Category Archives: Eating Meditation

Four Energies and Mindful Educators

Thich Nhat Hanh along with the monks and nuns of Plum Village are on their first tour of Spain this month. An Educators Retreat at the University of Barcelona and this is the first talk providing an orientation to the practice taught by Thay. The date of the recording is May 9, 2014. The audio and the video are both available below.

We begin with an introduction to the practice of breathing and the role it plays in mindfulness practice.There is an energy of mindfulness that is born during the time we are breathing. Life is available in the present moment because the past is already gone the future has not yet come. To go home to the present moment is easy…breath in mindfully. We can get in touch with our body when we are breathing mindfully. Our body is the first wonder of life. Maybe when we get in touch with our body, we may notice tension in our body. If we notice this tension while breathing, we can release this tension while breathing out. If we learn to do this well, then we can learn to transmit this to our students. There is another energy of the practice called concentration. This energy is born from the energy of mindfulness. It let’s us focus. (Editor’s Note: short skip in the recording here) The third energy is insight. Insight arises from concentration and mindfulness. The French novelist Camus spoke of this through the story of the prisoner. Breathing in, I know I am alive. This is already an insight and it is a true miracle. Mindfulness allows us to live deeply each moment we are alive and has the power to liberate us.

Conditions of happiness. Can we see all the conditions of happiness right here in this moment? We can begin with mindfulness of our eyes. A good practitioner of mindfulness should be able to create a feeling of joy and a feeling of happiness at any moment. The practice of walking is another method to discover a moment of happiness. I have arrived.

True happiness is made of mindfulness, concentration and insight. And this will bring compassion, love, and joy.  This is the art of living. With this practice, you can also handle a painful feeling or emotion. Many of us consume in order to not encounter our suffering. We are afraid of our own suffering. Mindfulness can help you know how to suffer. How do we do this? We can use mindfulness to not be overwhelmed by the pain inside. We can recognize and embrace the pain. Once we learn this practice, we can do the same for our students and help our students to suffer less as well.

Understanding will always bring about compassion. Compassion is the fourth kind of energy and has the power to heal and transform anger. Once we know our own suffering transformed, how can we help another person to suffer less.

Thay draws a circle representing the school teacher. How do we work with difficult aspects in our school environments. We can start with our loved ones, then our colleagues, and finally our students. The first thing to do is going home to ourselves through the practice of mindful breathing and mindful walking. We can do this with the support of co-practitioners.

Instruction on walking meditation, mindful eating, and listening to the bell.

The Joy of the Dharma

Originally given in Vietnamese, available from Lang Mai, the talk from the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village is dated Thursday, February 6, 2014 and is the twenty third talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. This is an English translation, available below, by Sr. Tue Nghiem. In this teaching we have a great review of basic practices that bring joy and peace followed by a teaching on 3 verses from the 30-verses of Vasubandhu text.

0:00 Chanting
7:18 Vitality
27:50 The Three Energies
41:30 Walking Meditation
55:00 Eating Meditation
1:06:33 Thirty Verses Study

There is a mental formation called vitality.  Life. In Theravada tradition there are two types of life. The name and the form (material aspect). Even with the fetus, there is already the form and the vitality of the fetus is intermingled with the vitality of the mother. They are not two separate things. The child and mother are one. We can see vitality even in an inanimate object, such as a grain of rice. Quantum physics see this now in the subatomic particles. In the grain of corn there is vitality and in the speck of dust. There are no borders between animate and inanimate objects. We learn this in the Diamond Sutra.

We have to live our life deeply. Matter and energy – their nature is no birth and no death. We use our breathing to bring peace to our breath. We can become light like a cloud and let go of all our anxiety. We train to breathe like this.

We can generate the energy of mindfulness. Concentration is one-pointed mind. At that moment, we are truly present. A free person. These are mindfulness and concentration. We can generate this with our breathing.  In this case the breathing is the object of our mindfulness. Then, with these two we generate the third energy – insight. This is a training. We are here at Plum Village to learn how to do this because it had the capacity to heal and to nourish. To feel the joy of breathing in and breathing out. The joy of the dharma. The joy of the practice is our daily food. We are consuming food that nourishes and heals us. We have to live deeply in our breathing to generate peace and joy. Then we let go of anxiety and tension.

Walking with peace and joy. What is slow walking meditation? How and why do we practice walking? Legendary steps.

While we sit, we need to calm our breathing. We allow our body to rest, sitting upright, to harmonize the body. This too can generate joy and happiness.

The same can be done with eating. While we wait together, we can immediately begin generating joy and happiness. And we can practice this at home. In a meal, we pay attention to two things: to each morsel of food and our friends who are sitting around us. Mindfulness of food and mindfulness of sangha. This food is the gift of the whole universe. Learning how to stop our mental discourse.

We are learning verse #5-7 from the 30 Verses we’ve been studying this week. These three verses talk about manas. We begin with manifestation. Store consciousness was the first manifestor and the second is manas. Manas relies on the store consciousness to manifest. It grasps onto store consciousness and relies on it and returns to it. Manas has a distorted perception.

Inferiority, superiority, and equality complexes. Manas also goes along with the four kinds of afflictions. And the five universal mental formations.

It is also undetermined – neither wholesome or unwholesome. The five views of manas. Wisdom of discrimination.

Introduction and Chanting in Mississippi

September 24, 2013. 120-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Magnolia Grove Monastery in Batesville, Mississippi during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the orientation for the 6-day retreat with the theme Healing Ourselves, Healing the World.

Creating a healing environment in our physical and spiritual spaces. 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.

Tonight, the monks and nuns will chant the name of Avalokitesvara in order to get in touch with suffering and help relieve the pain and suffering of others. As we listen, we should stop our thinking and be concentrated on our breathing. The chant begins at 19:44.

The talk resumes at 48:30 with an orientation to the practice with Br. Phap Dung and Sr. Dang Nghiem.

Orientation to the Practice

August 25, 2013. 108-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, New York during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the orientation talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Transformation and Healing – The Art of Suffering.

Peace, happiness, and love are skills we can learn. The art of happiness and the art of suffering. We suffer less if we learn how to suffer. With this start, we are reminded to take care of our happiness and our suffering. Following the introduction, the monastics chant the name of Avalokiteshvara.

Following the chant, Thay turns the orientation over to two senior monastics who orientate the retreatants on the practice.

Introducing the Four Objects of Mindfulness

August 13, 2013. 91-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Brock University in St. Catharines, Ontario during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the second dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Happy Teachers will Change the World. We begin with two chants from the monastics.

Talk for children
Story of a dream Thay had 20-years ago. A dream of being a young university student with a famous teacher. A music class. This is followed by a teaching on how to be a good bell master.

Main Talk Topics

  • Practicing mindfulness in a meeting
  • Establishing space in the home for practice
  • Slow walking to arrive
  • Mental formations
  • Four Objects of Mindfulness (body, feelings, mind, objects of mind)
  • Selective watering (True Diligence)
  • Eating meditation

Healing through Reconciliation

June 2, 2013. 67-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The sangha has just returned from a couple of months in Asia and will be at the EIAB for a month offering retreats. The talk is given in English with simultaneous translation into German. This is a Day of Mindfulness.

The dharma talk is rain that can penetrate into the soul of our mind. Our mind is a garden with many good seeds within it. Seeds of happiness and compassion. The dharma talk is not a set of ideas to get and keep but is a rain that can let the good seeds sprout. To allow these seeds to spring up.

With mindfulness, we can create a feeling of joy and happiness. It is simple and easy. We just need to pay attention to our breath. We just need to pay attention to every step we take. It only takes 2-3 seconds to see that you are alive. The first enlightenment is that you are alive! You can become a free person.

How do we become aware of our body? How do we become aware of our feelings? Mindfulness functions to recognize and embrace. And the energy of mindfulness carries with it the energy of concentration and insight. How does this work with love an reconciliation?

Mindfulness of compassion, especially in regards to listening.

Thay gives instruction and application of walking meditation and eating meditation

Orientation for Applied Ethics Retreat

April 4, 2013. 116-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh, Brother Phap Dung, and Sr. Tue Nghiem from Mahachulalungkornrajavidyalaya University in Bangkok, Thailand. The sangha is in the 5-Day Applied Ethics Retreat as part of the spring Asian Tour. The talk is given in English with simultaneous translation into Thai.

We begin with an introduction to listening to the chant by Thich Nhat Hanh. How do we move from mindfulness of suffering to mindfulness of compassion leading to our transformation and healing? We hear the monastics chant the name of Avalokiteshvara at 14-minutes.

The main talk by Thich Nhat Hanh begins at 36-minutes. Happy teachers will change the world. What to do when we hear the bell? How will it help our breathing? Being established on the present moment. Gives us the power to heal. What is walking meditation? Why do we practice walking?

Beginning at 60-minutes two monastics, Brother Phap Dung and Sister Tue Nghiem, teach about the breathing practice, sitting practice, eating practice, and noble silence practice.

Unanswered Questions

January 13, 2013. 117-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the twentieth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk is given in Vietnamese and this is a translation provided by Sr. Chan Không.

Here in Plum Village, when we walk, we don’t talk and we stop thinking. We bring our breathing and our step into the present moment. Concentrate in a relaxing manner. We can use walking as a bell of mindfulness.

How can we practice eating meditation? We turn off the TV, including the TV in your mind. We can use the Five Contemplations to help practice. Thay reviews the traditional contemplation and compares to the modern version.

Four Kinds of Nutriments. How do we help outr mind? What to do with negative thought? What is volition?

At 70-minutes, we turn to our ongoing sutra study. My teaching is to touch your suffering and transform your suffering. It is not an intellectual exercise. The Buddha only shared a few practical ideas to heal. There are some questions refused to answer. What are they?

The Buddha taught two things on many sutras. Non-self. Impermanence.

Healing Our Relationship

August 26, 2012. 137-minute dharma talk given in English, with simultaneous translation into German, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is a Day of Mindfulness at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.

A day of mindfulness is a day of practice so that we can live each moment of our life very deeply. Anyone can generate the energy of mindfulness, bringing our mind home to our body. There are many wonders of life. And mindfulness is always mindfulness of something – drinking your tea. This can bring freedom and joy and happiness.

A couple of sweet moments when a local church bell is ringing and then a rain downpour. Every moment can be a pleasant moment. A miracle happens when you breathe in mindfully.

On a day of mindfulness we have time to sit and breathe together. We can stop our thinking every time we hear the sound of the bell. Enjoying the here and the now is the address for the pure land of the Buddha. Instruction on listening to the bell. Walking meditation and the country of the present moment. Instruction on walking meditation. This is followed by true communion and eating meditation.

Mindful listening and mindfulness of suffering. Many of the things we do in life are to cover up out suffering. How we help each other to suffer less? The chant of Avalokiteshvara can help touch suffering with mindfulness. When we listen to the chant, we should sit and listen and try to stop our thinking. Allow our body to relax. Chant begins at 1:20m into recording and the talk resumes again at 1:41m.

If a relationship had become difficult, there is always a way to transform it. In order to heal a relationship, you must heal yourself. We have Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing to help us heal ourselves.

Ireland Retreat: Orientation

April 12, 2012. 112-minute recording given at Gleneagle Hotel in Killarney, Ireland by Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is on the UK and Ireland Tour and this is orientation for the Mindful Living Today retreat.

Everyone is capable of generating mindfulness. But many of are caught by the past or by the future – a kind of prison. Mindfulness can help us to be free an settle in here and now. There are simple practices to help us to touch mindfulness. In this retreat we will learn about mindful breathing and mindful walking. Mindfulness can be practiced any time in our daily life. One method of healing our suffering is through mindful chanting. Thay provides instruction on listening to the chant.

The monastics chant the name Avalokiteshvara (29:50). Following the chant, Thay leads the sangha in mindful movements and the talk resumes at 58:37.

Listening to the bell. Stopping our talking. Stopping our thinking. Calm our body. Releasing the tension in our body. Instruction for walking meditation. Eating meditation.

In the last 20-minutes, two monastic sisters give additional teachings on sitting and smiling.