Questions and Answers Retreats

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.

Plum Village Questions and Answers Retreats

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.


  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?


  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?
Deer Park Monastery Questions and Answers Retreats

What is the Purpose of People and Life?


September 10, 2011. 95-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Ocean of Peace Mediation Hall at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, CA. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the fourth dharma talk for the Together We Are One retreat. Today we have a session of Questions and Answers.

Some questions: What is the purpose of people and life? Why is Thich Nhat Hanh so special? How can I bring these memories home without the other kids in the neighborhood thinking that it is not real? What do you do for your entertainment? In Plum Village, were you ever on the kitchen staff before? Could you talk to us younger people about following our dreams while staying in the present moment, and how to not get pulled away by ambition? Am I practicing correctly? As a survivor of rape, how do I forgive my attackers? How do we deal with nightmares? How can I create peace in my relationship with my father?

In addition to the audio, a video version is available.

Questions and Answers Retreats

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.


Plum Village Questions and Answers Retreats

Our Nature is Non-Local


July 12, 2011. 111-minute Dharma Talk in English given by Thich Nhat Hanh at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. This is the first question and answer session of the Summer Opening Retreat.

Thay takes questions from the children, the young adults, and from other retreatants.

Why do people lie? Why does anger come with sadness? Why do we so easily mixup sexual desire and love? How can we reconcile with someone we’ve hurt? How practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings in the corporate world? Why would someone want to be born into a world of suffering? How do we practice when we still are caught in the idea of having a separate personality? Is Thay a realized Buddha? How do we practice to forgive ourselves? How can we maintain our practice when we live in a place lacking compassion, without a Sangha? How can we make sense of the death of a child before they are born? How can we find happiness again?

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


English/Dutch European Institute of Applied Buddhism Questions and Answers Retreats

Development Leadership with Mindfulness: Q&A Session


May 28, 2011. 105-minute question and answer session given in English, with consecutive translation into Dutch, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the fourth dharma talk offered by Thay in the Dutch Retreat at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

Questions: (1) What does “Thich Nhat Hanh” mean? (2) What is the source of laziness and how can I overcome it? (3) How do we practice interbeing with those we don’t know? (4) If young people who have yet to cultivate awareness feel hate or misunderstanding, how can I help to release this tension and water the good seeds in their minds? (5) How can I balance between dealing with my issues and sharing them with my loved one? (6) How can i be mindful and compassionate with my children? (7) How can I transform my tendency to experience the pain of others? (8) How can we develop leadership and power based on mindfulness? (9) What are steps to help families overcome infidelities and divorce?

The talk was given in English and Dutch at the same time and is available below for listening or download. You may also view the video.

English/German European Institute of Applied Buddhism Questions and Answers Retreats

Living Practice Communities for Young People


May 20, 2011. 94-minute session of Question and Answers given in English, with consecutive translation into German, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the fifth day of the German Retreat at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

Some of the questions from the session include:

How can we support the formation of living practice communities for young people? Thay invites Phap Linh to help respond to this question regarding leading groups of young people, particularly in the Wake Up! movement.

How can we transform our relationship with someone who hates us?

How do I deal with judgmental thoughts about other people?

Lately I feel that my true self is like a drop that has been taken out of the collective consciousness, as if from a cloud, and I feel as I’m aging that this drop that has been separated would like to re-enter the ocean. I would like to know if you know of this longing to be re-united as a drop with the ocean: how can I live with this contradiction of longing for the true self in the here and now, and my daily life?

Following the FIve Mindfulness Trainings, I try not to kill. Two years ago, when I saw some bugs in the kitchen, I left them in peace because there were not so many. I did the same thing last year. This summer there are so many that I felt I had to do something. You teach that when we follow the North Star this means we do not have to reach it. So I began to kill these bugs, always trying to keep a friendly mind, wishing a good rebirth for them in the next life. At first it felt OK. But when you are killing ten or more beings every day, when they wish to live as we do, it becomes too much. I felt it cannot be better to kill them by chemical means, where I don’t have to touch them personally. But to perform the act of killing again and again—is this not worse, with regard to the karmic imprints in our stream of consciousness, or do you have to decide not to kill at all, despite the disadvantages?

A question regarding my superiority complex: All my life I have found that I meet people, I judge them and find that I am superior. I used to go to school, at the end of each year we had the custom to invite the best of each year on stage and decorate them with a golden plaque that they could put on the wall. There is still this voice in me that wants to share that once I too received one of those golden plaques. But I have also discovered how this attitude has created a distance between myself and other people. By looking deeply I see that there is a mechanism in me that causes me to measure myself against my father, an archaic struggle against the father. I am deeply grateful for the teachings which have enabled me to transform this. I keep my father now in my heart, and the inner struggle has ceased. I am also touched that you talked so much about fathers and sons in this retreat. One reason for my feeling of superiority is that I have always tried to protect myself from a feeling of inferiority. However, this feeling of having to create a distance between myself and other people is still present. I feel I have already heard some answers to my question, particularly in the Sutra on Five Ways of Putting an End to Anger. I would still like to ask your advice on how to better manage this.

I had a deep crisis in my life about twelve years ago with those who I thought had been my friends. These were the people that I spent my time with, and who I practiced with. There came a moment when I was most in need of their help, and I was let down by them. Not only did they let me down, but they then attacked me and stabbed me in the back. Through all those years they had not seen me as I really was. This has led to me becoming very ill, and it has led me to losing all my trust in other people. In this way, it was shown to me that the friends of today can be the enemies of tomorrow, and perhaps the enemies of today can be the friends of tomorrow. These past twelve years I have spent with the question whether I would continue to live, because there was a moment when I felt I wouldn’t. But I felt I wanted to live because I felt that there were many things yet to learn. And I also felt I wouldn’t be able to live in this world if I were not able to open myself to something new. First, there was a moment when I needed to withdraw and move to a place where I would not see the people that had let me down. I have lived there withdrawn near nature, and near to Mother Meera. With the help of Mother Meera I have looked deeply, and I have tried to forgive myself and others. Now I am on a new path where I am trying to find trust again in both myself and others. Much has now changed for the better. There are still moments, and recently there has been an incident–I live in a very old house with many nice flats in it–in those other flats there are people living there who are not very mindful, and the communication with those people can be very difficult. Recently there have been a few instances where I have been verbally attacked by people, though I could not see how I did anything to cause such an attack to take place. I feel that this old wound is being touched again, where people cannot be trusted, and you never know what will happen in the next moment. This can cause a shock whereby I feel that I am not able to cope, and I feel I need to protect myself from this. My question is: How can I live in an open and trusting way, even with people who are not very mindful, and how am I also able to protect myself and my sensitivity?

The session was given in English and German at the same time and is available below for listening or download. You may also view the video.

Questions and Answers Retreats

Now is the Time: Q&A


April 20, 2011. 124-minute question and answer session given in English, with consecutive translation into Mandarin, with Thich Nhat Hanh and others. This is the fourth day of a five-day retreat in Taipei, Taiwan.

Unfortunately, the first 8-minutes of the talk, the English can’t be heard very well. What you are missing is Thay Phap Dung introducing a few other monastics at the request of Thich Nhat Hanh. A few of the monastics he introduces are Phap Luu (Br. Stream), Sr. Pine, Sr. Purification (violinist), Sr. Dang N., and Sr. Lien N. (in Thailand). The introductions are very sweet and take about 30-minutes in total.

The remainder of the recording are the questions and answer. Thay reminds us to ask a question of the heart. Not about Buddhism, but about suffering and happiness.

Being present for those around us through touching the earth. Meditating on sad or negative emotions. Don’t we have enough different Buddhist groups in Taiwan. Question on the fourth mantra – please help.Asking for help. As adopted child, who are my ancestors? Who are my parents? Questioning a lesbian relationship; how do I work with my suffering?. What is relationship between happiness and sadness?

The talk was given in English and Mandarin at the same time and is available below for listening or download. You may also view the video.

English/French Plum Village Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers


March 4, 2011. 111-minute Questions and Answers in French with Thich Nhat Hanh at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. This is the fourth day of the 5-day French Retreat and the translation is provided by Sr. Pine.

Some of the topics include Sitting Meditation, Death, Euthanasia, Sex, Suicide, Non-action, Right Livelihood, Religion, Equality, Depression, and the Four Kinds of Nutriments.

There is a French recording as well as video version too – Part 1 and Part 2.