Monthly Archives: June 2011

I Prefer Walking in the Kingdom of God

May 22, 2011. 91-minute dharma talk given in English, with simultaneous translation into German, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is a Day of Mindfulness offered by Thay at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

Communication in the family. Love and care for yourself allows you to love and care for another. We must begin with oneself. The teaching of the Buddha is clear. Thay speaks about calming and healing the body and mind, and about the art of bringing about happiness and reconciliation in our relationships. The practice is from the Exercises of Mindful Breathing (Anapanasati Sutta). We can learn the practice to transform our habit energies; Mindfulness can help us see our habit energies.

A special treat at 49-minutes when Thay chants to demonstrate the Interbeing nature of ourselves and the Buddha. The communication between the Buddha and us are one. The same is true between a father and a son.

Towards the end of the talk he offers an orientation on the practice of walking meditation.

The talk was given in English and German at the same time and is available below for listening or download. You may also view the video.

To Be Means to Interbe

May 21, 2011. 127-minute dharma talk given in English, with simultaneous translation into German, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the final talk Dharma talk offered by Thay in the German Retreat at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

Right view and non-discrimination and non-dualistic thinking. Thoughts, speech, and action are three products of our daily life. These are out continuation into the future. Karma. With mindfulness, concentration, an insight we can assure a beautiful future. The Five Skandas, the environment and retribution. Mindfulness can also transform the past.

Thay shares about the Eightfold Noble Path, particularly the three karmas of body, speech and mind. “What we produce in terms of thought, speech, and actions will never be lost. When this body of ours disintegrates, our karma continues always, and will be expressed in new forms of life. So the dissolution of this body does not mean our end. By practicing mindfulness, concentration, and insight it is possible to ensure a beautiful continuation into the future.”

The Three Doors of Liberation. Emptiness. Signlessness. Aimlessness.

The talk was given in English and German at the same time and is available below for listening or download. You may also view the video.

Living Practice Communities for Young People

May 20, 2011. 94-minute session of Question and Answers given in English, with simultaneous translation into German, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the fifth day of the German Retreat at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

Some of the questions from the session include:

How can we support the formation of living practice communities for young people? Thay invites Phap Linh to help respond to this question regarding leading groups of young people, particularly in the Wake Up! movement.

How can we transform our relationship with someone who hates us?

How do I deal with judgmental thoughts about other people?

Lately I feel that my true self is like a drop that has been taken out of the collective consciousness, as if from a cloud, and I feel as I’m aging that this drop that has been separated would like to re-enter the ocean. I would like to know if you know of this longing to be re-united as a drop with the ocean: how can I live with this contradiction of longing for the true self in the here and now, and my daily life?

Following the FIve Mindfulness Trainings, I try not to kill. Two years ago, when I saw some bugs in the kitchen, I left them in peace because there were not so many. I did the same thing last year. This summer there are so many that I felt I had to do something. You teach that when we follow the North Star this means we do not have to reach it. So I began to kill these bugs, always trying to keep a friendly mind, wishing a good rebirth for them in the next life. At first it felt OK. But when you are killing ten or more beings every day, when they wish to live as we do, it becomes too much. I felt it cannot be better to kill them by chemical means, where I don’t have to touch them personally. But to perform the act of killing again and again—is this not worse, with regard to the karmic imprints in our stream of consciousness, or do you have to decide not to kill at all, despite the disadvantages?

A question regarding my superiority complex: All my life I have found that I meet people, I judge them and find that I am superior. I used to go to school, at the end of each year we had the custom to invite the best of each year on stage and decorate them with a golden plaque that they could put on the wall. There is still this voice in me that wants to share that once I too received one of those golden plaques. But I have also discovered how this attitude has created a distance between myself and other people. By looking deeply I see that there is a mechanism in me that causes me to measure myself against my father, an archaic struggle against the father. I am deeply grateful for the teachings which have enabled me to transform this. I keep my father now in my heart, and the inner struggle has ceased. I am also touched that you talked so much about fathers and sons in this retreat. One reason for my feeling of superiority is that I have always tried to protect myself from a feeling of inferiority. However, this feeling of having to create a distance between myself and other people is still present. I feel I have already heard some answers to my question, particularly in the Sutra on Five Ways of Putting an End to Anger. I would still like to ask your advice on how to better manage this.

I had a deep crisis in my life about twelve years ago with those who I thought had been my friends. These were the people that I spent my time with, and who I practiced with. There came a moment when I was most in need of their help, and I was let down by them. Not only did they let me down, but they then attacked me and stabbed me in the back. Through all those years they had not seen me as I really was. This has led to me becoming very ill, and it has led me to losing all my trust in other people. In this way, it was shown to me that the friends of today can be the enemies of tomorrow, and perhaps the enemies of today can be the friends of tomorrow. These past twelve years I have spent with the question whether I would continue to live, because there was a moment when I felt I wouldn’t. But I felt I wanted to live because I felt that there were many things yet to learn. And I also felt I wouldn’t be able to live in this world if I were not able to open myself to something new. First, there was a moment when I needed to withdraw and move to a place where I would not see the people that had let me down. I have lived there withdrawn near nature, and near to Mother Meera. With the help of Mother Meera I have looked deeply, and I have tried to forgive myself and others. Now I am on a new path where I am trying to find trust again in both myself and others. Much has now changed for the better. There are still moments, and recently there has been an incident–I live in a very old house with many nice flats in it–in those other flats there are people living there who are not very mindful, and the communication with those people can be very difficult. Recently there have been a few instances where I have been verbally attacked by people, though I could not see how I did anything to cause such an attack to take place. I feel that this old wound is being touched again, where people cannot be trusted, and you never know what will happen in the next moment. This can cause a shock whereby I feel that I am not able to cope, and I feel I need to protect myself from this. My question is: How can I live in an open and trusting way, even with people who are not very mindful, and how am I also able to protect myself and my sensitivity?

The session was given in English and German at the same time and is available below for listening or download. You may also view the video.

Cooling Down the Fire of Anxiety

May 19, 2011. 92-minute dharma talk given in English, with simultaneous translation into German, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the third Dharma talk offered by Thay in the German Retreat at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

We learn about verses of practice — Gathas — many are taken from Avatamsaka Sutra. Later, Thay wrote Gathas for modern society such as using the telephone and riding a bicycle. We continue the discussion on right view with a presentation on the opposites: being/non-being, birth/death, coming/going, and sameness/otherness. The last 15-minutes of the talk, Thay provides some instruction for education and mindfulness.

The talk was given in English and German at the same time and is available below for listening or download. You may also view the video.

The Noble Truth of Suffering

May 18, 2011. 86-minute dharma talk given in English, with simultaneous translation into German, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the second Dharma talk offered by Thay in the German Retreat at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

The Buddha considered the earth his Buddha land. He was a child of the earth. How we wall and listen can create our own Budda land. This is not philosophy. This is something you can experience. We can touch the Kingdom, the Pure land.

Enjoy walking in the ultimate dimension.
My hand is in his hand.
Many thousand years ago and many years to come, every one of us will go to the same direction.

In Buddhism we call this nirvana. In Christianity we call this the Kingdom of God. This is different than the historical dimension. We live in the historical dimension but we can get in touch with the ultimate dimension. In the historical we see birth and death, being and non-being. In the ultimate, these do not exist. Nirvana is the ground if everything. And yet the historical and the ultimate are not two realities.

We can take the hand of the Buddha or the hand of Jesus anytime in the here and the now. No reservations required. It is simple. Not complicated.

Bitter melon. Why do we call suffering a noble truth? What is so good about suffering? If we look deeply at dukkha, the first noble truth, we can also see all the other noble truths. The Four Noble Truths are not separate entities. There is a cloud in the flower. What are the elements of the flower?

The path leading to the end of suffering is called the Noble Eightfold Path. It begins with element called Right View. From there we have Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Mindfulness, Right Concentration.

We continue with a discussion of being and non-being. When we touch the ultimate, we are free from this idea of being and non-being, birth and death.

The talk was given in English and German at the same time and is available below for listening or download. You may also view the video.

Applied Buddhism, or Applied Ethics

May 17, 2011. 120-minute dharma talk given in English, with simultaneous translation into German, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the first Dharma talk offered by Thay in the German Retreat at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

Being present with walking. Every step is to celebrate that you are alive. Walking meditation can be a festival. You can be in the Kingdom of God, I’m the Pure Land. When you can do this, you don’t need anything else. The Kingdom is love; it is understanding; it is freedom. Then you can offer it to others.

There are two aspects to this freedom. The first is to stop. To stop running into the future. Happiness is possible in the here and now. The second aspect is to calm. To release. The Buddha offered a number of exercises to stop and calm.

Mindfulness, Concentration, Insight. Happiness and suffering – these are linked. The Buddha talked about suffering and happiness in his very first dharma talk through the Four Noble Truths. The Buddha offered the Sixteen Exercises of Mindful Breathing.

Thay teaches pebble meditation, mindfulness of breathing, and on the practice of applied ethics.

The talk was given in English and German at the same time and is available below for listening or download. You may also view the video.

Happiness and Space Inside

May 8, 2011. 78-minute Dharma Talk given in English by Thich Nhat Hanh at the new Lotus Pond Temple in Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, Hong Kong.

We begin with a story for the children. A Mothers Day practice, for those who’s mother is still alive and for those who’s mother has died. The Buddha’s mother had died when he was only seven days old. Her story is in the Avatamsaka Sutra. You too can meet the mother of the Buddha with good Concentration. We can learn to be a good mother or a good father. We can learn a lot from the mother of the Buddha. Today we celebrate the birthday of the Buddha. Vesak. We will have a ceremony to bathe the Buddha.

After 30-minutes for the children, Thay continues. We are a continuation of our mother and our father. There is no separate self. Simple, but we often forget. They are alive in us and we can talk to them. The Buddadharma can help us to manifest the good things from our parents and also to accept and transform the suffering.

Mindfulness is about the present moment. With mindfulness you can discover the seeds of happiness.

The talk was given in English translation and is available below. There is a video version too.