The Art of Being Peace

For the Fifth International Buddhist Conference in May 2008, the Venerable Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh was invited to offer the opening keynote address. The event took place at the National Convention Center, Hanoi, Vietnam with the theme Buddhist Contribution to Building a Just, Democratic and Civilized Society. Hosted by the Socialist Republic of Vietnam and co-organized by International Organizing Vietnam Buddhist Sangha and National Coordinating Committee for the United Nations Day of Vesak. The date is May 13, 2008 and both audio and video are available below. The talk is 53-minutes. 

Thich Nhat Hanh

Promoting Peace

Practicing Buddhism is the art of being peace, the art of promoting peace, in the society and in the world. We all should learn this art. 
We all have elements of war in our body. Practicing Buddhism is recognizing these elements so that we can then transform these elements. In the Sutra on Mindful Breathing, the Buddha provided us the practice to release the tension in our body. It only takes a few minutes. If we can release the tension in our body, then our body can learn to heal itself. When we make peace body, we can begin to make peace with our feelings and emotions. Do you know how to recognize your emotions? This is the art of making peace with ourselves. Our body, and our feelings and emotions. The Buddha also taught in this sutra how to recognize and transform our mental formations. The Buddhist practice means going home to oneself. To restore peace. How does this work in the family setting? Or in the school setting? Why is it important for parents and teachers to learn this art of being peace? 

Deep Listening and Loving Speech

During our time teaching in the west, we have also taught listening with compassion and using loving speech to restore communication. In Plum Village, we have practiced this intentionally with groups in conflict – Israelis and Palestinians. What is outlined above is used to illustrate practical application with these groups. In Mahayana Buddhism, we have the Bodhissatva Avalokiteshvara – the bodhissatva of compassion. They do this practice in order to suffer less. 

Right View is the view of dependent co-arising, no-self, interbeing. Practitioners should always remember to maintain this right view in their daily life. How does this look between a father and a son? We learn that suffering is not an individual matter. Everything this is linked to everything else. To protect other species on earth, and the earth itself, is to protect ourselves. This is the insight of interbeing. 

The Five Mindfulness Trainings

Thay reminds of Unesco’s Manifesto 2000 which Thay helped to create with several Nobel Peace Prize laureates. There are six points and has been signed by 75-million people. This arose from the teachings of Buddhism and are very similar to the Five Mindfulness Trainings. If we practice these, we will have peace in ourselves and in the world. Just signing is not enough; we need to put it into practice. This is why we recommend forming ourselves into communities – in our families, schools, workplace, and within governments. These can all become a sangha and bring these six points (and Five Mindfulness Trainings) into practice. 

The practice of deep ecology, mindful consumption and the Five Mindfulness Trainings. The trainings also teach us not to exploit people or the earth. We have been talking a lot about peace, but we have not done enough for the cause of peace. Whatever we can do in terms of thinking, speech, and action could be considered as an offering to the Lord Budhha. As an example, we learn how Deer Park Monastery in California is using solar energy and having car free days. Reducing consumption, learning to live more simply, and to have more time to take care of oneself and our beloved ones is very crucial and is the way of peace. 

Living happily in the present moment. And taking care of the present moment is taking care of the future. This can assure a beautiful future.

We conclude with a short guided meditation offered by Thich Nhat Hanh. 

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Vesak Talk in Hong Kong

May 19, 2013. 32-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the Lotus Pond Temple in Hong Kong. The sangha is on the spring Asian Tour and this talk is given in English with consecutive translation into Chinese. This is a Day of Mindfulness celebrating vesak.

Birth story of Siddhartha and the relationships in the family that effected his birth. Siddhartha left shortly after the birth of Rahula, his own son, in her to search for the way. He was doing that for all of us – his father, his mother, his country. When you become a monk or a nun, you do so for more than just yourself. He found a way to reduce tension in his body, to calm down his feelings,  to see the deep roots of suffering in himself and other people, found a way to restore communication, and most importantly the nature of no-birth and no-death. Today we celebrate Siddhartha’s birth.

The Buddha saw that happiness is possible and it’s made of understanding and love. It only takes a short time to learn this path. We can learn to release the tension in our body, to calm our painful feeling and emotions, to learn how to generate a feeling of joy and happiness, and to understand the suffering in oneself and in the other person. We can use the Sutra on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness and the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing.

Shakyamuni is a Teacher and not a God.

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Who is the Buddha?

May 27, 2012. 65-minute recording given at New Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is a Day of Mindfulness.

We learn who the Buddha is through the teachings of the Buddha. When we bow to the Buddha, we should see our true connection. Interbeing. The Buddha is enlightened with deep understanding and compassion. How can we produce it? The first step is awareness of suffering. The four noble truths.

The Buddha is a human being. He is not a god. The Buddha is made of non-Buddha elements. Thay then makes the connection to the planet and science. The Buddha can be a sub-atomic particle.

We hear two questions from the audience. How can we handle out habit energy in daily life? How can I heal violence around me?

Thay reminds us the 21-day retreat begins in a few days. This will be part of our 30-year anniversary. For each dharma talk during the retreat, we will sit together in silence for 8-minutes. Stop our thinking and feel the presence of ourselves and others. There should be no noise during this time. Thay also wrote an intimate letter to a young scientist in preparation for retreat.

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Happiness and Space Inside

May 8, 2011. 78-minute Dharma Talk given in English by Thich Nhat Hanh at the new Lotus Pond Temple in Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, Hong Kong.

We begin with a story for the children. A Mothers Day practice, for those who’s mother is still alive and for those who’s mother has died. The Buddha’s mother had died when he was only seven days old. Her story is in the Avatamsaka Sutra. You too can meet the mother of the Buddha with good Concentration. We can learn to be a good mother or a good father. We can learn a lot from the mother of the Buddha. Today we celebrate the birthday of the Buddha. Vesak. We will have a ceremony to bathe the Buddha.

After 30-minutes for the children, Thay continues. We are a continuation of our mother and our father. There is no separate self. Simple, but we often forget. They are alive in us and we can talk to them. The Buddadharma can help us to manifest the good things from our parents and also to accept and transform the suffering.

Mindfulness is about the present moment. With mindfulness you can discover the seeds of happiness.

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

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