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Thich Nhat Hanh’s Four Mantras of True Presence

By Thich Nhat Hanh on Tuesday June 23rd, 2020

Image: Hannah Vu

Coming Home to Each Other

When you love someone, you have to be truly present for him or for her. A ten-year-old boy I know was asked by his father what he wanted for his birthday, and he didn’t know how to answer. His father is quite wealthy and could afford to buy almost anything he might want. But the young man only said, “Daddy, I want you!” His father is too busy – he has no time for his wife or his children. To demonstrate true love, we have to make ourselves available. If that father learns to breathe in and out consciously and be present for his son, he can say, “My son, I am really here for you.”

The greatest gift we can make to others is our true presence. “I am here for you” is a mantra to be uttered in perfect concentration.

When you are concentrated – mind and body together – you produce your true presence, and anything you say is a mantra.

1st Mantra: “Darling, I am here for you.”

It does not have to be in Sanskrit or Tibetan. A mantra can be spoken in your own language: “Darling, I am here for you.” And if you are truly present, this mantra will produce a miracle. You become real, the other person becomes real, and life is real in that moment. You bring happiness to yourself and to the other person.

2nd Mantra: “I know you are there, and I am very happy.”

“I know you are there, and I am very happy” is the second mantra. When I look at the moon, I breathe in and out deeply and say, “Full moon, I know you are there, and I am very happy.” I do the same with the morning star. Last spring in Korea, walking mindfully among magnolia trees, I looked at the magnolia flowers and said, “I know you are there and I am very happy.” To be really present and know that the other is also there is a miracle. When you contemplate a beautiful sunset, if you are really there, you will recognize and appreciate it deeply. Looking at the sunset, you feel very happy. Whenever you are really there, you are able to recognize and appreciate the presence of the other – the full moon, the North Star, the magnolia flowers, or the person you love the most.

First you practice breathing in and out deeply to recover yourself, and then you sit close to the one you love and, in that state of deep concentration, pronounce the second mantra. You are happy, and the person you love is happy at the same time. These mantras can be practiced in our daily life. To be a true lover, you have to practice mindfulness of breathing, sitting, and walking in order to produce your true presence.

Boy looking up
“Darling, I am here for you” Image: National Cancer Institute

3rd Mantra: “Darling, I know you suffer.”

The third mantra is: “Darling, I know you suffer. That is why I am here for you.” When you are mindful, you notice when the person you love suffers. If we suffer and if the person we love is not aware of our suffering, we will suffer even more. Just practice deep breathing, then sit close to the one you love and say, “Darling, I know you suffer. That is why I am here for you.” Your presence alone will relieve a lot of his or her suffering. No matter how old or young you are, you can do it.

4th Mantra: “Darling, I suffer. Please help.”

The fourth mantra is the most difficult. It is practiced when you yourself suffer and you believe that the person you love is the one who has caused you to suffer. The mantra is, “Darling, I suffer. Please help.” Only five words, but many people cannot say it because of the pride in their heart. If anyone else had said or done that to you, you would not suffer so much, but because it was the person you love, you feel deeply hurt. You want to go to your room and weep. But if you really love him or her, when you suffer like that you have to ask for help. You must overcome your pride.

Home-Coming

There is a story that is well-known in my country about a husband who had to go off to war, and he left his wife behind, pregnant. Three years later, when he was released from the army, he returned home. His wife came to the village gate to welcome him, and she brought along their little boy. When husband and wife saw each other, they could not hold back their tears of joy. They were so thankful to their ancestors for protecting them that the young man asked his wife to go to the marketplace to buy some fruit, flowers, and other offerings to place on the ancestors’ altar.

While she was shopping, the young father asked his son to call him “daddy,” but the little boy refused. “Sir, you are not my daddy! My daddy used to come every night, and my mother would talk to him and cry. When mother sat down, daddy also sat down. When mother lay down, he also lay down.” Hearing these words, the young father’s heart turned to stone.

When his wife came home, he couldn’t even look at her. The young man offered fruit, flowers, and incense to the ancestors, made prostrations, and then rolled up the bowing mat and did not allow his wife to do the same. He believed that she was not worthy to present herself in front of the ancestors. His wife was deeply hurt. She could not understand why he was acting like that. He did not stay home. He spent his days at the liquor shop in the village and did not come back until very late at night. Finally, after three days, she could no longer bear it, and she jumped into the river and drowned.

Soldier crying
The fourth mantra: “Darling, I suffer. Please help.” Image: Francisco Gonzales

That evening after the funeral, when the young father lit the kerosene lamp, his little boy shouted, “There is my daddy.” He pointed to his father’s shadow projected on the wall and said, “My daddy used to come every night like that and my mother would talk to him and cry a lot. When my mother sat down, he sat down. When my mother lay down, he lay down.” “Darling, you have been away for too long. How can I raise our child alone? She cried to her shadow.” One night the child asked her who and where his father was. She pointed to her shadow on the wall and said, “This is your father.” She missed him so much.

Suddenly, the young father understood, but it was too late. If he had gone to his wife even yesterday and asked, “Darling, I suffer so much. Our little boy said a man used to come every night and you would talk to him and cry with him, and every time you sat down, he also sat down. Who is that person?” she would have had an opportunity to explain and avert the tragedy. But he did not because of the pride in him.

The lady behaved the same. She was deeply hurt because of her husband’s behavior, but she did not ask for his help. She should have practiced the fourth mantra, “Darling, I suffer so much. Please help. I do not understand why you will not look at me or talk with me. Why didn’t you allow me to prostrate before the ancestors? Have I done anything wrong?” If she had done that, her husband could have told her what the little boy had said. But she did not, because she was also caught in pride.

Strengthening Our Love

In true love, there is no place for pride. Please do not fall into the same trap. When you are hurt by the person you love, when you suffer and believe that your suffering has been caused by the person you love the most, remember this story. Do not act like the father or the mother of the little boy. Do not let pride stand in the way. Practice the fourth mantra, “Darling, I suffer. Please help.” If you really consider her to be the one you love the most in this life, you have to do that. When the other person hears your words, she will come back to herself and practice looking deeply. Then the two of you will be able to sort things out, reconcile, and dissolve the wrong perception.

How do you feel about this article? Join the conversation.

 

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12 Responses to Thich Nhat Hanh’s Four Mantras of True Presence

  1. Dearest Angel Clare, ✨💖✨💖✨

    I Am sending you SOOOOOO MUCH LOVE and Fairy Sparkles RIGHT NOW ✨💖✨💖✨💖✨✨✨✨🍃✨🌴✨💞✨🦋

    Thank you for sharing your Tender Hearts Story with all of Us 🍃💖🍃

    Where are you Love? 🍃🌹🍃

    I Am in Costa Rica living on the Beach 🍃🦋🍃 and as well doing Deep Inner Child Healing work !

    I Am soooo Inspired to know that even Mature Adults are Open to Looking Deeply Within and Healing their most Tender places…… I Am 62 years old 🍃🙏🏼🍃

    🌿💕What I have realized in my own journey is that I Must Be Alone to do this Healing Properly 🍃💕

    I Am sooooo Grateful to be able to have this Space and Time…….Like you Nature , Plants, Trees , the Ocean and All of the Animal KIngdoms are my Dearest Friends and ally’s …🐬🦎🐠🐢🐜🦄🦇🐓🐕🐎🕊🐿…..For this and soooo many things I Am Deeply and Profoundly Grateful!

    I Will Pray for you to have a Beautiful Friend whom you will ” INSPIRE” with your Tender Stories and Feel Deeeply Loved and Appreciated by……AS I AM … And So It Is ✨🍃🙏🏼✨🍃💖🍃

    I Love You Sooooo Much, Big Sparkling Fairy Hugs ✨🦄✨🦄 🕊💕 Jerri Le Fairy✨

    • It is very touching to read these heart-felt words and kind wishes toward someone you’ve never met Jerri. You are indeed a Fairy of love and light. Thank you for sharing it with the world <3

      Blessings,
      Team UPLIFT

  2. Beautiful article conveying how proper communication is a must with open heart without any ego .
    Thanks so much for the inspirational words n Mantras

  3. A truly wonderful article, full of compassion and understanding of intimate human relations from both points of view. Thank you very much! You have brightened my morning.

    • We’re very happy to hear that Keith 🙂 Thich Nhat Hanh’s infinite wisdom is inspiring to us too, which is why we love to share it.

      Blessings to you on your journey,
      Team UPLIFT

  4. I am elderly, alone in the world, no family, no friends in my life not even acquaintances. I read this as a practice, therefor, which I do for my deep inner child who is so lonely, longing for another person, other people in real time, real life to share this level of connection. And I do it from her, the inner alone littlest self who is so fearful and worthless feeling bcuz there is no one, no other person, but me, her adult self by whom she feels loved -from her I try to give my hurting adult self love, compassion and understanding. And both turn to Nature, the trees, the streams, and her beloved two animal companions and to the ineffable Universal Love. And it all helps, I believe it must be like this for a larger Divine, soul-growth Purpose and try to have it be enuf, to be grateful, deeply grateful for having come closer to Nature, to the Ineffable All, my hurting inner children ego states who never knew love and who now are afraid to trust if, indeed, someone were there to trust. It is all i have so it must be enuf and i am learning to view it with gratitude for what I do have but, like the young wife, sometimes I (the many different or fragmented “I’s” of me) are still soul-deep alone-feeling without other poeople with whom to truly Connect.

    • Hello Clare, I too am in the final years of my life, am completely alone in the world and I just want to reach out to tell you, we belong to a very special group of people, survivors.
      I don’t know your story, but your story is my story and my heart feels a deep appreciation and respect for you.
      Please know that though we have no actual human to touch, when we acknowledge each other’s pain, we are together in heart. Blessings precious soul.

    • Clare,
      I’m sorry to hear you are and feel so alone. Yet, it is also inspiring to read of this beautiful and heartfelt connection you have forged with your inner child and with Mother Nature.

      I sincerely hope you find some kindred souls to share life and your light with. Much love to you.

      Blessings,
      Team UPLIFT

      • You are not alone. So many others are walking your path. Live in the moment and know that you are loved. Continue to share abundance.

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