Being Free from Dogma

This 58-minute dharma talk is the second half of a talk offered on November 17, 2005 at the New Hamlet, Plum Village.

Thay continues a discussion from the earlier dharma talk. When we make a statement in Buddhism, it should help to transform and to present the truth. Buddhism is not a philosophical position. Zen is free from notions, statements. For example,

Space is a conditioned dharma. Space is not a conditioned dharma.
Dharma and the non-dharma.

Does Buddhist fundamentalism exist? Are there those who have gotten dogmatic about the dharma. Buddhism should be free from dogma, but there is some dogmatism in Buddhism too. Why isn’t this a good thing?

The truth of interbeing. At the cellular level and in nature. In heart of reality there is cruelty, violence, and a struggle for survival. In the heart of reality there is also wisdom, compassion, and togetherness. And this is the foundation of reality.

We conclude with a brief teaching on Buddhism and science.

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Relaxing in the Present Moment

The 58-minute dharma talk offered by Thich Nhat Hanh took place at the New Hamlet of Plum Village on November 10, 2005. The audio is linked below and video is available for our donors on Patreon.

Please note, the recording begins with a few minor sound issues, but the dharma talk doesn’t begin until it is resolved by the sound team. We left it in the recording because it adds some character.

When we speak about dwelling in the present moment, we mean living deeply in every moment of our daily life. Do we know how to live in the present moment? It begins with relaxing ourselves and to stop running. To release our worries. Our tensions. Stopping our mental discourse. Do we know how to rest after a long day of work? To relax our mind and body? Mindfulness tells us the conditions for testing are there for us.

Awareness of breathing is exactly what we need to stop our mental discourse. To touch the conditions of happiness that are there. This is not hard work. We can free from our thinking and our body begins to relax, and to heal itself. Simple. We have to stop the mental discourse so we can be free in the present moment.

Walking to be present and aware of the present moment is also possible. We can relax during walking meditation too.

This practice is a practice freedom. 

A teaching on the historical and ultimate dimension as illustrated through drinking our tea, our coffee. Can you drink your tea in the ultimate dimension? Avata?saka S?tra.

In China, there was a time when they tried to bring Zen and the Pure Land together. In Plum Village, we practice Zen using the energy of mindfulness and insight but we also say the Pure and is available in the here and the now. The pure land is now or never. Thay shares a koan from that time that is still practiced today.

Who is the person invoking the name of the Buddha? 

This is the subject of our mediation. Both Zen and Pure Land practice this. Thay teaches on this koan – what is the purpose of this koan? This koan is an invitation. Thay then shares a Chinese story of two philosophers contemplating fish swimming. Are the fish happy?

Ni?m – mindfulness, recollection

We should always ask ourselves with any teaching, what does this teaching have to do with my suffering? It is not intellectual.

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Healing Oneself Healing the World with Thich Nhat Hanh and Friends

Better ListenIn addition to our regularly offered talks, we are happy to share this 2013 packaged set from Better Listen! Check it out.

Healing Oneself and Healing the World featuring Thich Nhat Hanh and practice with Br. Phap Dung and Sr. Dang Nghiem

These 2013 recordings by Thich Nhat Hanh are from Magnolia Grove Monastery in Batesville, Mississippi during a 6-day retreat in 2013 with the theme Healing Ourselves, Healing the World. The program has been digitally remastered and has 12 hours of wonderful material.
How do we produce a thought that is filled with understanding and compassion? Building a sangha or a practice center is one method. In our tradition, we begin by looking at our suffering. We can then recognize the suffering in the other person. This is the first and second noble truth. With this, the energy if compassion arises because you have touched and understood suffering.

We bring our mind and body together and come back to ourselves in order to be truly there and be able to stop our thinking. We can get lost in our thinking. When we are mindful and concentrated of our in breath them our mind only has one object. Just breathing in mindfully we can get freedom from the past l, the future, and our projects. Freedom is possible and the healing can start.

Touching Life – Come Home to Yourself

The 53-minute dharma talk offered by Thich Nhat Hanh took place at the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village on November 3, 2005. The audio is linked below and video will be available for our donors on Patreon.

What does it mean, “I take refuge in the Buddha.” Buddha is the one who is mindful, awake, enlightened. Taking refuge is not believing in a God or deity. We all have a seed of mindfulness, understanding, and love. We can become a person who is fully awake, enlightened, just like the Buddha. Taking refuge is confirming the fact that you can be enlightened. You are a Buddha. This is not a declaration of faith, but a commitment to practice. In every breath we are taking refuge. In every mindful step we are taking refuge.

The way in is also the way out. Our spiritual life should be established in that vision – being truly ourselves. Practicing to bring a spiritual dimension into your life. Through drinking our tea, preparing our breakfast, or brushing our teeth. These are spiritual acts. Not being caught by the future or the past. This is being a Buddha.

Going home to ourselves. How is this act accomplished? Practicing in a community like Plum Village, everyone is supported by the sangha. This is taking refuge in the sangha. We have faith in the community. Helping to build this refuge for others.

Story of when the Buddha was about 80-years old and how he offered the teaching on taking refuge in the island of yourself. Here we can encounter the foundation of ourselves – the island includes the Buddha, dharma, and sangha. This is the practice of Plum Village also.

How do we respond when we are lonely, not feeling like ourselves? Our feelings of fear? Do we know how to practice going home to ourselves? Walking meditation is a method. Can we walk like a Buddha? Enjoying every step. This is a miracle.

The Buddha-nature is within you and through mindfulness, concentration, and insight it is you that is performing a miracle.

It is a practice of enjoyment.

Editor’s Note: If the play button or download link doesn’t work, please try again shortly. We are testing out a new service and there may be caps on the downloads. Thank you for the patience. 

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Non Fear

The Retreat on Buddhist Psychology continues in Key West, Florida. The date is November 9, 1997. This is the final talk in the series. Audio is linked below and video will be available for our donors on Patreon.

Thay jumps immediately to the teachings on the verses of consciousness, the topic of this retreat, beginning with the thirtieth verse.

Self and nonself. Interbeing. Consciousness is always flowing and evolving. Conditioned dharmas (36). Space and time are not separated entities. The only dharma that can be considered “unconditioned” is nirvana. Suchness (36). No coming. No going. Tathagata.
Verses 37-40, we learn about the four conditions. Primary cause. Object cause. Supporting causes. Immediacy of continuity. These four conditions are necessary for manifestation. Deluded mind and true mind. Codependent arising.

Paratantra (41). Samsara and suchness are no different. It is deluded mind to think they are different – they have the same ground.

The flower is already present in the garbage (42). We see one in the other. They are not two. There is no need to run away from birth and death (43). We can understand that the kingdom of

God is at hand; available in the present. Conscious breathing and Right View (44). Mindfulness can transform all mental formations (45).

Mindfulness is the energy of God. And mindfulness is not an idea, but something we can cultivate and allow to grow. To be alive in the presence of God.

Transformation at the base is down there at the depth of our consciousness. This is where the real transformation takes place and our internal knots are slipping (46).

The present moment contains the future (47). The secret to transformation at the base is how well we handle the present moment. And practicing with a sangha can help it occur more easily. Affliction and enlightenment are the same (50). Ride on the waves of birth and death. With no fear.

There are three kinds of gifts: material gifts, gift of the dharma, and nonfear (this is the greatest gift to give). The practice of nonfear can let I’d look into the light of interbeing. When we chant the Heart Sutra, we see that Sariputra has been able to transcend fear.

Understanding our MindHistory of Buddhist Teachings
Many have asked who is the author of these 51 Verses. After the Buddha passed away, a few decades after, there was a need to systemize the teachings of the Buddha. This is known as the Abhidharma – super dharma – and it contains many many teachings. Thay offers the background on the abidharma teachings over time. Some of these teachings have been translated into English so it can be available to you. For example, the Path of Purification, the Twenty verses on Manifestation only (or mere manifestation – it is a very difficult teaching), but the 51 verses are much easier. You can listen to these talks again or purchase Understanding Our Mind: 50 Verses on Buddhist Psychology.

Two Stories on Dying

Story of Anapindika and Sariputra with the practice on the Recollection of the Three Jewels.

Story of Alfred Hassler. About 8-years ago, on the way to the Omega Institute for a retreat, we learned our dear friend Alfred Hassler was dying in a hospital nearby. Sr. Chan Không and Thay decided to stop and visit him along with Alfred’s wife and daughter. Thay recalls some of the work done with Alfred and his family.

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