Monday, May 18, 2015

Mindfulness, Concentration, Insight

The following is the excerpt from Thay's dharma talk of Singapore Retreat in 2010 . Watch the following video from 1:55:05 to 2:06:22.

The second technique is the mindfulness. Mindfulness is the kind of energy that we can generate by the practice of mindful breathing, mindful walking, mindful cooking, mindful driving. The energy of mindfulness allows us to be aware of what is going on. Mindfulness allows us to see what is going on inside of us and around us. Mindfulness allows us to recognize many conditions of happiness that are already available in the present moment. 

Most of us believe that we don't have enough conditions to be happy. We want to go to the future in order to get some more conditions of happiness. The Buddha advised the opposite. The Buddha said that if you go home to the here and the now, you may realize that you have more than enough conditions to be happy right here and right now. French people, they have a song, they like to sing, "What do you wait in order to be happy?". If you want to be happy, you can be happy right here and right now because conditions of happiness is more than enough for you already. 

And that is why mindfulness can be described as the source of joy and happiness (念生喜楽). Mindfulness allows us to see how many conditions of happiness we have inside of us and how many conditions of happiness we have around us. And with the practice of being in touch with these conditions of happiness, we can be happy right here and right now. We don't have to go to the future. 

There is a practice of contentment (知足) . "足" means enough but in fact it's more than enough. Conditions of happiness you do have now are more than enough. And that is why the practice of mindfulness can bring us joy and happiness right away. You don't need the future.

After mindfulness there is the concentration because the joy and bliss can be born of concentration (定生喜楽). If you are aware of the conditions of your happiness, you can be happy. And if your happiness is powerful, the energy of concentration will also become powerful. Later in the retreat, you will learn that concentration, samadhi is the source of the joy and happiness. 

Insight, understanding is another source of happiness (慧生喜楽). With the insight, with the wisdom, we are no longer victims of sufferings and happiness is possible. And that is why the teaching of the Buddha has how to bring in a feeling of joy, how to bring in a feeling of happiness, is a very concrete and every one of us as a practitioner can put into practice.

In the Buddhist literature, there is a distinction between joy and happiness. There is some excitement in a joy but when you come to the true happiness, you are much calmer. And the example that is used in the Buddhist circle is a person who walked in the desert and who run out of water. The traveler is very thirsty and he suffers. He wants to have something to drink but does not find water anywhere. Suddenly he saw oasis, a tree and a lake in front of him. He has to walk another two miles in order to arrive at the oasis. And in him a feeling of joy is born. So, he is excited about arriving and having some water to drink. That is why in the feeling of joy there is still some excitement left. And when the traveler actually arrives and he kneels down and cups a water by his two hands and begins to drink. And that is the feeling of happiness

We have to remember that the dharma is the present. Beautiful in the beginning, in the middle and at the end. The dharma can bring joy and happiness every moment. And we don't have to suffer in practicing the dharma. If you practice the dharma and feel joy and happiness, you know that practice is correct.


Thich Nhat Hanh

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