Making Happiness Possible
collected and re-written by
Thích nữ Viên Nghiệp
We live in a time of sophisticated
means of communication. Information can travel to the other
side of the planet very quickly, but it is exactly that at
this time that communication between people, father and son,
husband and wife, mother and daughter . . . has become
extremely difficult. If we cannot restore communication,
happiness will never be possible.
In Buddhist teaching, the practice
of compassionate listening, the practice of loving speech
and that of taking care of our anger are presented very
clearly. We have to put into practice the teaching of the
Buddha, concerning deep listening and loving speech in order
to restore communication and bring happiness to our family,
our school and our community. Then we can help other people
in the world.
When you understand the suffering of other person, you are
able to transform your desire to criticize or punish
him/her, and then you want only to help him or her. At that
moment, you know that your practice has succeeded. You are
a good gardener.
Inside everyone of us is a garden, and each practitioner has
to go back to it and take care of it. May be in the past,
you left it untended for a long time. You should know
exactly what is going on in your own garden and try to put
everything in order. Restore the beauty, restore the
harmony in your garden. Many people will enjoy your garden
if it is well tended.
Give A Gift When You Are
There may be times when you are angry with someone, and you
try everything to transform your anger, but nothing seems to
work. In that case, the Buddha proposes that you should
give to the other person a present. It sounds childish, but
it is very effective.
When we are angry with someone, we want to hurt them.
Giving them a present changes that anger to making them
happy. So, when you are angry with someone, send him/her a
present. After you sent it, you will stop getting angry with
him or her. It is very simple and it always work.
Do not wait until you get angry then to go and buy the
gift. Any time you feel very grateful, any time you feel
you love him/her so much, then go and buy the present right
away. But don't send it, don't give it to the other person
yet. Keep it. You may have some luxurious presents in your
drawer. Later, when you get angry, take one out and deliver
it. It is very effective.
The Buddha was very smart, wasn't He?
Making A Change For
Suppose there is a family in which the father and son are
angry with each other. They are not capable of
communicating anymore. The father suffers a lot and also
the son. They don't want to remain stuck in their anger,
but they don't know how to overcome it.
A good teaching is the kind of teaching that you can apply
directly to your life, so that you can transform your
suffering. When you are angry, you suffer as though you are
being burned by the fires of hell. When you feel great
despair or jealousy, you are in hell. You have to go to a
friend who practices, and ask how to practice in order to
transform the anger, the despair in you.
There are many ways you can restore communication. If you
find it too difficult to talk to your son, why don't you
practice mindful walking and mindful breathing for one or
two days? Then sit down and write him a love letter. You
can use the same kind of language: "My dear son, I know that
you have suffered terribly, and as your father, I am partly
responsible because I didn't know to transmit the best of
myself to you. I know you have not been able to communicate
your suffering to me and I want this to change. I want to
be there for you. Let us help each other and try to improve
our communication'. You have to learn to speak this kind of
Loving speech will rescue us. Compassionate listening will
rescue us. This is a miracle performed by us, as
practitioners. You have the capacity to do it. You have
enough peace, enough compassion and understanding in the
depth of your consciousness. You have to call on it for
help, call on the Buddha within. With a loving friend
supporting you, it will be possible for you to begin anew
and restore communication.
Taking Care of Yourself -
Taking Care of The Others
As children, our fathers and our mothers taught us how to
breathe, how to walk, how to sit, how to eat, and how to
speak. But when we come to the practice, we are reborn as
spiritual beings. So we have to learn how to breathe again
mindfully. We want to learn how to listen again mindfully
and compassionately. We want to learn how to speak again
with the language of love to honor our original commitment.
'Darling, I suffer. I am angry. I want you to know it.'
This expresses faithfulness to your commitment. 'Darling,
I am doing my best. I am taking care of my anger for me and
for you also. I don't want to explode, to destroy myself
and destroy you. I am doing my best. I am putting into
practice what I have learned from my teacher, from my Sangha.'
This faithfulness will inspire respect and confidence in the
other party. And lastly, 'Darling, I need your help.'
This is a very strong statement, because usually when you
are angry, you have the tendency to say, 'I don't need
If you can say these three sentences with sincerity, from
your heart, a transformation will take place in the other
person. You cannot doubt the effect of such a practice.
You influence the other person to start practicing too, just
by your behavior. She will think, 'He is faithful to
me. He is keeping his commitment. He is trying to do his
best. I must do the same.'
So in taking good care of yourself, you take good care of
your beloved one. Self-love is the foundation for your
capacity to love the other person. If you don't take good
care of yourself if you are not happy, if you are not
peaceful, you cannot make the other person happy. You
cannot help the other person, you cannot love. Your
capacity for living another person depends entirely on your
capacity for loving yourself, for taking care of yourself.
The Gift of
A pregnant mother can be very happy every time she thinks of
the baby inside of her. The baby, although not born yet,
can give the mother a lot of joy. Every moment of her daily
life, she is aware of the baby's presence, so she does
everything with love. She eats with love, she drinks with
love because she knows that without her love, the baby may
not be healthy. She is very careful all the time. She
knows that if she makes a mistake, if she smokes a lot, if
she drinks a lot of alcohol, this will not be good for her
baby. So she is very mindful and she lives with the mind of
Practitioners have to act very much like a mother. We know
that we want to produce something to humanity to the world.
Each of us carries within ourselves a baby - the baby
Buddha- and it is the baby Buddha in us that we can offer.
We must live in mindfulness in order to take good care of
our baby Buddha.
It is the emergency of the Buddha in us that allows us to
write a real love letter and reconcile with another person.
A real love letter is made of insight, understanding and
compassion, otherwise it is not a love letter. A true love
letter can produce a transformation in the other person and
therefore in the world, but before it produces a
transformation in the other person, it has to produce a
transformation within you. However when you get angry, your
gratitude and love do not seem to be there at all. You feel
as if they have never existed, so you have to write them
down on a sheet of paper and keep it safely. From time to
time, take it out and read it again.
The Heart Sutra, a scripture that is chanted daily by many
Buddhists is the essence of the Buddha's teachings on
wisdom. What you have written is a Heart Sutra because it
comes from your heart - not from the heart of a Boddhisattva
or the Buddha- but from your own heart. It is your Heart
You are still standing at the shore of suffering and anger.
Why don't you leave this shore and go to the other shore of
non-anger, peace, and liberation?
It's much more pleasant there. Why do you have to spend
several hours, one evening or even days suffering in anger?
There is a boat which you can use to cross very quickly to
the other shore. That boat is the practice or returning to
yourself, through mindful breathing, so that you can look
deeply at your suffering, anger and depression and just
smile at them. Doing this, you can overcome your pain and
cross over to the other shore.
Don't stay at this shore and continue to be the victim of
our anger. Non-anger is in me, in you, in us. Non-anger is
possible. Just cross the river and go to the other shore of
non-anger. It is cool, pleasant , and refreshing there.
Don't allow ourselves to be tyrannized by our anger. Free
ourselves, liberate ourselves. Cross over with the help of
a teacher, friends who practice and with our own practice.
Rely on these boats to cross the river and go to the other
Right now you may be standing at the shore of confusion,
anger or doubt. Don't stay there! Go to the other shore
with the sangha, your dharma brothers and sisters, your
practice of walking and breathing, your practice of looking
deeply and of chanting your own Heart Sutra, you will cross
very quickly, may be just in few minutes only. You have the
right to be happy. You have the right to be compassionate,
to be loving. The seed of awakening is in you. With the
practice, you can turn this seed into a flower right away.
You can end your suffering because the dharma is immediately
effective. It is quicker than aspirin.
Chant Your Heart
We can all learn something from the story of the woman who
was saved by the love letters she kept in a biscuit box.
When you read such letters from the heart, you are saved by
them. Your savior does not come from outside; it comes from
inside. You can love; you do have the capacity to
appreciate the other person, to feel grateful. This is a
blessing. You know you are lucky to have met your partner;
you are lucky to have your beloved one in your life. Why do
you let this truth fly away? It is in your heart. So you
have to chant your Heart Sutra every day. You have to look
at it. Every time you touch love and appreciation in you,
you feel gratefully again; you cherish his or her presence
You have to be alone in order to fully appreciate the
other's presence. If you are always together, then you may
begin to take him or her for granted, forgetting to enjoy
his/her beauty and goodness. Every now and then, take three
or seven days off. Take time away from him/her in order to
be able to appreciate him/her much more. Although you are
far away from him/her, he/she is more real to you, more
substantial than when you are constantly together. During
the time, you are apart, you will remember how important,
how precious he/she is to you.
So please, write or produce your own Heart Sutra and keep it
in a sacred place. Try to chant your sutra often. Then
when anger overwhelms you and you are not skillful enough to
embrace it, your Heart Sutra will help tremendously. Pick
it up, practice, breathing deeply in and out, and read it.
Right away you will come back to yourself, and you will
suffer much less. When you read your Heart Sutra, you will
know what to do and how to respond. The challenge is
getting yourself to do it. You must create the conditions,
prepare, plan, and organize, so that you can really profit
from your intelligence. Use your talent to arrange and
create these kinds of practices.