The Vietnamese Zen teacher Thich Nhat Hanh said, “The basis of Right Action is to do everything in mindfulness.” He teaches Five Mindfulness Trainings:
- The first training involves respecting life. In awareness of the suffering caused by the destruction of life, we work to protect all living things and this planet that sustains life.
- The second training involves generosity. We give freely of our time and resources where they are needed, without hoarding things we don’t need. We do not exploit other people or resources for our own gain. We act to promote social justice and well-being for everyone.
- The third training involves sexuality and avoiding sexual misconduct. In awareness of the pain caused by sexual misconduct, we honor commitments and also act when we can to protect others from sexual exploitation.
- The fourth training involves loving speech and deep listening. This means avoiding language that causes enmity and discord. Through deep listening to others, we tear down the barriers that separate us.
- The fifth training involves what we consume. This includes nourishing ourselves and others with healthful food and avoiding intoxicants. It also involves what books we read or what television programs we watch. Entertainments that are addictive or cause agitation might best be avoided.
The importance of compassion in Buddhism cannot be overstated. The Sanskrit word that is translated as “compassion” is Karuna, which means “active sympathy” or the willingness to bear the pain of others. Closely related to Karuna is Metta, ‘loving kindness.’
Five minute mindfulness meditation: