Category Archives: “Thich Nhat Hanh”

May You Bloom Happily & Stay Fresh as the Dew

“To live in the world
with your heart undisturbed by the world,
with all sorrows ended, dwelling in peace —
this is the greatest happiness.” ~ from “Discourse on Happiness”

flowerfresh ~d nelson

Being out of the house
breathing pure, fresh air
seeing the beauty before me
helps my bloom, keeps me fresh.

Interesting that, for me, being indoors
staring at the computer
doesn’t make me feel as fresh
as does having the sky above, earth below
& reflecting on the guidance on happiness, below.

Yet I do get on-line to brief
myself on those latest events.
While such laments of suffering
fuel compassion, I can also feel blue,
despite the aspiration to have my heart
undisturbed, like a Buddha.

May you feel fresh, with inner happiness.
Savoring & taking refuge
in other’s freshness and blooms.
And may we all have more wise
than foolish ones to associate with
& offer compassionate guidance.

Discourse on Happiness

I heard these words of the Buddha one time when the Lord was living in the vicinity of Savatthi at the Anathapindika Monastery in the Jeta Grove. Late at night, a deva appeared whose light and beauty made the whole Jeta Grove shine radiantly. After paying respects to the Buddha, the deva asked him a question in the form of a verse:

“Many gods and men are eager to know
what are the greatest blessings
which bring about a peaceful and happy life.
Please, Tathagata (one of the Buddha’s names), will you teach us?”

(This is the Buddha’s answer):
“Not to be associated with the foolish ones,
to live in the company of wise people,
honoring those who are worth honoring —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To live in a good environment,
to have planted good seeds,
and to realize that you are on the right path —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To have a chance to learn and grow,
to be skillful in your profession or craft,
practicing the precepts and loving speech —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To be able to serve and support your parents,
to cherish your own family,
to have a vocation that brings you joy —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To live honestly, generous in giving,
to offer support to relatives and friends,
living a life of blameless conduct —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To avoid unwholesome actions,
not caught by alcoholism or drugs,
and to be diligent in doing good things —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To be humble and polite in manner,
to be grateful and content with a simple life,
not missing the occasion to learn the Dharma —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To persevere and be open to change,
to have regular contact with monks and nuns,
and to fully participate in Dharma discussions —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To live diligently and attentively,
to perceive the Noble Truths,
and to realize Nirvana —
this is the greatest happiness.

“To live in the world
with your heart undisturbed by the world,
with all sorrows ended, dwelling in peace —
this is the greatest happiness.

“For he or she who accomplishes this,
unvanquished wherever she goes,
always he is safe and happy —
happiness lives within oneself.” ~Buddha, Mahamangala Sutta, Sutta Nipata 1; translated by Thich Nhat Hanh, in Plum Village Chanting Book

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Equality Without Complex

We have the complex of superiority as human beings and we think we have that kind of intelligence, that kind of consciousness that other living beings do not have. But I’m not very proud of that kind of mind that we are using in daily life: the mind of discrimination caught by many notions, the foundation of all kind of suffering. We discriminate against this and that, and that creates complexes of superiority, inferiority, and equality.
~Thich Nhat Hanh

contemplative dinner mtn hike

While hiking up Deer Park’s sacred mountain
along with many friends on the path,
a koan intrigues my trickster mind,
“what keeps us all apart?”

equality without complex (4 of 9)

Sitting quietly, looking down at a leaf, suddenly
the cloud, the tree, & the logger reveal themselves.
Upon recognizing earth & sky within the leaf, also,
the wind briskly asks, “what side are you on?”

equality without complex (9 of 9)

Humbly mind answers, I’ve been on either side,
I’ve been on both sides,
and now I vow to taking no side
other than understanding, compassion & love.

sitting like Buddhas

Smiling under leaf’s tree to mountain sunset’s revelation
that freedom from the equality complex
is found by transforming an insatiable habit
of mind trying to make things equal.
Discriminating mind fails at:
recognizing its own conditions of happiness;
having sympathetic joy for other’s good fortune;
and cultivating empathy for other’s misfortune.

lotus koi pond ~d nelson

On the surface, me & so-called non-me
may seem as separate splashes & waves,
but underneath, all is water.
All of creation, seen & unseen, uniquely expressed
in the past, present & future cosmic oceans.
Such joy briefly experiencing inter-being
during an outrageous inner sunset among friends.

Seeing Happiness, Again

Dwelling in the present moment, we can see so many beauties and wonders right before our eyes–a child’s smile, the sun rising, the autumn leaves ~Thich Nhat Hanh

flowers often seem nicer on the other side ~d nelson

flowers often seem nicer on the other side ~d nelson

“Are you blind?” I asked the young man sitting next to me in the park. I had offered empathetic listening as he explained at length how there’s nothing to do here and that’s why this town is boring. If only he could get a ride an hour to the nearest city there would be fun things to do so he wouldn’t be bored. He replied that he had two good eyes.

I told him of my moon watching meditation last night.
How the golden hues of sunset were still setting the hills ablaze
with a golden glow as this super full moon rose up behind them
in plain view for all to see.

Oranges, yellows, greens, browns whites,
blacks, blues, magentas, among others
in the shapes of rolling hills, oaks, pines, moon
clouds, lake, waves, rocks, geese, ducks.
Such an amazing display of colors and shapes.
A true miracle to behold
to let touch my heart through
perception & my eye’s consciousness.

Such a miracle to see, at all.
Offering more than enough conditions for me to be happy.

super moon

super moon

I shared with him about diabetic patients I used to care for.
How, over time, many lost their vision
due to the corrosive effects of too much glucose
running through eye’s blood vessels.
And how they became so sad and unhappy
when they could no longer see well, or at all.

I asked if there is anything he really likes to look at
and he told me how pretty his girlfriend is.
After a few more comments to each other
he went off to be with his special friend
where he was going to look at her with new eyes
and tell her how special she is to him.

I am happy that he decided to open his eyes
to beauty present before him
and let go of the idea of being bored.

(originally posted July 12, 2014)

Happiness & Healing from Her Write Words

The best way to take care of the future is to take care of the present moment.
~ Thich Nhat Hanh

distant connector to the universe ~d nelson

A sweet memory arose
of turning those wireless knobs
& when aligned just right
out from scratchy static appeared
voices with news, sports, ideas
mixed with song & puzzlers for life.

Mostly I listened to music, but
when in 5th grade I found
myself with a transistor radio.
Sometimes I could hear those Giants
baseball games, even during class, with the earplug.

But then, without seeking it out
mysteriously, words would be exclaimed
that made me wonder, sometimes think.
Such comments were nourishing
food for thought.
In some way I’ve kept a curiosity
& appetite for more.
Wisdom from the void
helping me do the right thing.

mono

From where does this sweet voice come from,
heaven, nirvana, another world?
Also, from where do those revelations manifest,
that speak to me now, as they have in the past,
healing, calming & illuminating happiness.
Isn’t it amazing how life can change
by giving a few words,
a simple, old fashioned letter?
A letter written from the heart, arrives.
Have you been waiting for such a letter, yourself?
Please click image below & watch this sweet video, then do tell.

When It’s Hot As Hell, Lets Cool It

dog paddlin’ to cool hot paws ~ d nelson

I have been in Hell, many kinds of Hell, and I have also noticed that even in Hell compassion is possible. With the practice of mindfulness meditation, you may very well prevent Hell manifesting. And if Hell has manifested, you have ways to transform Hell into something that is much more pleasant. When you get angry, Hell is born. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

Dear Friends,
lets breathe in to calm & care for our bodies
lets breathe out to cool & care for the earth.

cooling Washington run-off

Stepping out last week after a pleasant nap
my paws got fried on the backyard pavement.
I’m grateful to only have small burns to heal
as 30 percent of the world’s population is now exposed,
in this new climate, to potentially deadly heat for 20 days per year or more.
As air heats up, it becomes less dense, which effects, among other things, airplanes.
Many flights are canceled or delayed because some planes can’t safely lift off in extreme heat.

Breathe in, hot
Breathe out, cool
A meditation I began 30 years ago when I left the cool
of Berkeley, and grad school, for the work & heat
of the Valley of the Sun in Arizona.
I remember thinking, why did I have to arrive
to record-setting heat waves in Phoenix?
Records have continued to fall (or is that rise)
to this day. That’s just how it is.

earth’s gift of clean water

I have aches & pains in my body
which get soothed by total relaxation.
Breathing can relax, as can gentle walks,
gentle cycles, sitting & lying down.
A natural healing remedy.

July is getting hotter, NASA

How wonderful to have support
from calm, kind friends & loved ones,
along with cool breezes, waters, or even ice.
Feel the burning chill-out, cool, calm.
As the planet heats up
so are us earthlings.
Twitter tales of anger
seem to appear daily,
not just on the news,
but on the streets of my community.
I appreciate friends’ reminders
to seek refuge in cool & calm.

I’m picturing a calligraphy
on the front of my favorite meditation hall
which had the symbols, vo su,
which translates to “busylessness”.
We can do that for ourselves,
be less busy, less distracted,
for our loved ones, as  a random
act of kindness for all beings.

Breathe in, hot
Breathe out, cool.
Nothing else.
Well, perhaps watching the beauty
of earth & sky around us.
Watching the river flow.
Hearing our heart beat.

Thank you for not even exerting energy
on my behalf, to comment on this post.
Please conserve your precious  energy, dear one.
Later we will all dance together this summer
in our calm, cool stillness.
Dancing joyously in our hearts
without raising our temperature,
or the earth’s, a fraction of a degree.

Happy Continuation: an epi-blog of VietNam ’07

Staying in the shade @ Trung Hau retreat ~d nelson

I believe it’s possible for a people, for a society to heal from deep-seated injury & trauma. Some of us live in such a time, now, in need of convalescence.  I experienced such a collective, extraordinary healing ten years ago.

Thay introduces abbot

Thay introduces abbot from Dong Dac temple; as Thay came by he told us that many important masters had studied and practiced at this temple.

On this 10 year anniversary of participating for the 3 months on a healing tour to VietNam, accompanying Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh to his home country, from which he had been exiled from nearly 40 years, I witnessed healing of a country which lost over 6 million citizens to war. There are relatively few men still living over 60 years of age, especially in the north. Words below are re-posted from May 12, 2007, without further comment.

Sr. Jewel leaves a smile

Sister Jewel leaves a smile

My Dear Friends, Cheres Amie,

On the way to the Hanoi airport, after nearly 3 months on an amazing pilgrimage which began in Ho Chi Minh City, en route to flying home I read an article in the Vietnam News with the following quote: “President Nguyen Minh Triet hailed high-profile Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh’s visit as a great contribution to Vietnam’s religious activities during their meeting in Hanoi Saturday (May 5th). Triet said he hoped that the “Zen Master” would make more trips to Vietnam and contribute further to national solidarity and development. Hanh has been in Vietnam for a three-month visit since February 20, during which he held three chanting ceremonies, known as Grand Requiems, for those killed in all wars and accidents in the country. Triet told Hanh that Vietnam always respects religious freedom and is determined to make all religions welcomed.” I smiled reading that Thay’s call for the President and/or Prime Minister’s support for the ceremonies to reconcile a nation and other events offered by the sangha had, in part, been realized.

early morning flower market

Hanoi flower market

Today sitting in my dirty car, while slowly being hauled through the Bubble Machine Car Wash’s suds, some questions came to my mind. Like, what will be the karma of the pilgrimage? What does it mean to travel across a country supporting the provision of teachings, practices as well as healing ceremonies to affect deep-seated pains of the past, manifesting in the present, in individuals, families, communities and societies? Seeing so, so many people sincerely taste fruits of mindful living practices and find their joy and happiness by using their breath, steps and actions to arrive in the present moment was unforgettable. When might a country who suffers so much, such as America, be ready for such healing, and who would have the credibility and a big enough heart to do it? Despite a lack of awareness published in Vietnam’s government controlled press about the upcoming events or their intention, tens of thousands came out, and countless other Vietnamese and friends of Vietnamese all over the world set up alters and prayed during the ceremonies to remember the victims of the “American and French wars.” Having had witnessed and participated in one of the greatest acts of love towards Vietnamese people, if not all people, animals, plants and minerals, how should I and the hundreds of other western sangha members who gave so much of there time and money to travel together, continue living out our lives, continuing Thay’s intention? Thich Nhat Hanh could conserve his precious energy by staying in Plum Village, occasionally giving talks and continuing sharing his wisdom through writing books. Where does an eighty year old Zen master derive the physical, mental and spiritual energy, boundless bodhichitta (great heart and mind of compassion), to carry out such an epic intention to heal his nation and the world? All of us westerners had moments of shear mental and physical exhaustion keeping up with the schedule. At times it appeared to me that Thay (Vietnamese for “beloved teacher”) had done nothing short of summoning the Buddha within for strength and direction. Upon finishing the car’s wash I wrote these questions down, then started the engine and drove off, bringing full attention to the Southern California drivers zooming around me.

thousands end walk

Crowd at Huong Son temple welcoming Thich Nhat Hanh

At the final retreats and talks in and near Hanoi Thay continued sharing practical practices from the Lotus sutra, Diamond sutra, and other sutras including the full awareness of breathing, mindfulness and living alone. Attendees at the Vietnam Chamber of Commerce and industry were treated to teachings on deriving insight from our experience, rather than just theories or book learning, and tapping into mindfulness of the breath and awareness of what is going on to find happiness. Negative habit energies of continuing to seek happiness in money, power, fame and sex will most likely lead to more suffering, as is experienced in the West. Buddhism is attractive in the West because it is very scientific in its approach to addressing problems within us and in the environment; being viewed more as a philosophy rather than a devotional religion. Thay made it clear over and over that people and the environment share the same fate and continuing to pollute and destroy nature would be our demise. Thay shared how he has counseled many Western government and business leaders that the way out of our shared predicament is by practicing the mindfulness trainings. During his last public talk in Vietnamese at a retreat in Trung Hau temple, a powerful discourse on the teachings of love was given to the people of Vinh Phuc Province. Love is made of understanding, compassion and wisdom. Relationships and love are not individual matters, as is most often practiced in the west. The happiness of the family and community are also at stake in relationships. Parents and children must use loving speech and deep listening so that they can understand each other for what they truly are, continuations of each other. So often each side is caught in up-side down thinking, or having the wrong perceptions and views. In the East there is a tradition of respect, for parents, for our own bodies. This is practiced by dressing modestly, cooperating, being discreet and couples treating each other as guests, even after being married. Thay said that now many young people are in a state of bewilderment with what they see and hear in their environment, on TV’s and hear in music. Many 14 and 15 year old girls are having sex and getting pregnant, without ever knowing what true love is. Their despair ultimately is transmitted to their children who may well go down the same road. Thay concluded by suggesting that this talk on the 4 immeasurable minds should be given over and over to young people so that their happiness can grow in the knowing that true love is an act of friendship towards oneself and others. After this talk the temple’s Venerable monk told Thay that his community must have accumulated much merit from their ancestors to receive such a powerful teaching, and that he does not know how to repay the generosity and compassion.

hello restaurant staff

hello restaurant staff red apple restaurant in Da Nang offered us a nice meal

At the end of each of the 4 segments of this 3 month journey across Vietnam, members of the western lay sangha wrote comments of gratitude, observations of the beauty of Vietnam and it’s loving people and personal transformations, in a journal. After the final dharma talk in Hanoi the book was presented to Thay. I’m told he smiled and gratefully commented that he wished that we all could accompany him and the monastics to Hong Kong and Thailand, where they will continue giving talks and retreats until early June. Thay made it clear in his words and actions during the entire trip how our lay presence was helping support the healing. We have benefited from his wisdom of no coming, no going, realizing that we are in him, and he is in us; insight passed on by a great teacher. It’s astonishing to think that later this year he plans to give retreats in Europe and America. May he and the sangha have both good health and fortune in their continued efforts as bodhisattvas.

alms round flowing

Alms round of Plum Village & Bat Nha monastics in an orderly line before encountering Bao Loc crowds.

During the next month or so I will produce a video of the pilgrimage so that other sangha members around the world, who were either there or not, can see for themselves glimpses of what happened. You’re welcome to let me know if you’d like a copy. In the mean time there are many pictures and accounts available on the web, including mine at http://www.flickr.com/photos/rezdog . Smiles to you and best wishes in your practice of touching the joy and happiness which is you, already,
david, Compassionate Guidance of the Heart, Truly Holding Equanimity

Full of love

Sister Chan Khong visiting rural school her compassion program financially supports

in flowers i trust

When another person makes you suffer, it is because he suffers deeply within himself, and his suffering is spilling over. He does not need punishment; he needs help. That’s the message he is sending. ~Thich Nhat Hanh

exquisite bloom, golden girl rhododendron ~d nelson

delicate, ethereal beauty
with not a fret as to fate
or seeing grounds to wait.


only offering his or her best
in each transient moment.
there is oneness upon recognizing
true blossoming elegance.


not disposed to having complexes
of superiority, inferiority or sameness.
not needing to be liked or disliked.
not above the law –
not laws of humanity,
nor the laws of nature.

not into making others feel
troubled or uncomfortable,
or lose their sense of direction
no matter how alike they are
or different they are from so-called, others.

givers, offering vivid generosity
by a true, compassionate presence.
not taking from others;
not time, nor space,
not their livelihood, their dignity,
their healthcare, their freedom,
their loved ones, nor their lives.

if only i could live
a life of such humble, selfless dignity.
to be happy, even if cut
& put in a vase.
…at this moment, offering
forgiveness to myself
& others for so much
harm inflicted, in just this lifetime.
I wish that I could come back
as a flower.
For as a flower
others would smile
& have no reason
to lose trust.