay shares the story of being the Israelis and Palestinians together at Plum Village.

Thay then shares a story of a woman in America who wanted to commit suicide and how she was able to transform her suffering.

The way out, is in.

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Will Thay Sing us a Song?

August 15, 2013. 102-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the fourth dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Happy Teachers will Change the World. We begin with two chants from the monastics followed by a session of questions and answers.

Children

  1. Will you tell us of a struggle you’ve had and how meditation and the bell helped you to overcome it?
  2. Recalling the dream in an earlier talk this week, how did it make you feel when the secretary said yes to you and not to the other person?
  3. Will Thay sing us a song?
  4. What made you want to become a zen master?

Teens

  1. What is the difference between joy and happiness?
  2. My father causes much suffering and doesn’t practice right view. I have lots of resentment I am fearful. How do I transform my suffering to peace and joy when he has hurt me so much?
  3. How did mindfulness help you in your life?
  4. How can I bring the practice to life for the ones I love without forcing it on them, especially those who have sexual misconduct or doing drugs?

Adults

  1. A question about engaged Buddhism.
  2. In the list of 51 mental formations, shame is identified as a wholesome formation. Can you explain this?
  3. A question about hope. Fear and anger in society and future of human race and the planet.
  4. Another question on the future. With favorable climatic conditions ending, how do we balance kindness/mindfulness for future generations and with present people?
  5. A question about ending a relationship. What do you do when there isn’t an ability to leave a toxic relationship? How do we transform if we’re not strong enough in our practice? Also concerns about financial stability beyond the relationship.
  6. A question from a person who can’t overcome her suffering. The pain seems insurmountable. The question comes with some question on how to continue living.

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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.

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What is the Fourth Mindfulness Training?

October 14, 2012. 67-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is enjoying the Autumn Retreat and this is a Day of Mindfulness. We begin with the chant May the Day Be Well followed by a brief guided meditation by Thay.

What is a bodhissatva? Mother Earth is a great bodhissatva.

Mind and matter are not two separate entities. What is Interbeing? The mind of non-discrimination. What is suffering an how do we respond? If you understand suffering, then already have a kind of enlightenment. A bodhissatva for yourself.

The practice if the fourth mindfulness training – loving speech. This is the work of a bodhissatva. This also includes compassionate listening. Restore communication and bring about reconciliation.

Thay tells the story of a catholic woman who suffers greatly in her marriage and wants to commit suicide except for the help of a Vietnamese Buddhist friend who helps her learn about the fourth mindfulness training and reconciliation.

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Is it ever okay to tell a lie?

August 1, 2012. 87-minute recording given at Lower Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the nineteenth dharma talk of the Summer Opening and this is a session of questions and answers. Editor’s note, we have skipped the talks from July 29 & 31 here on this site; it may appear later.

Children

  1. Why is my brother always so nasty to me?
  2. Why does Thay do hand symbols (mudra) during chanting?
  3. Why do Buddhist shave their head?
  4. What should we do if we begin to hate someone we love?

Adults

  1. Is it correct to tell a lie if the truth would hurt the person you love?
  2. How can I be stable? How can I live with a person who doesn’t believe in spirituality?
  3. Why is it that monastics sisters have more precepts than monastic brothers? If it is because they have special problems, shouldn’t the brothers at least have the same number of precepts?
  4. How can you help a child recognize their father of they’ve never had te opportunity to know him? For example, artificial insemination.
  5. What was the biggest notion in your life that you’ve overcome?
  6. How do I practice this teaching with suicide?
  7. When you have arrived on the other shore. Do you still think? Do you still suffer?
  8. How do we build and organize a practice center?
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Science of the Buddha: Questions and Answers #2

June 17, 2012. 93-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 twelfth dharma talk (of 15). This talk is a session of Questions and Answers.

Questions

  1. I want to go home because cooking materials needed for my special diet is being stolen from my tent in Lower Hamlet. I feel unsafe here. What should I do?
  2. How do we handle training people in mindfulness to address concerns of global warming, food shortages, war, etc.? How fast should we go? How much practice do we need before we can teach?
  3. Can you help me understand the new language in the revised Third and Fourteen Mindfulness Trainings, especially the line about “being known to my family and friends” as it relates to LBGT community?
  4. I have my own ideas/understanding, I’ve been using the practice of “no” (koan) as you described in Zen Keys. Is this good practice?
  5. How to practice letting go?
  6. Three written questions on transmission and karma of illness through the family.  For example, suicide.
  7. What role does Parallax Press and your books have in sharing the dharma and the mindfulness Trainings?
  8. How do I work with internal anger (maybe manifested via external illness)?
  9. Dance and writing
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Nottingham Retreat: Question & Answer Session

April 9, 2012. 118-minute recording given at The University of Nottingham by Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is on the UK and Ireland Tour and this is the question and answer session for the Cultivating Happiness Family Retreat. After the monastics do chanting, the questions begin about 12-minutes into the recording. A good question can help many people, so we should ask a question of the heart.

Questions from the children

If feels as if my mother treats my brother better than me; how can I make it feel fair?
Have you ever hurt someone on purpose?
Where do get ideas for your books?
When you started learning meditation, did you suffer?
What is it like in Plum Village?
From your point of view, why is the meaning of life, the universe, and everything?

Questions from teens and adults.

Do you have a special object?
What are the benefits of being a monk?
What are your views on assisted suicide?
Is there a difference between engaged Buddhism and applied Buddhism?
What is consciousness? Mind?
How can I build confidence without external substances?
How do I help a family with four children whose father committed suicide?
What is the importance of dreams?
What is the role of competition within mindfulness?
How can we be free in our thinking?

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Nottingham Retreat: Question & Answer Session from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

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Making Peace with Ourselves

February 12, 2012. 79-minute dharma talk from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation. A French translation is also available.

Learning to connect with oneself. In Plum Village, our practice is simple. First, we learn how to breathe. We can start to connect with ourselves through the in-breath. The in breath is us. If you practice, the quality will improve. More gentle. More light. We use a gatha: In. Out. Deep. Slow. Calm. Ease. Smile. Release. Present moment. Wonderful moment.

Working with feelings through our breath is also possible. This is taught in the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing. Practicing means taking care of our body and our mind. We have the five Skandhas. There is still suffering alongside the well being, but we can be harmony with ourselves. Make peace with ourselves. We don’t need to commit suicide.

At 21-minutes we resume the sutra study of “Alambanapariksha and Vrtti” with gatha #7. Last time we talked of the image of perception. The subject and the object take refuge in each other; like the right and the left. We call this Interbeing (in science this is called Entanglement). They must manifest at the same time and serve as conditions to each other. Thay then teaches the six characteristics of bija (seeds).

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Making Peace with Ourselves from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

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The Atom of your Consciousness

February 2, 2012. 82-minute dharma talk from Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation by Sister Chan Khong. You may also listen to the Vietnamese or French versions.

I am here for you. This is a mantra of love. This is also taking care of yourself. If we can’t do this – our own presence – we can’t be there for another person. Invite yourself to be fresh. We entrust ourselves to the sangha. We don’t try to hide our weaknesses.

At 25-minutes, we begin looking at a shastra, or commentary. Thay provides instruction, corrections, and analysis of Dignaga’s shastra, a student of Vassubandhu’s, also of the Yogacara school. Buddhist logic. The commentary is Dignaga’s Alambana-pariksa, discussing substantialism, the nature of svabhava, and realism. The object of our Conciousness. We can only see the object, not the the smallest elements – dust, atom.

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