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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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.

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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.

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Make a True Home of Your Love

December 26, 2010. 134-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh in Dharma Cloud Temple in Upper Hamlet in Plum Village on the theme of relationship and fidelity. The monastery is in the 2010- 2011 Winter Rains Retreat.

“We have said that sexual desire is not love, but our society is organized in such a way that sensual pleasure becomes the most important thing. They want to sell their products, and they make advertisements that water the seed of craving in you. They want you to consume in such a way that you have sensual pleasure. But sensual pleasure can destroy you. What we need is mutual understanding, trust, love, spiritual intimacy. But we don’t have the opportunity to meet that kind of deep need in us.

“Many young people in our society want to have cosmetic surgery in order to meet with the standard of beauty. There are fashion magazines that say in order to succeed you have to look like this, use this product. That is why many young people suffer very much. They cannot accept their body, because people expect another kind of body, so they want to have surgery to change their body. When you do not accept your body as it is, you are not in your true home. Our body is like a flower. Everyone in humanity is like a flower. And each flower are different from other kinds of flowers. And if she can accept her body, she has a chance to see her body as home. If you cannot accept your body, you cannot be home for yourself.
If you cannot be home for yourself, how can you be home for others? So in psychological circles we have to tell the young people that they are already beautiful as they are. You have to accept yourself as you are. And when you practice building a home in yourself, you become more and more beautiful. You have peace, joy, and people will recognize the beauty of your flower.”

“The monks and nuns, when they receive the bhikshu or bhikshuni precepts, they want to live a holy life. If you see that a monk is beautiful, it is because he has brought in the spiritual element into his life. Spirituality here means mindfulness, concentration, and insight. The Five Mindfulness Trainings are recommended for everyone, not only for monastics. Mindfulness is the kind of energy that can help you to go home to yourself, to the here and the now, so that you know what to do and what not to do in order to be home for yourself and for other people. The Five Mindfulness Trainings are a very concrete way of practicing mindfulness.

In the Buddhist tradition, holiness is made of mindfulness. Mindfulness, concentration, and insight make you holy. Holiness not only possible for the monastics, but also for the laypeople who practice the precepts. Holiness is not only possible with the practice of celibacy. There are those who live a conjugal life, but if they have the elements of mindfulness, concentration, and insight the have the element of holiness. A monk is like an astronaut, if you want to be an astronaut you should not be pregnant. It does not mean it is bad to be pregnant.”

“We have to learn how to treat beauty. Sexual intimacy can be a beautiful thing, if there is mindfulness, concentration, and insight. Otherwise it will be destructive.”

“To practice Buddhism as a monk is always easier than to practice as a layperson. In Vietnam we say, ‘To practice as a monk is easiest; to practice as a layperson is much more difficult.’ To practice not to have a sexual relationship is much easier than to maintain practice in a relationship, because in order to maintain mindfulness, concentration, and insight in a sexual relationship you need a lot of practice.”

“Love is not a kind of prison. True love gives us a lot of space. Whatever you enjoy, the other person enjoys; whatever is your concern is also their concern.”

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

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Muni Sutta

December 20, 2009. Upper Hamlet. Plum Village. 75-minutes. Dharma talk given in Vietnamese and this translation is provided by Sister Chan Khong.

Sound quality is poor and recording begins a little late, but it us still understandable. However, the first few minutes are spent with description and background on new meditation hall in Upper Hamlet. The hall is done after six months of construction.

Muni Sutta
Background: A translation in prose by an English author and a Vietnamese translation by Thay. Translations are from Sanskrit, Pali, and Chinese.

Muni is not a proper name; it means a serene monastic. The calm one. The silent one. A successful monastic. Free. The term existed already in Hinduism.

The purpose of this sutra is to answer the question put to the Buddha on what is a true muni.

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