Questions and Answers with Educators

This is the third day of the Educators Retreat at the University of Barcelona. Thich Nhat Hanh, along with the monks and nuns of Plum Village, are on their first tour of Spain this month. In this session, Thay responds to questions from those attending the retreat. The date of the recording is May 11, 2014. The audio and video links are available below. The timestamps included here are for the AUDIO recording only.

  1. How do we bring this practice into our daily life? (2:32)
  2. How can mindfulness help transform the toxic seeds in our subconscious? (9:45)
  3. How can we find a new path for young people in society today? (17:20)
  4. Could you explain a little more about mindfulness of suffering. (26:53)
  5. How do I forgive myself for pain that I have caused and how do I forgive others? (40:30)
  6. How do I plant the seed of mindfulness in my 34 year old? Is this to young? (54:18)
  7. How can we help children to look deeply at the root cause of their suffering? Anger. Anguish. Fear. (1:07:02)
  8. How can men today become softer? (1:13:44)
  9. With limited time, how can I help people who are suffering? They don’t want to hear to embrace suffering. (1:24:18)
  10. How can a young sangha with little experience protect itself? (1:35:44)

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Finding Our True Home Questions and Answers

October 15, 2013. 103-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, California during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. The sangha is on the 6-day retreat with the theme Finding Our True Home. Today we offer a session of questions and answers.

  1. How can I practice to have a connection with my father who has passed away? Also, can you talk about becoming a monastic?
  2. How can I stop being obsessed with playing video games?
  3. How do I practice compassion for those who are harmful to my family and friends?
  4. What is the purpose of doing good and creating happiness if they inter-are with suffering?
  5. How do I become more stable and confident in the decisions that I make and not to seek assurances from others?
  6. How do I work with having too much energy and a fear of burning myself out?
  7. I am fearful of the toxic air we are breathing, especially as it related to chem trails, and I am also angry. What can I do as an activist with these feelings?
  8. If I cause something and it doesn’t effect until the next life, who reaps the effects if there is no-self?
  9. I suffer from PSTD and I often wake up from nightmares. Are there practices I can do to work with my nightmares?
  10. I am new grandmother who’s heart has filled with love and a responsibility about the future for my grandchildren. I feel alone and fearful about the future.
  11. Seizing the moment for peace. Can you advise us on transforming our feelings of frustration to act for peace?
  12. How can I behave in a way so to not be a victim?

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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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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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Staying Mindful in a Connected World

August 1, 2013. 96-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet of Plum Village during the 2013 Summer Opening. This is the fifteenth talk of the summer and it is a session of questions and answers.

Children

  1. What can I do so my brother and I don’t argue anymore?
  2. What can I do to not be stressed in school about time?
  3. Why did you choose to make Plum Village?
  4. How can get myself to sleep quickly when I have to get up early?
  5. If there is an to the world, is there an end to everything?

Teens and Adults

  1. How do you feel when you are deep in meditation?
  2. Have you developed theories of the universe?
  3. What does it mean to be a more mindful student and what are their responsibilities to the teacher?
  4. A Japanese priest asks a question related to smiling and Japanese culture and Rinzai School. How do I combine smiling and austere Japanese culture?
  5. How can the teachings help the people of Spain where unemployment is very high and we have a political crisis?
  6. Can a person be mindful and still be “connected” to smartphones and social media?

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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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Be Yourself. Be Beautiful.

July 18, 2013. 95-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet of Plum Village during the 2013 Summer Opening. This is the seventh talk of the summer and this is a session of questions and answers.

Children

  1. Why are there bad days and why are there good days?
  2. Where does the spirit go when it leaves the body?
  3. How did Thay become a monk?
  4. What is the difference between the soul and the spirit?
  5. How old do you have to be to become a monk?
  6. How can I make my mother happy when she is angry with me?

Adults

  1. Do we have to forgive everything and how can we do that?
  2. A question about students and masters.
  3. If Buddhism supports the love of nature then why doesn’t it support romantic love?
  4. How can I help people who have sadness and loneliness in their hearts?
  5. Question about the “be yourself. Be beautiful” verse And Mother Earth

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Questions and Answers – German Retreat

June 15, 2013. 85-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The talk is given in English with consecutive translation into German. This is the fourth dharma talk, a session of questions and answers, of the German Retreat on the theme Are You Sure?

Questions

  1. Who are we if we are not our feelings, body, perceptions, or consciousness? What is left?
  2. Is it okay to suffer and feel for my son who was paralyzed in an accident?
  3. What makes a man a man and what makes a woman a woman? Is it important to know the distinction? What should we teach our children?
  4. If there is no thinker then how can there be a doer?
  5. How do work with feelings of pain, guilt, and shame?
  6. I want to reconcile, how can I call my father if he’s dead?
  7. How can you help someone who is suffering from violent emotions, especially if they can’t see it themselves?

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Working with our Relationships

June 8, 2013. 91-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Dutch. This is the fourth dharma talk, a session of questions and answers, of the Dutch Retreat on the theme Understanding Our Emotions.

Following two chants by the monastics, the questions begin at 15-minutes into the recording. 

  1. Question about the Third Mindfulness Training as it relates to sexual behavior and consumption. How can we integrate and explore our sexual behavior as true love or as consumption?
  2. Another question on true love. Can true love exist between every person I meet and in every relationship even after a relationship ends? Is there something else or can I cultivate true love for every person?
  3. One of the four elements of true love is inclusiveness. How do I combine love and career choices?
  4. In my relationships, I’ve always had a difficult time committing and my partner doesn’t feel I am there for her. What can I do?
  5. I like the statement of being able to always generate a feeling of joy. This hasn’t been my experience and so I need help knowing more about generating joy.
  6. Question about the First Mindfulness Training especially in regards to compassion and relieving the suffering of animals, especially for those who are dependent on us. Is it okay to end the suffering of an animal?

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How Do We Practice?

April 7, 2013. 86-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Mahachulalungkornrajavidyalaya University in Bangkok, Thailand. The sangha is in the 5-Day Applied Ethics Retreat as part of the spring Asian Tour. The talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Thai. Today is a session of questions and answers.

The questions

  1. When practicing deep listening and the other person uses words that hurt themselves and others then what should we do?
  2. How do I use skillful means and loving speech when the other person uses derogatory  speech in regards to women and people of color.
  3. With the hill tribes, they need to kill animals and cut the trees in order to survive. How to help transform their way of life that isn’t so harmful?
  4. How to work with schools that have rules and don’t allow applying mindfulness into the school environment?
  5. How do I practice when there is suffering in my life, in my students lives, and in my parents lives?
  6. When I practice, something happens for transformation but it doesn’t always stay and I feel discouraged. How can I keep the transformation?
  7. Living in a busy city it’s challenging to apply the mindfulness practices we learn here. Can you help?
  8. How do we practice reconciliation for children who have been abused by their parents?

The session concludes with an explanation of the Five Mindfulness Trainings.

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