Graphic #2_Ep 60

The Way Out Is In / 32 Words to Create Harmonious Relationships (Episode #60)

Br Pháp Hữu, Jo Confino

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Welcome to episode 60 of The Way Out Is In: The Zen Art of Living, a podcast series mirroring Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s deep teachings of Buddhist philosophy: a simple yet profound methodology for dealing with our suffering, and for creating more happiness and joy in our lives.

In this episode, Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and leadership coach and journalist Jo Confino share 32 words from Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh that can make your relationships deal with suffering and create happiness. The Four Mantras, Thay’s beloved teachings, are intended to help create healthy relationships by allowing conversations and enabling people to be truly present for each other. 

The discussion touches upon generating presence; setting up intentional practices; being a refuge for people; building two-way communication; calligraphy as a way ‘to change the energy’; and so much more.

Brother Phap Huu shares the origins of mantras and helps introduce each mantra with practical tips, real stories from his life and from the monastic community, as well as unheard (yet!) insights from Thay’s practice and creation of the mantras. And can you guess which is Thay’s favorite mantra? 

Jo brings his lay perspective on the mantras and their application in life. A couple of new mantras are discussed, too, but you’d better dive in for some pure essence of Buddhist wisdom. 

The episode ends with a mindful recap of the mantras discussed. 

Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism: 

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation:

List of resources 

Rains Retreat 

Historical Vedic religion 



New Heart Sutra translation by Thich Nhat Hanh 


Sister Chan Khong 

Dharma Talk: ‘The Six Mantras’ 

‘Plum Village Mantras and How to Be the Sum of Your Acts’

‘The Four Dharma Seals of Plum Village’ 

Dharma Talks: ‘True Love and the Four Noble Truths’


“Thay created these mantras, which are very practical; it sounds very simple, but if done with right mindfulness, it has such impact. The first mantra is the essence of the practice of mindfulness. When we practice mindfulness, it is to generate the energy of awareness, so that we can offer ourselves a presence and know what is going on inside of us and around us. And with that mindfulness, we are in control. We have the agency of the present moment.”

“When we’re close to someone, we take each other for granted. We stop noticing the little things. We stop noticing that what someone is doing is generous. That what someone’s doing is making them happy. We just stop noticing.” 

“The first Dharma seal of Plum Village is, ‘I have arrived, I am home.’ What does it mean to arrive and be home? It is to say, ‘I am safe here. I can show up as myself and I know that I will be held.’”

“We forget how precious things are right in front of us, and we forget to be present for the ones we truly love. So the first mantra is, ‘I am here for you.’ It is as simple as that. But in the word ‘present’, when we want to give somebody a present, our natural tendency is to think about buying something, to consume in order to offer something that we feel will make them feel loved. And what we’ve learned in true love is that to be loved is to be seen. To be loved is to be recognized, is to be heard.”

“The real practice of true love, first and foremost, is learning to be there for one another.’” 

“The way Thay poured tea, he was the freest person ever. So, in true presence, you are free because you’re not being distracted, you’re not being carried away, and you are just there for the person you love. And in our modern time, this is probably the most advanced training because we are so distracted, there is so much noise, there is so much information. And the seed of fear, anxiety, worries – even worrying for the goodness of life – can make us lose ourselves in the present moment.” 

“The practice of mindfulness is to always shine that light [that says] that you’re not alone and that there is love around you. But if we do close our hearts, we will not be able to tap into the love and the support that is around us.” 

“One time, walking with Thay, he stopped. It was in the evening. And Thay saw the full moon. And we took a very long pause and we just admired the moon. And in that admiration of the moon that is present is the practice, ‘I know you are there and I am very happy.’” 

“Love is understanding. Because that is true love, being there for our suffering. Because we all suffer, we have multiple sufferings. And if we’re truly there for our suffering and each other’s suffering, how can that not be love?”

“When we have the insight of interbeing, if a person is going through a hard time, there is no way that we cannot be in touch with their suffering, because we are interconnected through a relationship. And so the practice is to have courage. It is to show up for those who suffer and say, ‘I know you suffer and I’m here for you.’ And ‘I’m here for you’ doesn’t mean I have the answer. ‘I’m here for you’ doesn’t mean I’m going to save you, or that I have the solution. It’s just, ‘I want you to know that I see you. I want you to know that I want to acknowledge what you are going through.’ By showing up with this openness, if we do it with real presence and a true openness, without expectations and without creating the story of what will happen when I say that, but just showing up and sharing this, we may be able to allow that person to have the courage to also accept what they are going through.” 

“Do you want to be happy or do you want to be right?”

“I am here for you.”

“I know you are there, and I am very happy.” 

“I know you suffer. Therefore I am here for you.”

“I suffer. Please, help.”

“This is a Happy Moment.”

“In true love there is freedom.”

“You are partially right.”

“I love you to not consume you. I love you to show you that you are enough.”


Dear listeners, welcome back to this latest episode of the podcast series the Way Out Is In.


I’m Jo Confino, working at the intersection of personal transformation and systems evolution.


And I am Brother Phap Huu, a Zen Buddhist monk, student of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh in the Plum Village community.


And today, dear listeners, we are going to share 32 words of Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh that can transform your relationships.


The way out is in.


Hello, everyone. I’m Jo Confino.


And I am Brother Phap Huu.


Brother, how are you? I haven’t seen you for a couple of weeks.


Yeah, I’m doing really well. We’re in the midst of our Rains Retreat. It’s been raining so much in France, and it’s very calm. We’re halfway through our Rains Retreat over 40… I think we’re on day 47 of our Rains Retreat. Yeah.


Great. Well, it’s good to be back in Thich Nhat Hanh’s Sitting Still hut which is being renovated. It’s being brought back to pristine condition.


Yes. We are just giving it a new coat as the jacket outside is getting a little bit moldy and aged, so one of our brothers cousin who is here is volunteering to change the wood.


Great. So, brother, today we are going to be talking about one of Thay’s teachings called the Four Mantras. And Thay, in a sense, created these to help people to actually create healthy and happy relationships and to really allow conversations and people to be there for each other in ways that can deal with suffering and also create happiness. So the thing about Thich Nhat Hanh that I treasure is that he studied all his life. He studied all the Buddhist teachings. He had his deep, deep and broad knowledge of all the Buddhist teachings and throughout the last 2600 years. And then in a Zen way, he crystallized them into pure essence, which is why we have 32 words. So, brother, would you like to introduce what are the four mantras? And then we’ll go through them one by one and unveil, them open them up like four presents.


Wow. Yes. First, I want to share what the word mantra means. So the mantra word itself has origins from the language Sanskrit and the word man it it is to think, to recollect. So to give a thought to it. And then the word tra, mantra, tra becomes like an instrument, a tool. So a mantra is words that we can announce that can have impact, can change things, can move things. And we have to understand that it’s not like a spell or something, like we’re not like becoming a wizard and saying hocus pocus. Is that hocus pocus?


It is now.


It is now. And then and then… Oh, abracadabra. Right? That’s a very classic one. And mantra comes all the way from the time of the origin of it is really deeply rooted in the Vedic tradition of India. And of course, Buddhism, The Buddha himself was born as a Hindu, so he studied the Vedas and so on. And so there’s also not saying that the Buddha, I’m not saying that the Buddha created mantras, so we have to understand this. So they’re in the tradition of Buddhism. There is a continuous journey of connection, and that’s why Thay, our teacher, sometimes he says Buddhism is actually made out of non Buddhist element because the Buddha would bring teachings from what he’s learned from his experience and from his new insight of his practice in the present moment. And like you have shared, mantras, especially in Mahayana Buddhism like Tibet, Vietnamese Buddhism, Chinese Buddhism, we emphasize on a lot of ceremonies and chanting. So a lot of mantras were created in order to help us recollect of the practice. Like we would have words such as […] which is the essence of the Heart Sutra, which is to talk about emptiness and coming to the other shore understanding interbeing. So there are many different mantras in Buddhism, and as Thay started to create a new Buddhism which is Engaged Buddhism, Applied Buddhism, and Thay’s audience was not just from the East, and Thay’s audience and students later on were coming from many traditions and many religions and spoke a different language than Vietnamese or classical Chinese. So one of Thay’s principle is you have to understand what we are saying, what we are teaching and what we are practicing. So in a more, let’s say, quote unquote, traditional temples, they would keep the original mantras that were hundreds of years ago and still chanted today or recited today. And Thay is very practical, he’s like, nobody understands what that means. And so here he is in the present moment during his years of teaching. And what he realized that a lot of his students were coming from many walks of life and a lot of them are in relationships, or are having issues or not understanding how to nurture a relationship such as a romantic relationship or a relationship with our parents, with our brothers, our sisters, our community. So Thay created these mantras which are very practical, it even sounds very simple, but if done with right mindfulness, it has such impact. And the first mantra is the essence of the practice of mindfulness, which is when we practice mindfulness, it is to generate the energy of awareness so that we can offer ourself a presence so we can know what is going on inside of us, what is going on around us. And with that mindfulness, we are in control. We have agency of the present moment. So a lot of the times we are in a relationship, whether colleagues or brothers, sisters, spiritual friends, or husband and wife, or partners. At first, we love being together and we remember the beauty of being together. But one of our tendency is we take things for granted. We forget how precious things are that is right in front of us and we forget to be present for the ones we truly love. So the first mantra is I am here for you. It is as simple as that. But in the word present, when we want to give somebody a present, our natural tendency is to think about buying something, to consume in order to offer something that we feel that will make them feel loved. And what we’ve learned in true love is to be love is to be seen. To be love is to be recognized, is to be heard. And one thing that is, quote unquote, I would say, is free, but it can also if you say time is money, then maybe it’s not so free, if you have that view. But the real practice of true love, first and foremost, is learning to be there for one another. So the first mantra is, I am here for you.


Thank you, brother. And, you know, what you speak is such a deep truth because what I’ve learned from being in Plum Village is it’s about one’s presence, as you say, not buying presents. And presence is about… it is actually at the heart of mindfulness and Buddhism, which is deep listening and compassionate speech, is saying actually I am really, I am here for you is actually what we all want to hear, is we all want to know that actually the person we love is truly there for them. So the other thing, brother, is a lot of relationships, I remember someone describing their, you know, that there’s a honeymoon phase in relationships, isn’t there? Where, as you say, where everything’s beautiful, everything’s wonderful, although one person once described their wedding as a Hawaiian sunset, which is it went down very quickly. But most of the time, as you say, I mean, I think the heart of what you’re saying is we just assume things. When we’re close to someone we take each other for granted. We don’t actually just notice, we stop noticing the little things. We stop noticing what it is someone is doing that is generous. What someone’s doing that is making them happy. We just stop noticing.


Yeah. And it’s so easy to also be carried away by the rhythm of life if we are working. And if we are managing a whole team, a whole company, a whole organization, we fall into the trap of like, if I don’t do it, nobody will do it. And also, the practice I am here for you is not just for the ones outside of us, but is also a practice for yourself. And I just practiced this two days ago. We have in the Upper Hamlet, we have a culture during the Rains Retreat, after 45 days, we allow ourselves to have two full days of lazy days. So traditionally, we only get one day, but this time we extend it to two full days, no meditation, no schedule. And it’s a real practice of just resting, learning to drop everything that we are doing and just be there for yourself and be there for others. And I always fall into a trap when I see a lazy day, I always say, Amazing, I got, you know, 12 hours to work. I got 12 hours…


To catch up on things.


The catch up on things. Four hours to do the things that I said I was going to do two years ago. Right? We all have this habit and we all fall into these kind of traps. And so we preoccupy ourself. And as we were entering into the first lazy day, the night before, I start to plan, you know, I said, I need to do this, this, this and that. And it’s almost Christmas. Right? We’re in like the holiday season. And I was like, Why? Why don’t I just give myself 48 hours of just doing what I really like to do, which is, first and foremost, nothing. Drink tea. Second, exercise. Third thing, listen to some music. Fourth thing is, you know, go for a walk in this beautiful monastery that I’m a part of. And so we even forget to treasure the wonders around us. And so to practice I am here for you is not just for another person, but it’s also a practice for oneself.


And brother, that is true, of course, of all the mantras and in a sense all our behaviors is that if we can’t give it to ourself, how can we give it to someone else? So that is, I think, translatable to so much in life that if we don’t have a capacity for something, how can we offer it to someone else? And brother, but lets, you know, when you nailed it, particularly on presence, you know, we talk about being there is about not doing something but it’s a feeling, it is someone knows that they can trust you, that you have time for them, that you’re listening to them. And in that that there’s love present. Now, when I came to Plum Village, in a sense, why I have stuck with Plum Village, I don’t mean stuck in the sense of why, but why I’m still here, and why I care so much about this community is because it generates presence. And it would be lovely maybe to talk a little bit about Thay and how he, having been his attendant for 17 years, how you noticed that presence show up? What… And, you know, what difference it made in situations? You know, what if he hadn’t had that extra clarity of mindfulness and being there that moment, what difference does that actually make?


I think the difference would be feeling like if Thay didn’t have that presence, it can feel like, Oh, he doesn’t care about me. And when we are with somebody who we truly respect and we truly love, we are also communicating through energy, through energy of presence, through energy of the way we look at each other, the way we focus our attention to somebody so you can really feel that that person is there for you. And I would say first and foremost, Thay is a master at this. He doesn’t even have to try. It’s like it’s in his DNA, is so natural. And I want to share this because this is actually what we are cultivating as practitioner is to make our capacity of being present very natural so that we don’t have to always put effort into it, because sometimes it feels like, and I’ve heard this is like, Oh, to meditate is so tiring because I have to be there, I have to focus, I have to be silent, I have to tune in. Right? And I hear all these catch phrases and I’m like, Yeah, but isn’t that actually what you want to offer at the end of the day? And Thay was just somebody who was never distracted by the past, by the feature, and by the noise around. And a lot of us who were ordained and had the opportunity to be in his physical presence when he was still teaching, I would say that his presence also offers us an encouragement, like when he’s there for you through his Dharma talk, he looks at you, he really looks at you. And many people have said during a Dharma talk that there’s like 800 people or there’s a 1000 people or sometimes just 400 people, but we feel like, Oh, he’s talking to me, like Thay is talking to me. And everybody has a story like that. Like, wow, like Thay really gets me, like Thay really understands me. And I think is sometimes it’s just his way of being so present that he looks at you, that you feel that you are so seen that you are alive because somebody is recognizing your existence. So as a teacher, you know, Thay doesn’t only teach through words, but he’s teaching through bodily action. We call this the Dharma body. And we also call that the Dharma body is a teaching body. So the way we move, the way we open the door, the way we would write on the whiteboard or erase what he has written sometimes is like the most Zennest thing ever is so simple, but there is so much presence. And I always remember Brother Phap Linh, Brother Spirit, saying that one of his like deep moments in Plum Village when he was still very skeptical and he started to believe more was when he saw Thay pour tea. He said the way Thay poured tea, he was the freest person ever. So in true presence, you are free because you’re not being distracted, you’re not being carried away, and you are just there for the person you love. And in our modern time, this is probably the most advanced training because we are so distracted, there is so much noise, there is so much information. And the seed of fear, anxiety, worries, even worrying for the goodness of life can make us lose ourselves in the present moment. And of course, like the smartphone era, you know, we are living in a digital world. And I’m not saying is a bad thing. And one thing that I’ve learned from Thay is not to be afraid of the changes of the world, but is how do we adapt to it so that we can be more attentive and more mindful and intentional. In this Rains Retreat, our carpenter, Brother Thien Duc who is a very skilled artist with wood, he created a smartphone room and it’s boxes with individual slots for any brother who wants can deposit their smartphone in the library, in the monastic library, and it has chargers and everything. So it’s very intentional. So for those brothers who are addicted to the phones, yes, monks do get addicted just like everybody else. So I am also sometimes catching myself how tuned in I am to the screen and I lose myself from the present moment. So just setting up real intentional practices, like this is a practice, this is meditation. So before you enter your room, after you know you want to end your day at 9 p.m. or 8 p.m. without the phone, you submit your phone into the box. It’s a new Dharma door, it’s a new practice. So we also have to evolve with the changes of our times.


Thank you, brother. And one of the things, as you were talking, and that was very much in my mind was sort of being a refuge for people. And what I mean by that is that I think you talk about this complex world we’re living in, it’s sometimes we’re not sure who to trust. And when we don’t trust, in a sense, we armor up. We are in protective mode because actually we fear that if we show vulnerability, that we may suffer humiliation or may be attacked or that it won’t be respected. And for me also, when I say I am here for you, is saying actually I’m creating a space, a container to hold whatever it is you want to say, and that whatever you want to say, I will hold it with love and respect. And what that does, I think, is it opens people up, it allows people to be vulnerable and allows people to sometimes share their darkest secrets. I mean, I remember when I went first to see a therapist many, many years ago, he said people always bring their second worst problem to the therapist. In other words, that the biggest problem is even with a therapist who is a sort of confidential, trusted person that you’re paying for, and that doesn’t know you personally, that people find it very… don’t feel safe enough to share what is really, really deep in their heart. So they bring their second worst problem. And as you were saying, speaking, you know, Plum Village actually says, I am here for you as a community because, you know, and we’ve said this before and I’m very happy to say it on every podcast episode, actually, because we need to be reminded of it. You know, the first Dharma seal of Plum Village is I have arrived home, I am home. What does it mean to arrive and be home is to say, I am safe here. I can show up as myself and I know that I will be held. So I’m just wondering if there’s anything you want to add before we move on to number two. But just about we don’t just do it as individuals, you hold it as a community.


Exactly. And I want to emphasize on this one is also I am here for you, it’s not just by words. It’s really by just presence. And I think sometimes we get caught up in thinking that we have to be there, to be there means we have to have a conversation and I few sometimes conversations are more superficial because we’re so autopilot like oh, how are you? Oh, I’m fine. You know, how are you? And then, you know, it’s very surface level. And I would say one of… I think why Thay really like me as an attendant…


Hold on, folks, it’s coming out. Finally, it’s taken us 60 episodes but it’s coming.


It’s because I don’t talk a lot when I’m with Thay. And a lot of the times like brothers and sisters, you know, they get curious like Phap Huu, when you’re with Thay, like, what do you say? What do you do? I’m like, Nothing. I say absolutely nothing, only if Thay asks me something. And, well, everybody is different, right? Everybody has a different characteristic. And everybody needs different energies to nourish them. And because Thay was a teacher for so many, so outside of the hut, he has to show up and give himself so much through his teaching, through his words. And it takes a lot of you to be so transparent when you start to teach, you are unveiling yourself. So when you are with your safe space, which is like your room, your house, you just want to enjoy the quietness. You just want to enjoy the space that you can allow yourself to be. And I was very mindful, like my relationship with Thay is not based on words. My relationship with Thay is based on being there for one another. And we would sit with each other and drink a cup of tea in silence for like 15 minutes. And I was totally happy. And I’m sure Thay was very happy about it too. And I’ve taken many people to Thay’s hut to give them a tour, and I’ve always also show the hammock. You know, one of Thay’s favorite siesta practices is to be on a hammock because it’s like you’re like a child being cradled. It’s like coming back to that safe space in the mother’s womb. And some days, you know, I would just sit there and just push. ..




Just swing the hammock. And the two of us in total silence. From time to time Thay would check in, but I just want to share that what I appreciate in this practice is to overcome the also the anxiety of inferiority complex, because I think sometimes when we feel we’re less than… we want to speak more, we want to say more, we want to be heard. And that also is a loss of energy. So I’ve learned that, you know, I am here for you, it’s more than words.


Beautiful. Thank you. So number two, ta ta da ta da. So number two, brother, is I know you are there. And I am very happy.


I love this one. I think because I do it more than I am here for you. I guess I just appreciate so much people who support me. You know, one of… My name that I was given was, when I became a monk, was Dharma Friend. And so friendship is something that I’ve always been interested in and cultivating and learning very deeply about it in my own journey of becoming my own friend and then recognizing the friends that are around you to support you. And so I know you are there and I am so happy or I am very happy, is also mindfulness, the recognition of the love and support that you are getting. And is to honor that because once again, we will take it for granted. We will forget that the person that loves us is there for us. And the practice of mindfulness is to always shine that light that you’re not alone and that there is love around you. But if we do close our hearts, we will not be able to tap into the love and the support that is around us. And I know you are there and I am so happy, it is also to identify that that person is a reality. They’re not an illusion. They’re not a wishful thinking. And I think a lot of us, our original fear Thay speaks about is, you know, the moment we are born, like we have to survive, is our first breath that we are taking in for ourselves. And suddenly we’re cut off from love, which is our mother, the umbilical cord. Right? And some of us growing up with our mother, who is very loving, we have that enoughness. And then there are those who don’t. And so we don’t feel enough. And so we are always seeking for love. And sometimes love is in front of us, but we don’t recognize it. And we’re still searching. And we will keep searching because that is a deep desire, the original desire. And therefore we can go in circles and be a victim, a slave to desire. But if we know how to stop and if we really just recognize the conditions that are there for us and to say, I know you’re there and I’m so happy. And it’s not just humans, it’s also nature, it’s the cosmos, it is the food in front of us. You know, even the electronics of today, you know, sometimes how lucky it is that we have this technology to transmit these teachings, these conversations and so on. So I know you are there and I am very happy, is a foundation of gratitude. And I remember one time walking with Thay, you know, Thay stopped and it was in the evening. And Thay saw the full moon. And we just took a very long pause and we just admired the moon. And in that admiration of the moon that is present, it is the practice that I know you are there and I am very happy.


So, brother, I was just with my wife Paz in Athens and I had this sort of insight, which is unfortunately not as impressive as Thay’s insights. But I was walking around Athens seeing these beautiful old buildings that have been preserved. And what came to my mind was, you know, that someone, an architect, had created those buildings out of love. You know, they’re not standard buildings you just knock them up and they’re ten a penny, you could tell that each one had an individual flavor. You could tell that there was that person who designed and created had beauty in their mind. And I had this real sense that I know you’re there and I’m happy for you actually also goes both ways and not just in the human world. So I could imagine myself easily in that moment. And I was saying to the architect who built that house, I know you are there and I’m very happy, which is saying, actually, you have created something beautiful that my eyes are resting on and giving me this sort of, in a sense, sustenance. And also recognizing that the architect, even though they’re long dead, maybe by hundreds of years, could also in that moment feel that and could in my mind say, I know you are there and I am very happy because you’re appreciating what I have created and it’s still there, and has been looked after and nourished. So there was this deep sense of that those two things go naturally together. And actually, whenever we truly appreciate something, that actually we’re giving permission for that other person to feel that same appreciation. And so that was a sort of… that was a real insight for me about how to see all sorts of things in life. And brother I’d just want to go sort of a bit deeper into this, which is that when we say, I know you’re… naturally is following on from what I’m saying, when you’re saying to someone, I know you’re there and I’m very happy, you are giving someone a gift, but you’re also receiving that gift.


Yes. You’re receiving that gift because you’re mindful of that person. And I know you’re there and I’m very happy. You know, when you receive like a message like that, it just makes you smile, right?


So I was just about to say that whenever I’ve said that to people, people just bloom. I mean, like Thay’s idea of a… flower, you know, a flower that blooms. They just immediately they… because if it’s said with that quality, it’s like the sun and the rain and the minerals. Anyway, sorry, I interrupted you.


No, no, that is exactly it, Jo.


I know you’re there and I’m very happy, Phap Huu.


I know you’re there and I’m very happy. And Cata.


And Cata’s here.


I know you’re there and I’m very happy. And to all of the listeners, I know you’re there and I’m very happy. It is also, we need nourishment in love. Right? Like in friendship, in community. This is nutriment that we can always feed each other, which is just to recognize that that person exists. And so these are words, I know you’re there and I’m so happy. But there are also actions that also provides this. So I’m Vietnamese and part of the Vietnamese culture is we don’t say, I love you. It’s very awkward for us to say that. Like this was brought from the West to us and our way of appreciation is showing through action. So it’s like when you, like in the monastic culture, when you appreciate so much your elder brother or sister and you see them work so much or they just offer a class and are eating lunch with you and a way to express gratitude, it’s just bowing and taking their plate and bowl and washing it for them. Is as simple as that. And it’s also in expressions like, thank you so much for offering the class this morning. This is the least I can do, is as simple as I’ll just take your bowl and plate and I’ll clean it for you. So I know you’re there and I’m very happy is also not just through words, but it can be shown through action. And sometimes a hug is is the mantra itself. Like I know you are there and I’m so happy. And I remember one time like I was with Thay and we were attending. And it was a very busy day, Thay had a lot of interviews and he had a lot of guests in this little hut that we were in and we surpassed lunch time. Thay is actually very good at meals, like, he is so consistent, like breakfast, lunch and dinner is a habit that he has created to keep his routine. And that day we totally surpassed. It was like 1:30. We usually eat at 12:30. And normally, like the attendance, we don’t eat Thay’s food, we don’t share the same dishes. Right? Because Thay also had a more special diet for his health and at his age. But we would have to go all the way to the dining hall, get our food and come all the way back. And Thay was so aware that because Thay was busy, so the attendant was very busy. And because Thay was having all of these guests, I didn’t have time to go get food. So as I was putting on my shoes to about to go get food, Thay saw that, and Thay said, Phap Huu, stay. You don’t need to get food. You’re going to share with me today. And it’s a moment I’ll never forget. And it was at this table where we are recording, Jo and Cata. And we were sitting here not with microphones, but with delicious food.


Different nourishment.


Different nourishment. And Thay was just feeding me. It was the simplest act. He, you know, he took my bowl, he put rice in it, he put tofu, vegetables, soy sauce, and he gave it back. And as I was eating, he kept feeding me more and more and more. And just that,like to today is like thank you Thay for offering love in the simplest way ever. And for me that’s very intimate.


Beautiful. Wow, I’m looking forward to the day you serve me some tofu, Phap Huu.


Will do, Jo. Will do, Jo.


So, brother, I have a little story about this mantra because one of the things I keep forgetting about Thay’s teachings, but I think it’s rather wonderful is that he talks about appreciating your teeth when you don’t have a toothache, that we tend to think about our teeth only when we have a pain, but we don’t appreciate the fact that we have healthy teeth, you know, when they are healthy. And my eldest brother, who I’m happy to name, is called David, and he was someone when I was growing up and all through my life that I knew that that if ever I needed help, if there was ever an emergency, that whatever he was doing, wherever he was in the world, that he would drop it and come to my aid. And I know my other brothers, if they were to listen to this, I would have done that too, what are you talking? So, of course, all my brothers would do that. But he’s my eldest brother and he had that quality for all of us, actually. And so when I was in Plum Village one year, I bought him one of Thay’s calligraphies saying, I know you are there. Well, actually, there was a bit of a problem because I couldn’t afford the bigger one. So actually I bought him one which said, I know you’re there and I’m happy. And then he complained because it didn’t say very happy, cause Thay couldn’t fit all the words on the smaller calligraphy. So sorry I didn’t… Backfired a little on me. But what I was recognizing was that actually, I had never needed him in an emergency. There was no time where I felt, Oh, my God, you know, I need you. But I knew he was there for me, even though he didn’t need to be there. And he was like a safety net because it meant that I’ve gone, and still I would say that, you know, I’ve gone through my whole life with that knowledge, with that knowing that has allowed me to face into things because I know there’s someone there who’s going to back me up. And I feel that, you know, going back to what you were saying about I’m here for you, often we don’t say these things.




And what the mantras are so powerful is that they’re a reminder that, as you say, you know, we don’t have to say lots of things, we don’t have to say… but just those words deeply felt, deeply meant with an understanding between two people, because he knows he has been that for me. It’s not like he doesn’t know. We know, but when things aren’t voiced, sometimes even the most simple ways that that can slip through our fingers.


So, brother, what’s number three? We’re 15 words in, by the way.




15 out of 32. We’re nearly halfway.


The next one is a very beautiful one. And sometimes it’s easy, and sometimes it’s really hard. It is I know you suffer, and I’m here for you. When you truly love somebody, and that someone has impacted your life and you’re practicing true love, in true love there’s interbeing so that person’s suffering becomes your suffering. And when you’re mindful of it, you see them struggling. And we may not know exactly what to do or how to help, but as a practitioner, we are learning to identify, acknowledge, name it and embrace it. And it can be difficult and hard because if we’re so used to and so attached to the bubbly love, the joyful love, the love that is always offering us freshness and we forget that we’re all also of the nature to suffer, then it’s very difficult to want to be with somebody when they suffer. Because of individualism, we were very picky. We were very picky when it comes to our own nutriments. But we’ve also learned that in Buddhism that happiness and suffering, they nourish each other and they teach each other. So when we have the insight of interbeing, if that person is going through a hard time, there is no way that we can not be in touch with their suffering because we are interconnected through a relationship. And so the practice is to have courage. It is to show up for those who suffer and say, I know you suffer and I’m here for you. And I’m here for you, doesn’t mean I have the answer. I’m here for you doesn’t mean I’m going to save you, I have the solution. It’s just, I just want you to know that I see you. I just want you to know that I want to acknowledge what you are going through. And by showing up with this openness, if we do it with real presence and a true openness, not having expectations and not creating the story of what will happen when I say that, but just to show up and share this, we may be able to allow that person to have the courage to also accept what they are going through. Because sometimes when we love somebody so much, we don’t want to show them this side. Like I don’t ever want to show to the community like I’m vulnerable. And sometimes is very difficult to show that because we only want to show our most beautiful side. And that becomes a trap in itself. That becomes a suffering in itself. So when somebody allows you to be just as is I think that’s one of the most precious gift ever. So the power of this mantra is showing up unconditionally. And if we don’t, if we don’t have that courage and that understanding to show up, then our love is still conditioned. And this is that teaching in the third mantra is, I know you suffer and I’m here for you. Because normally when we love an interaction is when that person is like giving us so much and suddenly we feel that by being with them they are going to take from me. And so we fall into this view of a separate self. So this mantra is to cross that bridge of a separate self, to really allow that person to be, to recognize and allow yourself to also learn to be for those who are suffering. And it may be uncomfortable because we may be also the causes of that suffering. So it’s also giving that opportunity for communication to manifest.


Not in that, brother. So the version I was reading a few days ago, just slightly different, but it… And I just wondered if it’s meaningful or not because I read one which said I know you suffer, that is why I am here for you. And the only reason I mention that version is because that that version touched me. Because what it said was I am here for you, not because you bring me pleasure. I’m here for you because you suffer. I know you suffer. That is why I’m here for you. And it’s because so much of what you were saying is that, you know, we live, especially in Western society, and we seek pleasure and avoid pain. And therefore, we’re always looking for what’s healthy in our minds, what brings us joy, what’s easy, how to bypass pain. And we also do that in our relationships, don’t we? That when we get into an intimate relationship with someone on any level, what we want to do is show them our best sides. We want to show them what makes us well, why you should be attracted to me, why you should like me. So we’re always offering our very, very best. And both partners in a romantic relation, both partners are doing that when they get together, they’re just saying, I’m very joyful, I’m creative, I’m fun, loving, I know how to live a good life, and I’ll take you to the best restaurants… And when both partners are doing that, on one level we’re creating a lie, aren’t we? We’re getting into a habit and then it’s very, very difficult to show up fully because we feel almost we’ll… because we’ve hidden something, given it so much power. Because if we hide something, we think it’s more important or more of a problem than it may be. Then our fear is as soon as we show it to the other person, they’ll probably run away. So we hide it more. And then what I’ve learned through Thay’s teachings is the more we avoid our suffering, the more it builds up and then it will explode. So what I love about these mantras is saying, I’m here for your suffering. I’m not here for your happiness. Because actually if I can support you in your suffering, then you will become much more beautiful and your beauty will be much deeper and richer and that our relationship will go deeper. And also there’s that thing is if I can, I mean, coming back to what you said at the beginning, if I’m here for your suffering, then actually you can be there for my suffering. These things never go one way or the other. And I love that because when I was younger, all I wanted to do was hide my problems. All I wanted to do was pretend everything was okay. And, you know, all the work I do with people, you know, I think the biggest issue that comes up for people is people who think they’re not enough.




People who think that they’re not enough in life. And to show up fully, we can say I don’t feel enough. And the other person said, I don’t feel enough either. And in that moment there’s true intimacy. And I know that Sister Chan Khong once, when Paz and I got married here, she gave us a card which says, Love is understanding. Because that is true love being there for our suffering. Because we, as you say, we all suffer. We have multiple sufferings. And if we’re truly there for our suffering and each other suffering that, I mean, how can that not be love?


Yeah. Yeah. This third mantra has also given birth to a new mantra that I have, Jo.


What? Is this a big unveil, brother?


This is… And it goes like this. I love you to not consume you. I love you to show you and to let you know that you are enough. I love you to not consume you. I love you to show you that you are enough. And this has been my practice because sometimes in love, and this is a monk talking about love, by the way. You may think like, you know, like we live with like trees and mountains only. But, actually, you know, in a community, there is so much relationship that that is actually even more challenging because I have so many relationship that I am…


And you live so tightly together.




So intense.


And we meditate together. We eat together. We work together. We sleep in the same residence. We see each other almost 24 seven. And sometimes, you know, it does seem like and I have fallen into this is like love is like, oh, I’m in this community and it’s like a buffet. Like today I’m going to consume Cata and then tomorrow I’m going to consume Jo. And I’m just going to keep consuming consuming consuming and then everybody’s love or everybody’s presence it becomes an object to chase after, to run after. And so I’ve only touched this deeper presence of the first two mantras. I’ve practiced more deeply the third mantra is to show up for the ones when they’re suffering. And I’m there because you suffer. And it’s not because I want to just eat your happiness, but I’m going to show up so I can listen. And maybe by listening, we’re all reminded that we are enough in this moment.


Brother, I love that. And I’ll tell you what it brings to mind is that often we’re adding to people suffering through our behavior. So it’s not… So when we say I suffer, that is why I’m here for you. I think also beyond that and you speak so beautifully, is that people have their existing suffering. But then in our relationship with people, often we’re adding to that suffering. And what it brings to mind is that when Paz and I were married in Plum Village, that Sister Chan Khong asked us to write our own vows to each other. And my main vow to Paz was that I did not want to put her in a gilded cage. Because what I love about Paz is that she is free and she’s creative and she needs a lot of space. And that is why I love her. But actually there’s a part of me that’s needy, that wants stuff, that wants to be acknowledged more, and that, in a sense, a part of me that would, I was about to say this, and I hesitate, but I’ll say it because maybe there’s an aspect of it that is true, a part of me that would love to have her in a gilded cage because then she would be mine. Then my neediness would allow me to say, Actually, you’re here for my needs. You’re here to make me happy. You’re here to sort of show me, help me to be creative. You’re here to help me to feel free. But actually, I know that if I were to put her metaphorically in a gilded cage, that I would destroy everything I love about her. And, you know, it’s like taking a beautiful songbird that loves to fly through the sky and putting in a cage. And what’s it going to feel? It’s going to feel miserable. It’s going to feel like it’s… Like all the beauty of life is gone. Even if it can sing beautifully, it’s not going to have the resonance of freedom. So I don’t know if that’s partly what you mean, but I really learned that so deeply. And I feel that a lot in people’s relationships that when we get together with people beyond the surface, love and attraction or whatever, there’s also often a neediness that arises, which is we’re attracted to people that we think will complete us. And so if we are introverted, we might like to go out with someone who’s extroverted because they, in a sense, complete us. They through them, we can live this life of partying or socializing. But then often what we do is because we think we want to own it, but we can never own what’s in someone else, we then become resentful of it, and then we attack it. And I’ve seen in many relationships that what people loved about their partner is then what they seek to destroy because they feel they can’t own it for themselves. So I don’t know. I don’t know if that resonates to what you’re saying or not.


Well, what you just said is another calligraphy, which is a deep practice, which is Thay has written In true love there is freedom. And this freedom is the inner freedom of us allowing to be who we are, but also to interbe with each other as well as to have the time and space that we can carve out for each other to listen to our deepest aspiration. You know, Thay always says and reminds us as communities and as brothers and sisters, as siblings, as partners is like, yeah, you love each other, but have you really just sat down and asked each other like, what is your deepest aspiration and can I be a part of it? Can I help? And your realization will be my greatest happiness. Because normally we fall into the ego, right? Or say, I want you to be happy for me.


Yes, exactly.


Right? And this happens, this complex happens in families, among siblings and sometimes parents create it. And then society… We are born, I mean, remember school like who has the A-plus. It’s a whole competition. Our world has been created to compete with each other. But our origins is we are tribal, we are communities, we actually needed each other to survive. And coming back to, you know, this practice and these mantras is also learning to suffer together, but to celebrate together each other’s success so that we have freedom for each other’s path that we walk on. And in true love, you know, we have to look at each other and sometimes we have to look at the same direction that we want to walk towards also.


And brother, so you will have sat with Thay many, many times when people will have come to share their suffering. And I would imagine that would be monastics, but also lay practitioners. And I’m just wondering if you can share, you know, I know you suffer, that is why I’m here for you. How Thay sat with people suffering and how we responded to people suffering. So how was he… ? Because sometimes people have lived very, very painful lives, have experienced horrific experiences that you would wish no one ever to have to suffer. And he’s probably sat with many people, and in the question and answer sessions after his Dharma talks, when he did question and answer people would come and share very, very difficult moments. I’m just wondering, what are the qualities you saw in Thay that allowed him to be with people’s suffering and not be engulfed by it or not feel overwhelmed by it?


You mean for Thay? How he…


How you saw Thay sort of sit with people and hold that space?


Well, first and foremost, I would say Thay’s a very good listener. He’s a very good listener and he allows people to have the space to share. And he’s very attentive to the characteristic of everyone. You know, he can recognize when somebody is very nervous. He can recognize when somebody is too aggressive. And, you know, you kind of want to tune your energy to help the situation. And he practices, I would say the four noble truths. First of all, is recognizing that that person’s suffering. And then by listening to their stories or their sharing, like in the Q&As or in consultations or, you know, when people get to visit Thay, you get to hear what is being said. And then you also get to hear the experience of pain, like what is not being said through the emotions and so on. And I think a lot of the times, you know, as our tendency is like to bypass it as quickly as possible. Is like, Oh, it’s okay, it’s okay. You know, you pat somebody on the back or you say something like, Yeah, but at least, I don’t know, the sun is shining, you know. And, you know, if it’s set in a different space, that is mindfulness because the sun is still shining and life is still there. But it’s not to like not to ignore that person’s pain and suffering. And especially if a Zen master ignores it, I mean, I think that’s a layer of trauma right there. That’s a layer of suffering. Right? But Thay was very skillful in listening and holding space. And then the third… And recognizing the second is the root of the suffering. So sometimes Thay can ask questions so that you can identify a root and then seeing a pathway and leading towards the path of transformation. So that is like the formula. Ta daaa.


And brother you sort of you had a very important point there, which is that I see a lot of the times when someone is suffering what it’s like, a tuning fork resonates to other people suffering. When other people feel that suffering, they want to close it down. So often, Oh, the sun is shining or it’s not so bad. Or have you thought of going on holiday? Or is not actually, as you say, listening to the other person’s suffering, it’s saying, Oh, don’t want to go anywhere near there. Let’s close that conversation down. So actually a lot of the time, or as you said earlier, to find a solution. So we either want to close the conversation down because we want to feel the suffering or we want to offer a solution because we don’t want to feel the suffering. But the art is to be present for someone suffering just to hear it. As you say, we’re tired, just to be present for it first.


Yeah. And what Thay would do afterwards is we would go for walks, take refuge in nature to kind of like exercise those energies that we have receive and we have given. And I remember sometimes like Thay and I, we would just like, whenever I see him go to the coat hanging rack, okay, we’re going to go for a walk because Thay needs to be out of the space where, you know, he just did so much listening and sharing. And then changing the peg, which is like that energy we […], so we do something to balance it. You know? Either go for a walk or just sit there, drink tea, just do anything to release that energy. So that is also our practice of bringing back balance to us. Calligraphy. Thay would do hours of calligraphies as a way to just change the energy. And it’s not about, it’s not like ignoring what has just happened, but it’s just like if we’re just going to sit on it for so long, it might drag us down also. So to have good habits, good hobbies, Thay was a very good gardener, so he had like a greenhouse with a lot of flowers and plants, so Thay would take care of it. He had, at the Hermitage, he had a greenhouse of vegetables. So just the things… And most of it is very physical, so I would recommend physical hobbies so that we don’t stay in the thinking so much, in the mind so much.


Thank you, brother. So that brings us to the fourth mantra, which a lot of people say is the most difficult. And the fourth mantra is I suffer, please help. Why is that the most difficult one for so many people?


It’s difficult because we are becoming vulnerable in that moment. And it is the last two words, please help. It means we are putting our guards down. We are saying that I don’t get this. I don’t understand. I’m really struggling and I need help. And it’s very connected to the third mantra, which is like if you are offering yourself presents to somebody and you recognize that they are suffering and you show up and you want to listen, it may be in that moment of real presence that your friend, your partner, your loved one in front of you can finally just admit that I am suffering, that they are suffering. And it’s hard because a lot of the times we want to punish the other person by showing that we don’t suffer. We’re fine. I’m fine without you. And I think each and every one of us can admit to us doing that. Like we’re punishing the other person by saying that we are fine. And when we say we are fine, it means I don’t need you. But when somebody comes up to us and is asking for like, how can I help? If our pride is so strong, that is a punishment to the other person. So this practice of the fourth mantra is also to double check our perceptions, our stories. A lot of the time we suffer without even checking. Is it true? Are you sure? And Thay always talks about this mantra very much connected to pride. And the pride is what blocks communication. We may have seen something, we may have heard something by a third party, and we hold on to that as it is the truth. And we know that views are very powerful. Views can change a whole landscape of a relationship, and we may hold onto a wrong perception until somebody dies without even checking. And there’s a story that Thay always tells in a Dharma talk, that is related to his realization of communication is so important, and releasing the pride is so important. So this takes us back a few, maybe many, many, many years ago in Vietnam. And it is a true story that there was a young soldier leaving his wife to join the battle, join the war. And when he left, he knew his wife was pregnant. So when he left, there was a huge pain of being separated. And fortunately enough, during his absence, the child was born healthy, but the wife had to take care of the child alone. And this was before social media, before technology, so she never knew if the father would ever come home, if her husband would ever come home. But she was very courageous enough to be a mother that was so stable and solid for the son and never had any complexes. And the son really valued that love, but one day, the son came home from playing in the village and asked the mother. Mother, all of my friends have fathers. Where’s my dad? And in that moment of shock, that question came out of nowhere. And the mother didn’t know how to explain to such a small child, 4 or 5 years old, and explaining about the war and wasn’t even sure to give him hope or not if the father will come home, because that can be a great suffering later. So in that moment, you know, there was no electricity back on that day, but there were lamps. And so she pointed to her shadow and she said, This is your father. Say hello to your father. And the child was very obedient. Oh, hello, dad. You know. But the reality was for the mother, that the mother was also very lonely. So there were evenings that the mother would speak to the shadow, like she’s speaking to her husband. And the child saw this. And fortunately enough, the husband survived the war, came back. He came back and the child was 4 or 5 years old. He was so happy. And when the two of them met each other and the husband and wife, they embraced each other. And in the Vietnamese culture, the first thing you do when you have happy news is you announce it to your ancestors. So we have an ancestral altar in every Vietnamese household, even to today. It’s a beautiful culture and tradition that we have upheld. And the wife would go. She went to the market to buy new flowers, food, cooked a nice meal to present to the ancestors and to share the first meal together as a family. So during her absence, the father was very excited to see his son. And he kept trying to get his son to say, call me daddy, to call him father. And in that moment, the son said, You’re not my dad. My dad comes every evening and I will see my mother speak to daddy every evening. And when my mother stands up, he stands up. When she sits down, she sits down. And when she lays down, he lays down. When the father heard that, his world just collapsed. So he felt that his wife has betrayed him, his sacrifice for the nation, and here he is, his wife cannot be faithful. So he was very angry. So when the wife came home, he didn’t let her prostrate to the ancestral altar because he felt that she doesn’t have honor anymore. And what he did was he drowned himself in alcohol going to the bar. And his wife was also miserable because didn’t know within just a few hours, the husband has changed his attitude 180 degrees, didn’t see her as his wife, didn’t even recognize her, didn’t even want to be in his presence. And so she suffered so much as she couldn’t withstand it for a few days, a few weeks. So she committed suicide and she threw herself into the river. And this was such a tragedy. When the village found her body, they found him at the bar and told him that, you know, your wife had jumped in the river. And he came home to be there for the son. And in the evening, when they lit up the lamp, the little boy finally said. Mister, mister, that’s the daddy. He comes every evening. And in that moment, the father realizes that he’s had a wrong perception the whole time. And Thay would always add on the teaching element to this is that’s why deep listening and loving speech is so important. If the wife suffers so much, knew how to ask. What happened when I left and I come back? Why did you change? What did I do so wrong? Can you please explain to me? Can you… Can’t you recognize I’m suffering? Can you help me understand the situation? And if the husband was intelligent and has somebody to shown him a way to handle this, what he has heard, was to check, is this perception correct? Was to ask the wife when you were gone our son said this. Is this true? And only then can a bridge of communication be open. But here both sides had their pride, kept silent, wanted to suffer on their own. One is to drown himself in alcohol. The other is to be miserable and drown herself in stories and in thinking and in procrastination, and just be in such misery to the point that doesn’t want to exist anymore. So the fourth mantra is to help us rebuild communication. Is like, if somebody else did this, it wouldn’t matter, but it’s because you, who I truly love, said that, it hurts me so much. And that’s why this fourth mantra is so difficult, because it demands us to let go of our pride. It requires us to put down our shield, our barrier, and just to show the other person that I’m not doing okay. And I think in our society we don’t value that. Right? We don’t value vulnerability. The image of a leader or of a strong husband, a strong partner, wife and so on is very successful, very stable. You know, I can do anything. And this image, this stereotype has been ingrained in us now.


Yeah. Wow. Brother, you should be a full time storyteller.


Thank you.


I was sitting there feeling very emotional… that story. Yeah. And as you say, it speaks so much to, you know, resilience. People think it’s, as you say, it’s about keeping us, as in England, keeping a stiff upper lip that you can, with power you can force your way through it. You can make it through as long as you keep focused and you can keep strong. Whereas, in essence, that is a great weakness because it’s not really showing up. So, brother, you know, in some music albums or whatever, there’s bonus episodes or bonus songs, rather.




So while Thay created the four mantras, later on, he added two bonus mantras.


Yes, he did. Always evolving.


Always evolving, so maybe we should just spend a little time.




Just talking about those. So do you want to share what those are?


Yeah. The fifth one, which is his favorite. Like, he takes this everywhere. And when he found this mantra and he put it into word, he was so excited to announce it in Dharma talk. You know, it’s like, Dear community, I have a new mantra and I’ve practiced it so many times and I’ve made my attendants practice it too. And one of our brothers who hates the mantra, he hated the mantra because to him it was so cheesy. But it goes like this, This is a happy moment. That’s it. And I remember when Thay announced that mantra he emphasized that as practitioners of mindfulness, happiness is our right. We all have the right to have a happy moment no matter what we are going through. Even though we are in a very tough position, a difficult suffering, we’re still working on our trauma, we recognize that there are wars, we recognize that we’re not caring for the planet the way we want to, and we can even see maybe the darkness ahead of us. And these stories and these realities can drown us. But as a practitioner that has agency of being in the present moment and still seeing our loved ones are there, food is in front of us, we have a cup of tea, the sun is still rising today and tomorrow. That is a happy moment. And this mantra is to give us agency and is very connected to the teachings of the Buddha, which is dwelling happily in the present moment. And when I first listened and heard this phrase and this teaching, I had a wrong perception about it because I thought that I had to practice so hard to transform all of my suffering, and then I can dwell happily in the present moment because I felt that that was my ultimate destination, let’s say that’s my enlightenment, which is I don’t suffer anymore. I’ve transformed generational past traumas and suffering, then I have the right to be happy. But the Buddha never said that. The Buddha said in the present moment, you can dwell happily, even though there’s still pain in your body, even though there are things that you have not yet been free from. But your freedom is recognizing that. But look, I’m breathing. Because you’re alive anything is possible. That this is a happy moment. So this mantra was a declaration, a realization as well as an aspiration so that we can continue to give ourselves agency of our present moment. You can be happy in suffering. That is the teachings of this mantra, as well as when you recognize that this is a happy moment, don’t ignore it. Don’t forget the wonders that you have right here, right now. And I remember there were moments when we’re so busy on a tour and you we’re at the gas station, and one of Thay’s, let’s say, guilty pleasures, is French fries. He always makes me buy gas station French fries. And we just, yeah, it’s unhealthy. It’s, you know, it’s no nutriment, but it’s the joy of that moment that there’s French fries right there. Ketchup. And I think, cause I guess I grew up with ketchup, but I think Thay saw the invention of ketchup and it was amazing. And that just these little moments became such wonders for me. And I remember, like flying with Thay, and we would sit on the airplane and Thay would ask me, Phap Huu, do you think the Buddha would fly if he was still here? And I think I didn’t have a chance to answer, and Thay was like, Yes, he would, definitely he would, because he would want to go and spread the teachings. And like those moments are such moments of happiness, so simple, so unique, and so precious. So it is this mantra is to hold and to recognize the gem that are there in your life.


Wow. It’s sort of it’s quite wonderful to know that Thay just liked a bag of French fries with ketchup. Good on you, Thay, we’re thinking of you. The sixth one, brother.


The sixth one is a funny one, is a very unique one. It’s very cool. It’s You are partly right.


I hate that one.


Yes, it is, because sometimes we get in arguments or we get in a dispute. We’re not always going to agree with each other. And when we don’t agree with each other, we think we are only right and therefore we don’t listen. We don’t allow the other person to express themselves or we react so quickly without even thinking about it. And I’ve also have this habit, and we have brothers and sisters that I’ve, you know, recognize also have this habit, like the first thing, their reply is no. And then they would tell us what is right, you know. And, you know, right away it just kills the communication because if after I have offered something or I shared something and the first thing I hear is no, it’s like, I don’t want to work with you anymore whatsoever. So this mantra is to recognize that they are partly right. Some of those sharings is not 100% right, but also to acknowledge what they are saying has sense. And normally when we don’t want to listen, then we will make any excuses to ignore or to bring them down. So this mantra is to encourage us to reflect, to listen as well as to also given opportunity that their input can shine some light on the situation.


And we can see that in any situation in the world where if you are, believe you are 100% right, the other person has to be 100% wrong. And you can see that in relationships. I mean, Thay said, you know, do you want to be happy or do you want to be right? because if you’re right, someone else is going to be unhappy. And actually, even if you really believe you’re right, what would you prefer? Your partner or friend or colleague to feel utterly miserable or to feel humiliated or attacked or, you know, how can that move anything forward? It’s just impossible.


And also, it also gives us an opportunity if somebody is sharing what they have heard about you, about me, you know, I can have an opportunity, and I say, oh, you are only partly right. There’s this other 80% that you haven’t heard yet. So this mantra is also to invite that person to listen to the other percentage that they haven’t heard. As we know, communication sometimes from one ear to the next mouth to the next voice, to the next attitude, to the next emotions, stories get changed. So this is an opportunity to really reflect and to say, thank you for sharing. I heard you, but you’re only 20% right. Let me fill you in on the 80% that what I understand. And so it allows communication not to be one way, but for it to be two ways.


So and now we have a seventh one, which is your one, brother. So just why don’t you repeat your one one more time?


No, I don’t dare put it in this line from the great Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh.


This is maybe your first one. Maybe in time, you’ll create your own…


Yeah, this mantra is still very young, still very raw, but yeah, it was my realization. It’s I love you to not consume you. I love you to show you that you are enough.


Beautiful. Thank you. So, I don’t know, that was 32 words for the first one… I don’t know about 8 or 9 words. So, you know, just finally, brother, I mean, what it speaks to, I think, is, you know, in a sense, what I started with is just you don’t need to say much to have a deep, you know, this is how profound these teachings are, that in 40 words or 42 or 43 words, however many it is for the all six, there is such depth that you could actually live your entire life if you were just to focus on those six mantras.


Yeah. And Thay really encourages us to practice this mantra. You know, he would say, write it in like a size of a credit card and put it in your wallet to remember to nourish your love for yourself and your love for the relationships that you truly care for.


Beautiful. Brother, thank you so much. Thank you. So, brother, often we have a guided meditation at the end but why don’t we now just recap and just maybe everyone can be just sit down and… Or whether you’re standing just close your eyes for a moment or just be present. And maybe, Phap Huu, you’d like to read the six mantras again and let it just sink into us. Let it just sink in.


I am here for you.


I know you are there, and I am so happy.


I know you suffer. Therefore, I am here for you.


I suffer. Please, help.


This is a happy moment.


You are partially right.


Thank you, everyone, for joining us for this episode. You can find all the previous episodes of this podcast on the Plum Village App and also on Spotify, Apple Podcasts and all other podcast platforms. If you like what we’re doing, then it be great if you could subscribe to The Way Out Is In podcast on the platform of your choice actually, and leave a review if you feel inspired to help others discover it.


And you can also find all previous guided meditation in the On the Go section of the Plum Village App. The podcast is co-produced by Global Optimism and the Plum Village App with support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation. If you feel inspired to support the podcast moving forward, please go to And we would like to express our gratitude to our friends and collaborators, to Clay, a.k.a. the Podfather, our co-producer.


Thank you. And we’re coming towards the end of the year so it’s a chance to really appreciate everyone.


To Cata, also our co-producer.


Who’s in the house, in the hut rather.


Today our sound engineer. Our other Joe, our audio editing. To our Anca, who is our shownotes and publishing bodhisattva. Jasmine and Cyndee, our social media guardian angels. Thank you so much, everyone.


Yeah. And speak to you next time.


The way out is in.

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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