Understanding is the fruit of meditation. When we practice deep looking directed toward the heart of reality, we receive understanding, we receive the wisdom that makes us free. If there is deep pain within you, meditate.
Meditating is not trying to run away, trying to ignore the presence of the pain, but on the contrary, it is looking at it face-to-face. You have to practice deep looking directed toward the nature of this pain because for Buddhists, we are joy, but we are also pain; e are understanding, but we are also ignorance. Meditating is not transforming oneself into a battlefield where one side is fighting another, where good fights against evil. This is not Buddhist meditation. Buddhist meditation is based on the principle of non-duality. This means that if we are mindfulness, if we are love, we are also ignorance, we are also suffering, and there is no reason to suppress anything at all.
When the seed of anger manifests on the level of our conscious mind, our immediate awareness, it is because the seed of anger is in the depths of our consciousness, and then we begin to suffer. Our immediate awareness is something like our living room. The task of the meditator is not to chase away or to suppress the energy of anger that is there but rather to invite another energy that will be able to care for the anger.
You can use the method of mindful breathing to make the seed of this other energy grow inside of you. It will then manifest in the form of energy, and this energy will embrace your energy of anger like a mother taking a baby in her arms. Then there is only tenderness, there is no fighting with, or discriminating against, the pain. The purpose of the practice of mindful breathing is to help to give birth to this precious energy called mindfulness and to keep it alive.
… Mindfulness is like a light, enabling concentration to really be there, and that also makes it possible for us to look deeply into the heart of things. From this looking deeply is born deep vision, understanding. Mindfulness brings concentration, understanding, love and freedom.
…when the energy of compassion and love touches us, healing establishes itself.
In Buddhism, we say that mindfulness is the energy of the Buddha. The seed of mindfulness is the baby Buddha that is in us. This precious seed can be buried very deeply under several layers of suffering and ignorance. We begin by looking for, by touching this seed of mindfulness, and everybody knows that all of us have this precious seed in us.
When you drink water, if you are aware of the fact that you are drinking water, mindfulness is there. Mindfulness is the energy that makes it possible for us to be aware of what is happening in the present moment.
When you breathe in and you are aware that you are breathing in, mindfulness is there. Mindfulness is always mindfulness of something. When you are angry and yu know that you are angry, mindfulness is there. Anger is one energy, mindfulness is another, and this second kind of energy arises in order to care for the first like a mother caring for her baby.
Digging Deep p66
Practicing loving kindness meditation is like digging deep into the ground until we reach the purest water. We look deeply into ourselves until insight arises and our love flows to the surface. Joy and happiness radiate from our eyes and everyone around us benefits from our smile and our presence. If we take good care of ourselves, we help everyone. We stop being a source of suffering in the world, and we become a reservoir of joy and freshness. Here and there are people who know how to take good care of themselves, who live joyfully and happily. They are our strongest support. Whatever they do, they do it for everyone.
Immeasurable Minds p81
Loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity are described as unlimited states of mind because they continue to grow and they cannot be measured. The more you practice, the more you see your love growing and growing until there is no limit. The more you practice compassion, the more it grows. The more you cultivate joy the more joy you will feel and be able to share. The more you understand, the more you love: the more you love, the more you understand. They are two sides of one reality. The mind of love and the mind of understanding are the same.
We should practice in such a way that every moment is fulfilling. We should feel satisfaction in every breath, in every step, in every action. This is true fulfillment. When you breathe in and out, there is fulfillment. When you take a step, there is fulfillment. When you perform any action, there is the fulfillment that comes from living deeply in the present moment.
Natural Happiness p87
If you walk with true awareness of every step, without having a goal to get anywhere, happiness will arise naturally. You don’t need to look for happiness. When we’re in touch with the wonders of life, we become aware of the many conditions of happiness that are already there, and naturally, we feel happy. The beauty around us brings us back to the present moment so we can let go of the planning and worries that preoccupy us. When you look at the person you love, if he is absorbed in anxiety, you can help him get out. “Darling, do you see the sun? Do you see the signs that spring is coming?” This is mindfulness; we become aware of what is happening now and we are in touch with the conditions of happiness that are there, inside us and all around us.
If you pour a handful of salt into a cup of water, the water becomes undrinkable. But if you pour the salt into a river, people can continue to draw the water to cook, wash, and drink. The river is immense, and it has the capacity to receive, embrace, and transform. When our hearts are small, our understanding and compassion are limited, and we suffer. We can’t accept or tolerate others and their shortcomings, and we demand that they change. But when our hearts expand, these same things don’t make us suffer anymore. We have a lot of understanding and compassion and can embrace others. We accept others as they are, and then they have a chance to transform. So the big question is: how do we help our hearts to grow?
Feeding our Love, Page 9
Each of us can learn the art of nourishing happiness and love. Everything needs food to live, even love. If we don’t know how to nourish our love, it withers. When we feed and support our own happiness, we are nourishing our ability to love. That’s why to love means to learn the art of nourishing our happiness.
Love is Organic, Page 14
Love is a living, breathing thing. There is no need to force it to grow in a particular direction. If we start by being easy and gentle with ourselves, we will find it is just there inside of us, solid and healing.
Be Beautiful, Be Yourself, Page 23
If you can accept your body, then you have a chance to see your body as your home. You can rest in your body, settle in, relax, and feel joy and ease. If you don’t accept your body and your mind, you can’t be at home with yourself. You n=have to accept yourself as you are. This is a very important practice. As you practice building a home in yourself, you become more and more beautiful.
The Practice of Metta, Page 64
To love is, first of all, to accept ourselves as we actually are. The first practice of love is to know oneself. The Pali word Metta means “loving kindness.” When we practice Metta Meditation, we see the conditions that have caused us to be the way we are; this makes it easy to accept ourselves, including our suffering and happiness. When we practice Metta Meditation, we touch our deepest aspirations. But the willingness ad aspiration to love is not yet love. We have to look deeply, with all our being, in order to understand the object of our meditation. The practice of love meditation is not autosuggestion. We have to look deeply at our body, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness. We can observe how much peace, happiness, and lightness we already have. We can notice whether we are anxious about accidents or misfortunes, and how much anger, irritation, fear, anxiety or worry are still in us. As we become aware of the feelings in us, our self-understanding will deepen. We will see how our fears and lack of peace contribute to our unhappiness, and we will see the value of loving ourselves and cultivating a heart of compassion. Love will enter our thoughts, words, and actions.
The Buddha’s teachings on love are clear. It is possible to live 24 hours a day in a state of love. Every movement, every glance, every thought, and every word can be infused with love. The Four Immeasurable Minds are strong concentrations (samadhi): the concentration of love, the concentration of compassion, the concentration of joy, and the concentration of equanimity. When you dwell in these concentrations, you are living in the most beautiful, peaceful, and joyous realm in the universe. If someone asks your address, you can say “the abodes of Brahma”- the Immeasurable Minds of love, compassion, joy, and equanimity. There are 5-star hotels that cost $2000.00 per night, yet the abode of Brahma offers more happiness than these. It is a 5000-star hotel, a place where we can learn to love and be loved.
Teachings on Love by Thich Nhat Hanh
A Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing
By Thich Nhat Hanh
Subject Five: Observing Our Feelings
Breathing out, I am aware of my mental formations.
Breathing out, I calm my mental formations.
Mental formations are psychological phenomena. There are fifty-one mental formations according to the Vijnanavada School of the Mahayana, and fifty-two according to the Theravada. Feelings are one of them. In the seventh and eighth breathing exercises, mental formations simply mean feelings. They do not refer to the other fifty mental formations. In the Vimutti Magga, we are told that mental formations in these exercises mean feelings and perceptions. It is more likely that mental formations here simply mean feelings, although feelings are caused by our perceptions.
Some feelings are more rooted in the body, such as a toothache or a headache. Feelings that are rooted in our mind arise from our perceptions. In the early morning when you see the first light of day and hear the birds singing, you might have a very pleasant feeling. But if once at this time of day you received a long distance telephone call that your parent had suffered a heart attack, the feeling that comes from that perception may be painful for many years.
When you feel sad, do you remember that it will not last forever? If someone comes and smiles at you, your sadness may vanish right away. In fact, it has not gone anywhere. It has just ceased to manifest. Two days later, if someone criticizes you, sadness may reappear. Whether the seed of sadness is manifesting or not depends on causes and conditions. Our practice is to be aware of the feeling that is present right now. “Breathing in, I am aware of the feeling that is in me now. Breathing out, I am aware of the feeling that is in me now.”
If it is a pleasant feeling, when we are aware that it is a pleasant feeling, it may become even more pleasant. If we are eating or drinking something that is healthy and nourishing for us, our feeling of happiness will grow as we become aware of it. If what we are consuming is harmful for our intestines, our lungs, our liver, or our environment, our awareness will reveal to us that our so-called pleasant feeling has within it many seeds of suffering.
The seventh and eighth breathing exercises help us observe all our feelings – pleasant and unpleasant, neutral and mixed. Feelings, arising from irritations, anger, anxiety, weariness, and boredom, are disagreeable ones. Whatever feeling is present, we identify it, recognize that it is there, and shine the sun of our awareness on it.
If we have an unpleasant feeling, we take that feeling in our arms like a mother holding her crying baby. The “mother” is mindfulness and the “crying baby” is the unpleasant feeling. Mindfulness and conscious breathing are able to calm the feeling. If we do not hold the unpleasant feeling in our arms but allow it just to remain in us, it will continue to make us suffer. “Breathing in, I touch the unpleasant feeling in me. Breathing out, I touch the unpleasant feeling in me.”
In Buddhist meditation, looking deeply is based on non-duality. Therefore, we do not view irritation as an enemy coming to invade us. We see that we are that irritation in the present moment. When we are irritated we know, “This irritation is in me. I am this irritation,” and we breathe in and out in this awareness. Thanks to this approach, we no longer need to oppose, expel, or destroy our irritation. When we practice looking deeply, we do not set up barriers between good and bad in ourselves and transform ourselves into a battlefield. We treat our irritations with compassion and nonviolence, facing it with our heart filled with love, as if we were facing our own baby sister. We bring the light of awareness to it by breathing in and out mindfully. Under the light of awareness, our irritation is gradually transformed. Every feeling is a field of energy. A pleasant feeling is an energy that can nourish. Irritation is a feeling that can destroy. Under the light of awareness, the energy of irritation is transformed into a kind of energy that nourishes us.
Feelings originate either in the body or in your perceptions. When we suffer from insomnia, we feel fatigue or irritation. That feeling originates in our body. When we misperceive a person or an object, we may feel anger, disappointment, or irritation. This feeling originates in our perception. According to Buddhism, our perceptions are often inaccurate and cause us to suffer. The practice of Full Awareness is to look deeply in order to see the true nature of everything and to go beyond our inaccurate perceptions. Seeing a rope as a snake, we may cry out in fear. Fear is a feeling, and mistaking the rope for a snake is an inaccurate perception.
If we live our lives in moderation, keeping our bodies in good health, we can diminish painful feelings which originate in the body. By observing each thing clearly and opening the boundaries of our understanding, we can diminish painful feelings that originate from perceptions. When we observe a feeling deeply, we recognize the multitude of causes near and far that helped bring it about, and we discover the very nature of feeling.
When a feeling of irritation or fear is present, we can be aware of it, nourishing our awareness through breathing. With patience, we come to see more deeply into the true nature of this feeling, and in seeing, we come to understand, and understanding brings us freedom. The seventh exercise refers to the awareness of a mental formation, namely a feeling. When we have identified the feeling, we can see how it arises, exists for a while, and ceases to be in order to become something else.
With mindfulness, a so-called neutral feeling can become a pleasant or an unpleasant feeling. It depends on your way of handling it. Suppose you are sitting in the garden with your little boy. You feel wonderful. The sky is blue, the grass is green, there are many flowers, and you are able to touch the beauty of nature. You are very happy, but your little boy is not. First, he has only a neutral feeling but, since he doesn’t know how to handle it, it turns into boredom. In his search for more exciting feelings, he wants to run into the living room and turn on the television. Sitting with the flowers, the grass, and the blue sky is not fun for him. The neutral feeling has become an unpleasant feeling.
Mindfulness helps us to identify a feeling as a feeling and an emotion as an emotion. It helps us hold our emotions tenderly within us, embrace them, and look deeply at them. By observing the true nature of any feeling, we can transform it’s energy into the energy of peace and joy. When we understand someone, we can accept and love him. The energy of the feeling of irritation, in this case, has been transformed into the energy of love. The Buddha had much love and compassion as far as the body and feelings of people are concerned. He wanted his disciples to return to, look after, care for, heal, and nourish their bodies and minds. How deeply the Buddha understood human beings!