The Practice of Mindfulness is the Practice of Happiness

This talk by Thich Nhat Hanh is from the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village on Tuesday, December 31, 2013 on the occasion of New Years Eve. It is the fourteenth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. This talk is in English. The talk begins with a lovely guided meditation by Thich Nhat Hanh followed by a teaching on compassion to help us listen to the monastics chanting. The second half of the talk focuses on love and healing our suffering.

00:00-10:15 Guided Meditation
10:15-24:45 Generating Compassion to Relieve Suffering
25:23-44:45 Chanting the Name of Avalokite?vara
46:00-51:40 Standing and Breathing
51:40-1:12:30 Self Love and the New Year
1:12:30-1:29:50 The Second Arrow
1:29:50-end Three Energies

A few months ago we visited Stanford University on the topic of compassion. Many of us do not know how to take the mud to make the lotus. Compassion can be used to embrace and understand suffering. Without suffering, no compassion is possible. We shouldn’t run away from our own suffering. How do we do that? We can use mindful waking, mindful breathing, then we can generate the energy of mindfulness and we won’t feel overwhelmed. We can take care of the suffering inside.

In mah?y?na Buddhism we have a great being capable of overcoming great suffering and to help other people. This is the bodhisattva of compassionate listening. Avalokite?vara.  The monastics will chant her name today to help us all generate the energy of compassion. We can stop the thinking and just listen to the chant. Thay gives us instructions on how to best listen to the chant – we practice as a drop of water in a river and allow it to embrace us.

We have been discussing about home and the new year. And the first element is our body. Learning how to breath, to walk, and to build our home. The second element is our feelings and emotions. We have to learn to take care of this as well in order to have a true home.  The third element is our perceptions. We should always be asking, are you sure of your perceptions?

Do we know how to love ourselves? To take care of ourselves. If we can love and take care if ourselves then we’ll know how to take care of someone else. Self love is the foundation. We have been discussing about the new year. The year is made of time, speech, and action. The year 2013 will continue from our action. The fruit of our action will stay. Nothing is lost. This is retribution. This coming year we have the sentence “New Year. New Me.” To liberate us. We should to renew ourselves. To create a feeling of joy, happiness, and compassion. This is the practice of mindfulness.

Have you been able to enjoy the Kingdom of God, the Pure Land? The new year is your chance to enjoy it and practice. In Plum Village we have the time to walk together. We can challenge ourselves to walk in mindfulness. Every step. Happiness is possible. Mindfulness is being aware…aware of our steps. The practice of mindfulness is the practice of happiness.

Suffering is part of life. The Buddha spoke about the second arrow. It is a teaching to help us suffer much less. If we allow fear and anger to grow then we are allowing the second arrow. But don’t be afraid of suffering, especially if we know how to practice. Being aware of the painful feeling and calming the painful feeling. The first step is to suffer less. The second is to make good use of our suffering.  Our true home is in every step and in every breath.

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The Buddha Has Suffered

July 29, 2013. 119-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet of Plum Village during the 2013 Summer Opening. This is the thirteenth talk of the summer.

Even the Buddha was a human and suffered. In just one week we can know the art if suffering in order to generate joy and happiness. There is a usefulness to the suffering. We are always trying to run away from suffering. We use consumption to run away fr our suffering. The Buddha teaches us to do the opposite. Do you have time to look deeply at your suffering and the suffering of the other person? Can we listen to the suffering in the world and inside yourself?

The chant calling the name of Avalokiteshvara is about listening to the suffering. t’s energy can also heal your suffering. The monastics begin the chant at 36-minutes into recording.

The main talk begins at 59-minutes. Teaching on signlessmees. We do not have a separate self. We have the practice of hearing the bell to let all our cells and ancestors to listen with us. This is deep listening. We listen as a stream and we practice for everyone.

How do we practice mindfulness in our every day activities? How do we use our breath as a tool for mindfulness. How do we do walking meditation using “I have arrived. I am home.” The Kingdom of God is available everyday by the practice of mindful breathing and mindful walking.

Why is walking meditation important?

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Why do we practice walking meditation?

July 8, 2013. 100-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village during the 2013 Summer Opening. This is the first talk of the summer.

Note: the brief segment at the beginning is missing.

We begin with a 25-minute introduction on listening to the chant. The art of suffering. If we know how to suffer then we suffer much less. It’s like an organic gardener who knows it is useful to keep the garbage in order to nourish the flowers and vegetables. Understanding suffering is very important and we can use the energy of mindfulness to take care of our suffering. This is the heart of the Buddhist teaching. The first noble truth is there is suffering. The monks and the nuns will practice chanting this morning saying the name of Avalokiteshvara. They are getting in touch with the suffering.

The monks and nuns begin chanting the name Namo Avalokiteshvara from 25-minutes to 48-minutes. The main talk begins at 53-minutes into the recording.

As meditation practitioners, we should know how to generate peace, happiness, and joy. We can do this while walking, sitting, eating, drinking, etc. We can train ourselves. Listening to the bell is a reminder. Being alive in the present moment. It only takes 2-3 seconds to being mind and body together.

We have a 30-minute explanation of how and why we do walking meditation.

If you know how to handle the present moment then we are taking care of the future. I have arrived. I am home.

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Arriving in Plum Village

July 7, 2012. 87-minute recording given at Lower Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the first dharma talk of the Summer Opening. The sangha is celebrating the 30th Summer Opening. The talk begins with instruction on how to listen to the chant followed by Avalokiteshvara chant.

The main talk begins at 40-minutes into the recording. We hear stories from the Avatamsaka Sutra (Flower Garland Sutra). The mother of the Buddha and how the friends came to see Siddhartta while still in the womb. She had a lot of space inside for everyone. We can cultivate this kind of space too. Story of Sidhartta making at least seven steps at his birth. What does this mean? Walking like a Buddha on planet earth. Freedom, joy, and happiness is available with every step. This portion of the talk is about 45-minutes and a beautiful segment to listen to with others in the Sangha

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The Degree of Freedom

June 2, 2012. 82-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet in Plum Village during the 21-Day Retreat with the theme The Science of the Buddha. The talk is given in English and this is the first dharma talk (of 15).

Topics

  • Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing – the first four exercises
  • Walking Meditation – arriving in the here and now

Our teacher and the sangha feels very relaxed. In no hurry. We have 3-weeks to practice and learn.

0:00 The Practice of Listening to the Chant
21:30 Namo’valokiteshvaraya Chanting by the Monks and Nuns of Plum Village
43:30 Main Talk

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The Joy of Simplicity

December 4, 2011. 103-minute dharma talk from New Hamlet of Plum Village, France. This is the fourth talk offered in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong.

In the last dharma talk, we learned about walking mediation. Today will learn about the practice of sitting meditation. Sitting in the spring breeze – we should sit relaxingly, joyfully, happily. We don’t sit for enlightenment. No aim to become a Buddha. We sit straight, but relaxed. This morning, the Morning Chant was so beautiful and is different from when he was a young novice monk. Thay talks about the traditional way of offering the chants in Sino-Vietnamese and discusses the lines of the Morning Chant and the Evening Chant. He tells the story of sitting all night in meditation with Ananda and a group of new bhikshus – we just sit happily. We can apply this to sitting in the airport or the train station. If we can sit like this, the world can have a lot of peace and joy. We can apply this practice into other activities of the day, like sweeping or moping. Thay talks about his life as a novice where there were no toilets in the temple. “Having toilets to clean can be a source of great happiness.”

About one-hour into the talk, we continue the teaching on the Yogacarabhumi Sastra, Verses 9-12 of the Paramartha Gathas of Asanga. What does the absolute truth say about cause and effect? What is co-being, co-manifesting? The “twelve” links of co-arising.

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Practice of Listening to the Chant

July 15, 2011. 30-minute introduction to chanting Namo’valokiteshvaraya. Thich Nhat Hanh speaks in English from Stillwater Meditation Hall in Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat.

Please note, the first few minutes of the introduction includes the French translation, but the balance is restored after a few minutes.

Thay shares about the three steps of contemplation while listening to the chanting of the bodhisattva’s name: 1) touching compassion in oneself, 2) touching compassion in those around us, 3) touching compassion in all beings.

The introduction is followed by chanting by the Plum Village Monastics.

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

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