Dharma Talks / Mindfulness as a Source of Happiness

Br Pháp Hữu

This is the second week of the summer retreat. In the first week we learnt that to be truly alive means to be truly there. To practice meditation is to learn to come home to our body, to allow our mind to come back to our body. Nowadays most of the time our body is here buy our mind is elsewhere. Our habits make us go further and further away from who we are. We start to loose touch with who we are. We start to create tension and stress first within the body, and then it penetrates to our mind.

We see that we need to learn to slow down. That is why the first practice of meditation is to learn to stop. Stopping here is not physical stop, but stopping from the thinking, from the worries, from the fear, and being aware of what is going on inside of us. Because we are not aware, we continue to have stress and tension. When we learn to stop, we learn to be with ourselves, we learn to recognize why I am feeling tensed within my body, why I am feeling pain within my body, why there is a burden that is heavy within my heart. We have been carrying it without knowing. Now we are here, we learn to generate the energy of mindfulness.

Mindfulness is a seed that each and everyone of us has inside of us. Mindfulness is like the light, it shows us the dark areas inside us and around us. To generate mindfulness is very simple and concrete. Whenever we listen to the sound of the bell in the practice centre, we learn to stop physically and mentally. We direct our attention to the in-breath and the out-breath. That moment when we are aware of our in-breath and our out-breath, we are stopping.

[Bell] [Bell] [Bell] Dear respected Thay, dear community Today is July 15th of the year 2018 We are in the lower hamlet. Today we start the second week of our summer retreat. In the 1st week of the summer retreat we have learned that to be truly alive means to be truly there and to practice meditation is to learn to come home to the body to allow our mind to come back to our body In today's day, most of the time our body is here, but our mind is elsewhere and we create, learn to have habits that makes go further, further away from who we are. We start to lose touch with who we are, and we start to create tension and stress within first the body and it then it penetrates to our mind. We see that we need to learn to slow down that is the first practice of meditation is learning to stop. Stopping here is not a physical stop but stopping from thinking, from the worries, from the fear and being aware of what is going on inside of us. because we are not aware we continue to have stress we continue to have tension and when we learn to stop, we learn to be with ourselves. we learn to recognize why I'm feeling tension in my body. why I'm feeling pain within my body why there is a burden that is heavy inside my heart. It may be there, we may have been carrying it without knowing. So now we are here, we learn to generate the energy of mindfulness. Mindfulness is a seed that each and every one of us we have inside of us Mindfulness is like a light It shows us the dark areas inside of us and around us and to generate mindfulness is very simple and it is very concrete whenever we listen to the sound of the bell at the Practice Center we learn to stop physically and mentally and we direct our attention to in-breath and out-breath. That moment of being aware of the in-breath and aware of the out-breath we are stopping. we are letting our mind take refuge in our breathing. Our breathing becomes the bridge that brings the mind home to the body. It is very simple but it is very effective When you are caught in your worries and your thinking, and you know you are caught in your worries or your thinking That is mindfulness To go further with practice we learn to let the thinking take refuge in the breath. We don't have to push the thinking away We just direct the thinking to the in-breath and the out-breath Our breathing becomes the mindfulness that guides our body and our mind to be one together And right away, you start to feel that calm and stillness start to be born We all have the ability to be still. Being still is a very important practice in the practice of meditation. To sit and do nothing is an art. How was your sitting this morning? Were you consumed by your thoughts or were you able to enjoy and do nothing? In your 30-minutes of sitting meditation nobody is allowed to bother you. The only person that bothers you is yourself. But with the practice, we learn to recognize ourselves more. And we learn to offer ourself nourishment. Nourishment for our soul We share about the dharma body We have a physical body that is manifested thanks to our parents and also we have a spiritual body. A body that needs peace, needs stillness and needs mindfulness. When we learn to come home to our breathing, we learn to recognize our in-breath and our out-breath, we are eating spiritual food. Somebody who practices mindfulness can be solid as a mountain in any situation. They do not waver. Their roots are firmly in the earth their mind is grounded in their body they are not carried away by emotion they are not carried away by fear. We may not yet have that capacity but with the daily practice that we practice here at the Plum Village is the nourishment, the food to strengthen our dharma body. When you sit with someone who is solid who is still sometimes you don't have to practice you just sit besides them and you feel that peace, that stillness and you get to borrow their mindfulness. So being in the Practice Center like this we have hundreds of practitioners here we have to know how to connect with one another. Connect with the practice of one another when we are all chanting and listening the chanters and the listeners are together. The monks and the nuns up here they are not performing It is a practice And when we listen, we learn to listen to ourselves. Maybe the music, the melody, the energy is a condition for us to be in touch with the peace within us. While we practice here at Plum Village we'll be reminded on a daily basis to come back to the breathing and learn to stop. That's why whenever we hear the sound of the bell that's an invitation for us to stop. Whether the bell is in the meditation hall or whether it is the chime of the clock those are all opportunities for us we have to allow ourselves. At first, it is not a habit yet. We have to mentally remind ourselves The bell - stop. Two hands beside my body and really come back to the breathing let the breathing guide you let the breathing relax your body relaxation can be done in any position as long as you know how to direct your energy. And as you practice the mindfulness of stopping with the invitation of the bells, this will slowly become a habit. And this is a good habit. The habit of learning to stop. When we know how to stop physically then we can give the chance to our mind to also rest because body and mind are one that's what we learn. The body can support the mind. And the mind can support the body. So when we practice for our body we're also practicing for our mind And when we learn to calm our mind through the exercise of mindful breathing with the practice and awareness of interbeing, it will automatically effect the relaxation in the body. When we come home to our body, and we listen to our body, our body is trying to communicate to us. The first thing I always do in sitting meditation, is I always pay attention to my shoulders. Usually when you're stressed, you're tense, the first reaction from your body will be the tension in your shoulders. So I give myself the time to be aware of the shoulders, and I learn to guide my shoulders to relax with every muscle through the breathing. Because every in breath that we take in, we are offering ourselves life. The cell also needs the nourishment from the breath. Our breathing is always there with us. As long as we are alive, we will always be breathing. The first act that we did as a human being, when we were introduced into the world, was to make that first in breath, and that first out breath. And that was a miracle. That was a moment of wonder. We learned to be independent We had been in the womb of our mother for nine months, and our mother breathes for us, eats for us, rests for us, and therefore we have this very deep connection with our mother. And that moment that it was time for us to manifest, we learned to be independent in our breathing. But we know how to breathe, because our mother has been teaching us how to breathe. And that was a moment of wonder, the first in breath, and the first out breath. So that moment, your Dharma body was also born. Your spiritual body. And for some of us, we've had the conditions to have come here and be in touch with the practice at a young age, like the children that were all sitting here, they are very lucky. They have the condition to nourish their spiritual body at a very young age. Whether they know it or not, just by being in the community, by being in the presence of happiness and of stillness, their Dharma body is being nourished. Kids are already little Bodhisattvas. They are quite mindful. When they are happy, they laugh, they play when they are sad, they cry. Or they tell us, they are not happy. But slowly, they learn to cover up, to be adults, to be mature, to be professional. And slowly we lose the connection with ourself, the connection with our feelings and our emotions. And the more we disconnect from ourself, then we also see that we disconnect from our aspirations, our joy, our happiness. So mindfulness is a source of happiness. When we can come back to the in breath and out breath, that is mindfulness of breathing. Mindfulness is always mindfulness of something. When you are listening here, and you are fully present, this is mindfulness of listening. And we listen in a way to be open. We have to experience the Dharma like Dharma rain. We are a field of many seeds. Seeds of mindfulness, seeds of joy, seeds of happiness, seeds of concentration and we have to allow the rain to penetrate into the soil of our consciousness. If we are listening, and we are comparing notes, then nothing will come in. It will come in and then it will go out. But if we learn to be open, whatever comes in will penetrate into the soil of our consciousness and it will nourish the seeds of mindfulness, the seeds of understanding and of love. And when we continue to nourish the energy of mindfulness, then we can direct the energy of mindfulness into our daily life. What attracted me to Plum Village was that everything we learn in Plum Village we have to always ask: how do I apply this in my daily life. It's not, "The Buddha says this, therefore this is the truth." But here we learn the Buddha and our teachers offer us the teaching and each and every one of us have a teacher inside. And we have to experiment with the practice, and we have to put our own energy and our own determination into the practice. And it gives you strength. So when you leave Plum Village, you can still practice. It may be more difficult, because you don't have the same environment, and you don't have the same friends that are here with you, but when you learn to apply this in this retreat, it will embody you, the strength to know that, "I can do it." "Yes, I can do this." And it's only a matter of how we apply it. So while we are here, fully invest our time and our energy into the cultivation of the mindfulness practice, so that we can establish a foundation for ourself. So that when we are not here in Plum Village, we still have the strength and insight, that, yes, we can do the practice. Just by remembering that we can breathe, gives us the insight that, "I can practice." Let us allow our breathing to be our friend. Make your breath your closest friend. Your breath will always be with you. No matter where you go. If you feel alone, if you feel isolated, it is the breathing that you can take refuge in. It is a very dear friend that is always there with us. And by connecting to our breathing, we connect within ourself. And when we look deeply inside of ourself, we actually know that we are not alone. Because inside of us, we are a continuation of our ancestors, our mother and our father. And knowing that we are a continuation, then we also carry all of our ancestors inside of us. Let us listen to one sound of the bell to connect with our in breath and our out breath. Recognise this friend that is here with us. [Bell] By practising mindfulness, we may be able to recognise that life is happening in the here and the now. And one of the fruits of the Buddha's enlightenment, and the fruit of our practice, is learning to be in the here and the now. And it is the art of dwelling happily in the present moment. Learning to be in the present moment, is one of the fundamental practises of Buddhism. Because in the present moment, it carries the past, and at the same time, it is building the future. In our studies, we learn about the three times, the past, the present and the future. A lot of us may find ourself always being carried away by the regrets and the sorrow of the past, and we may be entrapped in the past. And every day, we let it carry on, and we are not able to connect with the wonders of life in the present moment. Or we may have fear about the future. Fear about our planet, fear about the next generation. But we have learned that the best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment. Because the present moment is the moment that is taking care of tomorrow. And the present moment, who we are today, is thanks to the past experience. If we have mindfulness, we can look at the past and the future and the present with a new eye. We have a new lens, a lens of mindfulness. We may see that there is suffering that we have, and it's from our past experience. And instead of regretting and letting it drag on, as we re-invoke the story over and over again, we learn to put a stop to it. We learn to recognise it, and we learn to call it by its true name. Our teacher has a poem, "Please call me by my true name." And in our daily life, we need to learn to call our suffering by its true name. We have to recognise, why am I feeling down? You have to recognise, you have to come to the core of it. And only by learning to stop first, you have to be like the lake. When the lake is not still, it doesn't reflect what is manifesting. But when the lake is calm, it starts to reflect everything that appears, whether it's the blue sky, the dark clouds, the beautiful tree, the sun shine. It will learn to reflect everything. Just like that as a practitioner, when we learn to come back to the present moment, we allow ourself to be still, and we then have the capacity to invite a difficult situation, a difficult feeling, a suffering, up. And we recognise it. and by looking into our suffering, we then may see the causes and conditions of it. We learn that everything needs food to say alive, so our suffering also needs food. And we may be nourishing it, daily, without knowing. We are always consuming. We are consuming through what we see, what we hear, what we eat, even by smell. And collective consciousness is also a consumption. When you live in a busy city like New York, or Tokyo, you will be consumed by the energy that is present in the environment. You may have the aspiration to slow down more, but because the collective energy is very fast, so naturally, it pushes us in that direction. And we may thing that that is normal. Because everybody is doing that. So we follow that stream of life. And from time to time, we have the insight: "I need a retreat." "I need to treat myself." "I need to come to a place to nourish myself in nature, in the presence of community, where there is peace and stillness." And we need to also let our consciousness bathe in this collective energy of stillness and peace. And the more we are in touch with that energy, the more our Dharma body, our spiritual body is being washed, is being perfumed by this energy. And we learn to have this capacity to also generate mindfulness from within. At the beginning, we may need to take more refuge in the collective community. Therefore when we sit all together, there is a powerful energy. There is a silence that is very powerful. And when we walk all together, and we walk slowly, and we generate peace in every step, that is called walking meditation, and we're offering back to Mother Earth what Mother Earth is offering to us on a daily basis. Our teacher always says, "Walk like you're kissing the earth." Because we are part of the earth, and we may see that we take from the earth the earth is always giving. But at the same time, we are part of the ecosystem. And learning to generate mindfulness in our steps is also offering back to Mother Earth the peace and stability that is present in the trees in the grass. This may sound funny, but I like the beginning of the retreat, I like the middle of the retreat, when everyone is here, and I like the end of the retreat If you ever get to experience the aftermath of a retreat, it is very quiet in the hamlet. And I can feel that the grass and the trees also enjoy the stillness and the calm. But the tree, the grass, the bamboo knows, that while everyone is here, it also wants to give its best to everyone. And when you are aware of this then our way of being will change. We start to have a different relationship with Mother Earth. In the five contemplations before we eat there's a contemplation that says, "I would like to eat with mindfulness, so as to be worthy to receive this food." And one time one young man asked me, "Why do I have to be worthy to receive this food?" And at that time, I didn't have an answer. I said, "Good question. I need to meditate on this." And as I reflect on this question, I start to see what that contemplation is telling us to contemplate. It is because we see food as a means. Because we are hungry, we need energy, we eat. And food is just an object for nourishment. But in life, food is a part of the earth. And when we don't have a relationship with the food, then we just eat as a way of fulfilling the hunger. But once we start to see the wonders, the miracle of a piece of bread that is in front of us, we know that a bread is the whole cosmos coming together from the rain, the sun, the baker, and then we start to see that this piece of bread is the body of the cosmos. And we start to see that by eating this food, this piece of bread, we have a connection with the sun, the earth, the rain. And what is born at that moment is gratitude. And when you have gratitude, food is very different. Because you have a lens of mindfulness. You see that a piece of carrot or a piece of broccoli is not just a piece of broccoli. But it has manifested thanks to many conditions to be there for us to enjoy. And when we have that awareness our eating becomes very different. Our relationship with food becomes very different. We start to know what is moderation. We start to eat what is in front of us. Most of the time we are eating our projects, we are eating our worries, our fear. And that is why, when we eat in our Dharma sharing family, we have the first 15 to 20 minutes of silence, that silence is not for us to not talk. Talking is wonderful. But having a connection with the food is at the same time very important. So in those moments of silence, when we learn to eat the food mindfully, then we start to have a connection with the food, then maybe we can see ourself as worthy to enjoy this piece of food. So this is about our relationship with what is outside of us. Because we may see Man is very important and because we see Man as very important, we start to be disconnected from everything that is around us. And then this will slowly translate into our relationships with our loved ones with our children, with our family, with our partners. By eating mindfully, we nourish the insight of interbeing. I am present today thanks to the many conditions that have come together. So when we come to the present moment, and we learn to dwell in the present moment, we learn to take care of our past. And then we learn to create a beautiful future. Let us listen to one sound of the bell. [Bell] A mindfulness practitioner is like a gardener. We learn to take care of our garden. We have flowers that manifest on a daily basis. And we also need to learn to recognise the flower. When we practice mindfulness to be in the present moment, we may be able to be in touch with the many wonders in the present moment, inside of you. When you look and you reflect and you see that you have two good eyes in wonderful condition, eyes that allow you to see the many thousands of forms, the many colours, your loved ones, that is a condition of happiness. When you brush your teeth, and you know that you have teeth to brush that is a moment of happiness. That will change your 2 minutes of brushing teeth. When you go to the toilet, and it is happening freely, that is a moment of happiness. If you have every experienced constipation you know what suffering is. So when you are able to recognise the daily, everyday joys and happiness, it gives you the insight: "Happiness is not very far away." And if you are here with your family on this retreat, please take time to hold the hand of your child to walk. They are still here with us, that is a wonder. They will learn to see you in them, So them may not always want to be right beside you. So recognising this, now, later you won't regret. And as a child, if you have your mother, your father here, or even far away, use the technology that is offered in our generation, to say how grateful we are that they are present in our life. Nourish the love from within. We don't have to wait for love to come to us. We can generate the love and the happiness from within. And why not give love and happiness to others? And the love that we generate and we offer is boundless. And it will always go on. That is why in the present moment, when you are able to offer love to yourself, you are able to offer love to those around you, that love will go very far into the future. So take time in this retreat to also be in touch with our loved ones, inside of us, and outside of us. The compassion that we are generating for ourself can also be offered. So when we practice as a practitioner, we're not very selfish. The peace and the joy that we generate for ourself can be very beneficial for many others. That's why our teacher has a calligraphy that says, "Peace in oneself, Peace in the world." But we always have to start first with ourself. Therefore we have the insight that mindfulness, love and happiness can be generated from within. When I was growing up, I had a complex, I grew up as a Vietnamese, but I grew up in Canada. And a lot of us Asian Americans or North Americans we have the complex we call the Banana Complex. We are yellow outside, but inside we want to feel Western. And there was a disconnect that we had to work with. "Am I Vietnamese or am I Canadian?" And this was always a struggle growing up. And thanks to the practice I see the beauty of my Vietnamese culture and I see the beauty of my Western culture. And it doesn't have to be East or West but there is beauty on both sides. And there is also suffering on both sides. And I learned to embrace both cultures. And therefore I become more rich as a person. So diversity in our age is very common. And this is an age where we can benefit a lot from the different cultures and the openness that is very alive in today's day In my family I have members who were refugees from Vietnam, and they had to leave the country in the late 80s, early 90s, and I remember I had one older cousin who had a lot of suffering. And as I was growing up, myself and my younger siblings, we were always bullied by our cousin. And we didn't know why. I didn't know why. I was never mean to him. I was never disrespectful, and I didn't know why I was being treated this way. And slowly I started to have a fear of elder brothers and elders in society. And this fear was transmitted to me through my cousin. And as a monk, I learned to take care of this fear. Every time I see some elder brothers in the community, naturally, like a turtle, I shrink a little bit. And I started to ask, why am I behaving like this? I think they are probably the nicest people in the world at the moment. But there is a natural reaction. And I started to use my meditation to reflect on this. And I started to see that this was from my past experience. And because my cousin suffered a lot through the refugee camp and the hardship that he had to endure. And as a young person he wasn't lucky enough to be taught how to take care of emotions, how to take care of feelings of anxiety, of difficulties. So the only way to express and let it out was to find somebody where he can direct that to. And that was us. Me. And so that was an insight that I had. And I said, "Wow. He must have suffered so much." And because he didn't know how to take care of his suffering, therefore he had to behave that way. And as I was growing as a teenager, I started to see myself behave also very aggressively to my younger siblings and cousins. And I didn't know why. I know I love them a lot, but when emotions and feelings are arising in me, I also react exactly the same way. So I started to see that this is a cycle: Samsara. A cycle of actions being transmitted from generation to generation. And I had to learn to stop. I had to learn to recognise that I do also have this energy inside of me. It was very painful at the beginning. I said, "How can I, who is a monk, also have this energy, also have this seed." And I had to learn to recognise, and know that this is also me. And if I don't practice with it, and I don't learn to recognise and embrace it, then I will not transform it. And it will be handed and passed on to my cousins or my younger brothers and sisters. And after only four years as a monk, I had the courage to call my cousins, who I recognise as we were growing up, that I was also aggressive to. And I learned to say sorry. And my cousin said, "Why are you saying sorry?" I said, you don't need to know, just please accept it. And she did. And this is when she was much younger. And when she became a young adult, she remembered it. And she asked me, "Brother Phap Huu, why did you say sorry to me that one time?" And then I had the chance to explain. And at that moment of communication I saw inside of me that that energy and that behaviour was embraced and transformed. There was a stop to that action. And maybe if I didn't have the chance to practice, then that transmission for sure has been passed on to my cousins and my younger siblings. And they may not know why they would behave that way, and they would pass it on to the next generation. So when we meditated on the three times, past, present and future, we allow ourselves the time and the space to transform the past and at the same time to take care of the future. And this can be done by each and every one of us. But first we have to learn to transform and recognise inside of us, first. Recognise the suffering that has manifested, the habits that don't offer us the right nutriments. We need to identify it. And only by doing it for ourself, then we have the ability and the capacity to transmit as well as to transform. So dear parents, our daily actions, they way we speak, the way we share, the way we are, is all a transmission to our children. Children are like sponges. They will soak up everything that is around them. And when we have the insight that they are our continuation, our daily actions can be more mindful. We don't need to tell them directly, but they will learn by our way of love, our way of understanding, our way of listening. And that is why in Plum Village, the kids that come here, and you may ask us, "Why don't you teach them how to meditate?" Because we see what is important, at the same time as meditation, is letting them soak in the energy of happiness and joy and safety that is available here. My first time in Plum Village was when I was 9 years old, in 1996. I didn't remember anything but the experience of feeling safe, and feeling joy and happiness in that place. And that is what I carried away when I left Plum Village. And the more I come, the more I mature, then I learn. And the practice becomes second nature. So, if we came to Plum Village not knowing there would be children in this retreat, Surprise! It's not a retreat of silence. It's a retreat of generating mindfulness concentration and happiness as a collective. To offer and transmit to one another, in order to nourish one another. We do have times in our practice centre when it's more quiet, formal practices, just to let you know. [bell] In the in breath and the out breath we have the capacity to learn to let go. Let go of worries, of fear, to be in the present moment. Letting go is a very important practice in meditaton. Only when we learn to let go can we continue to grow. If you are climbing a ladder and you are at step 6, and you want to reach step 7, you will have to let go of step 6. So learning to let go is an art and a practice. And letting go can be very freeing. Letting go here is not only of our possessions, but also ideas. We may have ideas of how we want to be What is happiness? What is joy? And maybe all those ideas are, at the same time, the obstacle that is blocking us from seeing what is happiness and what is joy. So if we have an idea that we have clung on to for a long time, and that is not bringing us joy and happiness, but more hardship and heaviness, Then maybe we need to learn to abandon and let go. Suffering is the same. Suffering in Buddhism is a noble truth. It's a noble truth because when we recognise suffering, we start to understand ourselves more. And we can learn from past experience. But suffering can be addictive. We may identify ourselves with suffering. Because of suffering, I am like this, and you have to accept me this way. So suffering can be a trap. If we recognise suffering, but we are not able to let go of it yet, we have to meditate more to see why we are attached to it. Can you hear? [There is a sound issue] One, two... [singing] Happiness is here and now... I have dropped my worries Nowhere to go, nothing to do No longer in a hurry. Happiness is here and now I have dropped my worries Somewhere to go, something to do But I don't need to hurry. We don't need to hurry. The sound is good now. Ok. So, to let go is also a way of freeing ourselves. Letting go of worries and anxiety. Sometimes to let go is challenging. Have the aspiration of letting go, but learn to dwell with what is present here and now. The mindfulness we can generate. The more we are established in the present moment, we won't allow the difficulty and suffering to be nourished. Slowly, the suffering and difficulty will have less food and be weaker. And then our mindfulness and understanding will be stronger to embrace and transform. So as a practitioner, we also have to learn to take time. After the talk, it doesn't mean go sit under a tree and let everything go. Step by step. We have to be patient with ourself. Breathing also grows. Our insight also grows. The breathing I experience now is very different from 17 years ago when I first started on this path. My understanding of letting go is different now. So even if we have been here many times, the practice is the same, but our understanding will grow and develop in a different way. Because, as a person, we are changing. So our understanding and practice are also always growing. So at the same time we may not feel we have progressed as much as we want [technical interruption] But the practice is not to be caught in what and who we want to be. The practice is organic and natural and our transformation is the same. But we are allowed to have aspirations. We can aspire to be more mindful, peaceful and be able to transform. But if you are caught in the idea, "I'm a bad practitioner," learn to let go. Come back to the in and out breath just as a beginner. We call this the beginner's mind. It's very powerful. When you are first in touch with the practice, the fire is very strong. You can endure hours of sitting, but if you don't nourish the joy in the practice, it becomes work. There is not joy and happiness. So you've been hearing a lot about joy and happiness, because it's crucial to the practice of meditation. Just like when we take care of our suffering, like a doctor who wants to operate, the doctor makes sure the patient is healthy and strong. As a practitioner, if we want to transform our difficulties, but we are not strong, we have to nourish our joy and peace, to develop that stability, to have a foundation to look at the difficulty, embrace it, and transform it. It took me four years as a monk to say sorry. That doesn't mean the first four years were not successful. They were conditions that I was generating in order for the moment to be ripe. The moment to take action. So as practitioners, give ourselves time for our development in practice. Today after this practice we have the practice of walking meditation Walking meditation is one of the core practices of Plum Village. Walking in a way that allows us to be happy with every step, every breath. As you breathe in, left foot, right foot left foot, as you breathe out, be aware of the contact of your steps, from the heel, to the sole, to the toes, be one with your movement. And when you walk this way, you are also caring for your body. There is a relaxation in the walk. A zen of gentleness and softness. Of relaxation. We allow ourselves to be in the body, not rigid, but full of care and tenderness. When we walk this way, we are walking like the Buddha. We are walking like our teacher, our ancestors, who have learned to walk in a way that brings peace to the earth. So peace is not very far. Peace is in this community. When we walk and everyone is generating the power of compassion and peace, that energy is being transmitted back. We don't have to announce, through our actions, it is being translated without words. And when we walk in this way, we can be in touch with the wonders around us, the wonders available to us. We don't have to go very far to look for paradise. With this awareness, happiness and paradise can be right here and now. That gives you the power to take care of the now. The now has the ability to heal the past, take care of it, embrace it, and help you grow, develop and move forward into the future with stability and stillness within. So past, present, future, are all in unison when we practice in this awareness. So the steps that you take today is not just for you, but the next generation. And some of our ancestors have been running their whole life, and therefore we have been running our whole life. And when we are able to slow down and stop we allow our ancestors inside to slow down and to stop. So we are giving the opportunity to our parents, our grandparents to practice through us. This is the insight of interbeing, through us, we practice for the society. So in our walking meditation as a community, we learn to walk as a river. We flow together. Don't worry where you are going. Walk just to walk. Enjoy every step, every breath. Nowhere to go, nothing to do. This is a retreat for all of us. If we are unable to dwell in our steps, look to the right and left, see the others practising, and continue to flow. Don't beat ourselves up, allow ourselves to continue, and the collective energy to support us. This is the gift we have when there are many practitioners in the centre monks, nuns, lay men and women, even the children are practicing. There is another practice that we don't have in the schedule, slow walking meditation. This practice is to just be one breath, one step. But when we have free time, or a lazy day, for us to practice what we enjoy. We may like to experience slow walking meditation. You pick a distance, from here to that rock, and as you breathe in, you dwell with that step. One breath, one step. And you take your time. And as you practice like this, you generate a concentration. This helps you maintain the mindfulness for a long degree. In breath, one step, out breath, one step. And it's OK to walk this slowly in Plum Village. No one will say, "What is he doing?" But, "Ah, he is practising slow walking." Maybe out there it will look a little weird, but here it's ok. And when we walk and we arrive with every step, you can celebrate with a smile. A smile of liberation that: "I have arrived." Arrived in the present moment. And "I am home." Home with myself. That is why the first fruit of the Plum Village practice is to learn to arrive. I have arrived, I am home. This insight has empowered our teacher to succeed and develop and grow this community, engaged Buddhism as well as applied Buddhism. When our teacher was exiled from Viet Nam, it is very difficult not to be allowed home to your loved ones, your friends your community. We are very grateful that he never lost his faith in the practice. And he continued to nourish it. Through the insight of "I have arrived, I am home." I cannot be at home in Viet Nam, it's ok. Everywhere I go as a practitioner, anywhere can be home. Anywhere I can arrive in the present moment, whether in Europe, America, Asia, My true destination is the here and now. So while we walk today, give ourself the awareness of arriving in the present moment with every step. Today we have a special event, very optional. [laughter] It's to learn to enjoy watching the world cup together. [more laughter] It's very optional. So monks and nuns are human, we also enjoy the art of the sport. And we know that a lot of us will also enjoy it. But we can meditate a bit, "France, or Croatia?" It doesn't matter. [much laughter] What matters is we enjoy watching it together. Who wins is just a short time. You win, you get a cup, present moment, wonderful moment, and then life goes on. So when we watch together, we watch in that spirit. We support each other in collective watching. One time our teacher, Thay, came and watched with us the world cup. And everybody was watching the screen, and he took a chair and he sat and watched the community. [laughter] He wanted to see how his monks and nuns would react. And there were moments, where the brothers "Aaah!", the sisters, "Oooh!" And Thay was ok. He said, "That is human." We are allowed to express. But also, we don't have to be caught in feelings of losing or winning. So, to let go. So watching football today, if you come, and if one team wins, and one team loses it will be like that. Suffering is very optional, ok? And for me, what I carried from watching the game as a community, it's not what's happening on the screen, but what's happening all around me. So when we watch together, then we remind ourselves in that spirit. Watching as a spiritual family, enjoy the sport, and suffering is very optional. For those of us that don't want to watch the sport, please enjoy the nature, the community. Thank you very much dear everyone, I wish you a wonderful week of practice here with us in Plum Village. Let us listen to three sounds of the bell. [bell] [high pitch bell]

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