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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Fear, Anger, and Suspicion

June 13, 2013. 76-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 second dharma talk of the German Retreat on the theme Are You Sure?

We begin with a story of being in the womb and then our birth. A moment of fear may have arrived at the moment of our first breath after being taken care if the 9-months in the womb. A second emotion arose at that moment too. Desire. Many of our other emotions were also transmitted to us by our ancestors.

Obama said that “peace is possible” between Palestine and Israel. But how? Last month Thay also spoke about peace in Korea. The main issue is the amount of fear we have. With no fear, no anger, and no suspicion then we wouldn’t need to use nuclear weapons. It’s not the weapons. We need to remove the fear, the anger, the suspicion. This is how peace is possible. Right now, both sides are suspicious and fearfully but it has to be removed from both sides. Obama could do this in Korea but making nuclear weapons a condition of negotiation is not going to help in reducing fear. It’s not that people don’t want to reconcile but there is so much anger and fear. We have to reduce this fear.

The American nation is also suffering and experiencing anger, fear, and despair. In 2001, Thay suggested a session of deep listening for the American people and invite those who have compassion and understanding to be present to support the listening seasons. We have to understand our own suffering. This is the same recommendation Thay have to South Korea last month.

One solution is to train our leaders to reduce fear, anger, and suspicion. To call on those who know how to do these things. A retreat can be organized so people can come express their fear, their anger, their suspicion. We can practice compassionate listening and look at our block of suffering. When these emotions of anger and fear have a collective energy, it can be so dangerous and there could be a war.

Compassionate listening and loving speech. Thay gives a few more examples, such as the work done by Plum Village with Israelis and Palestinians, of how to do this in our lives. Today.

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Working with Fear

June 6, 2013. 59-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 second dharma talk of the Dutch Retreat on the theme Understanding Our Emotions.

Thay begins with a story of when he first came to the west to teach and shares his ideas of what he thought he would do in the west. Thay shares about when he began to ordain students and why. When we create a connection with our teacher or our sangha we can use that energy to support us.

During this retreat you are invited to master your method of walking so that you can arrive in the here and the now. If you can accomplish this, you can bring this back home with you. The Kingdom of God is available in the here and now. Suffering has a role and an importance in our kingdom. Thay teaches of the goodness of suffering, just like a lotus needs the mud. We need to know how to use our suffering. A good practitioner never tries to run away from suffering. We use the energy of mindfulness to recognize and to hold our suffering. We can ask our friends to help us with this practice. This is why it’s so important to have a sangha in your practice. One of the most noble things we can do is build a sangha. The sangha create a powerful energy that can heal and transform.

Thay shares the story of his teaching tour at the time of 9/11 and how much fear was present in America. How do we calm down our fear? In the Buddhist tradition, there is a practice called compassionate listening. This can help people suffer less. We also have the practice of loving speech.

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We Are Peace

July 14, 2012. 111-minute recording given at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the sixth dharma talk of the Summer Opening and the beginning of the second week. We begin with instructions on listening to the chant, followed by listening to the name Avaloketeshvara. The main talk begins about 40-minutes into the recording.

The third exercise of mindful breathing is about our body. Getting in touch with your body. True life is only possible with concentration and mindfulness. We learn to stop thinking so we can feel. The secret of meditation is to bring the mind in touch with the body. In the here and the now.

Mindfulness is the first energy. This bring concentration. Followed by insight. Three kinds of energies. They are within. Breathing in, I get the insight that I am alive. There are many insights like this.

When we each practice like this, we develop a collective energy and we can change the world. Just these three kinds of energy.

The second exercise is to follow your in breath all the way through. And the first is to be with your breath.

At 1:25 into the recording, Thay responds to a few questions on the topic of fear submitted by Self Magazine. How do you make good use of the energy of fear to produce good things?

Finally, tips on how to participate in a peace walk.

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The Arrow of Desire

February 10, 2011. 92-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the Dharma Cloud Temple, Upper Hamlet, Plum Village. We begin with 17-minutes of chanting and singing.

Sources of happiness. Freshness of the morning air. Water from the tap. Mindfulness is the water and air for the mind. With mindfulness you can look deeper and you can be happier. From there we gain insight from our awareness of breathing. And this insight can help you to undo knots inside you. We can face our fear. We have non-fear.

The perfect non-fear helps us to overcome the fear totally. There are many links that bind us: fear, irritation, anger, doubt, arrogance, desire, etc. Non-fear means we are free of these bonds. Call each one it’s true name.

The next monastic ordination family. There are eight aspirants at Upper Hamlet. They will be called Violet Bamboo family. We must practice like a bamboo; nothing inside. Empty all the knots and wounds inside. We must remove the arrow of craving and be empty like bamboo.

Sutra reference. Verses 33-36 of The Most Peaceful Dwelling Sutra.

33. If you want to completely liberate yourself from fear and end all internal formations and doubts, You must know that if you haven’t pulled out the arrow of desire, then you haven’t understood yet that this body is suffering.

34. Among the highest things that people call the most divine Nirvana is the highest. You must cut off all ideas and attachments and do not be deceived by words.

35. Knowing how to refrain or not to refrain that is the highest practice of letting go. If in our heart there are thoughts of practice the shell will be cracked.

36. Of all offerings, that of the Dharma is the most precious. Of all kinds of happiness, that happiness based on the Dharma is the greatest. Of all strengths, patience is the most powerful because it can put an end to attachment and bring the happiness of Nirvana.

The talk was given in Vietnamese with English translation and is available below (French and original Vietnamese audio are also available, as well as video version).

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