July 31 What are the Five Mindfulness Trainings?

This week Annie will facilitate and we will read the Five Mindfulness Trainings of Thich Nhat Hanh (see below for full text of the trainings) and then we will watch a video of some Plum Village monastics and lay friends talking about how we can live with the trainings.


In the video, former monk and longtime mindfulness practitioner, Michael Ciborski, talks about how the mindfulness trainings help keep us present to our daily choices and intentions:


If we corrected all the errors of production and consumption but none of us could smile, that would be a horrible place to be. It's very important that we have those elements also and that we stay aware of all of that. We are a part of the earth. Every step that we take, every decision we make in our daily life can bring us this tremendous sense of belonging and happiness that we are part of life, we're not something separate.


The problem isn't out there, the problem isn't in here, the joy isn't out there and I'm missing it, or it has to be given from here to there -- we are a part of the web of life. We belong to that. And that's healing, that's stabilizing in on one level, but it's also a responsibility on the other -- to be aware that our actions tohave that impact and to continually train. 


The Five Mindfulness Trainings are the perfect thing, in my point of view. The perfect tool because each day they call you back to hold the suffering and the joy. And to do your best in each moment to make a choice which brings about something wholesome, something good. 


After our meditation period, we will read the five trainings together and watch the short video. Then we will have time to share about how we practice aspects of mindfulness in our daily lives, regardless of whether we have formally received or practice the trainings. 


To consider: 

  • Where have we chosen to live in ways that support life, happiness, true love, mindful speaking and wholesome consumption? 
  • Where do we diverge or struggle? 
  • Are the trainings even in alignment with our deepest intentions? 
  • What are our intentions for our lives, and how do we live into them?


Looking forward to being with all of you.


with love,



The Five Mindfulness Trainings:

The Five Mindfulness Trainings are offered as suggestions that can help  support our mindfulness practice; they provide a compass with which to orient our lives.  They are not commandments or Buddhist dogma. They represent a vision of all our spiritual ancestors for a global spirituality and ethic and are a concrete expression of a path of wisdom and true love, leading to healing, transformation, and happiness for ourselves and for the world.

To practice the Five Mindfulness Trainings is to cultivate a way of life which can remove all discrimination, intolerance, anger, fear, and despair. Following this way of life, we are not lost in confusion about our life in the present or in fears about the future.

1. Reverence For Life

Aware of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, I am committed to cultivating the insight of interbeing and compassion and learning ways to protect the lives of people, animals, plants, and minerals. I am determined not to kill, not to let others kill, and not to support any act of killing in the world, in my thinking, or in my way of life. Seeing that harmful actions arise from anger, fear, greed, and intolerance, which in turn come from dualistic and discriminative thinking, I will cultivate openness, non-discrimination, and non- attachment to views in order to transform violence, fanaticism, and dogmatism in myself and in the world.

2. True Happiness

Aware of the suffering caused by exploitation, social injustice, stealing, and oppression, I am committed to practicing generosity in my thinking, speaking, and acting. I am determined not to steal and not to possess anything that should belong to others; and I will share my time, energy, and material resources with those who are in need. I will practice looking deeply to see that the happiness and suffering of others are not separate from my own happiness and suffering; that true happiness is not possible without understanding and compassion; and that running after wealth, fame, power and sensual pleasures can bring much suffering and despair. I am aware that happiness depends on my mental attitude and not on external conditions, and that I can live happily in the present moment simply by remembering that I already have more than enough conditions to be happy. I am committed to practicing Right Livelihood so that I can help reduce the suffering of living beings on Earth and reverse the process of global warming.

3. True Love

Aware of the suffering caused by sexual misconduct, I am committed to cultivating responsibility and learning ways to protect the safety and integrity of individuals, couples, families, and society. Knowing that sexual desire is not love, and that sexual activity motivated by craving always harms myself as well as others, I am determined not to engage in sexual relations without true love and a deep, long-term commitment made known to my family and friends. I will do everything in my power to protect children from sexual abuse and to prevent couples and families from being broken by sexual misconduct. Seeing that body and mind are one, I am committed to learning appropriate ways to take care of my sexual energy and cultivating loving kindness, compassion, joy and inclusiveness – which are the four basic elements of true love – for my greater happiness and the greater happiness of others. Practicing true love, we know that we will continue beautifully into the future.

4. Loving Speech and Deep Listening

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful speech and the inability to listen to others, I am committed to cultivating loving speech and compassionate listening in order to relieve suffering and to promote reconciliation and peace in myself and among other people, ethnic and religious groups, and nations. Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to speaking truthfully using words that inspire confidence, joy, and hope. When anger is manifesting in me, I am determined not to speak. I will practice mindful breathing and walking in order to recognize and to look deeply into my anger. I know that the roots of anger can be found in my wrong perceptions and lack of understanding of the suffering in myself and in the other person. I will speak and listen in a way that can help myself and the other person to transform suffering and see the way out of difficult situations. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to utter words that can cause division or discord. I will practice Right Diligence to nourish my capacity for understanding, love, joy, and inclusiveness, and gradually transform anger, violence, and fear that lie deep in my consciousness.

5. Nourishment and Healing

Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I am committed to cultivating good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking, and consuming. I will practice looking deeply into how I consume the Four Kinds of Nutriments, namely edible foods, sense impressions, volition, and consciousness. I am determined not to gamble, or to use alcohol, drugs, or any other products which contain toxins, such as certain websites, electronic games, TV programs, films, magazines, books, and conversations. I will practice coming back to the present moment to be in touch with the refreshing, healing and nourishing elements in me and around me, not letting regrets and sorrow drag me back into the past nor letting anxieties, fear, or craving pull me out of the present moment. I am determined not to try to cover up loneliness, anxiety, or other suffering by losing myself in consumption. I will contemplate interbeing and consume in a way that preserves peace, joy, and well-being in my body and consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family, my society and the Earth. 

If you want to receive the trainings, you can do so at a U.S. monastic retreat, at one of the monasteries during a retreat, or on the first weekend in January in Oakton, Virginia with Thich Nhat Hanh’s niece, Anh Huong and her husband Thu Nguyen. When someone receives the trainings, they also are given a lineage name to practice with. Please talk to or send an email to Annie or Marie if you are interested.