Monthly Archives: October 2011

You Have to Feed your Love Properly

October 10, 2011. 122-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, NY. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the final dharma talk for the Stepping Into Freedom, Savoring Life Retreat.

“Walking on the planet Earth is a wonder. The Zen Master Lin Chi said the miracle is to walk on earth. Like Neil Armstrong on the moon, we should be mindful of each step. Happiness should be possible with each step.”

Time is a product of our mind. This is dualistic thinking, but we can touch eternity and transcend time. We can transcend birth and death, being and non-being. Walking can bring a lot of joy, but also the highest enlightenment. You can bring this practice home and enjoy every moment of daily life.

Before you bow to the Buddha, you have to meditate. You have to communicate with the Buddha. There is a verse we can learn to touch emptiness. A Christian can practice the same way when bowing to Jesus. Thay continues to share about the Three Doors of Liberation (emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness) and the four signs, from the Diamond Sutra, in which we may get caught: the concept of a self, of man, of living beings, and of a lifespan.

You may listen or download the audio from this site or watch the video.

How Can I Not Suffer When People Are Not Being Good to this World?

October 9, 2011. 105-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, NY. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the third dharma talk for the Stepping Into Freedom, Savoring Life Retreat. Today we have a session of questions and answers.

Our practice to ask a question that will benefit everyone. We begin with the children, then teens, and finally the adults.

  1. When you are very upset, how can you show it without hitting?
  2. Do you ever get frustrated with yourself?
  3. How do I not suffer when people are not being good to this world?
  4. How young were you when you became a monk and what types of commitments did you need to make?

    // brief introduction and discussion on the Wake Up Movement by Br. Phap Luu //

  5. When I have positive and negative energy, what should I do with it?
  6. When I’m engaged in a conversation, I worry about other things. What does it mean to go home to yourself?
  7. Can we still have the consciousness of our loved ones after death? Can we communicate?
  8. A question about the Five Mindfulness Trainings and karma. Is it forgiven?
  9. When I get discouraged or frustrated, I sometimes compare myself to you and it keeps me away and I don’t feel connected to the sangha.
  10. A question about commitment and coming from a place of truth and an unclear understanding from when the commitment was originally made.
  11. A question about attachment, discrimination, and violence.
  12. As a person raised Christian and have felt Jesus, so how can I know absolute truth? Is this it?

You may listen or download the audio from this site or watch the video.

Breathing In, I Know I am Alive

October 8, 2011. 109-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, NY. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the third dharma talk for the Stepping Into Freedom, Savoring Life Retreat.

The Buddha is a teacher of love. At the time of the Buddha, the people of India were followers of Brahma and Brahma was love. So the Buddha taught about love and gave us the Four Elements of True Love – the Four Brahmaviharas.

The first element is maitri, It’s a difficult word to translate, but many people translate into lovingkindness.  Loving oneself is the foundation of loving someone else. The Buddha made himself happy and then he helped other people be happy. When you have freedom and calmness, then it is easy to help other people be happy. The second element of true love is karuna. This is usually translated as compassion. This is one is to remove suffering, to transform suffering. The third element is mudita – this is joy. This is the sign of true love. And most of the truth lies in the fourth element – upeksa. Scholars have usually translated this as equanimity but Thay shares the real meaning is non-discrimination. In true love there is no place for discrimination.

The wisdom of non-discrimination. In the teaching of the Noble Eightfold Path, the Buddha speaks of Right View. Right View is the type of insight that is free from discrimination. Right View is usually mentioned as the first element of the Noble Eightfold Path, but it also comes from Right Concentration and Right Mindfulness. Coming from Right View, we can produce Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, and Right Diligence. Today we will focus more on the practice of Right View and Right Concentration, but these are the eight elements of the path proposed by the Buddha. It is the Path of True Love. When we take the Five Mindfulness Trainings, they represent this path.

The teaching of no-birth and no-death, being and non-being. This has to do with the practice of emptiness, one of the three doors of liberation. There is a word, Sahabhu, it means co-being. We cannot exist by ourselves. Thay also speaks of our ideas and notions, including the notion of impermanence. Do we have insight?

Action has three aspects. Thinking. Speaking. Body. This is our product. Our continuation. Anything you produce will bear your signature. This is karma. We are our action.

With this path we can create happiness. True understanding and compassion.

You may listen or download the audio from this site or watch the video.

You Don’t Have to Die Just Because of One Emotion

October 7, 2011. 109-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, NY. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the second dharma talk for the Stepping Into Freedom, Savoring Life Retreat. Over a thousand people are in attendance.

When the Buddha breaths, the quality of breathing is superb. When the Buddha sits, the quality of sitting is superb. And the Buddha is always inside of you and if you invite the Buddha to sit or breathe with you then you can benefit. High class breathing. Today we return to the mantras for being truly present and bringing happiness to yourself and to your loved ones. We should express our appreciate and this is the practice of mindfulness. This isn’t a Buddhist practice; anyone can practice the mantras.

Darling, I am here for you.
Darling, I know you are there and it makes me happy.

Thay offers the story on a grain of corn. In the grain of corn is also a plant of corn. This is a common story given to illustrate signlessness and is usually offered for the children. Meditation is to look deeply and see things that other people cannot see. Interbeing. Can we take the cloud out of the tea? Can we take the mother or father out of the child?

Continue with the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing.

Aware of our in breath and our out breath.
Follow our in breath and our out breath.
Aware of our body.
Releasing tension in the our body.

The importance of abdomen/belly breathing. It is the trunk. No thinking. You are much more than one emotion. We should memorize this, especially when strong emotions arise. Thich Nhat Hanh recently met with California Governor Jerry Brown to suggest bringing this practice into the public schools. It is non-sectarian. Emotions are impermanent.

The mind is a river with drops of water called mental formations. Meditation is sitting on the bank of the river and not being carried away by the mental formation. The 10th exercise of breathing is to cultivate the mind. To make the mind more beautiful.

Four aspects of the practice of Right Diligence. First, we don’t water the negative seeds. Second, if a negative seed arises we try to help it not stay to long in our mind consciousness. We don’t fight or supress, but invite up a good seed. The third aspect is to bring the good seeds to have many chances to arise in the mind. To beautify the mind. Fourth, once you have a good mental formation then we try to keep it as long as possible. This is transformation at the base.

The 11th and 12th exercises on breathing are concentrating the mind and liberating the mind. The last four (13-16) exercises are presented. These last four have three concentrations: emptiness; signlessness, and aimlessness. The Three Doors of Liberation. Finally, we learn about the Buddha-body, the Dharma-body, and the Sangha-body.

You may listen or download the audio from this site or watch the video.

One Step is Enough

October 6, 2011. 117-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, NY. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the second dharma talk for the Stepping Into Freedom, Savoring Life Retreat. Over a thousand people are in attendance.

Thay begins by sharing about how we can be truly present for our loved ones. “You can look into the eyes of the other person and say, ‘Darling, I am here for you.’ That is the first mantra. And it works! When you say it, you and she will be happy right away. And you don’t have to practice it in Sanskrit or Chinese, you can say it in English.”

Thay continues by teaching the first few steps of mindfulness of breathing. He then goes into the teaching on store consciousness and mind consciousness. “The contents of store consciousness are seeds. In nuclear physics they speak of matter being made of subatomic particles; in Buddhist psychology we say that consciousness is made up of bijas, seeds. Very tiny–you cannot see them. We have a seed of mindfulness, and if we are a good practitioner, the seed of mindfulness grows everyday. Then, when we need mindfulness, it is available, right away. We also have a seed of anger, in store consciousness. And when someone comes and says something or does something that touches off the seed of anger in us, it manifests in mind consciousness as a mental formation.”

You may listen or download the audio from this site or watch the video.