Category Archives: Plum Village

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.

 

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.

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.

 

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.

 

The Practice of True Presence

This is the second dharma talk of the “The Mind of Love Transforms All Difficulties” retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh at the New Hamlet of Plum Village in France. The talk is given in English with simultaneous translation into Italian. In this very short talk on August 29, 2014, Thay teaches on the elements of love and the four mantras. Both the audio and the video are available below.

Mind of love – bodhicitta. Why not the heart? Bodhi is to wake up. It begins with understanding the suffering in ourselves and then we can begin to see the suffering in the other person. Then we can help him or her to suffer less.  What is love? Love me to be there. The practice of mindful breathing and mindful walking can help us to be there for ourselves and for our loved ones. What are the elements of true presence? Am I a true lover?  You can answer this question yourself by looking to see if you have these four elements.

The four mantras of Plum Village.

This is a Legendary Moment

This is the first dharma talk of the The Mind of Love Transforms All Difficulties retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh at the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village in France. The talk is given in English with simultaneous translation into Italian. In this short talk (30-minutes) on August 28, 2014, Thay teaches on the mind of love of the relationship between suffering and happiness followed by chanting with the monks and nuns. Both the audio and the video are available below.

The mind of love is a tremendous source of energy. Can we look inside and recognize the mind of love? What is it? What is our deepest desire? To relieve the suffering in the world is a good desire. And understanding is the foundation of love.

How can we wake up to be a Buddha? We have to wake up in order to help others who are suffering. To wake up to the beauties of nature and heal yourself. And to wake up to the suffering of the world and to help. That is the career of the Buddha.

The art of happiness and the art of suffering. What is the connection between happiness and suffering? The practice of mindfulness. How do we help the other person to suffer less?

Who is Avaloketeshvara?

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.