Learning The Sutra on Mindful Breathing, we know that a good practitioner has to learn how to handle happiness and how to handle suffering. That is an art. Meditation is not a hard labour. Meditation needs a lot of skillfulness because that is an art. If you don't know how to handle happiness, happiness will turn into something else very soon. The love that you experience in the beginning is so beautiful. And you believe that without that love, you can not survive. But if you don't know the art of nourishing love, it will die and turn into something else sour.
The Buddha said, "Nothing can survive without food". Your love needs food. You have to feed your love properly. And if you are mindful, concentrated, you will cherish what you are having now, your love. We have to be very attentive. We have to cherish every moment of our being together. We have to learn how to feed our love.
And if by mistake, our love has turned into something else less than love, we should not be despaired. Because we know that love is made of non-love elements. Lotus is made of non-lotus elements, including the mud. So, the skillfulness, we can make good use of the mud in order to cultivate lotus again. A good organic gardener never throws away garbage. She knows how to preserve the garbage in order to make compost and nourish future flowers.
Suffering and happiness are also of organic nature. If by chance, happiness becomes suffering, let us not despair. With our skillfulness and practice, we can transform suffering back into happiness. We can make good use of mud in order to create lotus flower. We should learn from the suffering. And suffering can instruct us, "Don't try to run away from suffering". The first teaching of the Buddha is about the Four Noble Truths which begins with the ill-being, suffering. If we try to run away from it, we have no chance to understand the nature of suffering and we don't know how to create happiness. In order to know how to create happiness, we have to understand suffering, the nature of suffering.
And that is why there is an art of handling happiness but there is an art of handling suffering. The art to suffer should be the title of my next book. Our priests, please write it for me. We have already the Art of Happiness, I think, written by Dalai Lama. We need another book, the Art of Suffering. If you know how to suffer, you don't suffer much. And you can make good use of suffering in order to create happiness. In fact, we learn a lot from suffering. We know that understanding of suffering will give rise to compassion. And compassion is a very important element of happiness. Without compassion in us, we can not be a happy person. We are utterly alone, cut off. We can not relate to any other living beings. That is why compassion is very crucial for happiness.
And in order for compassion to arise, we have to dig into the nature of suffering. Understanding suffering will bring about compassion. That is why in the kingdom of God, there is suffering. Without the element of suffering, you have no hope to create understanding and compassion. If you want to grow lotus, you need the mud. So, it's natural that there is suffering in the kingdom of God. But in the kingdom of God, people know how to make good use of the suffering, and do not let suffering overwhelm us. And we have to participate in the work of building the kingdom by practicing, by learning how to make good use of suffering in order to create happiness. And if happiness deteriorates, we know how to restore it by the practice of using suffering.
This is, because that is. This is the teaching of the Buddha. It's very simple but it's very deep. This is because that is. 「若此有必彼有」 It means that if birth is there, death should be there. If right is there, left is there. If being is there, non-being is there. So, these pairs of opposites, they always manifest at the same time. That is on the level of the conventional truth. But if we get deeper, we will transcend the conventional truth and will find out the ultimate truth where there is no birth and no death, no being and no non-being.
I think the science is experimenting the same kind of thing. Classical science represented by Newton is something like on the conventional truth. It can be applied. Yes. But when we come to quantum mechanics, we see things quite differently. Time, space, matter, energy, particle, wave. We don't see them to be different things. They are the very much the same things. So, it is possible that scientists and Buddhist practitioners can work together in this century and they can help each others.
We need to be careful that the above Thay's Dharma Talk is based on the conventional truth (duality), just like the Four Noble Truths.
Thích Nhất Hạnh