Oprah: Do you meditate every single day?
Nhat Hanh: We try to do it not only every day but every moment. While drinking, while talking, while writing, while watering our garden, it’s always possible to practice living in the here and the now.
Oprah: But do you ever sit silently with yourself or recite a mantra—or not recite a mantra?
Nhat Hanh: Yes. We sit alone, we sit together.
Oprah: The more people you sit with, the better.
Nhat Hanh: Yes, the collective energy is very helpful. I’d like to talk about the mantras you just mentioned. The first one is “Darling, I’m here for you.” When you love someone, the best you can offer is your presence. How can you love if you are not there?
Oprah: That’s a lovely mantra.
Nhat Hanh: You look into their eyes and you say, “Darling, you know something? I’m here for you.” You offer him or her your presence. You are not preoccupied with the past or the future; you are there for your beloved. The second mantra is, “Darling, I know you are there and I am so happy.” Because you are fully there, you recognize the presence of your beloved as something very precious. You embrace your beloved with mindfulness. And he or she will bloom like a flower. To be loved means to be recognized as existing. And these two mantras can bring happiness right away, even if your beloved one is not there. You can use your telephone and practice the mantra.
Oprah: Or e-mail.
Nhat Hanh: E-mail. You don’t have to practice it in Sanskrit or Tibetan—you can practice in English.
Oprah: Darling, I’m here for you.
Nhat Hanh: And I’m very happy. The third mantra is what you practice when your beloved one is suffering. “Darling, I know you’re suffering. That is why I am here for you.” Before you do something to help, your presence already can bring some relief.
Oprah: The acknowledgment of the suffering or the hurting.
Nhat Hanh: Yes. And the fourth mantra is a little bit more difficult. It is when you suffer and you believe that your suffering has been caused by your beloved. If someone else had done the same wrong to you, you would have suffered less. But this is the person you love the most, so you suffer deeply. You prefer to go to your room and close the door and suffer alone.
Nhat Hanh: You are hurt. And you want to punish him or her for having made you suffer. The mantra is to overcome that: “Darling, I suffer. I am trying my best to practice. Please help me.” You go to him, you go to her, and practice that. And if you can bring yourself to say that mantra, you suffer less right away. Because you do not have that obstacle standing between you and the other person.
Oprah: “Darling, I suffer. Please help me.”
Nhat Hanh: “Please help me.”
Oprah: What if he or she is not willing to help you?
Nhat Hanh: First of all, when you love someone, you want to share everything with him or her. So it is your duty to say, “I suffer and I want you to know”—and he will, she will, appreciate it.
Oprah: If he or she loves you.
Nhat Hanh: Yes. This is the case of two people who love each other. Your beloved one.
Oprah: All right.
Nhat Hanh: “And when I have been trying my best to look deeply, to see whether this suffering comes from my wrong perception and I might be able to transform it, but in this case I cannot transform it, you should help me, darling. You should tell me why you have done such a thing to me, said such a thing to me.” In that way, you have expressed your trust, your confidence. You don’t want to punish anymore. And that is why you suffer less right away.