Video Dharma Talk: The Practice of Compassion


November 3, 2013. 101-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Stillwater Meditation Hall, Upper Hamlet of Plum Village. We begin with two chants from the monastics followed by a talk on the theme of compassion.

Thay begins with a follow-up on the visit to Stanford University where we had the topic of compassion. Sr. True Dedication is asked by Thay to begin the sharing. The talk at Stanford was sponsored by the organization CCARE, The Center for Compassion And Altruism Research And Education

Empathy. Research of the human mind. Compassion, empathy, and altruism are innate in us. The nature of compassion is like thunder, according to the lotus sutra.

First lesson: There is a relationship between suffering and compassion. Interbeing is the ground of meta-ethics. Compassion is born from understanding. Understanding what? Suffering. And if you know how to suffer then you suffer much less. Second lesson: Compassion should be directed to yourself first. Our civilization has a tendency to want to run away from ourselves. But we can go home to ourselves without fear. Third lesson: As a community, you can generate energy of compassion. This power can help others much more quickly.

There were a number of unanswered questions from the event that Thay spends time on now. Here’s a few of the questions:

  • Research has shown that compassion has extraordinary Health benefits, including a longer and have your life. From your perspective as a teacher, have you noticed this benefit of compassion?
  • Research suggests that the desire for compassion to help someone behavior is seen in primates and children. On the other hand we hear of adult capable of atrocious crimes. If compassion is innate, why do we not always display our compassion as we become adults?
  • Scientists have observed when compassion is more likely to manifest. The more similar then the more compassionate we may be.
  • Why are we able to feel more compassion when one person is in need of help versus a whole group of people in need of help?
  • What are the hindrances to compassion?
  • Is there such a thing as too much compassion, for example empathy fatigue?

 

Just a simple monk!

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As long as we are consumed with our everyday problems–distress, regrets about the past or constant worries about the future–we cannot be free person; we are not able to live in the here and now. — Thich Nhat Hanh

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