Trainings in Diversity

The Seven Trainings in Diversity

1. Aware of the suffering caused by imposing one’s own opinions or cultural beliefs upon another human being, I undertake the training to refrain from forcing others, in any way – through authority, threat, financial incentive, or indoctrination – to adopt my own belief system. I commit to respecting every human being’s right to be different, while working towards the elimination of sufferings of all beings.

2. Aware of the suffering caused by invalidating or denying another person’s experience, I undertake the trainings to refrain from making assumptions or judging harshly any beliefs and attitudes that are different or not understandable from my own. I commit to being open minded and accepting of other points of view, and I commit to meeting each perceived difference in another person with kindness, respect, and a willingness to learn more about their worldview.

3. Aware of the suffering caused by the violence of treating someone as inferior or superior to one’s own self, I undertake the training to refrain from diminishing or idealizing the work, integrity, and happiness of any human being. Recognizing that my true nature is not separate from others, I commit to teaching each person that comes into my consciousness with the same loving kindness, care, and equanimity that I would bestow upon a beloved benefactor or dear friend.

4. Aware of the suffering caused by intentional or unintentional acts of rejection, exclusion, avoidance, or indifference towards people who are culturally, physically, sexually, or economically different from me, I undertake the training to refrain from isolating myself to people of similar backgrounds as myself and from being only with people who make me feel comfortable. I commit to searching out ways to diversify my relationships and increase my sensitivity towards people of different cultures, ethnicities, sexual orientations, ages, physical abilities, genders, and economic means.

5. Aware of the suffering caused by the often unseen nature of privilege, and the ability of privilege to benefit a select population over others, I undertake the training to refrain from exploiting any person or group, in any way including economically, sexually, intellectually, or culturally. I commit to examine with wisdom and clear comprehension the ways that I have privilege in order to determine skillful ways of using privilege for the benefit of all beings, and I commit to the practice of generosity in all aspects of my life and towards all human beings, regardless of cultural, ethnic, racial, sexual age, physical, or economic differences.

6. Aware of the suffering caused to myself and others by fear and anger during conflict or disagreement, I undertake the training to refrain from reacting defensively, using harmful speech because I feel injured, or using language or cognitive argument to justify my sense of rightness. I commit to communicate and express myself mindfully, speaking truthfully from my heart with patience and compassion. I commit to practice genuine and deep listening to all sides of a dispute, and to remain in contact with my highest intentions of recognizing the Buddha nature within all beings.

7. Aware of the suffering caused by the ignorance of misinformation and the lack of information that aggravate fixed views, stereotypes, the stigmatizing of a human being as ‘other’, and the marginalization of cultural groups, I undertake the training to educate myself about other cultural attitudes, worldviews, ethnic traditions, and life experiences outside of my own. I commit to be curious with humility and openness, to recognize with compassion the experience of suffering in all beings, and to practice sympathetic joy when encountering the many different cultural expressions of happiness and celebration around the world.

–Written by Larry Yang and included in a chapter in “Friends on the Path”, by TNH, compiled by Jack Lawlor, published in 2002

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INTERBEING

The sun has entered me.
The sun has entered me together with the cloud and the river.
I myself have entered the river,
and I have entered the sun
with the cloud and the river.
There has not been a moment
when we do not interpenetrate.

But before the sun entered me,
the sun was in me —
also the cloud and the river.
Before I entered the river,
I was already in it.
There has not been a moment
when we have not inter-been.

Therefore you know
that as long as you continue to breathe,
I continue to be in you.

Poem from “Call Me by My True Names: The Collected Poems of Thich Nhat Hanh”

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The Paradox of Noise

It is a paradox that we encounter so much internal noise
when we first try to sit in silence.
It is a paradox that experiencing pain releases pain.

It is a paradox that keeping still can lead us
so fully into life and being.
Our minds do not like paradoxes.  We want things
To be clear, so we can maintain our illusions of safety.
Certainty breeds tremendous smugness.

We each possess a deeper level of being, however,
which loves paradox.  It knows that summer is already
Growing like a seed in the depth of winter. It knows
that the moment we are born, we begin to die. It knows
that all of life shimmers, in shades of becoming–
that shadow and light are always together,
the visible mingled with the invisible.

When we sit in stillness we are profoundly active.
Keeping silent, we hear the roar of existence.
Through our willingness to be the one we are,
We become one with everything.

–Gunilla Norris

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The 16 Steps to Mindfulness of Breath

Excerpt from “The Key to Happiness

The 16 methods of inhaling and exhaling, in combination with the Four Establishments of Mindfulness, are the essence of the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing.

Everything that exists can be places into one of the Four Establishments of Mindfulness (the body, feelings, mind, and objects of the mind).

The 16 methods of breathing in and breathing out can be divided into 4 groups of four methods each. The first group uses the body as the object of Full Awareness; the second uses the feelings; the third uses the mind; and the fourth, the objects of the mind.

1. Breathing in a long breath, I know I am breathing in a long breath. Breathing out a long breath, I know I am breathing out a long breath.

2. Breathing in a short breath, I know I am breathing in a short breath. Breathing out a short breath, I know I am breathing out a short breath.

3. Breathing in, I am aware of my whole body. Breathing out, I am aware of my whole body.

4. Breathing in, I calm my whole body. Breathing out, I calm my whole body.

In the first two exercises the object of our awareness is the breath itself. Our mind is the subject, and our breath is the object. Our breath may be short, long, heavy, or light. Practicing our awareness this way we see that our breathing affects our mind, and our mind affects our breathing. Our mind and breath become one. We also see that breathing is an aspect of the body and that awareness of breathing is also awareness of the body.

In the third exercise the breath is connected with our whole body, not just a part of it. Awareness of the breathing is, at the same time awareness of our whole body—our mind, breath, body are one. In the fourth breathing exercise, our body’s function begins to calm down. Calming the breath is accompanies by calming the body and the mind. Our mind, our breathing, and our body are calmed down, equally. In these 4 exercises, we can realize the oneness of body and mind. Breathing is an excellent tool for establishing calmness and evenness.

5. Breathing in, I feel joyful. Breathing out, I feel joyful.

6. Breathing in, I feel happy. Breathing out, I feel happy.

7. Breathing in, I am aware of my mental formations. Breathing out, I am aware of my mental formations.

8. Breathing in, I calm my mental formations. Breathing out, I calm my mental formations.

The second four exercises help us return to our feelings in order to develop joy and happiness and transform suffering. Our feelings are us. If we do not look after them, who will do it for us? Every day we have painful feelings, and we need to learn how to look after them. Teachers and friends can help but we have to do the work. Our body and our feelings are our territory and we are responsible for that territory. As a result of conscious breathing and calming the body, joy, a pleasant feeling arises.

In the 6th exercise, joy is transformed into peace and happiness, and we are fully aware of it. The 7th and 8th exercises bring our attention to all feelings that arise, whether produced by the body or the mind. The mind’s functions include feelings and perceptions. When we are aware of every bodily and every mental action, we are aware of every feeling. The 8th exercise calms the body and mind and makes them peaceful. At this point we can perfectly and completely unify body, mind, feelings, and breath.

9. Breathing in, I am aware of my mind. Breathing out, I am aware of my mind.

10. Breathing in, I make my mind happy. Breathing out, I make my mind happy.

11. Breathing in, I concentrate my mind. Breathing out, I concentrate my mind.

12. Breathing in, I liberate my mind. Breathing out, I liberate my mind.

The third group of four exercises have to do with our mind which refers to the activities of our mind. These exercises help us deal with whatever mental formations are present, cultivating mental formations that are beneficial, and being in touch with and transforming mental formations that are not beneficial.

The 10th exercise makes our mind happy because it is easier for the mind to become concentrated when it is in a peaceful, happy state than when it is filled with sorrow or anxiety. We are aware that we have the opportunity to practice meditation and that there is no moment as important as the present one. The 11th exercise of using the mind to observe the mind brings us into deep concentration. All mental formations that manifest in the present moment can become objects of our concentration. 12th exercise can release the mind to freedom, if it is still bound. Mind is bound either because of the past or the future. With clear observation, we can locate the knots that are binding us, making it impossible for our mind to be free and at peace. We loosen the knots and untie the ropes that bind our mind.

13. Breathing in, I observe the impermanent nature of all dharmas. Breathing out, I observe the impermanent nature of all dharmas.

14. Breathing in, I observe the disappearance of desire. Breathing out, I observe the disappearance of desire.

15. Breathing in, I observe cessation. Breathing out, I observe cessation.

16. Breathing in, I observe letting go. Breathing out, I observe letting go.

Mind cannot be separated from its object. Mind is consciousness, feeling, attachment, aversion and so on. Consciousness must always be conscious of something. Feeling is always feeling something. Loving and hating are always loving and hating something. This “something” is the object of the mind. Mind cannot arise if there is no object. Mind cannot exist if the object of mind does not exist. The mind is, at one and the same time, the subject of consciousness and the object of consciousness.

The 13th breathing exercise sheds light on the ever changing, impermanent nature of all that exists. The insight into impermanence opens the way for use to see interbeing and selfless nature (nothing has a separate, independent self) of all that exists. The 14th exercise allows us to recognize the true nature of our desire, to see that every dharma is already in the process of disintegrating, so that we are no longer possessed by the idea of holding on to any dharma as an object of desire and as a separate entity. The 15th exercise allows us to arrive at the awareness of a great joy, the joy of emancipation and the cessation of illusion, by freeing us from the intention to grasp any notion. The 16th exercise illuminates for us what it is to let go of ourselves, to give up all the burdens of our ignorance and grasping. To be able to let go is to arrive at liberation.

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Practice Like a Wave

Water comes from high mountain sources.
Water runs deep in the Earth.
Miraculously, water comes to us and sustains all life.
My gratitude is filled to the brim.

“When you look at the surface of the ocean, you can see waves coming up and going down. You can describe these waves in terms of high or low, big or small, more vigorous, more beautiful or less beautiful. You can describe a wave in terms of beginning and end, birth and death. That can be compared to the historical dimension. In the historical dimension, we are concerned with birth and death, more powerful, less powerful, more beautiful, less beautiful, beginning and end and so on.

Looking deeply, we can also see that the waves are at the same time water. A wave may like to seek its own true nature. The wave might suffer from fear, from complexes. A wave may say, “I am not as big as the other waves,” “I am oppressed,” “I am not as beautiful as the other waves,” “I have been born and I have to die.” The wave may suffer from these things, these ideas. But if the wave bends down and touches her true nature she will realize that she is water. Then her fear and complexes will disappear.

Water is free from the birth and death of a wave. Water is free from high and low, more beautiful and less beautiful. You can talk in terms of more beautiful and less beautiful, high or low, only in terms of waves. As far as water is concerned, all these concepts are invalid.

Our true nature is the nature of no birth and no death. We do not have to go anywhere in order to touch our true nature. The wave does not have to look for water because she is water. We do not have to look for God, we do not have to look for our ultimate dimension or nirvana, because we are nirvana, we are God.

You are what you area looking for. You are already what you want to become. You can say to the wave, “My dearest wave, you are water. You don’t have to go and seek water. Your nature is the nature of nondiscrimination, of no birth, of no death, of no being and of no non-being.”

Practice like a wave. Take the time to look deeply into yourself and recognize that your nature is the nature of no-birth and no-death. You can break through to freedom and fearlessness this way. This method of practice will help us to live without fear, and it will help us to die peacefully without regret.”

– THICH NHAT HANH –
Excerpt from “No Death, No Fear”

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The Middle Way

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5 Mindfulness Trainings – Thay Commentary

Excerpt titled “The Five Wonderful Mindfulness Trainings” by  Buddhism in the National Capital of Canada

Thich Nhat Hanh provides commentary on how the Five Wonderful Mindfulness Trainings can be used by anyone in today’s world to create a more harmonious and peaceful life.

The First Mindfulness Training:
Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I vow to cultivate compassion and learn ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants and minerals.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s commentary on the 1st Precept.

The Second Mindfulness Training:
Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing and oppression, I vow to cultivate loving kindness and learn ways to work for the well being of people, animals, plants and minerals.

Thich Nhat Hanh’s commentary on the 2nd Precept.

The Third Mindfulness Training:
Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I vow to cultivate responsibility and learn ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families and society.

Thich Nhat Hanh has a commentary on the 3rd Precept.

The Fourth Mindfulness Training:
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I vow to cultivate loving speech and deep listening in order to bring joy and happiness to others and relieve others of their suffering.

Thich Nhat Hanh has a commentary on the 4th Precept.

The Fifth Mindfulness Training:
Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I vow to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking and consuming.

Thich Nhat Hanh has a commentary on the 5th Precept.

Excerpted from “For a Future to Be Possible: Commentaries on the Five Wonderful Precepts” (1993) by Thich Nhat Hanh, with permission of Parallax Press, Berkeley, California.)

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