The Art of Suffering Retreat | First Dharma Talk by Thich Nhat Hanh, 2013.08.26

The Art of Suffering Retreat | First Dharma Talk by Thich Nhat Hanh, 2013.08.26


[The Plum Village Online Monastery] [Thank you for your continued support
of mindful online broadcasts like this.] [Donate at http://pvom.org]
Thank you for your generosity. # The river it flows in my heart. # From the mountain, to the flower, # the children, and the deers, # We all love each other, # there’s a space
# for everyone in my heart. # The Trees! The Trees, they sway! # And give oxygen everyday. # The Trees they sway in my heart. # The Birds! The Birds, they fly! # As a school of fish swim by. # The animals they are all in my heart. # From the mountains, the flowers,
# The children, and the deer, # We all love each other, # There’s a space
# for everyone in my heart. # There’s a home
# for everyone in my heart. # (Small bell) (Bell) (Bell) (Bell) Contemplations before chanting: The sangha is invited
to come back to our breathing, so the collective energy of mindfulness can bring us together
as an organism, flowing as a river
with no more separation. Let the whole Sangha
breathe as one body listen as one body,
chant as one body transcending the boundaries
of a delusive self, liberating us
from the superiority complex, the inferiority complex
and the equality complex. (Half bell) (Chanting: ‘May the Day be Well’) # May the day be well
# and the night be well. # May the midday hour bring happiness too. # In every minute and every second, # may the day and night be well. # By the blessing of the Triple Gem, # may all things be protected and safe. # May all beings born
# in each of the four ways # live in a land of purity. # May all in the Three Realms
# be born upon Lotus Thrones. # May countless wandering souls # realize the three virtuous positions
# of the Bodhisattva Path. # May all living beings,
# with grace and ease, # fulfill the Bodhisattva Stages. # The countenance
# of the World-Honored One, # like the full moon
# or like the orb of the sun, # shines with the light of clarity. # A halo of wisdom
spreads in every direction, # enveloping all with love
# and compassion, joy and equanimity. # Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya # Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya # Namo Shakyamunaye Buddhaya # (Bell) (Violin) # With body, speech and mind
# in perfect oneness, # I send my heart along
# with the sound of this bell. # May all hearers awaken
# from forgetfulness # and transcend the path
# of anxiety and sorrow. # I listen, I listen,
# this wonderful sound # brings me back to my true home. # The sound of this bell
# penetrates deeply into the cosmos, # and even in darkest places # every living being hears it clearly. # Understanding comes to their heart # they transcend the path
# of sorrow and death. # Listening to the bell,
# I feel my sorrows begin to dissolve, # my mind is calm,
# my body relaxed. # A smile is born upon my lips. # Following the sound of the bell
# my breath brings me back # to the safe island of mindfulness. # In the garden of my heart
# flowers of peace blossom in beauty. # The universal Dharma door
# is already open. # The sound of the rising tide is clear # and a miracle happens. # A beautiful child is born
# in the heart of a lotus flower. # A single drop
# of this compassionate water # Is enough to bring back the spring
# to mountains and to rivers. # Namo ‘Valokiteshvaraya # Namo ‘Valokiteshvaraya # Namo ‘Valokiteshvaraya. # (Bell) (Bell) (Small bell) So dear families, we’d like to invite
the children in the children’s programme to come meet the facilitators
outside the hall. We will break into 4 groups there so you can all stand up. You can all stand up
and with the next sound of the bell you can turn towards the Sangha. With the next sound of the bell
the children can bow to the Sangha before leaving the hall (Bell) Thank you. [This is it] (Half bell) (Bell) (Bell) (Bell) Good morning, dear Sangha, today is the 26th of August 2013 and we are in our 2nd day
of the retreat ‘The Art of Suffering’. This morning we practiced breathing in, I know I am breathing in. And breathing out,
I know I am breathing out What is the use of doing that? (Laughter) You may say that, ‘Well, I do that because I want peace, I want happiness, I want healing and transformation.” So the practice is the means and healing and transformation is the end. And the mean is not the end. It is a dualistic way of thinking. But in Plum Village, we have
the non-dualistic approach to healing, to practice. You breathe in in such a way that the healing takes place right away during the in-breath. You breathe in such a way
that peace can be there right in the in-breath. The in-breath is not a means anymore, It is the end. So there is no distinction
between the means and the end. There is no way to happiness,
happiness is the way. You breathe in such a way that
happiness should be in your in-breath. And when you do walking meditation you make a step in such a way that
happiness should be in your step. You have to look for happiness, peace,
and transformation right in the present moment. In your in-breath and in your out-breath With some training, we can do that. We don’t have to suffer
when we breathe in. We don’t have to suffer
when we make a step. In fact, we should produce
the energy of joy, healing and happiness when we breathe in. And we should be able
to produce the energy of joy, happiness and peace when we make a step. We can do that,
we can train ourselves to do that. And maybe a few hours
can help us do it very well already. ‘Breathing in,
I know I am breathing in’. That is the first exercise
of mindful breathing proposed by the Buddha. And we should breath in in such a way that there is relaxation,
peace, happiness and joy in that in-breath. We know that the 4th exercise
of mindful breathing is, ‘Breathing in, I relax my body. Breathing out,
I release the tension in my body.’ The 1st exercise of mindful breathing is: ‘Breathing in, I know I am breathing in. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out.’ We can call it ‘Aware of our in-breath
and out-breath’. [1. aware of in-breath and out-breath] Recognize our in-breath as it is happening. Because mindfulness is the energy that allows us to know what is going on,
what is happening. What is going on is I am breathing in. So breathing in, I am aware
that I am breathing in. And by breathing like that, you produce the energy of mindfulness. You recognize your in-breath that is something that is happening. You recognize your out-breath that is something that is happening. You identify your in-breath
as an in-breath. You identify your out-breath
as an out-breath. It is so simple as exercise, but the effect to that exercise
can be very great. Because when you breathe in, you bring your mind, you bring your attention
to your in-breath. And your in-breath becomes
the only object of your mind. You focus your mind on your in-breath. And if you really focus
your mind on your in-breath, you release everything else. You release the past,
you release the future, you release your projects. You release your anger. Because you are focusing
only on one thing, that is your in-breath. So one in-breath
may take only 3 or 4 seconds. and yet if you have concentration, then you can release everything else, you keep only one thing:
the awareness of your in-breath. You become a free person. Just in 3 seconds of all. And that is the power
of mindfulness and concentration. You are mindful of your in-breath, you are concentrated on your in-breath, and you release everything, you are free. You do not have to suffer
during the time you breathe in. In fact you can enjoy it deeply. You don’t have to breathe in,
because you are breathing in anywhere. So I do not have to breathe in, I am breathing in and out all the time. My practice is just
to focus my attention on my in-breath. And that makes a big difference. When I focus my attention on my in-breath, I bring my mind home to my body and my in-breath is some kind of vehicle helping to go home to my body. When the mind is with the body, you are there, fully present in the here and the now. Just 2, 3 seconds And we know that it may be pleasant to breathe in. You do not have a lung’s infection, your nose is free, the air is fresh. So there is no reason why
you don’t enjoy your in-breath. There is joy in the act of breathing in. And then when you breathe in, you get an insight that you have a body, that you are alive. Because mindfulness
allows you to see things. The first thing you see
is that you are breathing in. And if you are breathing in
it means you are alive. Because someone who is already dead
does not breathe in anymore. (Laughter) That is already insight. And with the insight,
we can celebrate the fact that we are still alive
while we breathe out. Breathing in, I know I am alive. Breathing out,
I celebrate the fact that I am alive. So joy is possible with
breathing in and breathing out. Why do you have to suffer
when you breathe in? We know when you breathe in.
you are concentrated on your in-breath. You release everything else. You are light, you are free. And 3 seconds bring you
freedom and lightness. So you can find a lot of joy,
a lot of pleasure, a lot of peace just in your in-breath. Your in-breath is not a mean for you
to arrive somewhere else. Find the joy, the pleasure, the peace that is right in your in-breath. The same thing is true
when you do walking meditation. What is the use of
doing walking meditation? Doing walking meditation
is to enjoy every step. Because I can touch peace, joy, happiness, freedom, the Kingdom of God in every step. So the step that you make
should not be a means, it is also the end. When you look at something like a flower with mindfulness, with concentration you recognize the presence
of that something. This flower is a wonder of life. This flower belongs
to the Kingdom of God. With the energy of
mindfulness and concentration, you can see that this flower
is a manifestation of the Kingdom of God. It carries within itself
the Kingdom of God. And with mindfulness and concentration
you get the insight: “Ah! The Kingdom of God is right there!” I can touch it through a flower. And your in-breath also
belongs to the Kingdom of God, your body also belongs
to the Kingdom of God. So walking mindfully, with every step
you touch the Kingdom of God. That is why the Kingdom of God
can be found in every step. Joy and peace and happiness
should be found in the step. Your step is not a means for an end, it is the end by itself. An insight is something
that can come very quickly. You don’t need to
practice mindfulness for 10 years in order to have some insight. A few seconds of mindfulness
can already bring insight. Like, “Breathing in, I know I am alive. Breathing in, I know
that the Kingdom of God is available in the here and the now.” That kind of insight helps you to really stop running
in order to enjoy the present moment. We find out that mindfulness and insight
they are together. Where there is mindfulness,
there is concentration and insight. In the practice of meditation, we speak about 3 kinds of energies: mindfulness, concentration and insight. [mindfulness] [smrti] And in the beginning
we defined mindfulness as the kind of energy that allows us
to see what is going on. Mindfulness is always
mindfulness of something. Mindfulness of breathing,
mindfulness of walking, mindfulness of eating and so on. The second energy that we produce
with the practice is concentration. [concentration] Samadhi. When you are mindful of something, when you are very mindful of something you are concentrated on it. Suppose you look at the flower, and you are so mindful on the flower you release everything else and the only object
of your mind is the flower. It means that you are
concentrated on the flower. That is why mindfulness carries
within itself the energy of concentration. The energy of mindfulness
carries within itself the energy of concentration. Where is mindfulness,
there is concentration. And the more you are mindful, the more concentrated you become. That is your in-breath,
that is your out-breath. That is your step,
that is the flower. If you focus
your mindfulness on something, you are mindful of it and you begin to be concentrated on it. That is the second energy, concentration. And the third energy is insight. [insight ‘慧’ prajña] Where there is
mindfulness and concentration, there is insight. They come together very quickly. When you breathe in, and if you are mindful of your in-breath, you know that what is happening
is you are breathing in. You are breathing in is already an insight Many people breathe in but
do not know that they are breathing in. Many people are alive but they do not know that they are alive. So breathing in,
I know that I am breathing in. It also means that I am alive. Knowing you are alive
that is an insight. And that insight is very important because to be alive is a miracle. The greatest of all miracles. And you touch that miracle
just by breathing in mindfully. So mindfulness carries within itself
the energy of concentration, and concentration carries within itself
the energy of insight. That is why you cannot isolate these 3 kinds of energies. They inter-are. In one you can see
the two other energies inside. The 2nd energy, the 2nd exercise
of mindful breathing is to follow your in-breath. [2. follow in-breath and out-breath] And out-breath.
This morning Thay Phap Ho also lead us
in this meditation exercise. Breathing in, I follow my in-breath all the way through. It means that there is no interruption of mindfulness, of concentration during the time I breathe in. I am fully aware and
fully mindful of my in-breath. I am fully concentrated on my in-breath. And if you get some pleasure
while breathing in or breathing out, this concentration
produced by the second exercise makes the pleasure grow You get more pleasure,
more peace, more joy. The 2nd exercise
is like the continuation of the 1st. And as you practice
the 2nd exercise of meditation, you have concentration to grow, and your pleasure of breathing
also grows at the same time. That is why a good practitioner finds the practice pleasant, because she finds happiness,
freedom, peace while she practices. The 3rd exercise: Breathing in, I am aware of my body. [3. aware of Body] This is really bringing the mind
home to the body. When you spend 3 hours with your computer, you completely forget
that you have a body. And when the mind is not with the body,
you are not truly alive. The mind should be an embodied mind. When the mind is with the body, you are established in the here and now. You are fully present in here and the now. You are fully alive. That is why bringing the mind
home to the body, is to be fully alive, to be fully present. Only when you are fully present you can touch the wonders of life deeply. Otherwise you are
losing yourself in distraction. So, breathing in
I know I have a body. That is already an insight. If you have worked
your body so hard, there is a lot of tension
and pain in your body. With tension and pain in your body it is difficult to have peace
and joy, and freedom. That is why you are motivated by the desire to release
the tension in your body. That is why the Buddha proposed
the 4th exercise of mindful breathing: Breathing in, I let go
the tension in my body. I calm my body. [4. calming Body] I am sure that you have noticed that from time to time
we want to relax our body, but we can’t relax. The intention is there. The willingness to relax
the body is there. But you cannot relax. It is not because you want to relax
that you can relax. That is why the intention to release
the tension in the body is not enough. You should need some kind
of mindfulness and insight. You need your mind to help your body. If your mind doesn’t have any insight, it is hard to help the body. When you breathe in mindfully and bring your mind home to your body, you may get the insight
that your body is full of tension. That is already the first insight: my body is full of tension. I will be happy if I can release that tension. And then if you continue, you can see that
there is a habit energy in you, the habit of running. We are running always to the future to find something. It looks like we don’t believe that
happiness is possible now. That is why you always try
to run into the future and look for some more
conditions of happiness. Most of us do like that out of our habit energy. We do not have the capacity to dwell in the present moment, to get in touch with the wonders of life
that are available in that moment, and to live deeply every moment
that is given us to live. Because of that
huge habit energy of running, always running even
during our dream, our sleep. We long for something. We don’t think that peace,
happiness, love, joy is possible in the present moment. That is why meditation,
first of all, is to stop running. So the second insight you can get is that life is available
only in the here and the now. Why do I have to run
all the time like that? So that kind of insight helps you to stop and release the tension. And then when you look around,
you see that there are people who are running
after the objects of their craving like fame, power, wealth and sex. That is why they sacrifice
the present moment which is the only moment
when you can be truly alive. And you feel sorry for them. That is another kind of insight
to help you to stop and release the tension. When you look further, you see that there are those who already
have plenty of these four things, power, wealth, fame, and sex, and yet they suffer deeply. Seeing that you have
another kind of insight that helps you to stop. So insight is needed for us to really be able to release
the tension in our body. We have the insight that
what we are looking for, we have been looking for, peace, happiness, joy, freedom should be found in the present moment. And without that kind of insight you cannot really relax
the tension in your body. (Half bell) (Bell) Happily, the energy of mindfulness carries within itself, the energy of concentration and insight. That is why when you practice the fourth exercise of mindful breathing, you can really release the tension. Everyone knows that it is good
to release the tension. But not many people know
how to release the tension. We have to learn, we have to try And if we can do that,
we can help our children do it. If school teachers know how to do it, they will help their students to do it. And the job of learning and teaching
will become much easier if both the teachers and students
know the art of relaxation, releasing the tension. So with this, we can see the nature of inter-being
of the three kinds of energies. You cannot isolate these 3 energies, they are always together. Looking into one,
you can see the two others. These three kinds of energies are generated by practitioners. They have the power to produce
joy and happiness. They have the power to help you handle painful emotions, painful feelings. We learn how to deal with
our happiness and our suffering by using this kind of energies that we produce in our practice. We do not have to go to a temple,
to a meditation center in order to generate
these three kinds of energies. We can cook our breakfast mindfully and continue to produce the energy
of mindfulness, concentration and insight. We can water the vegetable garden behind, in the backyard, mindfully and generate the energy of concentration, mindfulness and insight and get the joy during the time
you water the vegetable garden. When you wash the dishes, if you know how to breathe and smile and produce the energy of mindfulness,
concentration and insight, washing dishes becomes
a very pleasant thing. Because these 3 kinds of energies can produce the energy of joy
and happiness and compassion. When we come to the 5th exercise, we learn how to produce a feeling of joy. Because a practitioner can always produce a feeling of joy, a feeling of happiness. And how? The teaching is very clear. If you bring your mind home to your body by the way of mindful breathing
or mindful walking, you are established
in the here and the now. The present moment is the only moment when life is available. Real life is available. Because the past is no longer there and the future has not come. So only the present moment… Only in the present moment that life is available. That is why with the practitioner every breath, every step should bring her back
to the here and the now. And when you are in the here and the now you are in touch
with the wonders of the life that are in you and around you. And getting in touch with them, you have a chance to nourish yourself,
to heal yourself. You cannot get them
from the past or from the future. You can get them only
from the present moment. That is why the practitioner always
go home to the here and the now.>From the parking lot to where you work, you walk in such a way that every step helps you to release
the tension in your body, helps you to touch the wonders
of the life in you and around you. You walk in such a way, that the Kingdom of the God
is available to you with every step. How? With concentration,
mindfulness and insight. The insight is that the Kingdom
is available in the here and the now. Because that flower
belongs to the Kingdom. It is calling us back to the Kingdom. And also your body is a flower that belongs to the Kingdom. So for those of us who have
enough concentration and insight, we know that the Kingdom of God
is available in the here and the now. You do not have to die
in order to go to the Kingdom. In fact we have to be very alive. And to be alive, how?
Mindful, concentrated. You are alive and only with one in-breath,
you go to the Kingdom. Only with one step, you go to the Kingdom. Because the Kingdom is available in the here and the now. The question that remains is
whether you are available to the Kingdom. (Laughter) And the answer is there. If you want to make yourself
available to the Kingdom, produce mindfulness, concentration. And with only one step,
you can go into the Kingdom. So for a good practitioner, walking from the parking lot
to the working place you taste, you touch the
Kingdom with every step. It depends on our way of walking that the Kingdom is there or is not there. And then, going home to the present moment we recognize that we are very lucky. Compared with so many other people we are much luckier. We have eyes still in good condition. We only need to open our eyes
in order to see the blue mountains, the blue sky, the green mountains and the beautiful river. There is a paradise of forms and colours available in the here and the now because you have eyes
still in good condition. Breathing in, I know,
I am aware of my eyes. Breathing out, I enjoy,
I smile to my eyes, which are still in good condition. I enjoy the Kingdom,
the paradise of forms and colours. So you have your eyes
still in good conditions? You have one condition for happiness. And there are many thousands
of conditions like that within you and around you. Breathing in, I know,
I am aware of my heart. Mindfully I breathe in,
and I get the insight that, ‘Ah! My heart still functions normally.’ It is wonderful to have a heart,
a normal heart like that. Because some of us
do not have a heart like that. And our deepest desire is to have
just a normal heart like other people. So when you touch
your heart in good condition, your heart that still functions normally, you touch another condition of happiness There are so many conditions of happiness
in you and around you. More than enough for you to be happy, to be joyful in the here and the now. That is why to produce a feeling of joy is always possible
for a good practitioner. And to produce a feeling of happiness is always possible
for a good practitioner. We have to nourish ourselves by generating the energy
of joy and happiness. That is the object of
the 5th and the 6th exercises. The 5th is generating joy. [5. generating Joy] The 6th is generating happiness. [6. generating Happiness] In the Buddhist’s literature, there is a distinction between joy (喜) and happiness. Usually we use the image of someone who walks in the desert, and who is very thirsty. Suddenly, he recognizes that in front of him there is an oasis,
with trees, shade and a lake. So he needs to walk for 10,
15 more minutes to arrive. So he is joyful. He is joyful because
he will have a cool place to be in. He will have water to drink. And that is joy. And when he actually arrives and kneels down,
cups the water and drinks, that is happiness. In joy, there is still some excitement. But in happiness, there is more peace. That is the understanding
of joy and happiness in Buddhism. And a good practitioner
is capable of generating a feeling of joy,
a feeling of happiness for herself and help the other person to do the same. ‘Darling, don’t you know
that we are very lucky? We have a lot of conditions of happiness. We don’t have to run
into the future to be happy.’ Recognizing the conditions of happiness that are already enough, more than enough. Then you can create
joy and happiness at anytime. With the 7th exercise, we begin to take care of our pain. Breathing in, I know
there is a painful feeling in me. We know how to create joy, happiness, but we know also
how to take care of our pain. So the first exercise
is to be aware of the pain. [7. aware of Pain] When the painful feeling begins to come up we don’t try to run away from it. We don’t try to cover it up
with consumption, with music, with books, magazines, conversations, with food. Instead we have to go home
and take care of it. The first thing is to recognize it. “Good afternoon, my pain,
I know you are there. I will take good care of you.” And you are not afraid of being
overwhelmed by the pain inside because you are equipped
with the energy of mindfulness. Because a good practitioner knows how to mop the floor mindfully, cook the breakfast mindfully. That is why he has enough of that energy to help him go back
to himself without fear. And the first thing
is to recognize the pain. The second thing is to calm it down. Embrace it and calm it down. [8. calming Pain] Whether that is a painful feeling
or a painful emotion, the practitioner always
goes home to himself, recognizes it,
and with the energy of mindfulness embraces it tenderly,
like a mother holding a baby. There is no intention to fight, or to suppress. Because you are your mindfulness but you are also your pain. We should not transform ourselves
into a battlefield, the good fighting, the evil, that is not the practice. So not running away from the pain, trying to come back with mindfulness recognize it as it is
and begin to embrace it tenderly. In Buddhist Psychology,
we speak of consciousness in terms of store and mind. Down here there is a seed of despair, a seed of fear, a seed of anger. [Mind – Store] When the seed of fear or anger is touched, somebody comes and says
something or does something and touches off the seed
of anger down here. And it manifests up here as a kind of energy. It is called a mental formation. Mental Formation (M.F.) Anger, fear, despair, irritation, jealousy they are all mental formations. Again when one of them manifests here, we should know how to handle it. And the way to handle it is to invite
another kind of energy from down here to come, to help. We have a seed of mindfulness down here. For practitioners, as they have been
practicing in mindfulness, the seed of mindfulness in them
is quite robust, quite strong. That is why, in the case they need, they can easily invite
the energy of mindfulness to manifest. So manifest will- With mindful breathing, walking, you invite the seed
of mindfulness to manifest up on the level of mind consciousness. And that is the second
kind of energy generated here, Mindfulness (M) If this is fear, then mindfulness
is mindfulness of fear. If this is anger, then this is
mindfulness of anger. Because mindfulness is always
mindfulness of something. And the first thing mindfulness does
is to recognize the energy of pain. And the second thing
it does is to embrace. One energy embracing another one. There is an encounter
between two kinds of energies. It’s like when it is very hot, you turn on the AC and produce cool air. The cool air does not try to fight
the hot air in the room, but tries to embrace it. And later on the hot air becomes cooler. So this is exactly the way we do. Mindfulness is holding the pain tenderly. And you continue to do that until the fear, the anger,
the pain lose its strength and you get a relief. You feel better
after a few minutes of holding, using the energy of mindfulness
to hold the energy of anger or fear. In Plum Village, we like to use
the image of a mother holding a baby. The mother does not know yet
what is wrong for the baby, but the fact that she is
holding the baby tenderly can help the baby suffer less right away. The energy of tenderness of the mother begins to penetrate
into the body of the baby. So the practitioners, the practitioner while holding
her pain, her sorrow, can do it, begin to get a relief. Because the energy of mindfulness
begins to penetrate into the other zone of energy,
the energy of fear or anger. And you get a relief. After that, the energy of anger
or fear will go back to its place of origin down here after having lost some of its energy. It is like giving your fear, your anger
a mindfulness bath. With nonviolence. You know that, next time,
when your fear, your anger comes up, you will do the same. You will try, you will offer it
a bath of mindfulness as to lose some more of its strength. And that is the exercise:
calming the pain, reducing the pain. There will be other exercise that comes
later in the Sutra of Mindful Breathing, to help you to completely
transform the afflictions. With the eighth exercise,
you can already reduce the pain. Bring in a relief. So the practitioner knows the art of happiness. The practitioner knows how to produce the energy of joy and happiness. And the practitioner also knows how to handle the pain
in himself or herself. (Bell) The pain can be
a physical pain or a mental pain. Mindfulness helps us
to recognize the pain. Our practice is not to exaggerate. Because to meditate is to look deeply and to recognize things as they are. The Buddha spoke about the second arrow. When we learn the art of
taking care of the pain, handle the pain inside, we should know the teaching
about the second arrow. When someone gets an arrow, there is the pain in his body. But if a second arrow comes
and hits exactly at the same spot, then the pain is not only doubled, it can be ten times stronger. So when you have a painful feeling, whether that painful feeling
comes from the body or comes from your perception, you should recognize it
as it is and not exaggerate. You should not amplify the pain
with your fear, or anger, or imagination, wrong perceptions. Because the fear, the anger make the pain in you multiply
by ten times at least. You imagine that you are going
to die very soon. You imagine that you cannot stand
that kind of fear, anger. Maybe you will die. So that is the kind of amplification
that we should avoid, the second arrow. If it is a minor physical pain, we know that it is only
a minor physical pain. If it is an anger, if it is a feeling of anger born
from some wrong perception we should know that it is a feeling of anger
born from some wrong perceptions. If it is a strong emotion, we should know
that this is only an emotion. You are much more than an emotion. When you are overwhelmed
by a painful emotion, you think that you are only that emotion. But in fact you are
much more than an emotion. You are form, feeling, perceptions, mental formation and consciousness. The territory is large and your emotion is just a small thing. Many people, specially the young people, when they are overwhelmed
by a strong emotion, they think that
the only way to stop suffering is to go and kill themselves. They exaggerate too much. They are victim of the second arrow. So we should teach them that every time a strong emotion comes up, they have to breathe and get the insight that, breathing in, I know
this is only one emotion. An emotion is something that comes, stays for a while and finally has to go like a storm. Why do we have to die
because of an emotion? And that kind of insight is very crucial. We, parents, we have to practice, we have to see the emotion
as only an emotion. We have to learn
how to handle that emotion. We are not afraid. And if you know
how to handle the emotion you will be able to help our children, the young people to do the same. When the emotion comes, we should go back to our breathing we should relax our body we should get the insight,
‘This is only an emotion and I am capable of taking care of it by the practice of mindful breathing
and embracing my emotion.’ And if I need, I will ask another friend or my mother or my brother or my sister to come and breathe and help me hold this emotion. We can survive this emotion very easily because that emotion
can only stay for a while and finally it has to go. So these are basic things, elementary things that we have to learn. So many young people
don’t know how to do it. That is why, they go and kill themselves. The second arrow. We have to know, Don’t exaggerate, don’t amplify. It’s almost twelve. There is a list of mental formations. I have asked the brothers
to print it for everyone. Maybe tomorrow, everyone will have a copy. There are five mental formations that are always there. We should know how to handle them. The first one is contact. [contact] (Speaks in Vietnamese) Attention. [attention] Feeling. [feeling] Perception. [perception] Volition. They are called the five universals, because they are always there. There is a list of 51 here. (Laughter) When I was a novice monk,
I had to memorize all of them. And every time one mental
formation showed up, I had to recognize it
and call it by its true name. Because the practitioner should know
the name of each mental formation and how to handle it. That is why the 9th exercise
on mindful breathing is to be aware of each mental
formation when it arises. [9. aware M.F.] The mind is like a river. Every drop of water in the river
is a mental formation. Mind is made of mental formations. And they always come and go, come and go, born and die. Always, always flowing like a river. So to meditate is
to sit on the bank of the river and recognize the mental formation
that comes and goes, and learn how to handle them. These are the first 5 called universals. Attention can come first, or contact may come first. Suppose you hear the sound of the bell. If you are used to the practice
of the bell of mindfulness, you tend to pay attention
to the sound of the bell rather than other sounds
that happen at the same time. So the sound of the bell
is the object of our attention, that is conducive to peace, tranquility, and so on. Because when you pay attention
to the sound of the bell, you stop your thinking,
you begin to breathe in gently and you enjoy breathing in. So the good practitioner
selects the object of attention that can lead him or her to peace, to joy, to happiness, to freedom. And that attention
is called ‘appropriate attention’. [appropriate attention] ‘Yonisomanaskara’. ‘Manaskara’ is attention. And in Chinese we called it ‘如理作意’. When you pay attention to the objects
that can lead you to anger, fear, craving, then that is called
‘inappropriate attention’. (Laughter) [inappropriate A] ‘非如理作意’ Suppose you go to the internet and there are objects of your attention. You can be led to a place where you lose your calm,
you lose your happiness, you are subject to craving,
to anger, to fear. That is ‘inappropriate attention’. So a good practitioner always practices appropriate attention, 如理作意. And if you are to build a practice centre, then everything you create
should have the power to lead you to appropriate attention. Everything that you hear,
you see, you touch, as the road to lead you
to the good direction. So with attention, you may get a contact. Contact is contact between
the sense organs and the objects. It’s like your eyes and what you see. The sound and your ears. Your body and the touch. So attention may come first
or contact may come first and then draw your attention. And they are very quick.
one millisecond or less. Contact and attention
bring about a feeling, a pleasant feeling or a painful feeling. If it is a pleasant feeling, you have the tendency
to run into that direction. And you may get
a lot of suffering later on. If it is a painful feeling
like anger or fear, that will lead you to a perception that the other person
is trying to make you suffer. And if you have that perception, you will have an intention to act, to want to say something
in order to punish him or her, or to do something to punish him or her. So anger leads
to the action of punishment. And if it is a wrong perception, it will lead to the kind of volition
that creates suffering. Each of us has a usual way, the habitual way of reacting. They come very quick, the 5 universal mental formations. We have the habit energy
of reacting in the same way, and we always react like that because it is already
an usual path in our brain. There is a neural pathway
that is already traced and you just go and go by
that way again and again. There is one person who reacted
very much the same way when he heard that kind of sentence. He cannot control himself. Every time he heard
that kind of expression, he would get angry and
he would say something like that. Always like that!
And after that, he was angry at himself. ‘I didn’t want to react like that,
but why I continue to react like that?’ Because there is a pathway that is
already traced in his mind. So another friend said, ‘Next time
you go to the meeting, I will sit next to you.’ (Laughter) And every time I hear that kind
of sentence, that kind of atmosphere, I squeeze your hand.’ (Laughter) ‘I will serve as your second body. And when you feel my squeeze,
then you breathe in, you say, “I have to reexamine my feeling, I have to examine my perceptions.’ So it means that you have
to bring mindfulness to intervene with your feeling. Whether that is a painful feeling or a pleasant feeling, you don’t let the feeling
to carry you away, because you are mindful. You are mindful of your feeling. Because you are mindful of your feeling, you know where the feeling comes from. You cannot be deceived by kind of feeling. Because maybe you have a wrong perception and that is why
you have that kind of feeling. But if there is mindfulness
and concentration intervening, then you know the nature of that feeling
and you can correct your perception. And you don’t go in that way anymore. you go in another way that leads
to compassion, understanding, rather than anger and despair. So the practitioner with the practice
of mindfulness and concentration is capable of inventing new pathways that will lead to compassion and happiness
rather than to anger and suffering. That is why we said last night that happiness and peace are skills
that we can train ourselves like playing tennis or violin. We have to train ourselves
to be happy, to be peaceful. We do not let these 5 mental formations
to do their usual way. Because everyone of us
has patterns of behaviour that lead us to anger, fear,
suffering, punishment. We don’t want to go
these pathways anymore. We want to have new pathways that
lead to understanding and compassion. A few days of practice
can already change a lot. When we know how to make use
of the three energies of mindfulness, concentration and insight, and intervene into the feelings,
perception and attention, we are capable of tracing new pathways that will lead to understanding,
compassion and happiness rather than fear, anger and violence. And these three mental formations, mindfulness, concentration and insight, three mental formations among the five
that are called “particular”. I think very soon the brothers will offer
you the list of mental formations. The five particulars are: intention, [1. intention] determination. [2. determination] Intention is ‘欲’ Determination is ‘勝解’. And mindfulness, concentration and insight So we have 5 universals and 5 particulars. In this list we have it
written in Chinese, in Sanskrit and in French also. (Laughter) We will continue tomorrow. Subtitles by the Amara.org community

Dereck Turner

34 thoughts on “The Art of Suffering Retreat | First Dharma Talk by Thich Nhat Hanh, 2013.08.26

  1. Tamar Enoch says:

    qqqqqqqqqqq

  2. bettysman says:

    What is the name of the chant recited in the beginning. Thanks to you all there.

  3. i am says:

    born in 1926… he was 87 in this video and still minful

  4. Patricia Pereira says:

    Thanks beloved Thay

  5. Samson says:

    I've been watching, listening, and reading Thich Nhat Hanh for a few years now, and it only just occurred to me that he is Yoda from Star Wars. haha

  6. Byxx says:

    I personally cannot follow along well being stressed in a way by the disturbance of the overall technical feedbacks. I am musician myself, being not too sensitive on this, but hey: There´s a lot of road experienced sound companies around the corner, to ask for the acoustic basics for respectful amplification for such important talks.

  7. optizap says:

    Supreme and Serene 

  8. hamadah4 says:

    That was wonderful. Thank you so much!

  9. Angeline Bandon-Bibum says:

    This is a wonderful message. Thank you, Thick Nhat  Hanh!

  10. Demy says:

    very noisy background….what is wrong with the people?

  11. not here says:

    and how does this help someone with a chronic illness who is mindful constantly of what they're feeling too much to get pleasure from this

  12. scruethedemiurge says:

    At about 30 minutes, he said, "There's no reason you can't enjoy the in breath. You don't have a lung infection. Your nose is free. So there's no reason you can't enjoy your in breath." What about those who do have a lung infection? How can they have peace in this lifetime if they can't even breath comfortably? What is the solution for them?

  13. thebudkellyfiles says:

    My way of looking at suffering is that it is all maya, the veil of illusion that covers reality. I concentrate my effort on those around me- friends, family, caretakers, to make the experience of being around me a positive one. I try to remember that they are suffering just by being around my suffering. I make a joke of it, thank them profusely for their help, and remember them with a card or gift afterwards for taking care of "The Big Cry Baby" that is me. Think of others. And one more thing- think of how many people have it worse than you. Having cancer looks pretty good in comparison to having advanced ALS and being trapped in your own body. 

  14. Niamh Kelly says:

    So grateful for Thay's wisdom 🙂

  15. Trần Minh Hằng says:

    Someone can tell me what name of the song in the begin, please.Even I can't find it on google. Thank advance! 🙂

  16. acajudi100 says:

    Namaste. thank you teacher.

  17. Galaxy Siu says:

    Does anyone know the name of the second chant just before the talk? Seems no way to find out this chant on the web

  18. HERO KIDS TV says:

    Thank you for posting this on utube. No words can decribe the peace I feel listening to Thay. He makes everything so easy and simple. There is no wait time or dreaming . I like to breathe in and feel alive.

  19. kosal LEY says:

    Join our Thailand retreat here: http://www.holidaymeditation.net/

  20. butterflybeatles says:

    Talk commences at Minute 21:00.

  21. Smokey 420 says:

    "Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate.. to suffering."

    Quoted by Yoda

  22. bettysman says:

    I know someone that has tried this method but finds her thoughts too strong for Awareness of I&O, and Following I&O. Any suggestions?

  23. Gato Gate says:

    I like the lyrics of the initial song "…There is space for everything in my heart…"

  24. jack brown says:

    Is this a cult?

  25. mkartification says:

    Thank you for posting. Lovely wisdom. It reached my heart <3

  26. bth992002 says:

    The Four Layers of Consciousness
    BY THICH NHAT HANH| JUNE 29, 2017
    https://www.lionsroar.com/the-four-layers-of-consciousness/

  27. Lionheart Wellness says:

    This begINNINGig song is LIFE!!!!!

  28. 김선달봉이 says:

    I let go of every thought with each breathing….It empties my mind..

  29. Jennie f says:

    We graciously thank you ~ Jennie

  30. piggnant says:

    Kingdom of God?

  31. Conexión Humana says:

    Thank you. Thank you. Thank you Venerable Thay. Just to listen his voice is a marvelous therapy and to understand his teachings is a great gift of love to every single person who listen to him. Evangelina Cortes.

  32. LK Teh says:

    Thank you so much teacher for introducing the path to free us from the ocean of samsara due to our negative habitual energy..may all of us able to transform these energy into wisdom and compassion

  33. Thảo Thị Thanh Nguyễn says:

    It's so glad to see kids at a place like this

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