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Plum Village Retreats

Happiness is Made of Non-Happiness

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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.

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