Category Archives: Nirvana

Cultivating Peace

Thich Nhat Hanh in Vietnam (2007)In this 2007 dharma talk, we go back to the Vietnam trip (February 21 to May 9) that focused on the Great Requiem Ceremonies across the country. The purpose of this trip was to to heal the last wounds of the war. The date of this recording is May 7, 2007 and it is the last talk of the Vietnam tour.

It is possible to cultivate peace as individuals, as families, and as nations. We need to begin with understanding and love – this is the foundation of peace. Our peace begins with our in-breath as we bring our mind back to our body. The breathing is the bridge connecting our mind and body. Do we know our conditions of happiness to live happily in the present moment? There is also the wisdom of non-discrimination in Buddhism.

Four elements of true love – maitri, karuna, mudita, and upeksha. The wisdom of non-discrimination (29:45) – a topic that is very crucial for our own peace and for peace in the world – a very important element of true love.

The Three Kinds of Powers (49:55). We need to discover that the Buddha was a human being. The source of wisdom in Buddhism can help us overcome our despair. Spiritual power can be attained through our daily practice. The first is to cut-off. For example, to cut off from our craving, our anger, our despair. We do this by looking at the nature of suffering. The Buddha did this and you can to. The second power is insight. We cultivate this through our meditation. The third kind of power to cultivate is the power to love, to forgive.

The practice of mindful breathing and mindful walking allows us to be present in the here and now. When you practice like this, each breath and step can bring you to the pure land of the Buddha and touch the wonders of life.

Thay responded to a series of questions from the audience.

  1. How do you practice offering love to someone who does not want that? (55:02)
    Can you teach us how family can practice beginning anew? The practice of deep listening and loving speech. Practicing peace. (58:02)
  2. A question about impermanence. Is nirvana achievable and is it permanent? (1:11:52)
  3. A question about anger. Working with children in the classroom caused me to lose my temper often because I couldn’t control the class. (1:23:52)
  4. How do we help people to live in peace when they live in poor environments. (1:29:27)
  5. What is the difference between “non-discrimination” and “forgiveness” when defining the fourth element of true love (upeksha)? (1:39:07)

At the conclusion of the questions (1:41:42), Thay shares a little bit about the prayer ceremonies that were organized during this tour for those who died in the war and for those who died at sea. There were three ceremonies – one in the south, one in central, and one in the north of Vietnam where we practiced sitting meditation, reciting the sutras, and doing charity work. We transferred the merit of our practice to the dead people. The sharing concludes with an English translation of the readings used during the ceremonies.


Nirvana Walking

January 27, 2013. 76-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the twenty-fourth 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.

In first 17-minutes, we arr reminded how to be in touch with yourself. Through walking meditation and no thinking. When we walk, we walk relaxingly and solidly. Every step is solid and every step is freedom. And with Freedom you can arrive in Nirvana. Nirvana is extinction of all the affliction. Walking meditation can be very profound.

Three Dharma Seals. Impermanence. No self. Nirvana.

The island of self. There is no way to Nirvana,  nirvana is the way.

At 45-minutes, we look at the Four Noble truths and noble eight fold path. The five mindfulness trainings are a concrete manifestation of this path to Nirvana. What are the five mindfulness Trainings? Includes a discussion of the four Kinds of nutriments.


Home is the Way

December 31, 2012. 120-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet at Plum Village in English. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat) and this is the special New Years Eve dharma talk (and the sixteenth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha?).

Dear friends, please smile. You are online.

How do we go home? Home is in the hear and the now. It is the practice of healing. Every step is healing. Every breath is healing.

Nirvana is available in the here and now. Nirvana is cooling down. Cooling the fire of fear, afflictions, and wrong views. This is the Third Noble Truth. We do not need to die in order to touch nirvana. Nirvana is a state of no heat. We use the noble eightfold path. How do see the path? We need our six sense organs and our mind to experience nirvana. The Five Mindfulness Trainings help us experience the path.

Right View. Notions of being and non-being. Notions of birth and death.

Right Mindfulness. This allows you to be fully alive. It is an art of living.


Nirvana and Samsara

December 27, 2012. Dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat) and this is the the fifteenth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk was originally given in French and this is the English translation.

What does it mean to have a spiritual dimension in our life? Why is it important for daily life?

The Four Noble Truths and the path in the second versus the path in the fourth. Two paths to choose. To well being or to ill being. We in Plum Village look at these two paths with the eyes of Interbeing.

What creates suffering? How do we take care of our suffering? The path leading to awakening. How and how much time does it take to reach enlightenment? Enlightenment is available in every moment. There is no way to enlightenment, enlightenment is the way. This is the teaching of Interbeing.

Love and reconciliation. What is nirvana? Is nirvana possible? What is the relationship to samsara?

The Buddha taught the Three Dharma Seals.

  1. All formations are impermanent.
  2. All things are without self.
  3. Nirvana


What is dualism and nirvana?

December 6, 2012. 105-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 ninth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk was originally given in Vietnamese and this English translation is provided by Sister Chan Khong.

When we speak of spirituality, people often think I the east. And when speaking of science, people think of the west. Today these two ideas can come together. Even Christianity is from the east and has non-dualistic elements. In the first half of the dharma talk today, Thay answers the following questions:

What is dualistic/non-dualistic thinking?
What is nirvana?

About an hour into the recording, the teaching shifts into the sutra commentary as it relates to the twelve links of co-arising, the ultimate dimension, teaching on non-action, and the prajnaparamitas.



Nirvana In the Here and the Now

June 13, 2012. 124-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet in Plum Village during the 21-Day Retreat with the theme The Science of the Buddha. The talk is given in English and this is the ninth dharma talk (of 15).

Investigation of the phenomenonal and noumenal worlds. We use our mind of discrimination to investigate the conventional truth. If we use the practice to look more deeply, we can see the ultimate truth of the same object. We use the mind of non-discrimination for the ultimate truth. And in Buddhism we take care of the mind. We need to train our mind so to create a strong instrument for investigation. The yogi has to be skillful.

The teaching of the Dharma as a finger. A skillful practitioner should not be caught in notions.

The Wisdom of Adaptation. Being and nonbeing. A flower is made of non-flower elements and this principle applies to everything. In the 2nd paragraph of the Heart of Perfect Understanding. Form is emptiness and Emptiness is not form. Form is free from being and nonbeing. They are neither produced nor destroyed. We can apply the Law of Thermodynamics – the conservation of matter and energy. We look then at the Discourse on the Adaption of Conditioned Genesis Connected with Emptiness (Samyukta Agama 293).

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Walking in Nirvana

May 5, 2011. 87-minute Dharma Talk given in Vietnamese by Thich Nhat Hanh at the new Lotus Pond Temple in Ngong Ping, Lantau Island, Hong Kong. This recording is translated by Sr. Dang Nghiem and is the third talk from this temple (Editors note: I have been unable to get a recording for the first two talks given earlier in the week on April 28 and May 1).

Renew Buddhism is really necessary in Buddhist countries to make it relevant to the younger generation. We have been trying to teach Applied Buddhism. This is doable. We want to do that here in Hong Kong and we believe young people will come as they have in Vietnam, Thailand, and France. We are trying to establish a way if life that is beautiful.

In Buddhism we talk about Nirvana but many still think it is something after death. But Nirvana is a state that is present now. We can enter nirvana in the present moment. This is wonderful. Nirvana means cooling off.

Happiness and suffering. Without suffering you cannot generate happiness. Now, how can happiness be present without the two elements of understanding and love?

People are longing for understanding. Many are so lonely. If we can understand the other person will suffer less right away. The more we understand, the more we love. The First Noble truth is there is suffering and the Second is to understand the suffering.

Right View. No more misunderstanding. No more hatred. This is nirvana. Then we have Right Thinking. This is thinking that goes in the direction of understanding and compassion. This is followed by Right Action. The fruit of the action is karma. Actions of body, mind, and speech.

The kingdom is now or never. Buddhism is not a promise of the future. It is to manage the present moment.

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


Understanding Our Mind: No Birth, No Death

March 31, 2011. 155-minute dharma talk given in English, with simultaneous translation into Thai, with Thich Nhat Hanh on the seventh (and final) day of the Understanding Our Mind retreat at Mahachulalongkornrajavidhayalaya Buddhist University (MCU) in Bangkok, Thailand.

After a brief review of manas and store consciousness, Thay speaks about the nature of no-birth and no-death discovered by the Buddha. Being and nonbeing – we can’t have something from nothing. How are we continuing the teacher. The young monks, nuns, lay practitioners are also Thay – their practice becomes my Thay’s continuation. Its like the Century plant that we have at Deer Park Monastery. One plant can become many plants.

Right thinking is your continuation. Thinking is already action. Karma. Our karma continues after The dissolution of the body.The second karma action is speech. The third is body. The way we eat. The way we drive. So, dissolution of the body is not our death.

Birth and death
Being and nonbeing
Coming and going
Sameness and otherness

The ultimate reality is free from all these notions. Suchness. The ultimate reality. It cannot be conceived of by ideas or notions. Nirvana is the other word for ultimate reality. The extinction of all notions.

At the end of the talk, Sister Chan Khong shares about the Thai Plum Village, inviting everyone to come to practice at the new international practice center in Thailand.

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


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.


The Sound of the Bell

January 20, 2011. 77-minute Dharma Talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh, from Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France

The talk begins with a discussion on bell inviting. The first bell discussed is the large temple bell. We have fifty-four verses to recite while inviting the Temple Bell. Do this twice for a total of 108 verses. This helps you come back to your breathing. Another bell is the activity bell. It is to inform you. It has ten sounds.

The second part of the talk is a discussion of the Four Noble Truths. The Four Noble Truths inter-are. Some scholars frame as phenomenal world and ontological world. Existence and non-existence.

The final element, beginning about 47-minutes into the talk, is the continued sutra commentary. Today we discuss verses 21-25 and Thay exposes some flaws in the translations. Phenomenon, it comes and goes. This is the twelfth in a series of talks offered during the Winter Retreat of 2010-11 on translations of the Dharmapada and Udanavarga from the Chinese Canon

The talk was given in Vietnamese with English translation and is available below (French and original Vietnamese audio are also available, as well as video version).