Category Archives: Plum Village

Relaxing in the Present Moment

The 58-minute dharma talk offered by Thich Nhat Hanh took place at the New Hamlet of Plum Village on November 10, 2005. The audio is linked below and video is available for our donors on Patreon.

Please note, the recording begins with a few minor sound issues, but the dharma talk doesn’t begin until it is resolved by the sound team. We left it in the recording because it adds some character.

When we speak about dwelling in the present moment, we mean living deeply in every moment of our daily life. Do we know how to live in the present moment? It begins with relaxing ourselves and to stop running. To release our worries. Our tensions. Stopping our mental discourse. Do we know how to rest after a long day of work? To relax our mind and body? Mindfulness tells us the conditions for testing are there for us.

Awareness of breathing is exactly what we need to stop our mental discourse. To touch the conditions of happiness that are there. This is not hard work. We can free from our thinking and our body begins to relax, and to heal itself. Simple. We have to stop the mental discourse so we can be free in the present moment.

Walking to be present and aware of the present moment is also possible. We can relax during walking meditation too.

This practice is a practice freedom. 

A teaching on the historical and ultimate dimension as illustrated through drinking our tea, our coffee. Can you drink your tea in the ultimate dimension? Avata?saka S?tra.

In China, there was a time when they tried to bring Zen and the Pure Land together. In Plum Village, we practice Zen using the energy of mindfulness and insight but we also say the Pure and is available in the here and the now. The pure land is now or never. Thay shares a koan from that time that is still practiced today.

Who is the person invoking the name of the Buddha? 

This is the subject of our mediation. Both Zen and Pure Land practice this. Thay teaches on this koan – what is the purpose of this koan? This koan is an invitation. Thay then shares a Chinese story of two philosophers contemplating fish swimming. Are the fish happy?

Ni?m – mindfulness, recollection

We should always ask ourselves with any teaching, what does this teaching have to do with my suffering? It is not intellectual.

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Touching Life – Come Home to Yourself

The 53-minute dharma talk offered by Thich Nhat Hanh took place at the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village on November 3, 2005. The audio is linked below and video will be available for our donors on Patreon.

What does it mean, “I take refuge in the Buddha.” Buddha is the one who is mindful, awake, enlightened. Taking refuge is not believing in a God or deity. We all have a seed of mindfulness, understanding, and love. We can become a person who is fully awake, enlightened, just like the Buddha. Taking refuge is confirming the fact that you can be enlightened. You are a Buddha. This is not a declaration of faith, but a commitment to practice. In every breath we are taking refuge. In every mindful step we are taking refuge.

The way in is also the way out. Our spiritual life should be established in that vision – being truly ourselves. Practicing to bring a spiritual dimension into your life. Through drinking our tea, preparing our breakfast, or brushing our teeth. These are spiritual acts. Not being caught by the future or the past. This is being a Buddha.

Going home to ourselves. How is this act accomplished? Practicing in a community like Plum Village, everyone is supported by the sangha. This is taking refuge in the sangha. We have faith in the community. Helping to build this refuge for others.

Story of when the Buddha was about 80-years old and how he offered the teaching on taking refuge in the island of yourself. Here we can encounter the foundation of ourselves – the island includes the Buddha, dharma, and sangha. This is the practice of Plum Village also.

How do we respond when we are lonely, not feeling like ourselves? Our feelings of fear? Do we know how to practice going home to ourselves? Walking meditation is a method. Can we walk like a Buddha? Enjoying every step. This is a miracle.

The Buddha-nature is within you and through mindfulness, concentration, and insight it is you that is performing a miracle.

It is a practice of enjoyment.

Editor’s Note: If the play button or download link doesn’t work, please try again shortly. We are testing out a new service and there may be caps on the downloads. Thank you for the patience. 

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Geese Flying South

Thay Reading a TextOur talk today is from 16-years ago and begins with a reading, first in English by a nun, and then in Vietnamese by Thich Nhat Hanh. It is 23 January 2000 and the sangha has gathered in the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village for a dharma talk during the winter retreat. The talk is in English.

The main talk begins with Thay sharing an article from a magazine about geese flying south. This story is used to illustrate the wisdom of the animal kingdom and they know about how important sangha is for the individual. There are things that are difficult to do alone but will be easier with the sangha. Why is important to eat with the sangha? Why is important to walk with the sangha? How does your sitting with the sangha help both you and the sangha?

We learn more about sitting meditation, the miracle of walking with the Buddha, and living in community within the monastery. Living in these 24-hours. Even how to enjoy brushing our teeth.

Below is a general outline of the topics covered in this talk.

0:00 English Reading
7:44 Vietnamese Reading
15:00 Geese Flying South and Sangha
26:00 Walking with the Buddha
37:08 Sitting in the Meditation Hall
40:48 The Miracle of the Orange
52:07 Everything is the Practice
56:40 How to Sit
1:05:43 Listening to the Bell

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Because I Like It!

With Thay’s gentle and compassionate humor, we discover the teaching of Right Diligence. This is the eighth talk during the 21-Day Retreat with the theme Path of the Buddha. The date is June 11, 2009 and we are at the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village.

The Four Noble Truths are an exact science – there is right view and wrong view. For the Fourth Noble Truth, the Path and well being, we have Right View. For the Second, ill being, we have Wrong View. They are opposites. Thay reviews Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action, and Right Livelihood in the context of well being and ill being.

In this talk we continue with a teaching on Right Diligence. What is the difference between diligence and effort? Intensive versus regularity. Why is diligence better (easier) than effort? How does Right Diligence bring well being? What is Wrong Diligence and why does it bring ill being? Practical tips for practice are offered.

The story of Frederick, a businessman, and his wife Claudia and their son Phillip. The story concludes with a wonderful teaching on walking and carrying peace in every step.

True Diligence

Consciousness Diagram

Source: The Mindfulness Bell, Summer 2008

True Diligence is often described in four steps.

First, the unbeneficial seeds are in us. Be skillful to not let these seeds arise in us. Thay teaches on consciousness – store and mental consciousness. We can practice to lullaby these seeds of suffering to sleep.

Second, if by chance that seed of suffering has manifested then we need to do something to let it go back to store consciousness. Don’t allow it to stay too long. Not suppressing but helping it to go back. This is appropriate attention.

Third, we invite the beneficial seeds to come up. Like a good friend who you have not seen in a long time. Send an invitation to dissipate the darkness. Joy and happiness are always possible and give them a chance to manifest. How? One method is a sangha.

Fourth, when those beneficial seeds are present then we try to keep them present as long as possible. Help them to be strong. Again, what is a method for practicing this step?

Generosity

We continue the talk with a teaching on the second mindfulness training and how we consider the revision. The second mindfulness training is about generosity. How does it relate to right diligence? What is practicing generosity? Stealing?

Is it possible to have no more desire? Are you aware of your conditions of happiness? The talk concludes with a short teaching on the Sutra of the White Clad Disciple.

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We Only Need to Look in the Present Moment

Shaded path at Upper HamletIn June, 2009, a 21-day retreat was offered at Plum Village on the theme “The Path of the Buddha” and this recording is the first talk of the retreat (June 2, 2009). This was also in the first year of Obama being president of the United States. Thay teaches about the sangha as it relates to the president. Now, many years later, Obama is in the last year of his term and we have the opportunity to reflect on how we did with Thay’s instructions.

We begin with a story of meeting MLK to build the idea of the beloved community and sangha building. What is the sangha and why do we need one? Thay teaches that even President Obama needs a sangha in a very compassionate and loving way. The 21-Day Retreat is an opportunity to perceive the sangha visibly. We should build and preserve the sangha. We have been planting seeds of brotherhood, sisterhood, peace, nonviolence.

We have produced our politicians. Our politicians need a strong sangha, even though it is not a Buddhist one. And we have a role in that sangha too. Obama is not an individual, he is a part of the sangha.

Without the sangha, we cannot go far. The 21-day retreat is a time to strengthen our sangha and open the way for the world. The sangha includes the Buddha and the dharma. It contains the the path of understanding and love.

The 21st century is like a hill and we are climbing this hill together as a sangha. Can we climb beautifully? Each step should be love, healing, forgiveness. With a sangha, this becomes easy.

What are we looking for? Our joy. Our success. Our transformation. Our happiness. Our emancipation. Our freedom. Whatever we are looking for, we have to look for it in the present moment. How do we do we go home to the present moment to discover the power to nourish and to heal?

What is the path of the Buddha? We are going to explore a global spiritual ethic. The five mindfulness trainings represent this ethic. All the other precepts – 10 novice precepts, 14 mindfulness trainings – also represent this ethic.  We will explore this during our retreat together.

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Enjoy the talk.

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This Moment, Only Once

The audio archives contained here will continue to grow and change moving forward. In addition to sharing Thich Nhat Hanh talks from the archives, we will also share current talks from senior dharma teachers from our community. This rich and lively talk was given in the Assembly of Stars Hall in Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, on Thursday May 21, 2015, as part of the community’s Spring Retreat.

Thay Phap Hai

Thay Phap Hai

Brother Phap Hai (Brother Dharma Ocean) offers some challenging questions to help us energize and focus our practice and truly arrive in ourselves in the present moment.

What is the “seed sound” of the Plum Village practice “I have arrived, I am home”? What is the difference between knowledge and insight? What is the original meaning of the word “Path” in Buddhism? Have you actually ever “seen” the Dharma? If you saw the Buddha today, what would you ask?

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Love and Happiness

Lotus Pond

It was Thanksgiving Day in Plum Village on November 25, 2004. The sangha gathered in Lower Hamlet, Plum Village during the Fall Retreat and Thay gave a 45-minute dharma talk on the topic of love and happiness.

The telephone line should be called the “compassionate line.” We hope this line can be established everywhere so that young people in their suffering, despair, and strong emotions can have someone to talk with. Suicide is a real issue and young people they feel lonely and suffer so much. Who can they talk with? Someone who has the capacity to listen. Each of us can make a vow to be that person who has the capacity to listen. Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of deep listening. Compassionate listening. We have to cultivate this capacity and transform ourselves in this bodhisattva. Without the capacity of listening deeply, we cannot understand.

According to the teachings of the Buddha, love is born from the ground of understanding. We can apply this in our relationships and our families. Understanding is not something that happens “just like that” – it takes time and we have to give our ideas, our views, our prejudices, our judgment.

Understanding what? The difficulties and suffering of the other person. The deep hope and desire the person has. The kind of obstacles the person is experiencing. We can ask the other person, “do you think I understand you enough?” Once you understand, you can stop doing and saying things that cause the other person to suffer. Then you have True Love. This is the practice of love.

Do we understand ourselves? The nature of our own suffering? Everyone has an idea of happiness and we may strive for that idea. But, can we see that happiness can come from any direction? Joy comes from letting go and the first thing we can let go of is our idea of happiness.

In the Buddhist teaching of love, there are four elements. The first is maitri – friendship, brotherhood, loving-kindness. And the second is karuna – capacity to understand the suffering and help remove and transform it – compassion. Mudita is the third element – joy – your joy is her joy, her joy is our joy. The last element is upeksha – nondiscrimination. This is a higher form of love. The four qualities have no limits – infinite love – these elements are also call the Four Unlimited Minds.

The bodhisattva of love is in you.

 

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Fresh Opportunities of Abundance

As we continue to send Thay our lovely energy of healing, we look back to a dharma talk he gave on January 26, 2003 from the Dharma Nectar Temple, Lower Hamlet, Plum Village. The sangha is in the middle of the Winter Retreat and the lunar new year is approaching. This short dharma talk (48-minutes) begins with a monastic chant in Vietnamese.

The Buddha teaches we should try to make our practice pleasant, joyful, and nourishing. There are several different types of joy. Mindfulness is the key to exploring. How should a practice center be organized? Are we creating the right conditions?

The two sentences for the coming lunar year (2003) are part of the practice – All misfortunes entirely away. Fresh Opportunities seen in abundance. – we post these in order to remind us of our practice. We have many opportunities to practice all around us. Can you write down all the opportunities available to you? Mindfulness will help us touch these opportunities.

Other kinds of joy. Sangha building. Helping our brothers or sisters in the community can bring both a lot of joy. This is based on understanding and love. There may also be a kind of joy based upon craving. Craving for recognition and praise. Can you learn to operate as a sangha? How?

You don’t need to be #1 to be happy. The teaching is a teaching of no-self. Inferiority. Superiority. Equality.

How can we take care of our ups and our downs? We cannot hide our suffering. How to ask for help?

The 51-mental formations in the boat of self. We have the five universal and five particulars – these are travelers in the boat of ourselves. They can also form a team and work together. Mindfulness and concentration. We have to learn to live in harmony with the sangha of self.

Smile and breathe. Enjoy the gem.

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Evolutive Dharma

From the archives, this talk by Thich Nhat Hanh was given during the 2002-2003 Winter Retreat (January 19, 2003) from the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village. The one-hour talk begins with a short chant in English by the monks and nuns.

The living Buddha. How do we get in touch with the living Buddha? When we think of the Buddha, we have a notion. We think of Shakyamuni. If we are caught by the notion of the historical Buddha we cannot be in touch with the living Buddha.

The practice of signlessness. With the eyes of signlessness, we can recognize the cloud in the tea or the ice cream. This is not something metaphysical or abstract. We see people and things in their new forms with the eyes of signlessness. We can be free from our ignorance. Impermanence makes life possible. It allows the Buddha to grow beyond his 80-year lifespan.

The living Dharma. The living dharma is something you can see for yourself, something that grows. The dharma needs to be offered in an intelligent way: it must be the right teaching for the right person, it must be flexible, and it must be able to grow.

The notion of the evolutive dharma. The nature of Interbeing can help us touch our true nature. Buddhism is only made of nonbuddhist elements. Buddhism has no fixed identity and is evolving. It’s like a Bodhi tree remains the same tree even as it grows in different directions. The living dharma is alive, moving, and growing.

And the living Sangha has the living Buddha and living dharma inside. Practice in an intelligent way and don’t be caught in fundamentalism. Even in the Buddha’s lifetime, the Dharma and Sangha were evolving. Fundamentalism is our enemy.

Thanks to our practice and our enlightenment, Mahayana Buddhism can grow. Different types of concentrations – impermanence, nirvana, no self – will help us grow in the practice.

 

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Francophone Educators’ Retreat

Dear listeners. As you know, Thay is in the hospital recovering from a brain hemorrhage. This fall, Thay has been able to given one dharma talk and that was for the Francophone Educators’ Retreat in Upper Hamlet on October 27, 2014. The talk is 30-minutes long, available in audio only, and is given in French (without translation). Though we may not all understand the words, please enjoy the talk.

 

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