4 Winter/Spring 2009the Mindulness Bell 5
Thich Nhat Hanh in India photo by Bonnie Wiesner
On May 10, 2008, during the “Engaged Buddhism or the Twenty-First Century” retreat at the Kim Lien Hotel in Hanoi, Thich Nhat Hanhanswered questions rom retreatants. Here are a ew o those questionsand answers.
A Beautiful Continuation
A written question: My ather is retiring ater fty-fveyears o leading companies. He has decided that unless hecan remain a very important person by having a high posi-tion or being afliated with a prestigious institution, he is“irrelevant.” As a result he does not want to live. He has saidhe cares about no one and has no interests let in lie. I’vetried watering his good seeds and spending time with him.But his anger is very deep and his
is 72 years strong[laughter]. How can I help him?
We might help him by telling him to learn to look deeply intohis own person, to understand himsel. We are usually caught inour notion o sel. We are not aware that a sel is made only o non-sel elements, just as a fower is made only o non-fower elements. Sometimes we notice that we have certain talents and skills, but we should know that these talents and skills have comerom our ancestors. When you know that your own talents, aswell as your suering and your happiness, have come rom your ancestors, you are no longer caught in the idea that all these thingsbelong to you.In the Buddhist tradition when we Touch the Earth we makethe gesture o opening our two hands to show that we have noth-ing in us. Everything has been transmitted through our ancestors.There is nothing to be ashamed o, nothing to be proud o. Weinherit many things rom our ancestors. In that light we can releaseeverything very quickly. The insight that sel is made up o non-sel elements can be very liberating. Then it will be possible or us to see ourselves in our children and in our riends.We know that the disintegration o this body does not meanour end we always continue! We continue beautiully or notso beautiully, depending on how we handle the present moment.I in the present moment we can produce thoughts o lovingkindness, orgiveness, and compassion, i we can say inspiringwords, i we can perorm beautiul acts o compassion, then wewill have a beautiul continuation. We have sovereignty over thepresent moment.I your ather has access to that kind o insight he will changeand he will suer less. He will have joy in living. He will see thathe is in you and that you will carry him into the uture. All histalents and experiences are not lost you will continue to havethem, and you will do your best to transmit these qualities into theuture through your children and grandchildren.
A Deep Grievous Longing
A lay woman asks: My husband and I have been trying toconceive a child or a long time. My sister and her husbandhave recently had a pregnancy loss, so we’ve both been expe-riencing a lot o suering. One o my highest aspirations is toexperience the miracle o having a child. Sometimes it’s veryintense emotionally, the intensity o lie wanting to continueitsel, it causes a deep grievous longing. I work in a clinic thatpractices Chinese medicine to help couples with inertility.So it’s very difcult not to water those seeds o suering. It ismy most sincere intention to nourish my healing practice andmy patients’ healing rom the heart o my own experience.It’s rom here that I ask or your guidance.
Someone said that happiness is something that you don’trecognize when it is there. You eel that, once it is gone, you havelost it. Happiness can occur in dierent orms. We might ocusour attention on one thing and we call it the basic condition or our happiness. I we don’t have that thing then we don’t havehappiness. But there are many other conditions or happiness thatare present in the here and the now, and we just ignore them. Wethink that only the other object is a true condition or happiness,which now we don’t have.
Not only is the rose wonderful, not only are theclouds and the sky wonderful, but the mud and thesuffering are also wonderful.
Life Is A Wonder!
Dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh