Repairing the Past


April 8, 2012. 115-minute recording given at The University of Nottingham by Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is on the UK and Ireland Tour and this is third dharma talk for the Cultivating Happiness Family Retreat. We begin with Br. Phap Trien singing with the children, Sr. Chan Khong sharing about the Thich Nhat Hanh Continuation Fund (UK Donation, US Donation), monks and nuns chanting “From the Depths of Understanding” and then a short talk for the children on people meditation and the first mantra. The main talk begins at 55-minutes into the recording.

With the three kinds of energies – mindfulness, concentration, and insight – we can produce Right View, Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action (karma), Right Livelihood, and Right Diligence. The Noble Eightfold Path.

What if yesterday I have produced a thought of hate, and I had the intention to punish? Is it too late, because I produced that thought yesterday, you may ask? It’s not good to produce such a thought. Because it is going on now. It is your continuation. And that is not a beautiful continuation. You don’t want to be continued like that. So today, looking back, I regret that I have produced such a thought of anger, hate, and what should I do? So the practice is to sit down and breathe and produce a thought of the opposite nature, a thought of non-discrimination, a thought of compassion, understanding, and as soon as the new thought is produced, full of understanding and love, that thought will catch up very easily with the other thought, and neutralise it. Right away. Because the nature of our thought is nonlocal. It doesn’t have to travel much, it can catch up the thought of yesterday very easily, and you can neutralise it. Everything comes from the mind. So it is possible to repair the past. The past is still available. And if you are established in the here and the now, you have the opportunity to repair the past. Even if our parents have done something regrettable, even if our ancestors had done something regrettable, the past is still there, and we continue to suffer, and our ancestors continue in us to suffer. So with the Dharma, with the practice, we sit down and we embrace that, and produce the kind of thought, of compassion, understanding, that can neutralise what was wrong, wrongly done in the past. It is possible. It liberates us, and liberates our parents and ancestors. This is possible. Our ancestors expect us to do that. It is nice to encounter the teaching and the practice, and with that practice, we can change the past. And of course, change the future.


Repairing the Past from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

By Chan Niem Hy

Dharma Teacher.

1 comment

  1. I am very Grateful that someone who is very close to my heart has introduced me to the Dharma Beginner. I am learning a new way of life and how to live a life of enlightenment. I will continue on my journey towards a positive lifestyle, one change at a time…

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.