The Way Out Is In / Listeners’ Questions: Responding from the Heart (Episode #51)

Sr Hiến Nghiêm, Br Pháp Hữu, Jo Confino

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Welcome to episode 51 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 the spirit of Plum Village and its Zen tradition of public question-and-answer sessions, this is the second time that Zen Buddhist monk Brother Phap Huu and leadership coach and journalist Jo Confino have responded to listeners’ questions. We hope that the answers will help show how the teachings can help people who are in distress or are dealing with critical issues – but also simply how to find more joy in our lives. Because we have received so many questions – around 200! – further answers will be given in a second part, to be released next week.

The presenters are joined by frequent podcast guest Sister True Dedication (Sister Hien Nghiem). Topics which they address cover a wide range, from how to be brave, to speaking your truth and being fully yourself, and handling strong emotions and dealing with hate. Responses include practical examples, draw on both personal experiences and Buddhist wisdom, and cover numerous other topics, such as: non-attachment and healthy attachments; getting in touch with our patterns; building inner confidence; working with our negative seeds; letting go of pain; practicing with impermanence; the energy of prayer and interbeing; the power and purpose of Thay’s favorite chant, Namo Avalokiteshvara; and more. Plus: what is a mudra?

The three presenters also share their favorite daily reminders, sayings, or mantras for bringing them back to the path when they get distracted.

Thank you for listening, and for your questions!
Tune in next week for part two.


Co-produced by the Plum Village App:

And Global Optimism: 

With support from the Thich Nhat Hanh Foundation:

List of resources

Sister True Dedication 

The Four Noble Truths

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


‘Breathing In, Breathing Out’

Sister Jina 

The Five Mindfulness Trainings 

Pain, Despair, and the Second Arrow (a short Thich Nhat Hanh teaching video)

Sutras: ‘Discourse on the 5 Ways of Putting an End to Anger’

Abrahamic religions


Introduction to Namo Avalokiteshvara (a short Thich Nhat Hanh teaching video)

‘Listening to Namo Avalokiteshvara’ 

Dharma Talks: ‘Listening to the Chant’

Namo’valokiteshvaraya Chant



Dharma Talks: ‘The Five Remembrances’


“Buddhism has a great lineage tradition of mentoring and guidance, and we are all seekers on the path. But some of us have had more years of experience and mistakes and getting awakened to our suffering, and can share from that experience to help others.”

“Thay would always say a good question can help many of us who are listening in this moment, because a good question will allow a good answer to manifest.” 

“Each day that you have stillness, that you have well-being, acknowledge it; make it your moment of presence, of solidarity.”

“In the spirit of Zen, we have the warrior, and how we bring that warrior out is, first of all, by really knowing how to be with oneself when the emotions and storms are present. How do we recognize that and not be a victim of it? Not allowing ourselves to be the anger when the energy of anger manifests, not to be the fear when fear is present, and turtle away.”

“Thay teaches us that a mountain doesn’t move when there’s a storm. And that storm is the storm of our perceptions, our judgment. We’re not being carried away by what we see, what we hear, but we still have the insight of interbeing. Therefore we can still have right view and clarity.”

“I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain.”

“We are not our thoughts, we are not our speech; we are not defined by that. We are so much greater as a formation, as an entity, than all of these things. But we do want to be aware of our legacy in thinking, speech, and action.”

“In Buddhism, our negative seeds are just part of the garden that we’re composting. They’re something we’re working with, they’re something to embrace. And the good news of Buddhism is that when you see these seeds, you can get an enlightenment about them. That is the compost that we’re going to practice with: each time these seeds come up, try to make ourselves a little daisy. I may not be a lotus, but maybe one daisy for each seed.” 

“Some non-attachments are more difficult than others.”

“Attachment that brings suffering, let it go. The attachment that keeps you on the path: ‘I’m attached to my brown robe. I’m attached to my precepts. I’m attached to my sangha.’ We have to also let go of this view that in Zen there’s no thinking, there’s no feelings, there’s no emotions, there’s no attachment.”

“When the going gets tough, keep going.”

“‘Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible’ comes from a great teacher called Nagarjuna. It’s a Buddhist phrase. And it helps me trust that everything is evolving, everything is shifting. My internal landscape is shifting, the external landscape is shifting. And if it’s hard, it won’t last for long; it’s just a phase that we’re passing through.”

“Awareness is a mirror reflecting the four elements. Beauty is a heart that generates love and a mind that is open.”

“Life is too short for mirrors.”

“Our true actions are our continuation.”


Welcome, dear listeners, 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 tradition.


And today, brother, we’re joined by the effervescent Sister True Dedication from Lower Hamlet. Sister, welcome.


Thank you so much.


And today we’re going to be doing a question and answer session. And the reason for that is because it’s one thing to learn about the practice of Buddhism and the Plum Village tradition, but the more difficult thing is to put it into practice. And so the purpose of asking these listeners for questions is actually to help show how the teachings can help people in moments of distress, dealing with critical issues in their lives, and also just how to find more joy in our lives.


The way out is in.


Hello dear listeners, I’m Jo Confino.


And I’m Brother Phap Huu.


And ta daa…


I’m Sister True Dedication.


Sister, you’re so welcome. Sister’s been on with us for a couple of episodes before. We want her on every episode, but it’s hard to catch hold of her…


It’s hard to book her…


…. She’s so busy. And as I said, we’re going to be doing a Q and A session. And before we go to the questions themselves and just to say we were overwhelmed, we had over 200 questions coming in, and that was from one post from Brother Phap Huu. I think it’s useful just to place the Q&A within the tradition of Buddhism and also within the tradition of Plum Village. We just didn’t pluck this up as a good idea. It’s something that’s been a sort of practice for thousands of years. So, sister, let’s bring you in straightaway. Do you want to talk a little bit about just why Q and As are important and about their origin?


Thank you, Jo. I will try my best. So I think the Q&As helped us give voice to exactly where we’re at and what we’re struggling with and to like lay that at the feet in the Buddhist tradition of the Zen master, like, Yeah, but what about this? Like I hear you say this about mindfulness or this about peace and happiness, but what about that situation? Or what about this problem? And I think by being able to formulate a question from our heart, we can also help the teacher hear and perceive where we might be stuck or caught in a wrong view or unable to see a way forward. So to be able to articulate and formulate our question is, I think, essential to the relationship between teacher and student, because then the teacher has a chance to really hear where on the road the student has got to, you know, they’re at a crossroads or the obstacle at a junction. And so what is then the next step from where they’re at? And Buddhism has this great lineage tradition of mentoring and guidance, and we are all seekers on the path, right? But then some of us have had a little bit more years of experience and mistakes and getting awakened to our own suffering, and then we can share from that experience to help others.


Brother Phap Huu, anything you want to add in terms of Thay’s, how Thay conducted Q&As… Because he did them for the adults, but also I think some of the most popular ones were for the kids. And I remember one child going and saying, Why do monks shave off all their hair? And I always remember, that it’s terrible, that’s the only one I remember. Thay said, So we save on shampoo.


You see, that one sticks with you because it brings out the livelihood of and the joy of a Zen master. And, you know, in Plum Village, especially when Thay was still teaching, everybody wanted to hear from him. And Thay knew that a way to directly be in touch with the people is allowing them to have access to him. And the more Plum Village grew, Thay had to create a container where it can be a one fit for all. Not everybody can have time for consultation with Thay. So we started in Plum Village to create these sessions called Questions and Answer. And Thay would always say, Please ask a question from the heart, not an intellectual question, because intellectually we can keep studying and we can keep researching, but a question from the heart can help many people that are listening or at that time many people in the audience. He would always say a good question can help many of us who are listening in this moment, because a good question will allow a good answer to manifest. And we never speak that our answer is the absolute truth. But our answer comes from our direct experience of the Dharma. And in our tradition, we are grounded by direct experience. So what we share still needs to be observed and still needs to be applied by each individual that is listening, that is walking this path, and sometimes allowing people to ask the questions, they will see that they already have an answer. Just like our sister said, they can formulate it, that is mindfulness itself, it’s like being aware of where I am stuck. So sometimes just being able to articulate it, you start to see yourself more clearly. So it’s both ways, I would say. Like when you ask a question, you’re also learning to be vulnerable. You’re also learning to tell your teacher and tell the community or tell your friends, I don’t know. Please help. And I think this is the spirit of Zen also, is to continue to be open and and not be so certain with our own path.


Great. Thank you. Now, I think all three of us have read all the questions, and it’s quite difficult to read them all. It feels quite overwhelming. It reminds me of the first noble truth is there is suffering and some of these questions brought up some very, very deep suffering. And I know when I was looking say, if I was asked that question, how would I respond? And realizing it’s, with people in deep suffering, it’s very hard to respond in a way that is meaningful. Because when I’ve had my own sufferings in my life, but when I see someone or hear someone who’s had such deep suffering and then you have 200 questions, I felt like, Oh, can I be of service here? You know, can I actually support and help? And I just wonder what both of your reactions were, and then we’ll step into doing our best because I think that’s what we do. We sit here, we’ve looked at the questions, we’ve sat with them and our wish is to support. But Sister True Dedication, what was your sense of reading them?


So I will share the truth, which is that I felt I needed to lie down after reading all these questions because I felt I just want to lie down with my hand on my heart and yeah, just be in a state of just holding with and being with that pain. And I think that is also already a response. I would like to say that when we hear this and many of us I mean, we’re hearing questions from our friends, from our family the whole time, all of us are exposed to questions coming from pain in the people around us. And when in that moment, when we hear it, I think more and more in my practice and my first response is more just the being with. And I’ve learned that because sometimes I jump a bit too quickly to wanting to fix, wanting to have that answer and wanting to have a response. But now I’d say my first response is to be with and to acknowledge how that challenge or that suffering is like resonating in my own heart. And so if I have a chance to go for a walk, I might go for a walk with it, but if not just to sit or even lie down and just really hold hold that in gentleness, in compassion and in a kind of spirit of interbeing. That is not that this suffering is somehow outside of us. And if any of the listeners have, like, read the questions, you will also have had the same experience when you were reading them. And it touches something, we kind of inter-are together. And like you were saying, Jo, like suffering is part of life. So how are we going to be with it?


Thank you, Sister TD. And also, as you pointed out, you know, many of the questions were on the Instagram post Phap Huu put forward, so you can actually look at those questions yourself. And some of them were more personal and were direct messages, so you won’t be able to see those. But you’ll be able to get a real sense just by going back and looking at that post. Brother Phap Huu, what was your initial feeling, actually?


First of all, it was gratitude to all of the listeners and the supporters of the podcast to be very honest, to be very open and be vulnerable with us. And it’s a privilege to receive such open hearts from the questions. So I’ve been breathing with the questions and also not to have too much expectation. It’s very easy for me to get into perfectionism and try to find a way out for everyone. And also honor that because that comes from our spirit of bodhisattva, which is like to help or to help find the light. Yeah. So that’s what we will try to do today, point in many directions to many lights that are on our path.


Great. So why don’t we dive in and let’s see what happens. So the first question is about how to be fully ourselves. So I think a lot of people in the world suffer from the fact that they feel they often have to be other than who they are, they have to fit in, they have to keep their jobs going. They have to handle busy lives. So I’m going to ask… There are a couple of questions that relate to that. So I just want to start off with those. I’m just going to read them out. The first one is I’d like to know how to be brave, how to not be afraid to speak your truth because you think people will be angry or disappointed. Despite all my reading and listening, I still struggle with this. And then one that sort of relates to that as well, How to learn to not care what others think about you so that you can go about your life in a truly authentic and free way. And the opposite, How do you learn to not judge others? Is it even possible? I come from a loving family, but I also grew up surrounded by judgment. I loved Thay’s teachings on interbeing and his reminder to be beautiful, be yourself, but I find them hard in practice. So, Brother Phap Huu, you’re first up. As I said, those questions talk about how do I fully stop, how can I be authentic? How can I be myself despite what’s going on around me?


Thank you for the question. I’d like to start off with one of the four elements that I see as part of my foundation, and it can speak to bravery or I would like to use the word courage, is establishing our stability, our solidity. And we have a song, it’s a very classic song, Breathing in, Breathing out, I am fresh as a flower, I am solid as a mountain, I’m still as a lake, And I am open as space, Inside and outside. And this has been my practice since day one in Plum Village to recognize that I do have these elements inside of me and these elements that I have seen in others where it shows me that it’s possible to be fresh, to have stability, solidity, to have inner peace, inner stillness, and to be someone who can hold space for oneself as well as hold space for others to be present. And in the spirit of Zen, we have the warrior, and how do we bring that warrior out is, first of all, to really know how to be with oneself when the emotions, the storms are present. How do we recognize that and not be a victim of it? Not allowing ourselves to be the anger when the energy of anger manifests, not to be the fear, when fear is present and turtle away. And we have to start from the foundation, which is the practice of awareness. Mindfulness is always mindfulness of something. So we have to be able to create this skillset or this art of I know you’re there and I’m very happy, I know you’re there and I’m going to take care of you. And this mindfulness, I’m giving it different names so that I can invite it at different times. So establishing my stability, I always come back to daily practice that I create as a part of a routine, creating something that makes you feel that you have freedom. And freedom is also freedom of of something. And here is freedom that you can be who you are, that you can be the most present for yourself, where you’re not being pulled away by the past or being lost in the present, or being carried away by the future. So having the mindfulness to acknowledge what is present, and once you start to have that capacity, we always shared please, even in the moments when you are peaceful, you are joyful, or in the moments when you have well-being, learn to acknowledge that. Learn to have gratitude to those moment. And this is when you start to also have insight that life is a miracle. There’s so many good conditions that are present for you. And invite the solidity that is there. Can you sit there and totally embrace and hold and recognize your fear when it manifests? Not run away, not look for food or look for a conversation or put on music and so on. But can you actually just stay with it? This is the kind of training that we all get in the monastery, and this kind of courage is something that nobody can take away because you start to show up for yourself, you start to show up for whatever manifests inside of you first. And this capacity will be a skillset and a presence when other energy comes towards you via connection, conversation, work, noise, distraction. You can go into the city of New York and still be fully present with each footstep that you take. We have done flashmob meditation in New York where the monks and nuns are sitting of truly present. And the streets of New York is continuing, the sirens… We even had someone coming who was of a different religion and telling us that we’re all going to hell because we don’t believe in a particular god. And we asked ourselves, can we still hold compassion towards that person in this present moment? That is courage and that is also showing up with no hatred towards that person. And, you know, the most beautiful thing happened was the ones that were walking by and seeing this person, particularly yelling at us, yelling at the monastics, they became the protector, they started to move him to a side and talk to him and so on. And so sometimes bravery is just not losing oneself. And that for us is something that we can cultivate each day. Each day that you have stillness, you have well-being, acknowledge that, make that your moment of presence, of solidarity. And normally, our teacher, Thay, he always teaches us a mountain doesn’t move when there’s a storm. And that storm is the storm of our perceptions, our judgment. We’re not being carried away by what we see, what we hear, but we still have the insight of interbeing. So therefore we can still have right view and clarity. And we have to practice first with the fundamental, which is, first of all, just recognizing this is inbreath and this is outbreath, because in these particular moments you forget that you have a lifejacket to keep you floating, which is your breathing, which is your mindfulness, to be present, to not let what is being said, what you are hearing control you. And you keep your stability there in order to respond in a more compassionate way, in a more loving way. And this will also start to allow us to have a mindfulness of our perception, which is tied into judgment. And I would like to pass this on to Sister True Dedication. Sister, is it possible to not judge?


I think our mind is always processing everything, right? So there’s always some kind of inner response to what is going on. And I think the first step, as you say, being grounded in ourselves and what is coming up in us and being able to see, wow, I’m feeling reactive to this person or I feel averse to that person or I feel really drawn to this person. So I think we’re always having a response and then to get curious about it. So I think it would be to say it’s not that we don’t have judgment, but we can get more curious about where is our response leading us to this person and how that’s influencing our way of kind of relating to them. And finding the right time also to kind of speak out and share what is hard when it’s possible. And I love what you’re saying in different moments to really ground ourselves in our breathing. Because what I think about this question immediately, what was coming up for me is like family settings and work settings and how to be myself. I had to ground myself in my truth. And I think this image you’re giving of this unshakable mountain really resonates with me because I can visualize some recent moments also with my family when I had to find some kind of stability and my breath was totally my refuge. And something that really inspired me was something that Sister Jina had said, which is she’d noticed that one of our monastics was able to share hard truths with others but without them feeling that they were not loved. She said, Oh, he’s really able to disagree with the view while still letting the person know that they are loved. So you disagree with the view, but you still love the person. And I think in family settings, when we want to speak out about something that’s really troubling us that we feel really uncomfortable with is going on in the family, we can address the thing, but while letting our family member know that we still love them. And when I was listening to you, I was also thinking, Oh, I really remember this moment in the newsroom when I felt I needed to speak out about something. And I was like, How dare I? Because I was quite junior in the newsroom, right? I came in quite young. And what it was that gave me the courage was the five mindfulness trainings. And that sounds so cheesy to say it, but I literally remembered the line I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain. And it just gave me so much courage to go and knock on my editor’s door and say, I don’t agree, I refuse to print this cue card for this live political news show because there is deception in it, there’s mistruth. You’re doing misdirection. And I would never have had that courage like, so I felt like I was accessing a strength that was much more than my own because I knew I was in line with the five mindfulness trainings. So that’s something for us to be aware of that we do have wisdom greater than ourselves that we can call on in these moments.


And, sister, this is something also about building our inner confidence to express those views. Because, you know, my own life has been one of sort of when I was younger and I lacked confidence, I was very dependent on other people’s view of me. And when I started to more deeply understand myself and recognize who I was, you know, know oneself, know yourself, then I was able to feel that as a foundation in my life and be able to then express that without fear or favor. But sister, just coming back to one thing, particularly for young people, social media, we got cancel culture, we got people very fearful that they say one thing out of line and they will be under attack. Is it more difficult, do you think, for young people these days to be truly themselves? Because actually there’s so much, you know, when I was young, it was just my circle of friends. But now it can be so much broader than that.


I do think it’s hard and I think what’s happening is that things can be taken out of context. And so we have to sometimes think so much before we post anything because it’s like, what are the ten different ways that someone could read this line that I want to share? And I think that is hard to navigate for all of us. And I’m not sure I have any particular answer, but I think there must be some way that we could have some kind of like a brave code to really embrace much greater diversity of views and to be aware ourselves when we have a quick kind of trigger reaction to something that someone shared, that that’s not the whole person. And we can disagree with that view or that line, but it doesn’t mean we hate on that person because we are not, and this is the great line from Buddhism, we are not our thoughts, we are not our speech, we are not defined by that. We are so much greater as a as a formation, as an entity than all of these things. But we do want to be aware of our legacy in thinking, speech and action.


So I just want to take this conversation a little bit deeper, which is around how we handle strong emotions. And it’s about how do we deal with hate? And so I just want to read out a question related to that. The person wrote, There’s recently a person I dislike a lot. I very rarely have this kind of deep hatred towards someone, but this person’s actions have made me very angry and upset that whenever I see this person, I have both strong fear and anger inside me that I can’t deal with. I tried understanding his situation with compassion, but it didn’t work. And I keep having this ill will wanting to take revenge on him, which I know I shouldn’t have. How should I handle such strong emotions? Brother.


I think, first of all, we have to acknowledge that we have hatred and it’s actually okay. It is not okay to act on hatred, but we have to acknowledge that I have hatred and to use our mindfulness to be very skillful and mindful of what we are going to produce from our speech and what are we going to produce from our action, because we know that hatred cannot be responded with more hatred, that only creates more violence, more tension. And scary enough, it can prevent war. And our practice is, first of all, just to acknowledge that I have that. And by knowing that I have that, this is when we say when you have mindfulness of these emotions, you have to ask yourself, now, what do I do with it? And for us, it’s not to act on it, not to say anything yet. Don’t act on it. And maybe to withdraw, to take care of myself. We have to come home to ourself and feel the body. The body is going to be screaming with a lot of tension, a lot of reaction, so that’s why our mindfulness of the body is very important. These are our teachers at this moment is telling us that this is very real for you. On a personal experience, surprise, we also have moments when we don’t want to look at our brothers and sisters, particular brothers and sisters in our own community, because we may have different views or we may have clashed and we have seen a brother or a sister do something that is very upsetting. And the first place is to come home to one’s self. That is our Dharma, come home to the island within, and to embrace the mental formations that are manifesting. And naming, what is the hatred? Because hatred is a block of energy. And is it, yeah, is it violence? Is it anger? Etc., etc.. And slowly unlayer it in you. Where does this hatred come from? Is it also touching an experience from the past? Is it something that is echoing again of what I have experienced just a few years ago and now it’s just being magnified? And to look at the direct situation… We call this the second arrow in Buddhism, am I bringing another story into this also? And just to look at what action it is that he or she or they have made that made me so angry. So the first act is to come home to take care of that anger within and that hatred within. And the second is to try to understand where this is coming from and to be compassionate to oneself, to generate kindness to this energy. And I even had to have distance from that person for some months. And it’s okay. And we have to acknowledge our capacity. This is very important. We have to acknowledge our capacity in how much we can embrace, transform and face. And in time, we can come back to this person and to this discussion or to this situation. And I have an example for myself. I had a particular monastic who was very difficult to be in the room with. And because I have seen that person have made one of my monastics cry, and because of power, because of the discussion and it’s very complex. And also I can see that person suffering. We have a sutra called the Five Ways of Putting an End to Anger. And in the fourth one, when somebody’s action is not kind, somebody’s speech is not kind, and even in the heart, there is no kindness, that is someone who is severely suffering and lonely. And first, just to acknowledge that, just to see that they have no love, they have no good support. There is someone that maybe the world have abandoned because nobody wants to be with them. And in that understanding, there is a nectar of compassion that does manifest in my heart because I have cared for my anger. I have care for the energy of hatred and because I don’t want to produce more hatred, so I’m producing love and producing compassion and producing understanding. And I still don’t accept those action, but like what, Sister True Dedication said, but I still see that person as a human being. And this is when we start to see that man is not our enemy. It is the ignorance. It is the perceptions, the wrong view. And at one point in my role as an adult, I had to navigate many discussions, and in particularly one discussion, the same person shared, and I just felt the energy was so heavy. And this is when silence is not good. Because if we all stay silent, that also means we agree with it. And I have to take up a lot of courage at that moment. I channeled like Thay, please be with me. Dear Buddha, if you’re there, I know you’re there in my heart, please wake up right now. And the Buddha that I called on is to still see that person as my monastic sibling. That is the Dharma, that is the practice. At that moment that was my insight is no matter what, I still see that person as my monastic sibling and we’re going to walk on this path together and I’m not allowed to push that person aside. And as I was sharing with this insight, I can look at that person in the eye as I was sharing, and I was so mindful of every word I was selecting. I acknowledged that person sharing, but I didn’t agree to it, and I said, I have a different point of view. And so there is a way to speak the truth, or your truth, quote unquote, because we’re all judging each other’s view. But for me, my my point of view was more collective than selfish. It wasn’t about individualism, it was more about the collective growth of our community, the collective well-being of a community. And for me, you can’t, anyone can always be judging us, but if we know particularly what we’re speaking is speaking to the suffering, speaking to… our sharing has the insight of interbeing, of nondiscrimination, we can stay true to that. That can be our foundation, even if the others are against it. But that is my foundation. My foundation is nonviolence. My foundation is not to hate more. And I have to stick to that because for me, that is my ethics. That is the grounds where I want to continue to grow. So when we have someone that we can be so angry at, give yourself time and space to care for yourself and allow to see that person lost in the dark. And particularly with this particular monastic sibling, I really did see the inner child that has been abandoned and therefore this monastic has such views and can say such things at particular moments that can be so hurtful. And I also recognized that because they don’t have mindfulness, enough mindfulness, so I start to not be angry at the person, but I just feel a little bit more sorry. And I start to have compassion, and then I start to ask myself, how can I support this person so that this person has that lack of love and that lack of trust, and particularly for this particular person, identify what was really lacking was friendship, because they’re so alone, they feel they have to fight everyone. So everyone in the community becomes, can become an opponent. And so they have this particular view at particular moments. So I also see that everything is conditioned when in this setting they get into a trauma of a past experience. And what they’re acting from is not who they are. It’s from their defense mechanism. So this is deep looking and we can, with mindfulness, see beyond the person.


Thank you, brother. Sister True Dedication, you may want to add something in general, but I want to come back to the first comment Brother Phap Huu made, which is to acknowledge that I am feeling hatred because what I see in a lot of questions and a lot of people who might have an affinity with Buddhism or the teachings of Buddhism and Thay’s teachings is that enormous amounts of guilt comes up when they don’t feel they’re being good and compassionate. So there’s this idea that actually the Buddhist path is about love and kindness and deep listening, and therefore anything else is something to feel bad about, that you’re, that they’re failing in. And that first comment from Brother Phap Huu is to acknowledge I do feel hatred. I’m just wondering how is it best to deal with that guilt, which is I’m a bad person, because it feeds into our own negativity, not just the other person’s negativity.


Very good question, Jo.


I know, I built a career on them like you, sister. Two journalists in the same room, good luck, Brother Phap Huu.


I surrender.


So the first thing I would say is that when we generate the energy of mindfulness, at least for myself and what I feel I’ve learned from Thay, what I’m learning from our community is that I do want to meet whatever is there with as much acceptance and kindness and tenderness even as I can. And I felt that that was how Thay encountered difficult situations and what we would call seeds. So hatred is a seed in our consciousness. Jealousy is a seed in our consciousness. Anger, resentment, they’re all there and in our Buddhist tradition, we speak about our consciousness holding all of the seeds. Just because we embark on this path, it doesn’t mean all these seeds are suddenly like, deleted, and you have a new installation on your hard drive…


Factory reset.


Factory reset, and suddenly these things are not going to come up. Even if we do our best not to expose ourselves to situations or kind of inputs that really trigger us, they are part of human nature. They are they’re in us. They’re there in the collective consciousness. They’re there in our inherited consciousness. It is there. So when you speak about feeling that sense of guilt in a way, when those of us who have a Western background and depending on which Abrahamic religion we might kind of come from, I know that in Christianity that thread of guilt can be stronger. I know less about Islam and Judaism, but that thread may be there coming from other spiritual traditions, this sense of deep kind of guilt of being somehow a sinner. And in Buddhism, we don’t see our negative seeds in that light. Our negative seeds are just part of the garden that we’re composting. There’s something we’re working with, there’s something to embrace. And the kind of good news of Buddhism is that when you see these seeds, that means you can get an enlightenment about it. Like that is the compost that we’re going to practice with each of those seeds each time they come up to try and make ourselves a little daisy. You know, I may not be a lotus, but maybe just one daisy for each seed. And so for me, I’ve really learned on this path that the obstacles are there kind of awakening like I’m going to get an insight. So for example, when, as Brother Phap Huu shares, I might realize I have the seed of hatred manifesting in me towards even a good person, perhaps someone I live with…




Surely not, sister.


This is a really it’s… For me, it’s really a mindfulness bell. It’s like, it’s really a chance to be like, okay, what is happening here? I get really curious about it, and for me, I often want to go one step behind the hatred, and I discovered recently that I feel hatred when I feel threatened. And I’m someone who can, for whatever reason, easily feel threatened. And the hatred comes because I feel, oh, my ideals or my way of life are threatened or my vision for my community is threatened. Or yeah, I see when I feel existentially threatened, that’s when my seed of hatred comes up. And then I sort of start projecting onto that person that they’re trying to do this and that or whatever. And it gets all into the actions or the character. But so this is a kind of a koan or a question for everyone listening is like when you feel something really strong about someone, even the former president of the United States, for example, that is because we may feel existentially threatened, our democracies feel threatened by this person. And that’s why we’re getting fixated on this image. And for me, that is why everything we’ve been talking about so far is so important. How can I reestablish my places of refuge? How can I reestablish my sense of stability on my path? How can I know what I am building, what I am nurturing, and what as a community, as a movement of mindfulness, compassion and awakening, what are we building together? And that’s the kind of ground that I come back to. And it helps me kind of reel back a bit from the hatred, and then there’s no need to feel guilty at all because actually the hatred has become a bell of mindfulness for me to awaken to some values I had. And I’ve had a great experience of being able then to have tea with a member of the community that I really was kind of at loggerheads with. And we just spoke about our deepest aspirations and fears and our existential kind of values and could really start to realize, Oh, this is why we keep kind of bumping like icebergs in the night, because everything I do, you know, may provoke that person to feel threatened and everything they do provokes me to feel threatened. And so this sense that we’re much kind of, we’re much bigger… This iceberg image has been super helpful to me to understand that there may be layers that we can get curious about going deeper into why we may be having an issue with a particular person. But as Brother Phap Huu shared, like this stepping back, giving ourselves space and time, and don’t just keep knocking those icebergs together, but really enjoy the opportunity to look deeply.


Thank you, sister. And you know, an example that jumps into my mind from my life when I was at The Guardian and I was running the business and finance section. And our most senior, our chief reporter, every morning when we were reviewing the previous day’s section, he would criticize me for the story I’d put as the main story or why I had ignored this story or done that to the point where I was losing my confidence because I was thinking, well, maybe I’m getting it wrong, and also feeling this resentment. And I remember I then thought, well, this is not helpful and I need to do it. So I thought about it and I asked him for a meeting and I just sat down with him and said, you know, this is what I’m feeling. I said, I’m losing my confidence because every morning I feel you’re criticizing me. And I want to ask you what’s going on for you and how you feel. And he was mortified because actually he wasn’t really even consciously aware that he was doing that to me. And we had this and we just had this very close chat. I can remember sitting in, the exact room. I can place the room, I can place the conversation. And after that, he became my greatest supporter. And was always then aware of what he was saying and would come up to me if he thought I’d done a great job and criticized me if he hadn’t. But I felt that he’d become a friend. And that was just a fundamental shift. And it was… If I had carried on judging him, then actually the distance would have grown wider and wider to the point where sort of finding that common ground becomes more difficult. And I was also sort of touched by this question of hatred because, and revenge, because I was always taught that if you want revenge, dig yourself two graves. Because actually, if you want revenge on someone, you’re harming yourself in equal measure. And I remember reading an article in the Daily Mail, of all newspapers, which was about a woman whose son had been murdered, and the woman talked about how she’d forgiven the murderer. And as I was reading, I thought, How can you forgive someone who’s murdered your son? And then as you get deeper into the article, what she said was because I knew that by forgiving him, I was actually freeing myself. And so I think there’s always that sense of when we are in conflict with someone, we are as much feeling the pain and in fact sometimes feeling much more pain than the other person, the other person might be fine about it in their mind. They might not even be aware of it, but we are the ones who are suffering. So I think there’s that recognition of how we, letting go of a pain is freeing ourselves.


Okay. Here’s a question that for me was in a sense made me take in the deepest breath. And I think, sister, you also said that it was one that caused and that you looked and said, you know, you just feel that pain. And so I’m going to read it out. It says, my son had an addiction to drugs for 20 years. Now he’s living on the streets and I don’t know where he is. I sent him […] each day. People say, let go. But how can I let go? His suffering is mine. I try to practice with impermanence and that all is constantly changing. And one of the reasons I felt that pain is because my elder son actually is sitting with us today in Thay’s Sitting Still hut and if he was suffering in that way, I wouldn’t be able to let go because all my heart in my life is that I want my children to be happy and healthy and to be living positive lives and to be growing in their abilities and sense of knowing and dynamic sort of interaction with the world. And here’s this question about, you know, addiction to drugs for 20 years, and she doesn’t know where her son is. And people say, let go, but how can I? And sister, I know you were touched deeply by this question. What would your thoughts and feelings be?


Thank you, Jo. I’m taking a moment to breathe. I think for me, this is a lot about the kind of energy we want to bring to this rather than any kind of solution. So for me, this is about being able to hold, hold this awareness, this compassion and this connection in a way that feels somehow life affirming, life embracing, and to have, you know, sort of beauty and tragedy sometimes somehow to be able to hold the two in our heart together. And for me, I would say more in remembrance than in letting go. So how to bring that spirit of, okay, the garden, let it go wild. I am no longer going to attend this garden, I still care for this garden, but it has gone wild. And somehow to… So the first part is how to still be there with this garden. So for me, the birthdays are so important. And to be able to honor the birthdays of your son, to honor times of year or things that they enjoyed as a child, things that they enjoyed as a teenager. And also to honor also the grief of moments of pain that we know they had or mistakes that they made. And so there’s something to do with kind of being with in compassion and keeping that connection alive. And I don’t know if I’m on the more mystical end of the spectrum, but I believe that we are deeply entangled quantumly with our loved ones, with our family members. And so any moment when we’re generating compassion in their memory, we’re recollecting them and holding that with compassion, that energy is somehow reaching them. And we know that in our tradition, Thay gave us the Avalokiteshvara chant as a way also of sending energy. And I always used to really be impressed, he’d say, and that energy will reach that person right away, even if they are still in the hospital right now, even if they are at home, wherever they are. And so I would also say this kind of tragedy is also a place for prayer. And whether it is on full moon days, once a month or once a week, or you light a candle every weekend or every morning for your son to say, I know you are there in the world somewhere, and there is this person here holding you in love and holding you in the light, and to trust that that energy will reach them at some level. And maybe life is mysterious and maybe we don’t know all the ways that that energy can reach them. And this is sort of applying the teaching on interbeing at one level. But also it’s called like the body outside the body or like… So Thay used to say, when we practice with our parents, we have our father inside us and our mother inside us, and we also have our father outside us and our mother outside us. And for many of us, when we bring our parents into our practice, we may have a lot of difficulties with our actual parents outside of us that are the human being. And it’s much easier to start to have a conversation with them in our own heart before we actually sit down and have that difficult conversation with our actual kind of father outside us, there. And for me, definitely that has been so helpful in my practice. And I believe the same goes also for our son. You have your son in you, your son in your heart that you can talk to. And then there is the son who has gone into his wild element and he is there and you are sending him the energy that you can in the moment and to hold him in light, to remember his qualities, to remember his strengths. And for sure, there will be moments in acute despair when he’s maybe looking in the gutter, looking up at the stars, and he’s hoping that his mother is still holding him in love and light. And that is what you are doing as best you can. And I know that addiction is… I’ve had addiction in my own family. And it is a whole journey. And maybe in this lifetime, can we rally all the conditions needed to heal it? You know, it takes a village to raise a child. And I feel it takes a village to heal addiction. It’s a community journey and our society has created toxins far more poisonous, I feel, than any generation before us. And we do what we can, but I think the way to make peace with us is not to let go, but to be with, but to be with in compassion. Because I think to let go, it’s a bit like, you know, that kind of life raft is somehow not open to him anymore. Whereas I think sending energy in that way, that kind of prayer, energetically, that’s what I’m feeling as a response. But like I said, this is not… This is not exactly an answer, but it’s to touch the interbeing that we can be with this in interconnection. And not think that this is an isolated… Not to think that our family members who are far from us are somehow cut off from us. That’s what I want to say.


Thank you, sister. Sounds like real balm for these times. And for those listeners who may not have come across the Avalokiteshvara chant you mentioned. Do you want to talk maybe just a little bit about the power of that chant and its purpose?


Well, for our teacher, this is like his number one practice, I feel. And is such a koan for me, why this chant appealed to him so much and why Avalokitesvara was kind of Thay’s favorite bodhisattva. You know, looking deeply, listening deeply to the cries of suffering in the world. And so the energy that we generate in the compassion chant, you may have seen videos, so the monastics often come up when we’re about to start a retreat or we’re in a big auditorium or stadium, and Thay’s about to give a big public talk. These are the moments when we would offer the compassion chant. And for Thay, it’s a practice of generating in each of our hearts the energy of compassion. And yeah, for Thay that was one of the most important practices that we need to do kind of quite early on. Like it’s extraordinary, we’d be in a public talk with people who are maybe coming to their first Buddhist lecture and Thay’s like, and we will start with this chant. So it’s an opening of the heart, it’s a sort of doorway in for us. And I remember when we gave a I think, a public event, it was at the Hammersmith Apollo in London, which is normally where you have like rock bands and musicians…


But he did have a rock band.


And we were there to offer this chant. And then afterwards… Thay then gave the public talk and we started with the chant. And then afterwards we went to see Thay in his room because I was part of the organizing team. Was like, Oh, wonderful, Thay. Thank you so much. Thank you so much. And he’s like, The chant itself was worth the price of admission. You know, it’s like Thay does te talk, Thay is just the icing on the cake, you know, is just a bonus. For Thay it’s more energetically what can happen with this chant. And so it’s a very important chant in our community. We still offer it very often and take it around the world. And for those who have more musical ears, you’ll be delighted to know that we now have a very well recorded version that folks can find online. I think they search for the word Namo’valokiteshvara chant or Namo high quality, then you get the really good recording.


And just to say, dear listeners, we will put the link to the chant in our show notes so you’ll be able to actually, rather than searching for it, you’ll be able to click on it and we’ll make life easier for you. Sister, thank you. Brother, is anything you would like to add?


Oh, I think I want to just riff on the Namo Avalokiteshvara a little bit. And the energy of prayer, Thay does have a teaching on that. He even wrote a book about that. And I know a lot of people who come to Plum Village, we don’t specialize in chanting, but we do have prayer. And prayer here is not an abstract idea that, you know, there is a Kingdom of God beyond this or Pure Land of the Buddha, but our prayer is every step, every breath and everything that we’re doing can be a prayer. How can we generate understanding to pray that there’s more love, there’s more understanding that the suffering that our friend asked from the child who was addicted, because if we don’t wake up to this, there’s going to be many more who will be lost on the streets, who will be abandoned, who will feel they have to leave home. So every time whenever we hear this question or we hear a very difficult question our interbeing practice right away is like it’s not just that particular person, but there are many in the making also. So this is a wake up bell. And how can all of us wake up the compassion and the courage because Avalokiteshvara has great courage to face suffering and have courage to cut off particular suffering and habits so we don’t fall into those traps. And particularly whenever our teacher starts to share about this chanting, he always starts with oneself. We have to listen to oneself. We have to acknowledge our own suffering too. We have to also acknowledge our addiction, acknowledge our jealousy, acknowledge our violence, our hatred that’s inside of us and be compassionate. And to have the aspiration, the prayer to transform all of this at the base so that we don’t transmit this into the future. And, you know, he does this mutra practice and a lot of people have a question… what are the fingers symbolizing?


So do you want to just before explaining, just because you were doing it visually to me, visually to us, but we’re on the podcast. What is that?


A mudra is a sign, and particularly for Buddhist monks and nuns, it comes in the form of finger movements, finger gestures. And the first one is like bringing the thumb and the pinky together and holding the other three up.


Thumb on the first finger.


Yeah, thumb on the first finger. Oh, sorry. Not the index.




I see all of our listeners trying to say how do I get my pinky…


Yeah. And the first one, whenever our teacher does it, he always brings it first to his heart level, which is like practicing for oneself, and then slowly brings it to, opening it in front of his chest or in front of himself. And he, the second prayer and the second practice is to generate this compassion to the ones that we are with, our community, our family, our colleagues, our friends, because everyone has suffering. And he always says this, and it’s a reminder for the monastics. Whenever he says, I really like it when he says this because it’s very real for us. He says, To your brothers on the right and to your sisters on the left, to your brothers in the front and to your sisters at the back. And he’s saying, We’re all practicing this in this moment because we are all still trying to transform our suffering. And because he tells us this is not a performance, this is a practice. And so when the monastics are chanting, they also have to acknowledge the mud that is in our community. And for me, it’s very beautiful to have courage and be brave to recognize that, because that generates compassion. That allows us to not have expectation, too high expectation. And not to be so judgmental on each other and to have more space and more love. And so, the second prayer, the second when we chat Namo Avalokiteshvara is to bring this energy of compassion to our closest member, blood and spiritual. And the third one, then he starts to move his hand forward, either to the left, to the center or to the right, and he will select each one. And so the third practice is to now take this compassion and to bring it to the places that are suffering. We may have someone that is our friend, that is a colleague, that we’ve lost touch for many years, and we may hear that they’re suffering right now. So in this moment, we send our acknowledgment that they are there, that they suffer and our compassion just to let them know that we are thinking of them. That is already power. When I know that I have somebody thinking of me, that kind of warmth and that kind of recognition is power itself. That is prayer. That is to be seen, that is love. And so don’t think that there is no… That this is all superstition, when we say we’re praying for you, actually when I’m thinking of you, I am here for you. I’m bringing you into my mind and bring you into my practice. And we do it at a level of mindfulness, of true presence. And I then now generate a view that is compassionate towards that person. And this is a practice of interbeing and this is a practice when we do Namo Avalokiteshvara, or when we hear of a disaster, we hear of the war, we hear of somebody passing away because of an accident or we hear of a terrible disease that just happened to our sangha member of our monastic parents, compassion just manifests. Because we’re all of the nature to get sick. And so all of these are mindfulness, also to recognize what we have in this present moment and the reality of life, so not to be carried away by trying to look for the pure land, the kingdom of god, where there’s no suffering. And our practice is the flower and the mud, they go together. So this is just to deepen our practice of praying, of understanding why we chant Namo Avalokiteshvara. Why the monastics do these particular practices is also to generate this energy. And when 200 of us are doing it together, it’s also a practice to surrender to the collective. There’s a particular phrase that Thay always says and he says, And when you suffer, in that moment, say dear sangha, this is my suffering and let the collective energies just embrace it. Like how… Like there’s not many places in the world where you can just open your heart that way and feel totally vulnerable and not be judged in that particular moment, and just to acknowledge it. So there is such a power to chanting, that’s why we practice it when we all come together to grief together, we chant something, we recite something to practice remembering that person, to practice seeing that person in the no coming nor going. They’re not here anymore. And there is sadness. Acknowledge that, embrace the grief together. And I just have so much love and so much compassion for this mother and knowing that she has mindfulness of her son, that already is the practice. And to not be caught in this world of letting go, letting go is a Dharma Door to help us be free. And if that letting go to say you abandon your son, that is not our Dharma. We have to be very mindful of even the Dharma. The Buddha has a sutra called How to Catch a Snake because sometimes the Dharma itself bites us. So we know that our Dharma always has to embody interbeing. Yeah.


Thank you, brother. And just to add one element to what you were saying at the end is, and it was in my mind to say it, is that sometimes letting go, sometimes people use it as a stick, which is if you have attachment is bad, let it go. Whereas I if I’m right, I mean, Thay would say that we allow 20% attachment.




And there’s a wonderful Zen story about this, which is of a Zen master teaching his students about non-attachment. And all of a sudden one of the students runs in with a note and hands it to the Zen master and he just burst into tears and is inconsolable. And after a while, the students wondering what’s going on, and one of the students has the courage to speak, Master master, you know, why are you crying? Why are you crying? And the master looks up. Tears rolling down his cheeks and says, I’ve just had word that my son has been killed. And then just weeps and weeps. And then after a while, the same student raises a voice and says, But, master, you were just teaching us about the importance of non-attachment. And the Zen master says, Some non-attachments are more difficult than others. And I think there’s something so powerful in that that we do have attachments. They are natural, but we don’t want that to become dependencies. Which leads me to our next question, strangely enough, which is about attachment.




And let me read this out to you. Zen is, of course, about less attachment to thinking and more about being here now. But I’m curious, what are some of your favorite daily reminders, sayings or mantras that you use to re-recognize the path at any given moment during the week when you get distracted? So who wants to go first? I’m opening it up for bids.


Well, first of all, I just want to say that attachment that brings suffering, let it go. The attachment that keeps you on the path… I’m attached to my brown robe. I’m attached to my precepts. I’m attached to my sangha, so we have to also let go of this view that in Zen, there’s no thinking, there’s no feelings, there’s no emotions, there’s no attachment. No, no, no, no, no. Then suddenly, who are we? So those no moments are the moments to help somebody who is so stuck. When somebody is so stuck, they need a master to say, stop doing that. And later on is recorded in history, you know, it helps a student become enlightened or a student achieve something. And then what humans do is we make it a whole tradition. We create posters around it and we all glorify it and so on. But please be aware that each teaching is to help a particular situation. So coming back to that, I just felt I had to say this about Zen because there’s such wrong perception about it also. There’s such wrong reception, like we’re not supposed to feel anything. So if we see, you know, the monastics having joy, it’s like you guys are not practicing. And I’ve heard this kind of criticism towards our community and I smile to it. I’m not here to, I don’t have time to change everyone’s perception, but I would like to share in the spirit of attachment, whatever attachment that makes us suffer, we need to learn to untangle it so that we become more free. But like you, like what you just said, Jo, we do need a particular attachment that keeps us human, keeps us tender, warm and friendly. So one of the attachments is my sangha, because the more I grow as a monk and the more I grow into my teaching role, it’s so easy to feel that I’m better than others. And so this quote go as a river is a very big reminder for myself, and this image of you are a drop of water in this river. So this river is not only a seal of Plum Village, but it is my practice. How do I harmonize with the stream? How can… At moments I can be at the front of the river, at moments I can be at the back to push at moments I can be in the middle, to bridge. So a healthy attachment is my sangha.


Thank you, Brother Phap Huu. And sister, just to say some of your favorite daily reminders, sayings or mantras to bring you back on the path when you get distracted.


So the ones I have had most recently next to my computer screen. I have a desk where I serve the sangha. And one is thanks to impermanence, everything is possible. And for me, that’s become a mantra of, yeah, when the going gets tough, keep going. And that has been a source of strength for me. Thanks to impermanence, everything is possible actually comes from a great teacher called Nagarjuna. It’s not a Thay phrase, but it’s a Buddhist phrase. And it helps me trust that everything is evolving, everything is shifting. My internal landscape is shifting, the external landscape is shifting. And if it’s hard, it won’t last for long. It’s just a phase that we’re kind of passing through. And another mantra I have is the Prayer of Saint Patrick. I will arise today through the strength of heaven. And is very elemental, it’s got rocks and sunlight and waves and all of this. And that helps me connect, I guess, to the energy of Mother Earth. And that also gives me a lot of energy. And I don’t know if your listeners know, but, you know, in our tradition we have these what we call poems or gathas that we like to like place around the house to kind of bring a little bit of mindfulness and reminders and kind of change our mindset in different spots. So you might have something near the water to remind you of, like high mountain streams. You might have something next to where you brush your teeth, next to the sink, so you can brush your teeth mindfully. And I used to have one that I put on the mirror. And there is the Plum Village poem for being on the mirror. It’s like Beauty is a heart that generates love, you know? And so to not be caught in… No, awareness is a mirror reflecting the four elements. Beauty is a heart that generates love and a mind that is open. There we go. But I didn’t have that as this is before I ordained, I put a note saying Life is too short for mirrors. Because mirror is just a place where I always had negative states of mind come up and I was like, I don’t want to live like this. So, you know, I think we can be playful with these reminders and to really get creative, notice in your home, in your day, where are the moments when you’re feeling tension and how to flip that around by putting a little note or reminder there for you. And actually one that Thay would remind us about, which is the Five Remembrances. And this has been a theme coming through the questions to really in our Buddhist practice, we have a a daily practice of reminding ourselves that we’re of the nature to grow old, to get sick, to die, to be separated from those we love, and our true actions are our continuation. And these five points in the five remembrances. And that is a really helpful reminder that I used to have. I had it on a little card and I packed it to the bunk bed when I first started staying in Plum Village, and I recited it silently to myself every night before going to sleep. And then it became really part of my practice. And then in the end, Thay said, you know, very quickly, you memorize these things by heart, so then you don’t need the words anymore. He’s like, Maybe you just hang a leaf above your bed and then you know what that leaf means to you. So I think we can get really creative with these reminders, like what thought would we like to have, at which point? Like maybe on the fridge you have some joke to yourself as you open the fridge door, because you’re feeling restless and you’re trying to look for something to eat. Maybe when you’re stepping out of the front door of the house, you need a little poem there to remind you how are you going to engage in this day? How would you like maybe you make a promise to yourself, I’m going to be aware of my first 21 steps out of the house or something. So to really get really playful and switch it up all the time. I think with our mindfulness reminders, it’s an art, it’s something evolving. It’s not a regimen. Yeah.


And Jo, how about you?


Well, my daily reminder is my wife. She invites my bell of mindfulness pretty much every day on numerous occasions. So as soon as I step off the path, there’s someone there to sort of remind me. Actually, that’s it.


That’s enough. That’s enough. That’s more than enough.


But beyond that, I think it’s just what I’ve learned in my life is just to be aware and to observe. And I think that is a pattern that has just become part of my daily life, which is that I’m just observing how I’m responding in the world and what is that touching in me. And so I don’t even think about it anymore, and I probably don’t do it very well. But there is that element to which is actually, if I’m aware, as you started to talk back at the beginning, brother, if we’re aware, then we can change. And when we are unaware, we’re just in pattern of behavior. And I think related to that, I’ve become more and more understanding that we are creatures of habit and the world has patterns of behavior and the seasons have patterns. And there’s something about getting in touch with our patterns and saying, as you said earlier, is this pattern of behavior supporting my life or is it actually undermining my life? And and if it’s supporting my life, how do I build on that? If it’s undermining my life, how can I diminish that whilst also recognizing there’s no such thing as perfection. In one of our episodes, just a couple of episodes ago, and there was an interview I did with Thay ten years ago, and I asked him about his practice, which was slightly cheeky, I suppose, but he said, the mistake is to believe in perfection. That, he said, If I were to live for 100 more years, I would continue to learn. So I think it’s having a spirit of curiosity and not knowing and not believing I have an answer, but recognizing that, as you said, sister, that that life is impermanent and extraordinary. And there’s so much to learn. So I’m aware we’ve answered three questions.


Really? Only three?


But actually, of course, for many of you, listeners, you will recognize that we’ve also answered many more questions because none of these questions are separate. But we are going to have a second bite of this particular cherry. So this is episode one, but we are also going to present another episode so we can just see if we can get to at least six of the 200 questions. So, dear listeners, I hope you found value in this conversation. I wanted to thank you, particularly, Sister True Dedication for giving us your time and love and wisdom. And Brother Phap Huu, hi, nice to see you again.


Nice to see you too. Boooring.


And dear listeners, we hope you also enjoy the second episode of Questions and Answers.


The way out in in.

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What is Mindfulness

Thich Nhat Hanh January 15, 2020

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