This unique course is taught by world-renowned Zen and Buddhist master, Thich Nhat Hanh. You’ll also be exposed to teachings by two of his senior Dharma instructors, Sister Lang Nghiem and Brother Phap Hai.
As you move through the lectures, you’ll go on a journey that will allow you to deepen and expand your mindfulness practice. This will ultimately help you attain peace and balance in your life and relationships.
You’ll broaden not only your understanding of mindfulness, but also your training in this important practice so you can truly embrace everything that the present moment has to offer.
Deepen Your Daily Mindfulness Practice for Greater Peace
Find Balance Within Yourself and Spread Compassion to Others
This course is designed for those who already have a foundation in mindfulness, as it will help you further hone in on your connection with your inner Self and those around you.
As part of your training, you’ll complete exercises and meditations in addition to listening to the lectures.
These include journal entries to track your experience, as well as open-ended questions and those that ask you to reflect upon what you’re learning and experiencing.
Contents and Overview
This course begins by delving into mindfulness in relationships so you can use every relationship as a means to explore compassion in deep and meaningful ways.
You’ll uncover the ways in which you’ve been hurt by loved ones, and how your actions have hurt them. This will lead you to the concept of interbeing so you can see others for who they really are, and you’ll develop an understanding that you’re connected to everyone.
As you deepen your mindfulness practice, you’ll uncover how to look beyond notions that create suffering. As a result, you’ll liberate yourself from seeing the world as being separate from you, and you’ll recognize that everything is part of a greater whole.
Finally, you’ll discover that what you do, say, and consume can have consequences for loved ones and yourself. Ultimately, you’ll develop behaviors that promote peace and compassion for all.
By accessing the Four Nutriments, an important Buddhist teaching, you’ll even start to explore the richness of life through mindfulness and the Three Doors of Liberation.
Once you complete this course, you’ll have the tools to fully understand how mindfulness can improve your life in many ways, from your connection to your inner Self, to your relationships with others.
You’ll have the ability to bring about positive changes in the way you speak and behave daily, thereby enhancing peace and compassion everywhere you go.
We all have the power to connect with the wonders of the present moment and, with practice, we can come to realize that everything we are looking for is available to us in the here and now. By generating mindfulness and developing our concentration, we can build the insight necessary to open ourselves to the wonders of life. This section begins with an opportunity for you to connect with the sangha, or community of practitioners, in generating collective mindfulness by joining in the practice of reciting the name of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokiteshvara. After the energy of mindfulness is established, we will begin to explore and deepen our understanding of the connected nature of the energies of the Buddha: mindfulness, concentration, and insight.
This section's course material begins with another guided meditation from Thay, encouraging us to sit in a relaxed attitude like a Buddha. As with the other guided meditations offered by Thay in this course, you can return to this guided meditation as you review the course material throughout the week.
In this Children's Talk, Thay shares his thoughts on how to play so that you and others can be happy.
In Section 2, Thay shared the first two mantras to bring happiness. Here, the third mantra to bring happiness is offered. In this mantra, we practice offering ourselves to another person when we see him or her suffering. In doing so, we not only deepen our love but we can practice love without discrimination.
Although it may be difficult, when we can express our hurt and pain to our loved ones we can open the door for our love to grow and our relationships to heal. To help with this, the fourth mantra to bring happiness is discussed in this selection.
Anger can arise when we don't express our feelings and emotions with our loved ones. The eighth exercise of mindful breathing is a reminder for us to work with our anger.
We have been focusing on building mindfulness in various areas of our being—in our physical body, and in feelings, emotions, and mental formations. We will now begin to take an in-depth look at how to concentrate the mind. The teachings of the Buddha point to many ways to concentrate the mind. However, there are three concentrations that you can find in any school of Buddhism. In this selection, Thay reviews the Three Doors of Liberation—emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness—as tools to help concentrate the mind to bring about insight.
In Buddhism, there are two kinds of truths: relative truth and ultimate truth. Both can help you to transform and remove obstacles; however, only ultimate truth leads directly to the extinguishing of all notions, and brings you face to face with the true nature of reality.
One of the concepts that lives beyond relative truth and dwells in ultimate truth is the idea of “no coming, no going.” In this selection, Thay offers a beautiful example of the ultimate truth of no coming, no going using the life of a flame.
Going further into the world of ultimate truth, Thay uses the teachings in the Diamond Sutra that help us to extinguish any notions that keep us stuck in discrimination, fear, and a sense of inferiority.
In this final guided meditation, Thay teaches us how to use the power and presence of the Buddha within us to awaken our own Buddha-like qualities.
As you return throughout the week to this course work, please use this guided meditation to help to establish yourself in the present moment and generate the energy of mindfulness.
In this selection, Thay offers a commentary on the guided meditation that began this week's session. He encourages us to realize and trust the Buddha nature within each of us.
The Five Mindfulness Trainings can be a wonderful tool for bringing about peace for ourselves and others. The trainings encourage us to pay attention to our actions in an attempt to live in such a way that makes peace possible. In this selection, Thay offers a commentary on the Fourth Mindfulness Training: Loving Speech and Deep Listening as a way to understand how the quality of our speech and listening can create a catalyst for reconciliation in our lives. Included below are the full versions of the Five Mindfulness Trainings from Thay as well as a link you can use to save and print these teachings.
The Five Mindfulness Trainings
Sisters and brothers in the community, this is the moment when we enjoy reciting the Five Mindfulness Trainings together. 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.
1. 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.
2. 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.
3. 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 lovingkindness, 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.
4. 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.
5. 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.
Just as our actions within our relationships can cause suffering for our loved ones, our actions in the world can cause suffering for ourselves. We too often fail to see the consequences of the things we do, or say, and even the consequences of the things we ingest into our bodies. Our final section looks at the ways in which we cause pain and suffering for others and ourselves through our actions in light of what the Buddha described as the Four Nutriments. This section will close with an invitation for you to explore the richness of life through the Three Doors of Liberation.
The Buddha identified four ways that we consume everything in our experience to demonstrate the fact that what we bring into our body has an effect on us. The Fifth Mindfulness Training: Nourishment and Healing is a wonderful teaching on the importance of being mindful about what we bring into our body.
In this course, we have been exploring the ways we can generate the energy of mindfulness. That energy, as we have seen, leads to the concentration of the mind. Once concentrated, the mind is open to insights into the true nature of reality. In the following selections, we will be returning to the teaching in Section 6 on the Three Doors of Liberation: emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness in order to see how these three concepts help to liberate us from our suffering and pain, and begin the process of touching nirvana and finding the greatest relief possible.
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Thich Nhat Hanh is a Zen master in the Vietnamese tradition, scholar, poet, and peace activist. He is the founder of the Van Hanh Buddhist University in Saigon and has taught at Columbia University and the Sorbonne. Thich Nhat Hanh is the author of the national bestseller Living Buddha, Living Christ and over 60 other books. He was nominated for the 1967 Nobel Peace Prize by Martin Luther King, Jr.