backlit beautiful bench clouds

Dhamma talk: Principles of living a happy life

Transcribed by: Viet Hung

Words from the transcriber: This dhamma talk was delivered on 06/25/2004, by Sayadaw U Jotika. It was originally named as “Solitude”, from the audio. It is the name of the poem that Sayadaw U Jotika used to share his thoughts. But in my opinion, what Sayadaw U Jotika taught goes much more beyond that name “Solitude”. For me, it is more about the principles of living a happy life. That’s why I changed the name to read “Principles of living a happy life”.

Let us begin our dhamma discussion tonight by paying respect to the Buddha, reciting: “Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhasa”.

Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhasa
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhasa
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhasa

This is the third time I’m here. I hope there are some old friends here. We met before. Are there anybody here? Sit as you like. Make yourself comfortable. I see some of you have got books, notebooks to take notes. That’s very good. I’ve got my notes, too. I like reading poems. So I found a poem which I like very much. And I would like to read the poems and tell you what I think about it. And you also try to understand in your own way, how you want to understand that poem. The title of the poem is very good. It is called “Solitude”. It was written a long time ago, written by somebody who lived, who was born in 1850 and died in 1919. So almost 85 years ago. And some of you may have read this poem, or at least part of this poem. Because this poem is very popular.

“Laugh, and the world laughs with you”

The first line is: “Laugh, and the world laughs with you”. How do you like that? “Laugh, and the world laughs with you”. I know some people who laugh a lot. Everybody, especially my friend who is sitting way back, she laughs for hours. So, laugh and the world laughs with you. The world means people. So, if you are happy and if you say jokes and laugh, people like to come to you. Because people want to be happy. Therefore, if you want to have a lot of friends coming to you, you must be a happy person. And when people come, you must have some things to say to make them happy and laugh, which is quite natural. But for us, monks, it is not allowed to laugh loudly. So, we have to suppress ourselves when we want to laugh. And you may have read that Buddha only smiled sometimes. But monks sometimes laugh. I know some monks, some of my friends, they laugh quite a lot. Because they are happy. So some people are naturally happy. Their temperament is happy temperament. So, people are different. People have different personalities. Some people are naturally quite happy. And whatever happened, they will look at that situation from a very funny point of view and make fun of it. Sometimes, they even make fun of themselves. They tell stories about themselves and they laugh. That’s a very good thing to do. Because taking things too seriously sometimes makes you feel very unhappy. But there are things that we must take seriously. Don’t take everything seriously.

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rocky seashore with calm seawater at twilight

Dhamma talk: The power of Doubtfulness and Vipassana Meditation

Transcribed by: Viet Hung

Words from the transcriber: This dhamma talk was delivered on 06/19/2004, by Sayadaw U Jotika. I got the audio from the Internet and didn’t have the name of the talk. Based on the content, I named it as “The Power of Doubtfulness and Vipassana Meditation”.

Note. Text in bold are the ones I wasn’t sure (including some Pali words). Though I still can get the meanings of the whole sentences, the exact words are not caught.

[From 00:00:54]

Before starting a discussion, let’s us pay respect to the Buddha by reciting, “Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhasa”.

Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhasa
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhasa
Namo Tassa Bhagavato Arahato Samma Sambuddhasa

Do you have questions written and ready?

Before you ask questions, I would like to tell you one idea that I found very interesting. I have a very inquisitive mind and also a very skeptical mind. So when you are skeptical, then you are more inquisitive. When I was younger, I read many books on almost all subjects: philosophy, science, psychology, religion, history, anthropology, culture,… I find everything very interesting. So when I read philosophy, I also read philosophy books written by Bertrand Russell. Many of you have read his books. And he wrote one book. And the title of the book is “Skeptical Essays”. And I just like the title of the book, “Skeptical Essays”. Because I think a person who is skeptical looks more deeply from many different angles to make sure that something is really reasonable or true.

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Dhamma Talk: How to live one’s life by Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu

This is another dhamma talk from Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu that I would suggest anyone who are seriously pursuing happiness should refer to. Especially, if you’re Buddhist, this short talk addressing the question of ‘how to live one’s life?’ would give you a great view on the map to get there.

I’d like to express my deep thanks to Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu for the teaching. And I wish you all the best.

You can find more about Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu and his teaching at: https://www.sirimangalo.org/

Please find below the Youtube video and the transcribed script is followed.

Good evening, everyone. Today’s talk is in response to a question about living one’s life. So the question had its own specifics, but the  important point of it was about asking how to live one’s life, which is a difficult question to answer on the face of it. Because you often involves some assumptions about what’s important, just assumptions about life in general. When we talk about how to live our lives, it’s often in context. It’s in the context of what we see as essential or important, in the context of how we understand reality. It’s caught up in what we’re told about life, about the world. So it involves concepts like family, society, economy. Even the concept of life itself, which is really just a concept, like a life from birth to death. Because the birth of a being, of a human being, it’s a concept that’s in our mind. Something that we conceive of, based on observations. It’s quite different experientially from other experiences. And so we give it a name and we see it as a thing, as an entity. We do the same with death. One death’s is some event that is quite different from other events. But it’s mostly external, right? You look at someone else, you spend time with them and you experience them in a specific way. But when they die, when you’re experiencing them quite a different way and it appears that they have ceased to exist. Or an important part of them, the mental part and the physical life has ceased to exist. And so this gives rise to all sorts of ideas.

But important for this question is the idea of life. So when we talk about life, we have to understand that it’s in context. It’s in the context of our understanding of things. And so I can’t tell you how to live your life in that context. Because it’s not essential. It’s not something that has an answer. The questions that we ask about life, in other words, are not fundamentally real. Should I go to university? Should I get a job? Should I get this job or that job? We ask questions that are based on concepts and so the answers are elusive, are complicated and are unanswerable in an ultimate level. And so we develop theories and philosophies and ideas based around this, the work ethic idea, the family, filial piety idea, our religions play into this, our culture’s plays into  this, even our partiality plays into this. I want to be a lawyer. Right. How many concepts are caught up in that and how how subjective is that? I want to become a lawyer. But does that mean becoming a lawyer is the right thing for some people? That’s not, for many people nowadays. I want to bang on a drum all day. For some people, that’s enough. This is a puzzle for us to solve, and it’s a puzzle that is deeply a part of Buddhist theory and practice.

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Dhamma Talk: Satipatthana in Daily Life by Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu

Once researching on Mahasatipatthana Sutta, I got to know some of dhamma talks from Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu. And here is one of the ones that I think it’s very useful for people who are in the workforce, bearing too many responsibilities, stress, worries, confusion, tiredness, … each and everyday. And that’s how I sat down and transcribed the talk, so that people can refer to the content more conveniently.

What I love the most from this talk is that the teaching is so simple that it’s very easy to apply it in our daily life for busy people, yet it’s so deep to the core of Buddhism meditation practice. I even started to ask my daughter to listen to the talk and find ways to apply it in her daily life. You know, kids nowadays are so distracted with too much of information available from the Internet, technology and so.

Though I have tried my best in the transcribing, I was not able to get all of the words 100%, especially some Pali words that Bhikkhu mentioned during the talk. I will revise the script, whenever I learn more. But I believe more than 90% of the content should be in the text for your reference. Feel free to use the content in an appropriate way.

I’d like to express my deep thanks to Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu for the teaching. And I wish you all the best.

You can find more about Yuttadhammo Bhikkhu and his teaching at: https://www.sirimangalo.org/

Please find below the Youtube video and the transcribed script is followed.

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Snow in the Summer by Sayadaw U Jotika

I happened to know this book, Snow in the Summer, nearly 15 years ago, once I started my journey to learn and practise Buddhism. At that time, I read the Vietnamese version of it. Then, I got to know about Sayadaw U Jotika and his teachings. Till now, I always considered that I was so fortunate reading the book in time, during my Buddhism journey — the happiness journey. Books are many. Yet many times, you don’t need that many. You only need to read the right one. And for me, this is it. 

Since I have started meditating, I re-read Snow in the Summer every year. Each time, it continues “exposing” the deeper layers of meaning that Sayadaw has “implanted” inside the book. How powerful and wonderful it is! For me, the book is like the bible for meditation. And much beyond that, it is like the code of living this life to the most of it, happier and more meaningful. I believe it is the same for whoever really pursue happiness, the ultimate goal of anyone of us.

I can’t express enough how thankful and how respectful I am for this ever great book from Sayadaw U Jotika. And that is my main driver to make it more accessible to people, whoever are suitable with its content and in need of it, which I believe many. While the content of the book is so available via the Internet in PDF format these days (you can Google it for “snow in the summer”), it’s almost not available in printing format on Amazon or other e-format like Kindle and audio book. What I’m trying to do here is to fill in those blanks. The other reason for me to promote e-format of the book is what I’d love  to borrow from Sayadaw U Jotika: “Paper is made from trees. If you love trees don’t waste paper.” In addition, it is easier to highlight, and take notes in e-reader applications.

I understand that Sayadaw U Jotika wanted that this book is a gift of Dhamma and must not be sold, commercialized or the like. Therefore, what I’d try to do is to make the content completely free to readers in e-format and audio format. By doing that, I hope it is able to reach a bigger audience base.

You can listen to the audio version of the book below. Or you can get it free on Google Play Store from the link below.

Free on Google Play Store here: https://tinyurl.com/26r9eh78

Should there be any questions, issues, feedback, … regarding these e-format versions, or the audio book version, email me at:  me@viethungnguyen.com.

May all the peace and mindfulness be with you.

P.S. The audio was generated by Natural Reader, a text-to-speech software.

Ven. Sayadaw U Jotika

Guided meditation scripts – Theravada tradition

This is the first time I tried this. It is for my two newly met friends, who wanted to meditate in Vietnam. As they are foreigners, I can’t send them the original scripts in Vietnamese of my master, Su Tam Phap. What I did was to translate the script to English and record them by my voice. And here it is. While it is still not the perfect version or translation or such those things, I hope it’s useful and usable to my foreigner friends. Try and let me know… Continue reading “Guided meditation scripts – Theravada tradition”

Yen Tu Challenge and the lesson learned

1068 meter in height, 6 km in length with thousands of stone stair-cases through the mountain, 4 hours walking up, and a few great lessons, reflection from it. And I’m going to share with you what I learned from this experience in this blog post.

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The top of Yen Tu mountain

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Mantra of Avalokiteshvara

Can you do me a favor? Please listen to the sound track on the right first, without asking any reason why. Please do it, before you go on and read.

What do you feel?

This piece of chanting is a very powerful one in Buddhism. However, I would not ask you to research and try to understand the meaning of it. The piece of music and the sound itself would do it all. Just stay back and experience it. Let it bring peace into your soul. Even my little daughter… she’s has loved this since she was a bit more than 2. Certainly, she doesn’t need to understand it. Yet, it surely gives her a wonderful feeling and that’s how she keeps asking about it.

Sometimes, we don’t need to ask anything. Just be ready, be open, and experience things directly into our heart, just like listening to this beautiful chanting.

You can download it here.