Right Action

Buddhism by the Numbers

Right Action

Right Action means Right Action of the body. It is the practice of touching love and preventing harm, the practice of non-violence toward ourselves and others. The Basis of Right Action is to do everything in mindfulness.

Right Action is closely linked with four of the five mindfulness trainings:

  • The first mindfulness training is about the reference of life
  • The second mindfulness training is about generosity
  • The third mindfulness training is about sexual responsibility
  • The fifth mindfulness training encourages mindful eating, drinking, and consuming

Right action is based on Right View, Right Thinking, and Right Speech, and is very much linked to Right Livelihood. The basis of Right Action is Right Mindfulness.

Based on the Teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh

Photo by Benn Bell

RIGHT SPEECH

Buddhism by the Numbers

Right Speech

The classical explanation of Right Speech is 1) Speaking truthfully. 2) Not speaking with a forked tongue. 3) Not speaking cruelly.

  • Right Speech is based on Right Thinking.
  • Deep listening is at the foundation of Right Speech
  • Compassionate listening brings about healing
  • When communication is cut off we suffer
  • The Bodhisattva Kwan Yin is the one who hears the cries of the world
  • If you really love someone, train yourself to be a good listener
  • You must use loving speech
  • You need to practice more walking meditation, more mindful breathing, more sitting meditation in order to restore your capacity for compassionate listening
  • When you begin to understand the suffering of the other person compassion will arise in you. Compassion is the only energy that can help us connect with another person. The person who has no compassion in him can never be happy
  • Writing is a deep practice
  • Silence is a time for looking deeply. There are times when silence is truth and that is called “thundering silence”
  • Words and thought can kill. We cannot support acts of killing in our thinking or in our speech. If you have a job in which telling the truth is impossible, you may have to change jobs. If you have a job that allows you to speak truth, be grateful. To practice social justice and non-exploitation, we have to use right speech

The Fourth Mindfulness Training is training oneself to listen with compassion

  • May my words be as beautiful as gems, as lovely as flowers
  • I am committed to cultivating loving speech and deep listening
  • Words can create happiness or suffering
  • I am determined to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope
  • I will not spread news that I do not know to be certain and I will not criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure.
  • I am determined to make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small.

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh

Photo credit: Benn Bell

RIGHT THINKING

Buddhism by the Numbers

Right Thinking

  • Thinking is the speech of the mind.
  • Right thinking leads to Right Action.
  • When we concentrate on our breathing, we bring body and mind back together and become whole.
  • Mindful breathing helps us stop being preoccupied by sorrows of the past and anxieties of the future. It helps us to be in touch with life in the present moment.

Four Practices Related to Right Thinking

  1. Are you sure?
  2. What am I doing?
  3. Hello habit energy.
  4. Bodhichitta – Mind of love.

Based on the teachings of Thich Nhat Hahn

To Loving Blackness

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During the time of Coronavirus I  took the opportunity to attend  an online Buddhist Seminar entitled : In the Footsteps of Thich Nhat Hanh. I consider Thich Nhat Hanh to be my guru. It was a five day summit, but since I was stuck at home I had plenty of time to attend. On the second day of the summit, at the end of the day, there was a short video that featured the writer bell hooks. Now bell hooks would be just about the last person in the world I would ever expect to encounter at a Buddhist seminar. Not there is any thing wrong with bell hooks. I like bell hooks. I know bell hooks. I’ve read several of her books and I have tremendous respect for her. I met her once in Philadelphia at a lecture she gave at the Free Library. I brought a book along with me for her to sign after the lecture, which she graciously did. When it came my turn I stood before her and smiled at her and told her that we shared the same name and that we both were from Kentucky. She liked that. She autographed my book with the following inscription: “To Loving Blackness.”

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It was an evening  I would not forget. Bell hooks is a woman with a fierce intellect and strong opinions and she is a woman who is full of rage.  She would be the first person to admit that. So, it was not without a little bit of surprise to run across this video of her at the summit. In the video she describes her encounter with Thich Nhat Hanh. She described how she was a little apprehensive about meeting the zen master.  She told him when she met him that she was filled with rage. He met that rage with loving kindness. He said that was OK. Hold onto your rage and use it for compost for your garden. Well, at moment, she had a little aha experience. And she was able to transform her anger, and that was the point of the video. Perfect!

Suchness

The Nature of Reality

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Reality cannot be expressed by conceptual knowledge or by written and spoken language. A  person who has never tasted a mango cannot know its taste, no matter what and how many words someone uses to describe the experience. We can only grasp reality through direct experience.

The nature of all things is unconditioned and can be called “suchness,” or “Tathata.” Suchness is the nature of all things. From suchness the lotus arises. You and I arise from suchness. We can call someone who arises from  suchnessa a tathagata , or one who thus comes.

 

Teaching is from Old Path White Clouds by Thich Nhat Hanh,  Photograph by my me.