Create a Loving Support Group

Dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh on August 16, 2001 at the University of Massachusetts during a retreat with the theme, “The Practice of Peace and Nonviolence in Family, School, and the Workplace,” from August 13-18, 2001 in Amherst, Massachusetts. We begin with the creation of a loving support group in the classroom and then continue with teaching on consumption.

These students are my continuation of mine and should create a loving support group in your class or school. We can then begin practicing peace and happiness in the class. We can understand the suffering so we can then transform. Suffering is there. A little bit everywhere. Including in our children and in the classroom. Recognizing this is the first noble truth of the Buddha. The group can propose a session of deep listening that includes the teacher, so the teacher can know about the suffering of the children. If we have such a group in the class, then the group can support each other. You can practice the Third Mantra: I suffer, please help. Thay shares how a student can communicate to the teacher by using loving speech. We can also learn how to address being persecuted by another student. How do we practice this? How do we help children feel happy when they think of school? How does the teacher feel excited to come and teach?

The children should be able to express their difficulties. We don’t need to be cruel to create happiness. Many sessions of deep listening may need to be organized. The schools should allow this to take place. It is about ethics and should be an aspect of school life. Thay tells the story of Henry, a mathematic teacher in Toronto, who came to Plum Village to learn about mindfulness.

At this point we shift away from the children and Thay begins a talk on anger. Anger has roots in the body and in the consciousness. The Five Skandhas: body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, store consciousness. What is a formation? Anger is a feeling and a mental formation. Anger is in every cell of our body. All our ancestors are in every cell of our body.

To illustrate, Thay teaches about chickens. Mindfulness can help. In particular, mindful consumption. Thay shares a report on meat eating, food production, and deforestation. We then turn to the Discourse on the Sons Flesh. Bringing toxins into our body. Nourishing compassion can by looking deeply into the food we eat. Sangha is where we learn to generate compassion. Sangha is a way out. Everyone can be a Sangha builder.

We turn to the Four Kinds of Nutriments and it starts with edible food. Then we turn to sensory impressions. We need a collection he awakening. When you listen to a dharma talk, then you don’t consume poisons. But thinking too can be consuming. Our elected people also need to be awakened to consumption. Some discussion of the Five Mindfulness Trainings. Practice with a gatha to help us with our consumption.

We conclude with a discussion on the third kind of nutriment. Volition. Your deepest desire. That is a type of food too.

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Happiness for Young People

This talk from the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village is dated Thursday, March 13, 2014 and the sangha has just finished a couple weeks of lazy days following the winter retreat. The talk on this day is in English and begins with a lesson on mindful breathing to release tension and painful emotions followed by a teaching on the Four Kinds of Nutriments. The second half of the talk includes a special ceremony and discussion with the vice chancellor of the University of Hong Kong.

1:08 Chanting
8:00 Hearing the Bell
14:26 Mindful Breathing to Relieve Tension and Painful Emotions
21:54 Letter to Death Row
30:00 The Four Kinds of Nutriments
57:29 Ceremony to Confer Honorary Doctorate Degree to Thich Nhat Hanh from the University of Hong Kong
1:17:40 Thay Responds to Degree
1:30:40 Dialogue between Thay and Vice Chancellor on Topic of Today’s Youth

When you hear the bell, you may want to stop you’re thinking. Use your breathing to be aware that you have a body and smile to your body. It is a wonder. Practice mindful breathing we bring our mind home to our body. We are fully alive when we do this exercise. Our body is already a wonder of life.

When you’re mind is not with your body, it is not truly alive. We need an embodied mind. In the Sutra of Mindful Breathing, the Buddha proposed sixteen exercises. The third exercise is breathing in, I am aware of my body. You’re body is your first true home. The next exercise is to release the tension in your body – the fourth exercise.

We can also calm our painful emotions (the seventh exercise). We should not run away from our painful feelings. Many people in society consume min order to avoid thier painful feelings. With these exercises you can generate the energy of mindfulness. The pain is an energy and so is mindfulness. Mindfulness can embrace your pain (the eighth exercise). We can suffer much less.

Yesterday Thay received a letter from a young man in America who is a pen pal of a man on death row. The person in prison is a practicing Buddhist who has found relief from the teachings. They have been reading The Heart of the Buddhist Teachings together. Thay responds to the letter by talking about fear, anger, and despair that people suffer from both within and without. We can practice compassion and then we can be free. There can be freedom in prison.

Today we are going to have a discussion on the topic of youth. All of us need a good environment. Teachers and parents should come together to create a good environment for our young people in order to suffer less. The Buddha said that nothing can survive without food. There are several kinds of food. In the Sutra of the Four Nutriments can be helpful as a background to understand. In this sutra there is a story of a family crossing the desert and they have to make a very difficult decision to kill their child in order to survive. The first kind of nutriment is edible food. We have to eat in such a way to preserve compassion in us and not to eat the flesh of our own sons and daughters. The second kind of nutriment is sensory impressions. This comes from eye, ear, nose, ear, body, and mind. When we watch television, we consume. When we use the internet, we consume. Even conversation can be very toxic. Educators and parents should practice mindful consumption to set an example for our young people to preserve our well being. The third kind of nutriment is intention/volition. This is the deepest desire in us – our deepest desire may be good or it may be destructive. Helping young people to suffer less or to work for the environment or work for peace, these are good intentions. Last year at Google, they asked Thay to talk about intention. What do we want to do with our life? Our deepest desire? Is it to practice to help people to suffer less, then that is a good intention. And the fourth kind of nutriment is consciousness – consciousness as food. There is individual consciousness. We carry with us the suffering of our parents and our ancestors. We should have a teacher or friend to help us come out of the dark corner of the past. Practicing appropriate attention, that is good food. There is also collective consciousness. We can feel the collective energy of mindfulness and compassion in a positive environment. To help young people, we should reflect on the kinds of nutriments we are providing them. Nothing can survive without food.

Thay Phap Luu introduces the conferring of a Doctor of Social Sciences honoris causa degree for Thich Nhat Hanh from the University of Hong Kong in advance of the 190th Congregation on March 18, 2014 in Hong Kong. The Vice Chancellor of the University and other professors are present to offer the degree. The honorary degree is a very old and cherished tradition of the University and past degrees have been given to Mother Theresa, Nelson Mandela, Aung San Suu Kyi, and Bill Clinton. Following the degree conferring, Thay offers a few words (10-minutes) in response and as a message to those at the University of Hong Kong. We continue with a dialogue between Thay and the Vice Chancellor on the subject of today’s youth.

What can we do more to help our students to provide a better environment?

In our restless world today, there is frustration and unhappiness in graduates not being able to find work and career. What insight can you share to help young people feel more satisfied and content with the future?

Note from the Editor
Thay has offered us a vision of building an online monastery, or online temple, where practitioners may come not just to receive information, but to practice online: to follow their breathing, experience guided meditation, interact with monastics and lay practitioners, etc. This archive of Thay’s talks is a component of this vision.

We are using a new service (Patreon) that allows for you to become an ongoing patron for this archive. Each patron can make a donation, as little as $1 per talk, to be donated automatically on a monthly basis. Payments are made by credit card or PayPal and patrons can be anywhere in the world. When you visit the site, you identify the amount you want to give for each talk, identify a maximum amount per month, and provide your mailing address. If you are in the United States you can have a tax deduction through the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation.

Please visit our Patreon page: Thich Nhat Hanh is Creating Happiness.

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True Love and the Three Doors of Liberation

August 16, 2013. 82 -minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the fifth dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Happy Teachers will Change the World.

Topics

  • Third Mindfulness Training – True Love
  • Four Elements of True Love
  • The Kingdom of God is Here and Now
  • Nirvana is the true nature
  • Three Doors of Liberation (Concentrations)
  • Man is made of non-man elements – Deep Ecology
  • Ancestors are alive
  • Birth and death
  • The Three Jewels
  • Sangha

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Will Thay Sing us a Song?

August 15, 2013. 102-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the fourth dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Happy Teachers will Change the World. We begin with two chants from the monastics followed by a session of questions and answers.

Children

  1. Will you tell us of a struggle you’ve had and how meditation and the bell helped you to overcome it?
  2. Recalling the dream in an earlier talk this week, how did it make you feel when the secretary said yes to you and not to the other person?
  3. Will Thay sing us a song?
  4. What made you want to become a zen master?

Teens

  1. What is the difference between joy and happiness?
  2. My father causes much suffering and doesn’t practice right view. I have lots of resentment I am fearful. How do I transform my suffering to peace and joy when he has hurt me so much?
  3. How did mindfulness help you in your life?
  4. How can I bring the practice to life for the ones I love without forcing it on them, especially those who have sexual misconduct or doing drugs?

Adults

  1. A question about engaged Buddhism.
  2. In the list of 51 mental formations, shame is identified as a wholesome formation. Can you explain this?
  3. A question about hope. Fear and anger in society and future of human race and the planet.
  4. Another question on the future. With favorable climatic conditions ending, how do we balance kindness/mindfulness for future generations and with present people?
  5. A question about ending a relationship. What do you do when there isn’t an ability to leave a toxic relationship? How do we transform if we’re not strong enough in our practice? Also concerns about financial stability beyond the relationship.
  6. A question from a person who can’t overcome her suffering. The pain seems insurmountable. The question comes with some question on how to continue living.

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The Tea Inside the Calligraphy

August 14, 2013. 118-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the third dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Happy Teachers will Change the World. We begin with two chants from the monastics.

Topics

  • The cloud in the tea
  • Teaching on no birth, no death
  • The tea inside the calligraphy
  • The Four NobleTruths
  • Interbeing – ill being and well being
  • Nothing can survive without food
  • The noble (eightfold) path that leads to well-being
  • The Four Kinds of Nutriments
  • Sutra of the Sons Flesh
  • Right View
  • Mental Formations – the Five particulars
  • Being and non-being
  • No birth and no death
  • Right Thinking
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action

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Introducing the Four Objects of Mindfulness

August 13, 2013. 91-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the second dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Happy Teachers will Change the World. We begin with two chants from the monastics.

Talk for children
Story of a dream Thay had 20-years ago. A dream of being a young university student with a famous teacher. A music class. This is followed by a teaching on how to be a good bell master.

Main Talk Topics

  • Practicing mindfulness in a meeting
  • Establishing space in the home for practice
  • Slow walking to arrive
  • Mental formations
  • Four Objects of Mindfulness (body, feelings, mind, objects of mind)
  • Selective watering (True Diligence)
  • Eating meditation

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The Way Out is In

August 12, 2013. 76-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the first dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Happy Teachers will Change the World.

Topics

  • Listening to the bell
  • Releasing tension in our body with mindfulness at any time
  • Generating joy and happiness
  • Being aware of our conditions of happiness in the present moment
  • The practice of mindfulness can also help us handle a painful feeling or emotion
  • There is a deep connection between suffering and happiness
  • Compassionate listening – mindfulness of compassion
  • Global ethics – how to release tension, reduce pain
  • Sixteen exercises on mindful breathing (briefly mentioned)
  • Store and mind consciousness – seeds
  • 51-mental formations, such as anger and mindfulness
  • The suffering inside the school teacher and inside the student
  • The way out is in – we must take care of ourselves first then for the other person
  • Supporting our young people and teaching them how to love

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Opening Mindfulness Retreat for Educators

August 11, 2013. 55-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the opening session of the 6-day retreat.

In this short talk, the focus is on the Art of Suffering and how chanting the name of Avalokiteshvara can help open us up to our suffering. In the last segment of the talk we have a teaching on walking meditation.

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Training and Sangha Building

October 28, 2012. 82-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is enjoying the Autumn Retreat and this is a Day of Mindfulness.

Last week we spoke about the nutriment of volition. An intention. A deep desire. We have learned that joy and suffering inter-are – we should recognize the suffering within ourselves. This leads to transformation and healing.  The energy of mindfulness will help use with the transformation.

The Practice. Bhavana. To cultivate. Establishing yourself in the here and the now is enough to be free. How do you practice?

Everything we do in a practice center is to learn how to practice. To learn how to breathe. How to release the stress and the tension. Coming to a Day of Mindfulness or a Retreat can teach us the practice. Get a practice. Secondly, we need a group of people at home to help us maintain the practice. A sangha. Gather friends together from your local community. We learn the practice, we gain the support in out community, and third, we can bring the practice to your work place in order to help people suffer less. If we are a school teacher, we can bring the practice to our students. To help the students to suffer less.

Understanding is love and compassion. When you have understood your own suffering, you begin to love yourself.

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Applying Buddhist Teachings to the Classroom

April 2, 2012. 115-minute dharma talk given at The American School in London by Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is on the UK and Ireland Tour and this is part four (and final part) of the Educators’ Retreat: An Exploration of Mindful Education.

Memorizing gathas to help us establish mindfulness. There are four domains of mindfulness: body, feelings, mental formations, and objects of mind. Mindfulness can help us be together in these four realms. Once we have established mindfulness, we can have concentration. The final kind of energy is insight – this can liberate you from your fear. This is not the product of your thinking, it is the insight of Interbeing. True education should be based in this insight of Interbeing.

In order to see things, we need an organ (for example, the nose to receive oder). The organ of thinking it is called manas, and there is a lot of mis-perception in this organ. For example, the view of a separate self – this is at the base of all our complexes (inferiority, superiority, and equality). We can use mindfulness to gain the insight of non-discrimination. In the field of education, it is the same thing. The happiness of the students is the happiness of the teacher. We need non-discrimination to enjoy the teaching and the learning.

In the teaching of the four noble truths, the first truth is there is suffering. In education, the first thing we should do is identify the suffering and acknowledge it to each other. We have to see the truth so that real change can happen through a collective awakening. Thay continues with the application of the second, third, and fourth noble truth in our lives.

We learn about what is meant by sangha and how it can be applied to the community of teachers. What is suffering and why is it important? The last part of the talk looks closely at the Five Mindfulness Trainings.

Happy teachers will know how to generate understanding and love that will help the younger generation change the world.

A video version may be available.

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