Feed and Nourish our Happiness

We have enjoyed some time to rest and have not so many dharma talks in the recent weeks. The monastics at Plum Village are currently participating in the bi-annual 21-Day Retreat and those talks will not be made available immediately. In the meantime, we return to the talks given at Magnolia Grove Monastery in Batesville, Mississippi during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour that haven’t been made available until now. This is the second dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Healing Ourselves, Healing the World. The date is September 26, 2013.

When I was a young monk, I believed he did not suffer but I know now that is not true. How can you not suffer when a dear friend dies? He was not a stone, he was a human being. But he suffered much less because of his wisdom and compassion. This is a very important thing to learn. The other question that had as a young monk is why did the Buddha keep practicing after his enlightenment. I know the answer today. Happiness is impermanent just like anything else. We have to feed and nourish our happiness.

What is the goodness of suffering? It can help us to understand and love. We have to learn how to make good use of suffering. Then we can suffer much less. First, we must learn how to not let the second arrow come hit us. When we have pain in our body or mind and we let it be magnified the we create more pain and suffering. The second thing to learn is how to go home and take care of our suffering. To embrace tenderly our pain.

Our consciousness has two layers – store and mind. In the store, we have many seeds; mental formations. For example, anger is a mental formation. Another mental formation is mindfulness, the energy of mindfulness, and this can be used to lessen the energy of anger. Mindfulness can embrace tenderly and anger will be transformed. We can then invite you the seed of compassion. Mindfulness of compassion.

The first five mental formations are called universal. They are contact, attention, feeling, perception, and volition. They are universal because they are there at any time and at any place. How do we interact and engage with these universal mental formations?

The focus of the exercises of mindful breathing are body and feelings in the first eight. then, starting with the ninth we turn to the mind. The mental formations are the objects of our mind. The tenth is about gladdening the mind. We can use Right Diligence to help the negative seeds to not manifest in our mind. This is the first aspect of the practice. And if it’s already manifested, this is the second aspect, we invite the negative seed to return to store. The third aspect is to let the good seeds rise. The fourth aspect is to try keeping the positive mental formation present as long as you can.

We turn now to Right View – a part of the noble eightfold path. Right view is insight and enlightenment. From Right View, we can have Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, and Right Diligence. Insight can come right away! Right View transcends being and non-being, no birth and no death. Interbeing can be very helpful.

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What has Buddha-Nature?

December 1, 2013. 93-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet of Plum Village. This is the fifth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. We begin with two chants from the monastics. The talk was given in Vietnamese and this is an English translation by Sr. Tue Nghiem.

An issue in Christianity has been the question whether God a human or not a human. Theologians have said, though God is not a person but God is not less than a person.  In Buddhism, there is the idea of sentient beings that suffer and Buddha’s who have enlightenment. But when we become a Buddha, we continue to be a sentient being. I’m Mahayana Buddhism, these two are not separate. Sentient beings and Buddha’s are not different but two pairs of opposite. One cannot be without the other. Humans are composed of non-human elements. This is a non-dualistic insight. Interdependent co-arising.

Everything is impermanent, including enlightenment and Buddha. We must continue to cultivate happiness and insight. Can the Buddha be recognized in another form than a human? Consider what is written in the Diamond Sutra. We also need to remove the dualistic thinking regarding inanimate objects. Even a rock has Buddha-nature. We have to transcend the idea that Buddha must be a human.

Applying this teaching using sitting and breathing. Thay provides instructions.

At 58-minutes, we continue with the winter retreat teachings from the 30-verses of Vasubandhu with the 3rd verse.

Its appropriations and its manifestation of locality
cannot be known intellectually. It is always
associated with contact, mental attention, feeling,
perception, and volition.

Seeds. Form. Signs. Consciousness. Names.

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Discovering Non-Discriminative Wisdom

November 24, 2013. 116-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet of Plum Village. This is the third talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. We begin with two chants (17-minutes) from the monastics. The talk was given in Vietnamese and this is an English translation by Sr. Tue Nghiem.

Shares a little about the chant in Vietnamese; it’s about love. The purpose of the practice is to generate joy/happiness and to take care of our suffering. How do we do this? We do tis with mindfulness, concentration, and insight. The foundations of the Four Noble Truths in Plum Village. Walking and sitting meditation should be viewed as a privilege. Freedom can be found in our busyness. Every action can bring happiness, it is a path of happiness.

A mental formation such as contact is present when three things are present. The organ, object, and consciousness. All three must be present. Mind and consciousness. When is consciousness active? The mind still works when there is no consciousness. This is the store consciousness.

The eighth consciousness that comprise the store consciousness. The store consciousness can learn good things and bad things; it is neutral. Door consciousness can be both individual and collective.

Interdependent co-arising; Interdependent nature of phenomenon. One thing gives birth or arising to another thing. Suchness. Transcending the idea of being and non-being. Inter arising of suchness.

Inter arising of all phenomenon. Where is store consciousness? Example of H2O to illustrate.

The characteristics of manas. Manas. The lover. The seventh consciousness. What are the dangers of manas? Manas does not know the goodness of suffering. The sixth consciousness is the gardener and can bring Mindfulness to the seventh consciousness.

No self, so no complex of inferiority for superiority or quality.

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Individual and Collective Manifestation

November 21, 2013. 93-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet of Plum Village. This is the second talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. We begin with two chants from the monastics. The talk was given in Vietnamese and this is an English translation by Sr. Tue Nghiem. 

Story of a poet Thay met in the 1940s in Saigon. Shares a poem called the Dalia. Another poem from the 60s called  Song of April. A flower in the poem is used to teach on manifestation-only and the dharma body. This is the work of Mahayana Buddhism. We can hear the dharma in everything. The Buddha is the flower. Where does the flower come from in manifestation-only? 

We can apply this same teaching to our own seeds, such as anger. We don’t always see our anger until it manifests, but to say that it is not there is incorrect. It’s just hidden. 

Text of the 30 Verses of Vasubandhu

Consciousness has two parts. The subject and object. The two parts rely upon one another to manifest. 

Can our mind see the object of reality? The object and the subject rely upon one another order to manifest. Cognition.  Understanding this alcan free us from the idea of birth and death, being and non-being. 

The mental formation contact. The relationship between subject and object and the mental formation of contact. We also look at the second mental formation of attention. This teaching is illustrated by the sound of the bell and other distractions that may be occurring at the same time. Appropriate attention. As a practitioner, we can choose the object of our Mindfulness. With practice this can become automatic. No effort.

The cells of the body and the collective energy of a group of people. Can we sit peacefully? Individual manifestation and collective manifestation. The collective is comprised of the individual. Our practice can affect other people. 

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Beginning Our Practice of Mindfulness

August 26, 2013. 87-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 first dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Transformation and Healing – The Art of Suffering. We begin with two chants from the monastics.

Topics

  • Why do we want to practice breathing-in and breathing-out? We don’t have to suffer and we can produce the energy of joy.
  • First exercise of mindful breathing
  • Walking in the kingdom is an end in itself
  • Three Energies: Mindfulness, Concentration, Insight
  • Second exercise of mindful breathing
  • Third exercise of mindfulbreathing – aware of body
  • Fourth exercise of mindful breathing – relax body
  • Fifth exercise of mindful breathing – producing joy
  • Sixth exercise of mindful breathing – producing happiness
  • Seventh exercise of mindful breathing – aware of painful feeling
  • Eighth exercise of mindful breathing – embrace painful feeling
  • Store and mind consciousness with mental formations
  • Teaching of The Second Arrow
  • Five Universal Mental Formatioms (Contact, Attention , Feeling , Perception, Volition)
  • Five Particular Mental Formations (intention, resolution, mindfulness, concentration, and insight)
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