Path of Compassion: Stories from the Buddha's Life
Thich Nhat Hanh
Path of Compassion is Thich Nhat Hanh's vibrant retelling of the story of Prince Siddartha, who left his family and renounced his privileged life to become the Buddha. These stories reveal that, most of all, the Buddha was a human being, full of questions, able to make mistakes, and like all of us, capable of great compassion and insight. The most important teachings of the Buddha come alive in this compelling and informative introduction to his life.
The key stories selected from Thich Nhat Hanh's previously published book Old Path White Clouds, have been presented in this new edition that offers an enjoyable, and informative introduction to Buddhism. Intended for readers of all ages, Nhat Hanh combines the milestones of the Buddha's life with the most important teachings.
Awakening of the Heart is a comprehensive single volume edition of Thich Nhat Hanh's sutra translations and commentaries on key Buddhist sutras.
Awakening of the Heart contains the following nine sutras and their commentaries:
The Heart Sutra (Prajnaparamita) The Diamond Sutra The Sutra On Full Awareness Of Breathing The Sutra On The Four Establishments Of Mindfulness The Sutra On The Better Way To Catch A Snake The Sutra On The Better Way To Live Alone The Sutra On The Eight Realizations Of The Great Beings The Discourse On Happiness The Teachings On the Middle Way
With discussions on both historical events and how the sutras are relevant for daily life, Awakening of the Heart is a spiritual bridge that brings the Buddha’s teachings alive. Thich Nhat Hanh's contemporary and accessible interpretations make these commentaries useful for anyone today, from experienced practitioners to those new to Buddhism or mindfulness practice.
Some of New York City’s angriest teens are learning the way to a more peaceful path with a little help from the Buddha.
NBC New York recently was given access to the Crossroads Juvenile Detention Center in Brownsville, where there was a stark contrast between the kids in their orange detention suits and the monks in their brown robes.
The group of monastics filed into the facility, and they were unlike anything these kids had seen in their neighborhood.
Peace Is The Way - Peace Is The Way - A Century Of Nonviolent Action film series chronicles the interconnected stories of normal people, who became nonviolent beacons of light. These visionary, yet unsung Heroes used creativity, compassion, humour and nonviolent action as their “weapons”, helping to build global movements toward peace and reconciliation.
Our first film in the Peace is the Way series, “Walking with Alfred Hassler, Thich Nhat Hanh and Sister Chan Khong,” will reveal our superheroes’ interconnected and personal stories, taking you on a journey from their first meeting in war-torn Vietnam to the "Arab Spring" and Tahir Square, Eqypt, where Alfred’s ideas within the Martin Luther King comic book in 1956 have now been used again in 2011, inspiring others in their contemporary quest for social change through nonviolent action.
Life waits patiently for true heroes. It is dangerous when those aspiring to be heroes cannot wait until they find themselves. When aspiring heroes have not found themselves, they are tempted to borrow the world’s weapons-money, fame,and power-to fight their battles. These weapons cannot protect the inner life of the hero. -Thich Nhat Hanh
The Cathay Pacific plane from Taipei to Hong Kong was in a gentle descent. From high above, Hong Kong was a city of countless highrises. The clock in the airport read exactly 11:30 AM, April 25, 2011. The thirty monks and nuns were welcomed at the airport by the Hong Kong sangha, and transported to the newest Plum Village monastery. There was one small car for Thay and his attendants, and three buses each seating 20 people: one for the brothers, one for the sisters, and one for luggage. The three buses followed Thay's car to Lotus Pond Temple in the village of Ngong Ping on Lantau Island, Hong Kong.
Buddha statue at Polin Temple, Hong Kong
Halfway up the mountain, we could see a huge bronze Buddha (the largest seated bronze Buddha statue in the world), sitting majestically on the mountaintop. The way up was very beautiful, hugging the mountain on one side and looking steeply down to the South China Sea on the other. Lush vegetation surrounded the roads winding up and down which added to the spectacular landscape. It took a little over half an hour to get to the top of the mountain. There were many tourists and pilgrims visiting and praying in front of the statue of the Awakened One. This mountain, adorned with the giant statue, is one of the famous tourist attractions of Hong Kong.
Thay and sangha in front of the gate of Polin Temple
In front of us was the large and imposing white granite main gate to Polin Temple. The place was bustling with people. Rarely do they notice that just to the left of this busy gate is a small paved road of about 150 meters leading to the hidden Lotus Pond Temple? In there the atmosphere is quiet and full of the flavor of Zen—a world totally different from the one outside. Leaving the bus, we found Thay already sitting in the shade of an ancient banyan tree, enjoying his tea. We bowed to him. He pointed at the tree and says, “”This is an old friend of Thay's.”
Lotus Pond Temple with the old banyan tree which Thay visited 40 years ago. This will be the first establishment for AIAB in Kong Kong
We learned that Thay had left his footprint here over 40 years ago. It was very moving to witness this return. How fortunate that Thay is still here to be the old sturdy banyan tree for his spiritual descendents to take refuge in. “Let's first go to the Buddha Hall to touch the earth before the Buddha before we eat; we are not allowed to eat without paying respect first to the Buddha!”, said Thay in his gentle way, with a smile. We were moved. Truly a reminder in the language of a gentle father. The first seeds The seeds of a center had already been sown in Thay's first teaching visit to Hong Kong, in 2001. In May 2007, during Thay's third trip here, a practice community called Plum Village Hong Kong was formed. After that trip, Br. Pháp Khâm and other Plum Village brothers and sisters residing in Vietnam and Thailand would come back to Hong Kong every three months to lead retreats and provide guidance to practitioners. In February 2009, a mindfulness practice center was established in the commercial and tourist area Tsim Sha Tsui, Kowloon, with Brothers Pháp Khâm, Pháp Chung, Phap Chứng and Pháp Dung as permanent residents. Although located right in the crowded downtown, the brothers have been able to maintain diligent practice, keeping the same daily schedule of sitting, walking, and working meditation as at the other Plum Village centers. Some practitioners come to sit with the brothers in the early morning, but the majority come after work for the afternoon walking meditation in the park, and sitting meditation in the evening. These practitioners see the importance of the practice which helps them feel less stressed and brings them peace and happiness in everyday life. On rainy days, the walking would be done in subway halls. Hong Kong, especially the Tsim Sha Tsui area, is extremely crowded. Many people in this small territory live in small highrise condominiums. The light and relaxed steps of walking meditation among such crowded quarters are an unusual occurrence that surprises many onlookers.
Thay's 2010 teaching tour brought much benefit to many in Hong Kong. Over 1400 people participated in the retreat held at the Hong Kong YMCA. Over 300 people received the Five Mindfulness Trainings at the end of the retreat. Among those was a Venerable monk from another part of China. He had obviously received the Five Precepts elsewhere, but when asked about this the Venerable insisted, “The Five Mindfulness Trainings as enunciated by Plum Village are so wonderful, I would like to receive them so I may transmit them to my disciples.” There was also an ordination ceremony for 25 new Order of Interbeing members from Hong Kong. It was a ceremony of warmth and great joy.
During this same tour, Thay gave a public talk at Hong Kong Convention Center to over 8,000 people. A Venerable from Hong Kong observed, “Only Zen Master Nhat Hanh has the ability to attract such a large audience. Normally, we would be very happy if 80 people came to a Dharma talk.” Thay's teaching tour made a big impact on intellectuals and business leaders, especially in the Hong Kong press. There were many news articles on Thay and the Plum Village monastic sangha as well as the teachings given during the tour.
One businessman interviewing Thay inquired, “Which realm would you prefer to go to when you die?” Thay looked at the person with his compassionate eyes, then gently answered with a smile, “It does not matter where I go. If we live deeply and solidly in the present moment, and are happy right here and now, then we will be happy no matter where we go.” Thay’s answer surprised the businessman. Normally people think that Thay might want to go either to Nirvana or the Pure Land, or the Tushita Heaven to help Maitreya Buddha prepare his appearance on Earth, or even back to this world to help people achieve liberation. But Thay's answer was so very practical and totally different from normal expectations.
Sharing about a future for Buddhism in Hong Kong After the interview, the businessman described the status of Buddhism in Hong Kong and the difficulties practitioners were facing. Young people were no longer interested in coming to the temples. There were fewer and fewer monastics. He spoke of his dream to reintroduce Buddhism in Hong Kong in a way that could bring more peace and happiness to individuals and communities. He acknowledged that wealth, power and fame would not bring true happiness and peace.
Thay said the only way to achieve such a goal was to bring forth a renewed Buddhism, responsive to the needs of today's individuals and society. There had to be practices to help people relax, have less stress, calm the body and mind, resolve personal difficulties and suffering, bring reconciliation between family members, friends and colleagues, and generate the energy of peace and happiness in the present moment. We should work to establish a healthy environment that appeals to the young people. If not, they would no longer come to the temples and Buddhism would seriously degenerate over time. This phenomenon had happened and was still happening – not only to Buddhism but also to Christianity, and not only in Hong Kong but in other countries as well – and would continue in the same direction if we failed to renew our spiritual tradition.
Thay went on to share about the practice of monastics at mindfulness centers at Plum Village in France, Deer Park Monastery, Blue Cliff Monastery and Magnolia Grove Monastery in the USA, Nhap Luu in Australia, and Tu Hieu in Vietnam. The European Institute of Applied Buddhism (EIAB) in Germany brings the practice of Buddhism to modern society in the most intimate and practical way. In these centers, all practitioners regardless of spiritual background may participate in and benefit from the wisdom of the Buddha.
At EIAB, unlike other Buddhist institutes around the world, the teaching staff includes more than 50 monastics residing together. The monastics live, practice, and teach, on-site, twenty-four hours a day. Classes are taught on subjects such as living in harmony with others, managing anger and other emotions, ministering to the dying, etc. Retreats of various lengths are held (please visit the website www.eiab.eu for more details on classes and retreats). What is taught by the monastic staff can be practiced right after the teaching sessions. Consultations may be quickly set up with the monks and nuns to resolve any question. The energy of the practice is pervasive and palpable. Every Sunday is a public Day of Mindfulness, open to everyone. The monastics in residence are the bedrock of the Institute. Having such a large number of monastics in residence helps create a strong practice energy and brings the quality and effectiveness of instruction to a very high level.
Thay said we could also establish an Asian Institute of Applied Buddhism (AIAB) in Hong Kong, known as one of the four rising tigers of Asia and as a land of respect for human rights and religious freedom. If an AIAB was established in Hong Kong, it would help not only Hong Kong and in particular its youth, but also countless others in East Asia.
The businessman was very interested in Thay's statement. He said he had a good-sized temple on Lantau Island, about a 90-minute drive from downtown Hong Kong, which could be offered to Plum Village for use as a practice center, if Thay agreed. Ideas were exchanged between Thay's senior disciples and the businessman, who offered to transport Thay and some monastics to visit the temple the following morning. The offer to make the temple into a Plum Village practice center was happily accepted.
Coming to the new home Our sisters moved into the new temple, called Lotus Pond (Lien Tri), nearly a month before our arrival in April 2011. The temple is well laid out and spacious, built in the traditional architecture of Chinese temples. The Buddha Hall, which can seat around 150 people, occupies the top of the three-floor building. The middle floor is the residence of the sisters, and the bottom floor is divided into two parts: in front is the ancestors' hall, and behind it is the dining hall. Outside and to the left of the temple is Thay's cottage, next to the path leading to our new Bamboo Forest (Truc Lam) Temple where the brothers live. The Bamboo Forest Temple is not as large as Lotus Pond, but it is a comfortable and cosy place for the brothers to live and practice together.
Thay and the brothers after a mindfulness trainings recitation at Bamboo Forest Monastery, the practice center for the brothers
This latest trip to Hong Kong originally was not part of the 2011 Asia tour itinerary, which was scheduled to include only Thailand, Taiwan and Japan. However, due to last-minute contingencies in Japan, that portion of the tour had to be canceled. Thay and the sangha then took the opportunity to travel to Hong Kong to visit our newborn temples. Thay said, “Perhaps, it was the intention of our spiritual ancestors to give us two weeks of rest.
Kite-Flying Hill (near Lotus Pond Monastery
In the last few days of our stay, Thay took us to visit a number of temples on Lantau Island. Most of these temples are deserted, or occupied only by one, two or three people. We were saddened to see the temples so abandoned. According to local Venerables, the number of monastics in all the temples in Hong Kong totals only about 200. One sister shared that once, on a round to visit nearby temples, she sighted a rather large one on the mountain, with beautiful architecture. Full of anticipation, she went to up for a visit. When she arrived, she found all the gates locked. She rang the bell at the front gate. After a while, a man came out and asked, “What do you want?”, which woke her up to the stark reality that the temple housed no monastics, only a manager and caretaker.
Thay’s Announcement of the Birth of the Asian Institute of Applied Buddhism (AIAB) On April 28, 2011, in his first Dharma talk at Lotus Pond Monastery, Thay stated that Lotus Pond would be the foundation of the AIAB, whose purpose is to offer retreats to youth, families, social workers, government officials, teachers, businessmen, psychotherapists, etc. from Hong Kong and other Asian countries. AIAB will also train monastic and lay Dharma teachers for Hong Kong and other neighboring countries. Furthermore, AIAB will offer coursework and guidance in the practice towards a Master of Applied Buddhism degree in a cooperative program with Thailand's Buddhist Universtiy Mahachulalongkornrajavidyalaya. This will be a two-year curriculum which requires residency at the Monastery under the guidance of the monastics.
In addition, AIAB will offer a Day of Mindfulness (DOM) every Sunday to the public. The DOM schedule will typically be:
AIAB will have a minimum of 30 monastics in residence. This minimum is required to provide the appropriate level of support and guidance to the various programs. Thay believes that with the inspiration of AIAB, young people from local areas and neighboring countries will come to apply for the monastic program. The number of monastics in residence will gradually increase to 125, and it is Thay's wish that a third of these be from Hong Kong. The audience responded with a round of applause, Plum Village style.
The first Sunday Day of Mindfulness at Lotus Pond Monastery was attended by over 200 people, mostly invited from the Hong Kong sangha. The DOM included a ceremony to offer the temple to Plum Village for the establishment of the AIAB. The ceremony was modeled after the simple procedure used by King Bimbisara. According to this ancient Indian tradition, the offering has to be handed personally to the receiver. If the object of offering is too large or something that cannot be touched or seen, water is poured onto the hand of the receiver. When offering the Bamboo Forest Monastery to the Buddha, King Bimbisara knelt in front of the Buddha with a container of water in his hands. After expressing his respect and wish to make the offer to the Buddha, the king poured water into the Buddha’s palms. The businessman who offered the Lotus Pond Monastery likewise asked to make the offer, then poured water onto Thay’s hands. The ceremony signified Thay's acceptance of Lotus Pond Monastery for the establishment of a Plum Vilalge practice center in Hong Kong, and marked the formation of the AIAB.
The businessman, his wife and colleagues receive a gift of calligraphy from Thay after the offering ceremony
After the offering ceremony, the lay practitioners were jubilant. One woman related that because she wanted to be able to come for the weekly practice, she had quit her previous job in order to have a schedule that would allow her to come every Sunday. She has now found a new job, with permission from supervisors for time off during weekends for practice at the monastery.
There were over 350 participants at the second (Sunday) DOM – 150 people more than the previous week. The day began with walking meditation at 9:30 in the morning, led by Thay. In addition to the regular schedule, the monastic sangha also held a Vesak (Buddha’s birthday) celebration ceremony after Thay’s dharma talk. The children who helped set up the statue of the baby Buddha with the monastics in the front garden, were very happy to be given first priority to bathe the baby Buddha. Some young people even got back in line for a second round. The ceremony, simple in form yet very deep in meaning, made people feel light and nourished.
After the ceremony, the sangha was invited to have lunch in mindfulness with Thay. We all sat in a circle in the cool and refreshing atmosphere under the trees of the monastery’s front yard. Among us was Father Thomas Kwong, a Catholic priest from Hong Kong who had received the Five Mindfulness Trainings at Plum Village. The image of teacher and disciples quietly enjoying a meal together in this way reminded one of the Buddha with the original sangha. One practitioner remarked, “To have a quiet meal with Thay and the sangha like this is rather like having the honor of sharing a meal with the Buddha.”
Another practitioner, a Hong Kong woman of Vietnamese origin, said joyfully, “Now that our temple is here, we feel like we have the home of our maternal grandmother to come back to.”
In Buddhism there are two kinds of truth: conventional truth (S: samvṛti-satya C: 俗諦) and ultimate truth (S: paramārtha-satya, C: 真諦).In the framework of the conventional truth, Buddhists speak of being and non-being, birth and death, coming and going, inside and outside, one and many, etc… and the Buddhist teaching and practice based on this framework helps reduce suffering, and bring more harmony and happiness.In the framework of the ultimate truth, the teaching transcends notions of being and non-being, birth and death, coming and going, inside and outside, one and many, etc… and the teaching and practice based on this insight help practitioners liberate themselves from discrimination, fear, and touch nirvana, the ultimate reality.Buddhists see no conflict between the two kinds of truth and are free to make good use of both frameworks.
Classical physics, as seen in Newton’s theories, is built upon a framework reflecting everyday experience, in which material objects have an individual existence, and can be located in time and space.Quantum physics provides a framework for understanding how nature operates on subatomic scales, but differs completely from classical physics, because in this framework, there is no such thing as empty space, and the position of an object and its momentum cannot simultaneously be precisely determined.Elementary particles fluctuate in and out of existence -- they do not existin the normal sense -- they have only a “tendency to exist”.
Classical physics seems to reflect the conventional truth and quantum physics seems to be on its way to discover the absolute truth, trying very hard to discard notions such as being and non-being, inside and outside, sameness and otherness, etc…At the same time, scientists are trying to find out the relationship between the two kinds of truth represented by the two kinds of science, because both can be tested and applied in life.
In science, a theory should be tested in several ways before it can be accepted by the scientific community.The Buddha also recommended, in the Kālāma Sūtra1, that any teaching and insight given by any teacher should be tested by our own experience before it can be accepted as the truth.Real insight, or right view (S: samyag-dṛṣṭi, C: 正見), has the capacity to liberate, and to bring peace and happiness.The findings of science are also insight; they can be applied in technology, but can be applied also to our daily behavior to improve the quality of our life and happiness.Buddhists and scientists can share with each other their ways of studying and practice and can profit from each other’s insights and experience.
The practice of mindfulness and concentration always brings insight.It can help both Buddhists and scientists.Insights transmitted by realized practitioners like the Buddhas and bodhisattvas can be a source of inspiration and support for both Buddhist practitioners and scientists, and scientific tests can help Buddhist practitioners understand better and have more confidence in the insight they receive from their ancestral teachers.It is our belief that in this 21st Century, Buddhism and science can go hand in hand to promote more insight for us all and bring more liberation, reducing discrimination, separation, fear, anger, and despair in the world.
In the beautiful setting of Plum Village, from the 1st until the 21st of June 2012, with Thich Nhat Hanh and the Plum Village Sangha, scientists and Buddhists will practice sitting together, walking together, and sharing their experience and insight with each other.The practices of mindfulness and concentration can help scientists to be better scientists and in this way, Buddhism can act as a source of inspiration, suggesting directions for future investigation and discovery.Conversely, we will explore how insights from science can be useful, not only to develop technology and improve our material comfort, but to reduce the suffering of individuals, families, and society.This retreat will bring a lot of joy and confidence in both traditions as we find out that good science and good Buddhism can be much and do much for the wellbeing of the world.
1 Aṅguttara Nikaya 3.65
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Morning the 12th of May in the year 2011, Thầy arrived at the EIAB, with the warm sun shining down and the news that Thầy has arrived, all disciples gather together to welcome our beloved teacher. Some brothers and sisters sweep leaves, trim branches, and clean up around. The atmosphere is very bonding and warm like a family. Thầy stepped out of the car and he sends lovely smile to all the disciples. Thầy look at his students with eys of compassion. The moment was short but it was very nourishing!
The next day 13.05.2011, Thầy and his students had the chance to sit together in the EIAB building, Thầy chose a spot to sit in order to see clearly each disciple face. After the silence lunch, Thầy invited the brothers and sisters to sit together and sing songs. Then Thầy smile and said, “We should sit in such a way in order to have happiness and the people that is sitting on the same flight will also have happiness”. One group of brothers and sisters sang a song to offer to Thầy and the Sangha: “Peacefully Free” composed by Sister Triêu Nghiêm, from the trees in the village there is always the special sweetness of love. After listening to this song Thầy said, Thầy has an insight for the phrase: I'm so free because I can be me, I can be myself. I am free when I can be myself, but we can look deeper I can be myself and hope you can be the same, be who you are. I accept you and your difficulties, we are free and we don't cause others to have difficulties.
Thay shared, during the last flight, Thay was invited to sit in first class seat. Thay tried to refused, he couldn't. Thay just had to sit in first class, but Thay wasn't happy, because Thay was sitting alone and the brothers and sisters were sitting in a different class. The brothers and sisters were only allow to come visit Thay in first class for a little while, and then they had to return to their seats, they are not allow to stay in first class with Thay. Thay just wanted to be with his disciples that is why Thay went into the economy class where the brothers and sisters were sitting. Looking at the freshness and simplicity of Thay, gives us a feeling we are really on the same flight. Thay also reminded us to buckle our seat belts for safety (keeping our practice) for the retreat.
This year returning to the EIAB, the brothers and sisters felt the energy was lighter, more joyful then before. The atmosphere of practice from the resident brothers and sisters at the EIAB and from the Plum Village Sangha has offered to everybody a lot of joy and happiness. On 15 May 2011 Thay will give a close sharing before the German retreat starts on 16 May 2011. ( Thầy Pháp Năng).
Composed by Sr. Trieu Nghiem
I'm so free
because I can be me
look at the clouds at play
passing over everyday
inside the sky so blue
immense, spacious and true
I'll be tall like the sky
wide enough to embrace what's inside
just like the clouds passing by
flying high in the grand open sky
everything around me will be loved, embraced and peacefully free
everything inside me will be loved, embraced and peacefully free