A Life Of

Learning, Relating and Gratitude

With Linesh Sheth

 

About Thich Nhat Hanh


Thich Nhat Hanh is a Vietnamese Buddhist monk living in Plum village in France. He is a Scholar, Poet and Peace activist. He is a Zen Master and has published more than 75 books. He leads worldwide retreats on "the art of mindful living"

During my search to have an insight into various methods of meditations in the world, i wanted to search into different ways in which Vipassana, the Buddist meditation, was practiced. I found that Thich Nhat Hanh had a particular method that concentrated on 16 breaths in which one gets an insight into himself thorugh mindfulness of breathing listed here seperately.

I followed his methods, as described in his book "Breathe, You Are Alive" for a long time and even taught to many people. i was attracted by his concept of being engaged with the world to play an active role in creating change. His writings are very simple, persuasive and non-violent in their core. I read several of his books repeatedly and they changed my way of being with myself, with others and with the situations of daily life. He has left very positive impact on my life.

I was deeply impressed and involved with his approach of loving oneself. Thich says that loving oneself involves mindfulness that embracess the body, the feelings, the mind and the objects of the mind as if they are your own children.

So in a way he proposes Love Meditation as a method developing mind of love and compassion. Love is a mind which is intent on bringing peace, joy, happiness to oneself and to others. Compassion is a mind which is intent on removing the suffering which is present in you and others. In a way, he says, "Love is the capacity to give joy". Compassion is the power to relieve suffering. He proposes that we should daily water the seeds of love and compassion within our mind field by mindful breathing.

Typically in Thich's method, one does not try to dislike oneself when he notices within anger, jealousy, trauma etc. but learns how to talk and pursue his mind that it harms itself with these contents. Therefore he transforms them into positive energy of smile to oneself with mindful breathing. I would recommend at least two of his books that i have read many times. One is, "Breath You Are Alive"(Amazon:- kindle edition Rs.140, Paperback Rs.394) and other is "Transformation & Healing"(Amazon:- kindle edition Rs.439, Paperback Rs.801) as on 2017.

Other dimensions of Thich's teachings that deeply influenced me were:

1. Teachings and practices of Plum Village

2. The Five Mindfulness Trainings

3. Beginning Anew

4. The Peace Treaty

In fact, these teachings were presented to me as a newer version of Silo's teachings that i was involved with already. I had practiced and taught them in another form. But Thich's way of presenting them facilated my understanding of how transformation in oneself and in others is actually made possible. I feel immensly grateful to Thich for adding a new perspective to the teaching that i was already involved with.



   Breathe You Are Alive

Practice of mindfulness on 16 breaths
as taught by Thich Nath Hanh


I have gone ahead and decided to list out the 16 things that we are supposed to observe when practicing Mindfulness of Breath, this translation was taken from Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh's translation of the Anapanasati Sutta, otherwise translated as the Mindfulness of Breath Sutta

1. “Breathing in, I am aware I am breathing in.” ”Breathing out, I am aware that I am breathing out.”

2.“Breathing in a long breath, I know I am breathing in a long breathe. Breathing out, I know I am breathing out a long breath.“

3. “Breathing in, I am aware of my body. Breathing out, I smile to my body.”

4. “Breathing in, I am aware of my body. Breathing out, I calm the activities of my whole body and release any tension in my body.”

5. "Breathing in I am aware of the energy of joy. Breathing out, I smile to the energy of joy.”

6. “Breathing in, I am aware of the energy of happiness in me. Breathing out, I smile to the energy of happiness.”

7. "Breathing in, I am aware of a feeling present in me (pleasant, unpleasant & neutral). Breathing out, I smile to the feeling present in me.”

8. “Breathing in, I calm my feelings. Breathing out, I calm my feelings.”

9. “Breathing in, I am aware of my mind. Breathing out, I am aware of my mind.”

10. “Breathing in, I make my mind happy. Breathing out, I make my mind happy.”

11. “Breathing in, I skillfully concentrate my mind. Breathing out, I skillfully concentrate my mind.

12. “Breathing in, I skillfully liberate my mind. Breathing out, I skillfully liberate my mind.”

13. “Breathing in, I observe objects of my mind. Breathing out, I observe the objects of my mind“

14. “Breathing in, I observe my attachments and unwholesome desires. Breathing out, I observe the dangers of my attachments and unwholesome desires.”

15. “Breathing in, I observe the no-birth, no-death nature of objects of mind. Breathing out, I observe the no-birth, no-death nature of objects of mind.”

16. “Breathing in, I observe letting go. Breathing out, I observe letting go.”

Conveniently, the first four of sixteen exercises are focused on developing awareness of the body (and breath), the second on awareness of our feelings, the third on awareness of our mind, and last on awareness of our mind-objects.

Note:

The mindfulness on 16 breaths mentioned are compreshensively described and explained by Thich in his book "Breath Your Alive"Buy here

One is, "Breath You Are Alive"(Amazon:- kindle edition Rs.140, Paperback Rs.394) and other is "Transformation & Healing"(Amazon:- kindle edition Rs.439, Paperback Rs.801) as on 2017.




Applied Buddhism

(by http://appliedbuddhism.org)

I would like the readers particularly to refer to the website appliedbuddhism and study particularly the following as highly relevent to present times.

Teachings and practices of Plum Village

I have arrived, I am home: This is the practice of “Dwelling Happily in the Present Moment”. We need to slow down, to stop running after things. We need to go back to ourselves, to calm our body and mind, to look deeply into true elements of our happiness. We often look for happiness in the future. With mindfulness, we can realize that happiness is real and available the present moment. Mindfulness is the energy that helps us to be aware of what’s happening in our body and mind, in the environment around us, to be in touch with the present moment. If we are mindful, we can realize wonders of life manifested around us. We can touch the pure land in the here and now. Living mindfully in the present moment, we can take good care of the past and the future. Present moment is the true home for our body and mind.

Go as a river: Sangha is one of the three jewels of Buddhism. “I take refuge in the Sangha, the community that lives in harmony and awareness.” Practicing with the Sangha benefits us in many ways. With the support of the Sangha, we can correct bad habit energies, which would be difficult to fix if we practice alone. We consider the Sangha as our family, and accept other members as family members. Sangha can help us heal. Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh thinks that the next Buddha may manifest in the form as a community, not as an individual. We need the whole community to wake up together.

Interbeing nature of truths and times: The past, present, and the future inter-are. By getting in touch with the present moment, we can get in touch with the past and the future. Relative truths and absolute truths inter-are. By looking deeply into relative truth, we can realize absolute truth. Peace and happiness is found in pain and suffering. They inter are. The pure land exists in the here and now, not in a distant future and in a faraway place. This insight helps us to cultivate Right View, by removing the duality view which sees things as opposite pairs such as coming/going, birth/death, success/failure, being/non-being.

Our consciousness is continuously ripening:

The teachings of the Manifestation School say that all life phenomena –whether they are physical or psychological, are manifested by our consciousness. Phenomena have their starts in the form of seeds. These seeds represent all actions, experiences and perceptions that we have done in our lives. There are four kinds of consciousnesses. The first one is the five sense consciousnesses, which arise when our eyes see forms, our ears hear sounds, our nose smells odors, our tongue tastes something and our body touches an object. The second one is mind consciousness, which arises when our mind get in contact with an object of perceptions. The third one is manas consciousness, which gives rises and supports to the mind consciousness. Manas consciousness arises from store consciousness, takes a part of store consciousness as its object of love. It considers this part as its identity and its separate self, and holds on to it firmly. Manas consciousness is the base of the “I, me, mine” perception. Therefore, it has a discriminative nature. The fourth one is store consciousness, from which all other consciousness arise. Store consciousness stores, preserves, and processes all the seeds. The seeds transmitted to us generations after generations.

It is the characteristics of these seeds, and how we take care of these seeds that determine the quality of our life. There are wholesome seeds, unwholesome seeds and neutral seeds. Our thought actions, speech actions and bodily actions can create conditions for these seeds to manifest, to mature and to transform. When these seeds are transformed, we are also transformed. We are the sum of our actions. Our peace and happiness depends on how we live.

The Four-Fold Right Diligence practice (of the Noble Eightfold path) tells us to create conditions for (a) unwholesome seeds to stay in the store consciousness (b) unwholesome seeds to return to the store consciousness if they arise in the mind consciousness (c) wholesome seeds to arise in the mind consciousness and (d) wholesome seeds to stay and to grow stronger if they arise in the mind consciousness. The seeds manifested in the mind-consciousness are called mental formations. Manas has the tendency for unwholesome mental formations to arise in the mind consciousness. When those things happen, mind consciousness can use the energy of mindfulness to embrace and shine light on the unwholesome mental formations, seeing their impermanent and interbeing nature, and helps manas to transform its discriminative to a non-discriminative nature. The unwholesome mental formations in the mind consciousness then also are transformed.

So, it is matter of nature (seeds) and nurture (conditions). The important points to note are the seeds change continuously and mindfulness help make the changes. Plum Village practices employ these principles to plan its mindfulness activities.

The Five Mindfulness Trainings

The Five Mindfulness Trainings represent the Buddhist vision for a global spirituality and ethic. They are a concrete expression of the Buddha’s teachings on the Four Noble Truths and the Noble Eightfold Path, the path of right understanding and true love, leading to healing, transformation, and happiness for ourselves and for the world. To practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings is to cultivate the insight of interbeing, or Right View, which can remove all discrimination, intolerance, anger, fear, and despair. If we live according to the Five Mindfulness Trainings, we are already on the path of a bodhisattva. Knowing we are on that path, we are not lost in confusion about our life in the present or in fears about the future.

The First Mindfulness Training: Reverence For Life

Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non-attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world.

The Second Mindfulness Training: True Happiness

Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking, and acting. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others; and I will share my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. I will practice looking deeply to see that the happiness and suffering of others are not separate from my own happiness and suffering; that true happiness is not possible without understanding and compassion; and that running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair. I am aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy. I am committed to practicing Right Livelihood so that I can help reduce the suffering of living beings on Earth and reverse the process of global warming.

The Third Mindfulness Training: True Love

Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without true love and a deep, long-term commitment made known to my family and friends. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. Seeing that body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy and cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness – which are the four basic elements of true love – for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others. Practicing true love, we know that we will continue beautifully into the future.

The Fourth Mindfulness Training: Loving Speech and Deep Listening

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger. I know that the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in myself and in the other person. I will speak and listen in a way that can help myself and the other person to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord. I will practice Right Diligence to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my consciousness.

The Fifth Mindfulness Training: Nourishment and Healing

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth.



   Beginning Anew

To begin anew is to look deeply and honestly at ourselves, our past actions, speech and thoughts and to create a fresh beginning within ourselves and in our relationships with others. At the practice center we practice Beginning Anew as a community every two weeks and individually as often as we like.

We practice Beginning Anew to clear our mind and keep our practice fresh. When a difficulty arises in our relationships with fellow practitioners and one of us feels resentment or hurt, we know it is time to Begin Anew. The following is a description of the four-part process of Beginning Anew as used in a formal setting. One person speaks at a time and is not interrupted during his or her turn. The other practitioners practice deep listening and following their breath.

1) Flower watering

This is a chance to share our appreciation for the other person. We may mention specific instances when the other person said or did something that we had admired. This is an opportunity to shine light on the other’s strengths and contributions to the Sangha and to encourage the growth of his or her positive qualities.

2) Sharing regrets

We may mention any unskillfulness in our actions, speech or thoughts that we have not yet had an opportunity to apologize for.

3) Expressing a hurt

We may share how we felt hurt by an interaction with another practitioner, due to his or her actions, speech or thoughts. (To express a hurt we should first water the other person’s flower by sharing two positive qualities that we have truly observed in him or her. Expressing a hurt is often performed one on one with another practitioner rather than in the group setting. You may ask for a third party that you both trust and respect to be present, if desired.)

4) Sharing a long term difficulty & asking for support

At times we each have difficulties and pains arise from our past that surface in the present. When we share an issue that we are dealing with we can let the people around us understand us better and offer the support that we really need.

The practice of Beginning Anew helps us develop our kind speech and compassionate listening. Beginning Anew is a practice of recognition and appreciation of the positive elements within our Sangha. For instance, we may notice that our roommate is generous in sharing her insights, and another friend is caring towards plants. Recognizing others positive traits allows us to see our own good qualities as well.

Along with these good traits, we each have areas of weakness, such as talking out of our anger or being caught in our misperceptions. When we practice “flower watering” we support the development of good qualities in each other and at the same time we help to ease the difficulties in the other person. As in a garden, when we “water the flowers” of loving kindness and compassion in each other, we also take energy away from the weeds of anger, jealousy and misperception.

We can practice Beginning Anew every day by expressing our appreciation for our fellow practitioners and apologizing right away when we do or say something that hurts them. We can politely let others know when we have been hurt as well. The health and happiness of the whole community depends on the harmony, peace and joy that exist between every member in the Sangha.





The Peace Treaty

In order that we may live long and happily together, that we may continually develop and deepen our love

and understanding, we the undersigned, vow to observe and practice the following:

For the one who is angry

I, the one who is angry, agree to:

1.   Refrain from saying or doing anything that might cause further damage or escalate the anger.

2.   Not suppress my anger.

3.   Practice breathing and taking refuge in the island of myself.

4.   Calmly, within twenty-four hours, tell the one who has made me angry about my anger and suffering, either verbally or by       delivering a Peace Note.

5.   Ask to make an appointment for later in the week (e.g. Friday evening) to discuss this matter more thoroughly, either       verbally or by Peace Note.

6.   Will not say: “I am not angry. It’s okay. I am not suffering. There is nothing to be angry about, at least not enough to make       me angry. ”

7.   Look deeply into my daily life while sitting, walking and breathing, in order to see:

  a. the ways I myself have been unskillful at times.

  b. how I have hurt the other person because of my own habit energy.

  c. how the strong seed of anger in me is the primary cause of my anger.

  d. how the other person’s suffering, which waters the seed of my anger, is the secondary cause.

  e. how the other person is only seeking relief from his or her own suffering.

  f. that as long as the other person suffers, I cannot be truly happy.

1.   Apologize immediately, without waiting until the Friday evening, as soon as I realize my unskillfulness and lack of mindfulness.

2.   Postpone the Friday meeting if I do not feel calm enough to meet with the other person.

For the one who made the other angry

I, the one who has made the other angry, agree to:

1.Respect the other person’s feelings, not ridicule him or her, and allow enough time for him or her to calm down.

2.Not press for an immediate discussion.

3.Confirm the other person’s request for a meeting, either verbally or by note, and assure him or her that I will be there.

4.Practice breathing and taking refuge in the island within myself to see how:

a. I have seeds of unkindness and anger as well as the habit energy to make the other person unhappy.

b. I have mistakenly thought that making the other person suffer would relieve my own suffering.

c. by making him or her suffer, I make myself suffer.

Apologize as soon as I realize my unskillfulness and lack of mindfulness, without making any attempt to justify myself and without waiting until the Friday meeting.

Signatures

We vow, with _________________ as witness and the mindful presence of the Sangha, to abide by these articles and to practice wholeheartedly. we invoke the three gems for protection and to grant us clarity and confidence. Signed,


______________________________________

the Day of in the Year in

Peace Note

Date: ______________

Time: ______________

Dear ,

This morning (afternoon, etc. ), you said (did, wrote, etc. ) something that made me very angry. I suffered very much. I want you to know this. You said (did):

Please let us both look at what you said (did) and examine the matter together in a calm and open manner this Friday evening.

(you can choose the day that is suitable to your schedule)

Yours, not very happy right now,

Example of a verbal notification

“My dear friend, what you said (did) this morning (afternoon) made me very angry. I suffered very much and I want you to know it. I hope that by Friday evening both of us will have had a chance to look deeply into this matter.”


How Thich Nath Hanh's teachings influenced my life

During my search to have an insight into various methods of meditations in the world, i wanted to search into different ways in which Vipassana, the Buddist meditation, was practiced. I found that Thich Nhat Hanh had a particular method that concentrated on 16 breaths in which one gets an insight into himself thorugh mindfulness of breathing listed here seperately.

I followed his methods, as described in his book "Breathe, You Are Alive" for a long time and even taught to many people. I was attracted by his concept of being engaged with the world to play an active role in creating change. His writings are very simple, persuasive and non-violent in their core. I read several of his books repeatedly and they changed my way of being with myself, with others and with the situations of daily life. He has left very positive impact on my life.

I was deeply impressed and involved with his approach of loving oneself. Thich says that loving oneself involves mindfulness that embracess the body, the feelings, the mind and the objects of the mind as if they are your own children.

So in a way he proposes Love Meditation as a method developing mind of love and compassion. Love is a mind which is intent on bringing peace, joy, happiness to oneself and to others. Compassion is a mind which is intent on removing the suffering which is present in you and others. In a way, he says, "Love is the capacity to give joy". Compassion is the power to relieve suffering. He proposes that we should daily water the seeds of love and compassion within our mind field by mindful breathing.

Typically in Thich's method, one does not try to dislike oneself when he notices within anger, jealousy, trauma etc. but learns how to talk and pursue his mind that it harms itself with these contents. Therefore he transforms them into positive energy of smile to oneself with mindful breathing. I would recommend at least two of his books that i have read many times. One is, "Breath You Are Alive"(Amazon:- kindle edition Rs.140, Paperback Rs.394) and other is "Transformation & Healing"(Amazon:- kindle edition Rs.439, Paperback Rs.801) as on 2017.

Other dimensions of Thich's teachings that deeply influenced me were:

1. Teachings and practices of Plum Village

2. The Five Mindfulness Trainings

3. Beginning Anew

4. The Peace Treaty

In fact, these teachings were presented to me as a newer version of Silo's teachings that i was involved with already. I had practiced and taught them in another form. But Thich's way of presenting them facilated my understanding. I feel immensly grateful to Thich for adding a new perspective to the teaching that i was already involved with.


Linesh Sheth

16/01/2017