The Happiness of Neutral Feelings

January 9, 2011. 84-minute Dharma Talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh, from Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The recording begins with about 8-minutes of chanting.

If you are a good practitioner you can easily handle your difficulties; the transformation is quicker. There are many kinds of feelings: painful feelings, pleasant feelings, and neutral feelings. In the process of practicing we discover that the neutral feelings are very interesting. As when we sit, there is a sensation that is neutral. When we bring mindfulness to the neutral feeling, you find that it is quite nice. You see that you already have enough conditions for happiness with a neutral feeling. If you look deeply at the neutral feeling you see that it is wonderful. When you see your feelings passing by like a river, you see that 80% of your neutral feelings are quite pleasant. With mindfulness, our neutral feeling is transformed into happiness.

At the first teaching of the Buddha in the Deer Park, he spoke of the Four Noble Truths and the the eight correct practices. Never declare that you know already because you can always deepen your understanding and practice. The First Noble Truth is suffering. The Third Noble Truth talks of the cessation of suffering. This is the presence of happiness. Learn how to produce happiness. A good practitioner knows how to do this. Transform your difficulty and produce happiness. In Buddhism we recognize painful feelings, pleasant feelings, and neutral feelings. With mindfulness, you can transform a neutral feelings too. We should look deeply into our neutral feelings. We have many occasions to be happy. Thay encourages us to write a report on how you create happiness and send it to him.

After about 45-minutes, the talk transitions into a sutra commentary, continuing on the theme of nirvana. I believe we’re still on the sutra from the Dhammapada called Place of Peace and Wonder.

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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