Tag Archives: violence

Reconciliation

The Retreat on Buddhist Psychology continues in Key West, Florida. The date is November 8, 1997. This is the seventh talk (115-minutes). Audio is posted below and the video is available for our donors on Patreon.

We begin with the story of David, an America who came to Plum Village and was given he assignment to write a Iove letter to his father. He thought he couldn’t do this to reconcile with him father. Thay had him practice as a 5-year old boy for a week so to touch the vulnerability and fragility in himself. We smile and identify the little child inside of us. This practice is followed by seeing our parent/father as a 5-year old child as well. Maybe we need a picture to help us truly visualize this our parent.

The teaching of emptiness of transmission. Everything depends on everything else. It always includes a transmitter, an object, and a receiver. But these three elements cannot be separated.

Another story, this one of Michael, another American, where he was asked to list the wholesome qualities of his father and mother. He had a challenge doing this for his mother because of some anger and resentment. This exercise can help repair our resentment and anger. And he was able to write a beautiful love letter to his mother. The practice has the power to liberate and bring non-fear and joy.

When we feel that we have been abused, when people have treated us with violence, anger, hatred, discrimination then a block of suffering is within us. The negative energy is in us. And if you don’t know how to handle and transform the violence within us then that violence will destroy us and the people we love. The criminals, the terrorist, they have not been able to transform the violence. We have to learn how to handle and transform the violence in us and to help others do the same. In our schools, in our prisons, and in our police departments. Mindfulness practice must be offered to society and it can be done in a non-sectarian, non-religious form.

Thay shares his idea for an Association of Mindfulness Practice Centers and what that would look like in practice and reality. He shared about three mindfulness practice centers taking shape in America (DC, Vermont, and California). Living according to the Five Mindfulness Trainings. We need to be affiliated with a group of people, a sangha. It is essential to our practice. The sangha is our refuge.

At 58-minutes we resume the teaching on the 50 Verses. We begin with verses 15-22 – about the seventh consciousness of manas. Then verse 23 is about the sixth, mental consciousness. Thay repeats a little on the three modes of cognition – the realm of things in themselves, the realm of representation, and the realm of mere image. Verses 25-27, the root of all actions. With verses 28-30, we move to the five consciousnesses of sensations.

Historical Perspective
During this talk, Thay announces the 21-Day Retreat planned for May 23, 1998 that took place at St. Michaels College in Burlington, Vermont. The theme of that retreat was the Sutra on Mindful Breathing. This was the first time the 21-Day occurred in North America. He also announced that 200-acres are being donated in Vermont for a practice community.

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Being #1 and/or Being Happy

This talk by Thich Nhat Hanh is from the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village and is dated Sunday, December 22, 2013. It is the eleventh talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. In this talk we use the practice of walking meditation to explore themes of enlightenment, secularization of mindfulness, technology, schools, and the corporation. Both the audio recording and the video are available in this post.

02:22-12:18 Chanting
16:38-28:50 The practice of walking meditation
28:50-32:30 Enlightenment
32:30-40:01 Reflection on our Life in 2013
40:01-53:50 Coming Home to Ourselves and the Corporation
53:50-61:01 Secularization of Mindfulness and Being #1
1:01-1:06 Making Good Use of Technology
1:07-1:15 Intentions for Year 2014 – Walking Meditation
1:15-1:19 Mindfulness and a Sangha
1:19-1:32 UNESCO, Wake Up Schools, and Politics

Today during our Touching the Earth practice, we promised to the Buddha that we would enjoy the practice of walking meditation in our daily life. Every breath and step can generate a feeling of joy and a feeling of peace. Our body is a wonder. We don’t need to be in a hurry, looking for something. In Plum Village we practice walking mediation. Why do we practice walking meditation? The same question is asked of sitting meditation. How does Thay practice mindful movements? Why does Thay practice mindful movements? It is not only for better health. It tells Thay that he is alive and strong enough to do the movements. Thay shares about those astronauts who return to the earth and walk again – how long do they maintain this awareness? Mindfulness of being alive and walking on the earth is a wonderful thing. To enjoy walking meditation is not difficult.

Everyone can have mindfulness of breathing. Enlightenment can arise in a few seconds with awareness of our breath and that we are alive and we have a body. Buddhism is not exactly a religion but it is a way of living. You don’t need to be a Buddhist to practice mindfulness. We can even generate this while we brush our teeth.

Many of us have searched for material comforts and many of us do have many material comforts but we may still not be happy. Time is something we should treasure. When we wake up in the morning, we can breathe and be aware that we have 24-hours to live. Thay teaches the waking up gatha. With the end of the year, it may help us to think about the way we live our life. How did we spend 2013? What have we done with our life? Can we live with more joy?

This year we had the opportunity to visit Google and spend a whole day practicing with the employees. We noticed the people there practiced whole-heartedly – they did walking, sitting, and eating mediation. A company like that wants to succeed and be #1 but there is also so much suffering. They do not have the time to take care of their body, feelings, emotions, families, etc. They see a need for a spiritual practice so they can suffer less. Time is no longer money. Time is peace. Time is life. Thay shares further about the visit to Google and how we can suffer less through our practice. Going home to ourselves. We are running away from ourselves and we do not take the time to take care of ourselves. If we cannot take care of ourselves, how can we take care of the person we love? Is technology helping us run away from ourselves? Thay sees a struggle within corporate culture – they have stress, guilt, etc. They want to learn ways to deal with these issues.

Is it possible to be #1 and be happy? This is the dilemma. There are people who are victims of their success, but there is nobody is a victim of their happiness. Which is #1 priority? The bottom line in the corporation is still thinking of being #1 in their area. And some practice mindfulness to become #1 and not to become happy. Are they using mindfulness to do the things to be more successful in business? Can you use mindfulness to make money? It is the same question/issue of those who teach mindfulness but don’t practice mindfulness. Thay’s answer is “don’t worry” because if you practice true mindfulness it always brings joy, happiness, and compassion. If it doesn’t bring these things then it isn’t true mindfulness. How can you teach mindfulness if you do not practice mindfulness?

Five monks and nuns spent two hours talking with engineers of Google. We proposed they think about building something to help people to learn and practice mindfulness. We can make good use of technology to help people go home and take care of ourselves without fear. Some of our monastic brothers and sisters also visited Facebook to explore new opportunities to help people to suffer less. From now until the end of the year, we can spend our time practicing walking and sitting and meditate on these teachings.

Setting an intention for the coming year. Maybe you make a promise for the year 2014 that you will practice walking meditation every day when walking from the parking lot to your work. Thay shares about a retreat in Hong Kong where he shared about walking meditation, having a connection to a teacher, and about not using the telephone and still feeling connected. Walking meditation can be your connection to Thay – as you walk, know that you are walking with your teacher and the sangha. Mindfulness practice is not difficult.

The support of a sangha can help with your intention of mindfulness. If you are not close to a sangha, you may want to get in touch with an online sangha. It is possible to change our life. If we practice well, we can handle the painful feelings and emotions inside ourselves. With mindfulness, we can listen to the other person with compassion. We can practice loving speech if we have mindful breathing and mindful walking to restore communication.

Reflection on Thay’s visit to UNESCO in 2006 where he made a proposal for an institute a training of teachers on mindfulness. Bringing this practice into schools to help young people deal with their suffering and the violence in schools. Though we weren’t able to bring this to reality with UNESCO, we have created the Wake Up Schools program and we are training teachers in the practice of mindfulness. These same ideas and teachings can be established in our political entities.

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The Art of Suffering Retreat – Question and Answer Session

August 29, 2013. 117-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 a session of questions and answers during the 6-day retreat with the theme Transformation and Healing – The Art of Suffering.

Children

  1. Why do people get so angry sometimes and their hearts filled with anger?
  2. Why do people have to suffer?
  3. What do you have to do to have a calm mind?

Teens

  1. If you could live your life again, would you choose the same path?
  2. My sister (a monastic aspirant) has been staying with the monastics and it’s been hard for me. How do I practice non-attachment?
  3. What made you decide to become a monk?
  4. What is the hardest thing that you practice?
  5. How have you detached from your strongest attachments in life?
  6. Can we be fast and mindful, especially with sports?

Adults

  1. A father who has suffered greatly from violence – his son died at Sandy Hook Elementary. What could have happened differently? What could we have done differently?
  2. Another parent shares about the teen child who died from leukemia. Her question is whether or not she can ever truly be happy again.
  3. If you were Obama’s spiritual advisor, what would you tell him? Referring to Syria.
  4. UN disarmament negotiator. How can we approach young men who are recruited by groups like Al Qaeda that can offer so much?
  5. How to practice joyfully with physical limitations?
  6. How do I forgive myself because of trusting someone who sexually abused him as a child?
  7. A question on depression and anxiety.

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Who is the Buddha?

May 27, 2012. 65-minute recording given at New Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is a Day of Mindfulness.

We learn who the Buddha is through the teachings of the Buddha. When we bow to the Buddha, we should see our true connection. Interbeing. The Buddha is enlightened with deep understanding and compassion. How can we produce it? The first step is awareness of suffering. The four noble truths.

The Buddha is a human being. He is not a god. The Buddha is made of non-Buddha elements. Thay then makes the connection to the planet and science. The Buddha can be a sub-atomic particle.

We hear two questions from the audience. How can we handle out habit energy in daily life? How can I heal violence around me?

Thay reminds us the 21-day retreat begins in a few days. This will be part of our 30-year anniversary. For each dharma talk during the retreat, we will sit together in silence for 8-minutes. Stop our thinking and feel the presence of ourselves and others. There should be no noise during this time. Thay also wrote an intimate letter to a young scientist in preparation for retreat.

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How Can I Not Suffer When People Are Not Being Good to this World?

October 9, 2011. 105-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. Today we have a session of questions and answers.

Our practice to ask a question that will benefit everyone. We begin with the children, then teens, and finally the adults.

  1. When you are very upset, how can you show it without hitting?
  2. Do you ever get frustrated with yourself?
  3. How do I not suffer when people are not being good to this world?
  4. How young were you when you became a monk and what types of commitments did you need to make?

    // brief introduction and discussion on the Wake Up Movement by Br. Phap Luu //

  5. When I have positive and negative energy, what should I do with it?
  6. When I’m engaged in a conversation, I worry about other things. What does it mean to go home to yourself?
  7. Can we still have the consciousness of our loved ones after death? Can we communicate?
  8. A question about the Five Mindfulness Trainings and karma. Is it forgiven?
  9. When I get discouraged or frustrated, I sometimes compare myself to you and it keeps me away and I don’t feel connected to the sangha.
  10. A question about commitment and coming from a place of truth and an unclear understanding from when the commitment was originally made.
  11. A question about attachment, discrimination, and violence.
  12. As a person raised Christian and have felt Jesus, so how can I know absolute truth? Is this it?

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

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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.

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Suffering in Ourselves, Suffering in Other

July 26, 2011. 122-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat and this is a Question and Answer session.

Questions asked:
1) Why are my parents separated?
2) How do I recognize the Buddha in myself and in others?
3) How did Thay practice so that he could be so wise and smart?
4) Why do we have homework?
5) How can I regain trust in someone who has hurt me, especially when that person is someone I love a lot?
6) How can we Norwegians respond to the recent killings in our country?
7) What is the best way to regain a sense of mindfulness after years of conditioning with cell phones, internet, and other things that destroy our humanity? How does a technologically trained person get back to finding the True Way? And is there a place for all of this digital noise in that quest?
8) Is it true that hate is not possible, due to the interbeing of all things in the universe?
9) How can we support human rights in our countries, when many governments seem to act against them?
10) How can I deal with sudden hostility after a divorce, now that communication is blocked?
11) Please help in the case of addiction: what to do when strong craving comes?

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

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