May 26, 2024

4 Buddhist Mantras from Thich Nhat Hanh to Turn Fear & Suffering into Love.

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“We have a great, habitual fear inside ourselves. We’re afraid of many things—of our own death, of losing our loved ones, of change, of being alone. The practice of mindfulness helps us to touch non-fear. It’s only here and now that we can experience total relief, total happiness…In the practice of Buddhism, we see that all mental formations—including compassion, love, fear, sorrow, and despair—are organic in nature. We don’t need to be afraid of any of them, because transformation is always possible. Such transformation is possible only through deliberate practice—none more challenging, or more rewarding, than the practice of transforming fear into love. In consonance with his teaching that ‘to love without knowing how to love wounds the person we love,’ he anchors this transmutation practice in four mantras ‘effective for watering the seeds of happiness in yourself and your beloved and for transforming fear, suffering, and loneliness.'” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh


The great Vietnamese Buddhist teacher and peace activist Thich Nhat Hanh wrote in his book Fear: Essential Wisdom for Getting Through the Storm about befriending complexity through simplicity.

He particularly talked about a simple practice of repeating mantras.

He wrote:

“A mantra is a kind of magic formula that, once uttered, can entirely change a situation. It can change us, and it can change others. But this magic formula must be spoken in concentration, with body and mind focused as one. What you say in this state of being becomes a mantra.”

He offers four Buddhist mantras for transforming fear and suffering into love, starting with the “Mantra for Offering Your Presence.”

1. “Dear one, I am here for you.”

This mantra might be short and simple but in our times, when we have to be everywhere all at once and get as many things done as we can in a day, carving out space and gifting someone with real presence might be not so simple for everyone. Yet, Thich Nhat Hanh gently reminds us that the most precious gift we can give to the one we love is our pure presence. You must say the mantra with your body and your mind at the same time, and then you will see the transformation.

And this pure presence is the prerequisite for the second mantra “Mantra for Recognizing Your Beloved.”

2. “Darling, I know you are there, and I am so happy.”

When we are fully present with someone, we can then recognize how much their presence is precious to us. The best in these two mantras is that in our modern times of internet, these practices can be performed across distance and time zones.

While the third mantra “Mantra for Relieving Suffering” might sound similar to the first mantra, the difference is that it is focused on bringing ease to anyone who’s suffering, even through wires and screens.

3. “Dear one, I know you are suffering. That is why I am here for you.”

When we suffer, we need the presence of a person we love, even if we aren’t aware of it. If we get ignored by our loved ones during hard times, we suffer even more. This even works with people we don’t know that much, but we know of and understand their suffering. If we repeat the mantra to them with all our presence and love, we’ll be able to offer support and relief to anyone. Combining it with the hugging meditation of Thich Nhat Hanh, we can magnify the benefits of this mantra.

The final mantra “Mantra for Reaching Out to Ask for Help” is, as Thich Nhat Hanh observes, the most difficult of the four.

4. “Dear one, I am suffering; please help.”

We can use this mantra when we suffer or believe that a loved one has caused it. When someone we love deeply hurts us, the last thing we feel like doing is to ask that person for help. According to the teaching of the Buddha, in true love, there is no place for pride, so we have to overcome our pride and not let it become an obstacle to reconciliation and healing. This mantra will also help us to realize that nothing can be done to us without our (often unconsciously given) permission.

We can practice this fourth mantra on ourselves, too, to bring about the unity of our body and mind before going to another person to say the  mantra. This seems simple, isn’t it? Yet this is the hardest thing to do.


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