Category Archives: Christianity

Have I Got a True Home?

This talk by Thich Nhat Hanh is from the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village on the occasion of Christmas Eve (Tuesday, December 24, 2013). It is the twelfth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. In this talk we learning about our True Home and Sangha.

Christmas is always an opportunity to meditate on our true home. The Buddha  did not have a home when he was young; he was unhappy even with all the material conditions. And Jesus Christ was born a refugee and was also trying to find a home. But both the Buddha and the Christ practiced and they found a True Home. Have I got a true home?

A place of comfort and ease. When you come to Plum Village you are offered a practice to help you find a home. And home is not located in space and time. Our first fruit of the practice is “I have arrived. I am home.” Our true home is in the here and the now in every breath and every step.

The practice of mindful breathing brings our mind in touch with our body. Our body may be our first home. Are you in conflict with your body? Do you hate your body? We are all flowers in the garden of humanity. Do we know how to take care of our flowerness? Getting in touch with our body is the first step.

We may notice tension in our body and the Buddha offered us exercises to reduce the tension. An act of reconciliation. Very practical. We can smile to ourselves and release the tension.

Why, in some instances, have we abandoned our body? Do you have a feeling of loneliness?are we covering up suffering in our life? We don’t know how to handle the suffering inside of us and we cover it up with consumption. The practice of mindfulness can help you reverse this to take care of your body and your feelings. If you can, then you are creating a true home for yourself.

24-m Consumption and Loneliness
27-m The Art of Happiness (Exercises 5 & 6)
31-m The Art of Suffering (Exercises 7 & 8)
37-m Practicing with a Sangha
43-m Building a Sangha
47-m The Plum Village Sangha
50-m What do I want to do with my life?

The year is ending and it is a good time to ask what we want to do with our life. If you are a couple, you may wish to sit down and discuss your dream and see how to support each other. Jesus had a dream. Buddha had a dream. Can we look at our other relationships and see how they might be improved?

Wherever we go, the sangha is with us. Sangha is our home. We can practice in such a way that our family is our sangha. We should devote our time and energy to building our true home so that we can realize our dream.

Merry Christmas.

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Inclusiveness is the Love of Jesus

April 14, 2012. 95-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 the second dharma talk for the Mindful Living Today retreat.

We begin with a new chant with the inviting the bell and listening to the bell Gathas. The chant is accompanied by traditional flute.

To meditate means to have the time to be calm and to look deeply. Anyone can learn and teach meditation. Connecting with our mother, especially if she is still alive, and we can use the second mantra to be happy she is still alive. Don’t wait. Darling, I know you are there and I am so happy. We can use this with our loved ones. And for those without our mother, we can look for her in the palm of our hand. Thay then uses the hand to illustrate the wisdom of non-discrimination. If we meditate deeply we can learn this wisdom.

The first mindfulness training is about protecting life. A human is made of non-human elements. To protect the environment and other species is to protect ourselves. This is deep ecology. This is a deep practice.

The second mindfulness training is about true happiness. We have to change our idea about happiness. The third mindfulness training is about true love. Kindness. Compassion. Joy. Non-discrimination. We can reduce the suffering with true love. The fourth mindfulness training is about deep listening and loving speech. This training can open up new possibilities. It is a real peace process. How can we heal deep division? Thay provides specific instructions. Last, the fifth mindfulness training is about mindful consumption. The five trainings are not teory. It is very practical. It is the deep teaching of Jesus and the Buddha. We should keep our Christian roots and meditation can make our roots stronger.

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Being a Better Christian through Mindfulness

April 13, 2012. 99-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 the first dharma talk for the Mindful Living Today retreat.

We begin with a teaching for the children on pepple meditation and inviting the bell.

We have the seed for the kingdom of God.

We need to learn how to make good use of our suffering. Happiness and suffering. We should not be afraid of suffering.

We need to recognize the kingdom of god in the here and now. The practice of mindfulness will help.

Finally, we can rediscover Jesus as a spiritual teacher. Learn to live like Jesus by using Buddhist meditation. The teaching of here and now is also in the gospel.

Working with strong emotions using your breath. We have sixteen exercises of mindful breathing. That teaches on the first 8-exercises.

Being a Better Christian through Mindfulness

April 13, 2012. 99-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 the first dharma talk for the Mindful Living Today retreat.

We begin with a teaching for the children on pepple meditation and inviting the bell.

We have the seed for the kingdom of God.

We need to learn how to make good use of our suffering. Happiness and suffering. We should not be afraid of suffering.

We need to recognize the kingdom of god in the here and now. The practice of mindfulness will help.

Finally, we can rediscover Jesus as a spiritual teacher. Learn to live like Jesus by using Buddhist meditation. The teaching of here and now is also in the gospel.

Working with strong emotions using your breath. We have sixteen exercises of mindful breathing. That teaches on the first 8-exercises.

God Can Be A Person

December 24, 2011. 105-minute dharma talk and chanting with Thich Nhat Hanh as he gives the annual Christmas Eve talk from Lower Hamlet, Plum Village. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat and this is the first talk in English. The talk was also enjoyed by over 550 people live via the Internet.

The practice of Plum Village is “I Have Arrived. I am Home.” We can breathe in a feel alive right here and now. We stop all our thinking and focus our mind on our in breath and get established in the here and the now. Mindfulness is a kind of light to know what is happening in the present moment. With mindfulness we can become a Saint, a Buddha, a Bodhisattva . With this light. One day science will be able to measure the type of energy created by mindfulness practice. The collective energy of everyone. We can send waves of mindfulness, compassion and peace, we create interference and enhance the energy of everyone. All of us are looking for our true home. We may only feel happy when we are home. Our practice is to go home in every moment. Breathe and you are alive. Many of us have succeeded in that practice. When we do this, we also become the home for other people.

When we practice like this, we may get in touch with planet Earth. In Plum Village we look at the planet Earth as a bodhisattva. You do not have to be a person to be a bodhisattva. Everything has a buddha nature. During walking meditation, we may see that the Earth is the most beautiful bodhisattva. Patience, stability, creativity, and love – these are some of the qualities of this bodhisattva. We are a part of her. With mindfulness of walking and breathing, we can connect with our body. Your healing must go together with the healing of the planet earth. The earth is not our environment, the earth is us.

We have spoken about two kinds of vertical theology and the horizontal theology. With vertical, we try to get in touch with the absolute; the ultimate dimension of reality. When cannot arrive in our true home without touching this ultimate reality; we have to touch God. What are we? Where do we come from? We want to know our true nature.

In the Christian tradition, we learn that Jesus is the Son of God. It means that through Jesus you can touch the Ultimate Dimension, the ultimate reality, the ground of being, the almighty. We also learn that Jesus is the Son of Man. As the Son of Man, he belongs to the historical dimension where there is being and non-being, birth and death, sameness and otherness, good and evil. Notions that make us suffer. These can the foundation of our fear, anxiety, and suffering. But Jesus is not only the Son of Man, he is also the Son of God. If we get in touch with Jesus deeply enough, then we can see this ultimate dimension. We have to see Jesus as both. In the Buddhist tradition, it is very clear that everyone belongs to the historical dimension and we also belong to the ultimate dimension. This is our nature and we can learn to transcend our notions.

Merry Christmas to everyone.

Watch live streaming video from plumvillage at livestream.com

I Am Made Only of Non-Me Elements: Library of Congress Talk

October 26, 2011. Coolidge Auditorium, Jefferson Building, at the Library of Congress.. Washington DC is the final stop on the 2011 North American Tour before Thay returns to France.

Annual Walter Capps-Bill Emerson Memorial Lecture co-hosted by Faith and Politics Institute, U.S. Institute of Peace and Walter K. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life. Introductions by Mark Farr, Congresswoman JoAnn Emerson (R-MO) and Congresswoman Lois Capps (D-CA).

We need a spiritual dimension in our lives. With a spiritual dimension, we can overcome our difficulties. It is important to move beyond the intellectual dimension and bring the body and mind together. We can nourish and restore ourselves in order to help other people. In our practice we can see that we are made of non-me elements. This is a wonder. The wonder of the Kingdom of God. Breathing in, we can be present right now. This can link the body and the mind.

Mindfulness is always mindfulness of something. And mindfulness can be generated by us. Happiness arises from compassion. Understanding suffering gives rise to compassion. Terrorists are victims of misunderstanding and wrong perceptions. In order to remove terrorism, we must remove wrong perceptions. It can’t be done with bombs and killing. We need compassion, not the energy of fear and suspicion.

A member of congress is a cell in the body of the congress. Each cell has a responsibility to provide clarity, compassion, and courage. We can nourish the congress and make it a healthy body. Mindfulness can help cultivate these qualities. We can generate a feeling of happiness, a feeling of joy. Then we can also handle a painful feeling or emotion.

Mindfulness of compassion is what we need. We use loving speech and compassionate listening. Hearing examples of reconciliation makes this real and practical.

Making good use of our suffering. We can listen to the suffering inside of us, the other person, and in the world. We don’t run away from it. We can cultivate peace and understanding from this place of suffering. Thay’s vision is our understanding the suffering.

We conclude with a few questions.

Energies of Buddhism

September 3, 2011. 101-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Pasadena Civic Auditorium in Pasadena, CA. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the only Public Talk in California. For those who regularly read this podcast, we are posting this talk now as we have not completed preparing the last two talks from the retreat at Deer Park – they will be posted soon.

Mindfulness, concentration, and insight are the energies of Buddhism similar to the Holy Spirit being the energy of God.

We all have the capacity for understanding and love. It comes from the inside and comes with the practice of Mindfulness and concentration. This is the Buddha nature in us. We can generate a feeling of joy, a feeling of happiness in any moment. The Sutra on Mindful Breathing offers sixteen-exercises. Breathing in and breathing out with Mindfulness is a practice of resurrection. Thay takes us through the first eight exercises.

For me, the word wonderful means full of wonder. This is a wonderful moment. Our body is a wonder, and it belongs to the kingdom of God. We can touch the kingdom of God. In the Christian gospel, there is a story of a farmer who discovers a treasure on a piece of land and he sold everything except this piece of land. This is the kingdom of God. This is all you need. Happiness is possible in present moment. A good practitioner can generate happiness.

The importance of sangha. Taking refuge in the sangha. How do we handle suffering? A painful feeling? With a sangha.

True happiness needs suffering too. No mud. No lotus. They interare. This is right view. We should make good use of suffering.

How can we be liberated from despair and anger?

Applied ethics. Mindfulness in schools. How to handle painful or difficult emotions.

Jesus is the Bread

September 4, 2011. 91-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Ocean of Peace Mediation Hall at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, CA. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the first Day of Mindfulnss during a month-long stay in Escondido.

This is a happy moment. When you love someone, you want him or her to be there for you. How can you love if you are not there? To love is a practice. To practice mindful walking and mindful breathing. You can then offer yourself. You are truly there. The most precious gift is your true presence.

Children are flowers in the garden of humanity. Each of us are born as a flower. We need to preserve our flowerness. To be a true lover we need to know how to take care of ourselves. This is a Buddhist practice.

The First Mantra is “Darling, I am here for you.” And, when you want someone to know of your love then you can practice the Second Mantra. “Darling, I know you are there and it makes me happy.

Thay also teaches on listening to the bell, and the establishment of a breathing room for the family to restore your flowerness.

Thay shares with us the about the nature of bread, that contains the whole cosmos: the Buddha, Jesus, all things are in the bread. “You don’t need to think, there is just awareness. Awareness and insight, but no thinking. No thinking is the secret. We can eat every morsel of our lunch in that way.”

He continues to share about the story of the young couple in the Sutra on the Son’s Flesh who decide to move to another country with their son. Faced with starvation in the desert, they decide to kill their little boy and eat his flesh, crying and beating their chests as they do so. “After the Buddha told this story to the monks, he turned to them and said, ‘Dear friends, do you think the parents enjoyed eating the flesh of their own son?’ ‘No, it is impossible that they could enjoy it.’

The Buddha said, ‘Let us eat in such a way that we preserve our compassion and mindfulness, otherwise when we eat it is like we are eating the flesh of our own son.’” “We should be the aware that many of the items that we consume, with the eyes, the ear, the body, the mind, can be very toxic. A television program, an article, may be full of anger, hate and violence. If we allow our children to consume these items, the toxins will go into their consciousness. Even conversations can sometimes be very toxic.”

The talk is available below. A video version is available in two parts: children’s talk and Jesus is the Bread.

Let There Be Light

July 20, 2011. 80-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh in French, with English translation, from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat.

Thay begins with a story of creation: God said, “Let there be light,” and the light said, “Wait.” “What are you waiting for?” “I’m waiting for the shadow and darkness in order to manifest together.” There is no subject without object; the two have to manifest together. Further, object and subject are the same thing.

Buddha’s first teaching was on the Four Noble Truths: suffering, the creation of suffering, happiness, and the path to happiness. If we confirm the existence if ill-being, then we also confirm the opposite. This is Interbeing. Buddha’s teaching is both on suffering and on happiness. The first Truth, helps us identify the second Truth.

We can begin a discussion of the Eightfold Noble Path with Right View, the goal of our practice. When we look at a father and a son, we should not see them as two separate entities. Everything is that way.

Thay teaches the Eightfold Noble Path, elaborating on Right Thought, Right Speech and Right Action (three aspects of our daily life) as the development of skillful means with regard to the three types of karma: mind, speech, and bodily action.

What we call death is not really death. Our karma (our actions) continue after we are no longer here in this bodily form. We continue right now in the present moment through our actions. There are two kinds of retribution for our actions: ourselves (our five skandhas), and our environment (relating to Right Livelihood).

We conclude with Right Diligence, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. Our view on a global ethic is based on these teachings. We have a path and we don’t have to worry.

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

The Five Mantras and Noble Eightfold Path

March 5, 2011. 96-minute dharma talk in French with Thich Nhat Hanh at Plum Village, France. This is the fifth day of the 5-day French Retreat and the translation is provided by Sr. Pine.

The fifth Mantra. This is a happy moment.

Mindfulness is the source of happiness. Smirti. We should be able to transform any moment into happiness with mindfulness. This moment is worth living. Moment after moment.

I’m here for you. This is the First Mantra. This is for generating your concentrated presence.

My dear, I know you are there and I’m so happy. This is the Second Mantra. To recognize the presence of your lived one. Your loved can be anything.

My dear, I know you suffer and I am here for you. The Third Mantra. Used when you notice something is not right. Not well.

My dear, I am suffering and I want you to know. I’m doing my best. Please help me. The Fourth Mantra. This is the most difficult because it’s when you are suffering and you think you’re loved one is the cause. We want to punish. After you have tried to cool the flames, maybe 24-hours, then you can practice this mantra. Tell him in a calm voice. If you are not able, then write it down.

Right thinking is thinking that goes in the direction of non-discrimination in the direction of understanding. We can always produce a thought of right thinking using mindfulness. Anger is no longer possible with this type of action. Karma (action) is our continuation. Thought is our action. If your thinking is beautiful then you action will be as well. With Right Thinking you can bring Right Speech and Right Action.

The path recommended by the Buddha begins with Right View. In addition to Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Concentration, Right Effort, and Right Livelihood. The noble eightfold path. This path leads to the end of suffering. The fourth noble truth. This is the presence of happiness.

A discussion on the Ultimate and Historical dimensions – they are not separate. Nirvana. Suchness. With the instrument of mindfulness and concentration, we can see the nature of reality. Being and non-being disappear.

The talk was given in French with English translation and is available below. There is a French recording as well as video version too.