Category Archives: Plum Village

Who Am I?

From the Stillwater Meditation Hall at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village. This is the fourth question and answer session of the annual Summer Opening retreat at Plum Village on July 30, 2014. The talk is in English and both the audio and the video are available below.

  1. How do we eat our parents?
  2. When Thay became a monk, was he aware of the suffering in the world or did that come later?
  3. Why sometimes when we cry we are happy and sometimes we are sad?
  4. How did you create Plum Village?
  5. We talk a lot about respecting Mother Earth but a lot of the food we eat here is not organic and comes from far away. I feel blocked when reading the Five Contemplations. This seems incongruent.
  6. Who am I?
  7. How do I recognize suffering in myself and learn to take care of that Suffering? Loneliness.
  8. And we find another person presents not nursing, should we and how do we withdraw?

The Mark of Suffering

From the Assembly of Stars Meditation Hall at Lower Hamlet, Plum Village. This is the fourth week of the annual Summer Opening retreat at Plum Village. This short 45-minute talk on July 27, 2014 is in English with a focus on using the practice of walking meditation in order to be free. Both the audio and the video are available below.

There is the habit energy of running in all of us. We’re not comfortable in the here and now. Many are caught in regret and sorrow concerning the past. The mark of suffering is very deep. How can we get out of that prison of the last? The same can be said about the future. Life is only available in the here and now. In the present moment. The practice of mindfulness can help us live in freedom.

The practice of mindful walking can be very helpful. We can learn how to combine the breathing and walking together. We learn the practice. I have arrived. I am home. Teaching on the Kingdom of God as it relates to walking. Are you able to experience the wonder of life? In the here. In the now. If you know how to stop running, then you can heal yourself. I am solid. I am free. Each step made like this will cultivate more solidity and stability. These words of the mantra are not just wishful thinking. To be a Buddha is possible and to enjoy every step. In the ultimate, I dwell. What is the ultimate? Teaching of the wave.

Learn the art of walking. Walk like a Buddha. Don’t walk like a sleepwalker.

 

Why Am I Myself?

From the Stillwater Meditation Hall at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village. This is the third question and answer session of the annual Summer Opening retreat at Plum Village on July 23, 2014. The talk is in English and both the audio and the video are available below.

Children

  1. Why do monks and nuns always have brown clothes and no hair?
  2. How can I express my anger without taking it out anyone?
  3. Why does a seed give birth to a flower and sometimes not? Why am I myself as I am and not as the others?
  4. Why did you make Plum Village?

Teens and Young Adults

  1. I’m not the only one who feels lonelineness and sadness about myself and I’ve had struggled with self hatred. How do I learn to care and love myself and stop negative perceptions?
  2. In school it is very competitive and there is a lot of pressure to succeed. I feel like I need to work harder. How do I take it easy without hurting myself further?
  3. How can I love myself more and how can I have more confidence in myself?

Others

  1. It seems we live in a global culture of non-stop talking. Can you help us learn more about the practice of silence?
  2. I have a friend who’s father was diagnosed with cancer. His father shared he was contemplating suicide. What should he do?

What is Man?

From the Assembly of Stars Meditation Hall at Lower Hamlet, Plum Village. This is the third week of the annual Summer Opening retreat at Plum Village. This short 45-minute talk on July 20, 2014 is in English with a focus on our action. Both the audio and the video are available below.

What is man? What Sartre said is very close to Buddhist teachings. Action. Karma. There are three aspects. (1) Thinking. Your thought is an action. It is an energy. We practice in such a way so to produce good thoughts. (2) Speaking. This is the second form of action. Words can kill and destroy or bring beauty and full of non discrimination, understanding, and forgiveness. We should produce speech that can heal. (3) Body action. Acting. With our body we can help with our efforts. How we consume. Are the totality of our thoughts, speech, and action.

Mindfulness can shed light on our action. When we walk with the sangha, we are using these three aspects. We can be fully concentrated in our steps with these three aspects to arrive fully in the here and now. I have arrived. And we see we have enough conditions to be happy? Arriving 100% in the here and the now with concentration. How do we enjoy life in the present moment? With our next step we can say “I am home.”

I have arrived.
I am home.
I am solid.
I am free.
In the ultimate I dwell.

The Cake in the Refrigerator

From the Stillwater Meditation Hall at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village. This is the second question and answer session of the annual Summer Opening retreat at Plum Village on July 16, 2014. The talk is in English and both the audio and the video are available below.

Children

  1. How can I feel less sad about my dog who has died?
  2. What do I do when my mom is angry with my father?
  3. How can I stay calm when I am annoyed?
  4. What does it mean “to guess”?

Teens and Young Adults

  1. When talking with friends, how do I stop the conversation from going toward gossiping and judging?
  2. How do you change people’s perception of you and ignore the reputation you already have?
  3. Why does Thay give these teachings and what does it bring Thay?
  4. Does Thay have some tips for me to help a lot of people in my future profession?

Others

  1. A written question: How do I heal a suffering from sexual abuse when she was younger? Should I go to a therapist?
  2. In my country there is a great economic crisis. As a doctor who sees many people and I don’t know if I can say happiness is here and now.
  3. How do I practice with self love and also being open to receiving love? I struggle with deserving love.
  4. How can I better take refuge in the sangha because I feel more comfortable alone?
  5. How can I be there for someone who tends to lose herself in the presence of others?

I Have Arrived. I am Home.

From the Assembly of Stars Meditation Hall at Lower Hamlet, Plum Village. This is the second week of the annual Summer Opening retreat at Plum Village. This short 47-minute talk is in English with a focus on arriving in the present moment with walking meditation. Both the audio and the video are available below.

I have arrive. I am home. We have spent so much of our time running and looking for something. We can learn to stop and see the wonders of life in the present moment.  We may miss our appointment with life. Mindfulness helps us enjoy the present moment.  The purpose of the practice is to always go home to the here and now. If you live like that, you can have peace and joy.

Teaching on the practice of the “waking up” gatha. Other verses are mentioned, including a “walking” gatha. Arriving in your true home. With each step we have solidity and freedom.

What is Happiness?

From the Stillwater Meditation Hall at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village. This is the first question and answer session of the annual Summer Opening retreat at Plum Village. The talk is in English and both the audio and the video are available below. The questions are a little difficult to hear but they are included below for you to read.

  1. Is it okay not to speak and still be understood?
  2. What is happiness?
  3. When we die, where does our spirit go?
  4. A question about suffering, particularly those of animals and the environment. What is the most effective way to reduce this suffering?
  5. Thay, do you feel old?
  6. How can we practice with the escalating violence in the world and particularly in Israel and Palestinians?
  7. How can I be in touch with the conditions of happiness and live with constant pain too?
  8. At times when I feel truly mindful, I feel a special force or intuition. What is this – a coincidence?

Our Appointment with Life

From the Assembly of Stars Meditation Hall at Lower Hamlet, Plum Village. This is the first dharma talk of the annual Summer Opening retreat at Plum Village. This short 37-minute talk is in English with a focus on the three energies of practice – mindfulness, concentration, and insight. Both the audio and the video are available below.

Mindfulness is a kind of energy that we can generate. Everyone has the capacity to generate the energy of mindfulness and allows us to be aware of what is going on in our body, in our feelings, in our perceptions, and in the world around us. What is happening in the here and the now. The world around us the object of our mind. If we are not in the here and the now then we cannot know what is happening in the present moment. We have an appointment with life. We may have been running and looking for something elsewhere and we will miss our appointment with life.

Mindfulness is always mindfulness of something. For example, drinking our tea. When you are very aware of something, you are concentrated on something and you begin to see something deeply. Therefore, mindfulness contains concentration. Can we see the nature of no birth and no death in our tea? Mindfulness also carries the energy of insight. What are the three energies? Mindfulness. Concentration. Insight. We can all generate these energies, right from the beginning of our practice. With these three kinds of energies, we can do many things. For example, we can generate a feeling of joy and a feeling of happiness.

How do we live deeply every moment of our daily life? How do we see our conditions of happiness? How do we make use of our suffering?

Stepping into Freedom

From the Assembly of Stars Meditation Hall at Lower Hamlet, Plum Village. This is a day of mindfulness between the close of the 21-Day Retreat and the Summer Opening. The sangha is preparing for an ordination ceremony for monastic novices on July 2 followed by summer opening on July 4. This 80-minute dharma talk is dated June 29, 2014. The focus of the talk is on the monastic life. Both the audio and the video are available below.

Where can we focus our attention when starting to breath mindfully? The tip of the nose versus the abdomen. We stop our thinking and are fully aware. No thinking is a secret of success. We can enjoy being alive in the here and now.

What is the object of our mindfulness when we walk? How can we touch reality? Thay tells the story of a 13th century king in Vietnam who practiced very well as a lay person. How can we practice everyday? Touching the ground of reality with every step and not lose ourselves by daily life.This kind of walking can be very healing.

The triple training is mindfulness, concentration, and insight. These three work together. These are three of the eight elements of the noble path – the Noble Eightfold Path. They also exist in the Five Powers (the other two are faith and diligence). This is the heart of Buddhist practice. The practice of mindfulness can also be seen concretely in the practice of the precepts and that is why we usually use the words “mindfulness” trainings. The precepts are the 5 trainings for the lay students (and the 14 for the Order members), the 10 precepts for novice monastics, 250 precepts for monks, and 380 for nuns (Some may ask why the nuns practice more? Is that not discrimination? The nuns created their own precepts). Each precept guarantees a zone of freedom. The precepts are seeking freedom. But we need to live mindfully. Thay recently wrote a new calligraphy. “Each Precept Guarantees a Zone of Freedom”.

There is joy in practicing and reciting the precepts. The manual we use for training the novices is called “Stepping into Freedom” (and is available from Parallax Press). The practice of the precepts is also the practice of mindfulness and is connected with mindful manners (outlined in the manual). “Be beautiful. Practice the Precepts.” Thay discusses some of the mindful manners for monastics.

The manual has four parts. The first part is a set of verses – the essential of the daily vinaya practice. The second part is the ten novice precepts. The third section is mindful manners – many chapters on this. The fourth part is a beautiful text to remind monastics why they are a monk or a nun. The book was originally in Chinese from more than 400 years ago. It has been updated by Plum Village. In the Christian monastic tradition, they have some of the same precepts.

Thay shares further of the big commitment to become a monastic. It is like a marriage. You are part of a sangha and you can realize your dream of helping people. To practice as a monk or nun is easier than a lay student because you have the support of the sangha.

This is a happy and beautiful moment.

The Resurrection and The Stranger

Today is Easter Sunday and it is a regular day of mindfulness in Plum Village. This talk is from the Lower Hamlet and is dated Sunday, April 20, 2014. The talk is in English. We begin with two chants from the monastics.

Mindfulness practice of the sequoia tree, the sky. Thay talks about Albert Camus’ book called The Stranger. Here too the prisoner talks about truly seeing the sky. This is awakening. Camus called this a moment of consciousness. Many people are living as if we are dead. The blue sky is a wonder of life. Awakening. Can we wake up?

Mindful breathing. Resurrection. From forgetfulness to mindfulness. The miracle of the resurrection. This is not dogma. When we wake up then we can get in touch with the wonders of life. Joy and happiness are possible. How? Waking up to our suffering. Jesus was aware of his suffering and the role of suffering. In Plum Village, we say this bread is the body of the cosmos. Similar to the breaking bread by Jesus. To wake up is to see no birth and no death. It is not because of birth or death that Jesus exists. The same is with mindfulness.

Birth and death. This is our true nature and highest awakening. And Nirvana is the same. We can go back to ourselves and touch our true nature. If we have time to look deeply, we can see the connection between suffering and happiness. Jesus himself realized the role of suffering. As a practitioner of mindfulness we should know how to handle our suffering. Most of us are afraid of suffering. Through the energy of mindfulness, concentration, and insight we can be strong enough to touch and embrace our suffering. When we can do it for ourselves, we can help people around us do it as well. Joy and happiness are possible and transcend anxiety and fear. We don’t need to be afraid of suffering.

If you understand the art of suffering, then you understand the art of happiness. If you understand the art of happiness, then you understand the art of suffering.