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.


                                           A Good Gardener

                        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 Angry

                        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 The Better

                         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.


                                                Small Miracles

                          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 language.

                          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 you.'

                          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 Transformation

                          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 love.

                          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 Sutra.



                                          Leave The Shore of Anger

                         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 shore.

                           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 Sutra Daily

                           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 again.

                          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.