Category Archives: Trainings and Precepts

Professor Buddha and the Bell

The third dharma talk of the Understanding Is Love Retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The talk is given in English with simultaneous translation into Dutch. In this talk on August 22, 2014, Thay teaches on using the bell and the noble eightfold path. Both the audio and the video are available below.

Topics

  • The Bell. How to use the bell in the family. (40-minutes)
  • Object of our mindfulness
  • Producing Mindfulness, Concentration, and Insight
  • Right Thinking
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action
  • Right Livelihood
  • Four kinds of nutriments
  • Right Diligence

The Popularity of Mindfulness

The second dharma talk of the Understanding Is Love Retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The talk is given in English with simultaneous translation into Dutch. In this talk on August 21, 2014, Thay teaches on the noble eightfold path, the five mindfulness trainings, and applying mindfulness in the world. Both the audio and the video are available below.

Topics

  • Living in Plum Village and living in brotherhood and sisterhood. What is life like at Plum Village?
  • Story of a Bell and Thay’s Dream
  • Turning of the Wheel of the Dharma – the Buddha’s first dharma talk. The noble eightfold path.
  • The popularity of mindfulness in the world today. Is it an instrument to make more money and to kill better?
  • The Five Mindfulness Trainings
  • Applied Buddhism in schools; our experience in France.
  • Learning how to understand, communicate, and reconcile

Seeing with Buddha Eyes

The second dharma talk of the Nourishing Happiness in our Hearts retreat with Thich Nhat Hanh at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The talk is given in English with simultaneous translation into German. In this talk on August 14, 2014, Thay teaches on the Noble Eightfold Path. Both the audio and the video are available below.

Topics

  • Seeing with Buddha Eyes
  • Being born and Interbeing with our Parents
  • Buddhanature. The capacity for understanding and loving.
  • The way of happiness – the noble eightfold path
  1. Right View
  2. Right Concentration
  3. Right Mindfulness
  4. Right Thinking
  5. Right Speech (along with listening)
  6. Right Action
  7. Right Livelihood
  8. Right Diligence

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 Five Mindfulness Trainings for Educators

This is the second day of the Educators Retreat at the University of Barcelona. Thich Nhat Hanh, along with the monks and nuns of Plum Village, are on their first tour of Spain this month. In this talk, Thay teaches the Five Mindfulness Trainings. The date of the recording is May 10, 2014. The audio and video links are available below. The timestamps included here are for the AUDIO recording only.

0:00 Verses of Practice
15:16 Protecting Life
27:26 True Happiness
34:10 True Love
49:35 True Communication
1:10:55 Consumption

When Thay became a monk at the age of sixteen, he was given a book of verses to memorize. One of those verses is for waking up in the morning.

Waking up this morning, I smile.
I have 24th Rand new hours to live.
I vow to live these 24-hours deeply.
I vow to look at those around me with eyes of compassion.

We learn these verses to practice mindfulness. Thay shares a few other examples to help to stop our thinking. There are about fifty of these verses for a novice to memorize. We have written new ones today, such as telephone meditation. We can use this to improve the quality of our communication. Everything we do can can be done in mindfulness.

The practice of mindfulness can be very concrete. There are five areas we can consider. The first is to protect life. Our life as well as the lives of others, plants, animals, minerals, and the earth. This is the first mindfulness training. What does this mean? How do we practice with this and what can school teachers and parents do with this training? Everywhere young people are killing themselves because they don’t know how to handle a strong emotion. We can use mindful breathing and can see that an emotion is just one little part of a person. We can deep belly breathing and take care of the strong emotion.

The second realm of the practice is true happiness. The topic of true happiness should be explored to see what it means. True happiness is made of understanding and love. Love is born from understanding. Understanding is a practice and a true element of happiness.

The third area is the practice of true love. Sexual desire is not true love. Many young people do not know what is true love. True love is made of compassion, loving kindness, and nondiscrimination. These are the elements of true love.

The fourth aspect of mindfulness is the practice of loving speech and deep listening. This is the fourth mindfulness training. This practice should begin in the family first and then we can bring it into our school and classrooms. How can we restore communication and reconcile? What can we do in the classroom to help students to suffer less?

The fifth mindfulness training has to do with consumption. Our society is a society of consumption. This is an idea about happiness. This concept of consumption is taught in the context of the four kinds of nutriments. The first kind is edible food. The second source of nutriment is sense impressions. What are we consuming in our conversations, in the media, and on internet? The third nutriment is volition. Our aspiration or deepest desire. The last source of nutriment is consciousness. What are the seeds in our consciousness and do we know how to water the good seeds?

The Five Mindfulness Trainings are a very concrete expression of our mindfulness practice. Happiness is possible. Compassion is possible. Healing is possible. And a school teacher should learn to embody this kind of practice for transformation and healing to take place.

Can There be Peace without War?

October 16, 2013. 111-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, California during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the fourth and final dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Finding Our True Home.

A lesson for the children for when they return to school and how to deal with aggression without being angry or violent. If we do that, then we win. After about 10-minutes we continue with just the adults.

We begin with a few unanswered questions from the previous session of questions and answers: I can be mindful of my breath when I sitting or walking but how do I keep mindful of my breath when speaking? Political discourse is deeply toxic and intolerant; how do we consume without the negativity? How can we still be engaged? Please talk to us about grief.  What can you share with teachers and youth so they can walk away and take care of their fears and stress? Can there be peace without war?

The topic of our talk today is birth and death. These two happen at the same time; even a scientist can see this through the continuous birth and death of the cells of our body. Where there is death, there is birth. In our tradition, we speak of two kinds of truth: conventional truth and ultimate truth.

The Five Mindfulness Trainings represent the path of transformation and healing. A path of happiness. The Noble Path has eight elements. The first is Right View. It is the insight that transcends all discrimination. If you think war and peace as two deprecate entities, that is not right view. There is Interbeing. There are four pairs of opposites that can represent all kinds of opposites.

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

Right view transcends all these opposites. From there, you can practice Right Thinking, Right Speech, Right Action, Right livelihood, Right Diligence, Right Mindfulness, and Right Concentration.

We continue now with the exercises of mindful breathing where we left off in a prior dharma talk. With the ninth through twelfth exercise, we come to the realm of the mind. The last four (13-16) are about the objects of mind with impermanence, non-craving, nirvana, and letting go.

We resume the teaching on the four pairs of opposites fooled by the Three Doors of Liberation. Emptiness. Signlessness. Aimlessness.

Meditation on the Flame

July 19, 2013. 110-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet of Plum Village during the 2013 Summer Opening. This is the eighth talk of the summer.

Editor’s Note: This talk coming slightly out of order as I catch up on the recordings. The sixth (July 16) and seventh (July 18) talk of summer will be posted soon. 

Teaching using the meditation on the flame. The flame is there but it is hidden. Maybe in the box? It is hidden by the conditions, and there are conditions that help the flame manifest. Where does the flame go? Her nature is no coming and no going. We know this with mindfulness, concentration, and insight. When conditions are no longer sufficient, the manifestation ceases to continue. The same is true for those we love. This is a very deep teaching.

We continue the teaching on the Four Noble Truths. The first is dukkha, translated as ill-being/suffering. The second is the making of ill-being; how suffering is made. This is seeing the cause of our suffering. With the third, we have the cessation of ill-being. The path, or the way, leading to well-being is the the fourth. The Five Mindfulness Trainings contain this path and is called the Noble Eightfold Path that leads to healing and out of suffering.

  • Right View
  • Right Thinking
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action
  • Right Livelihood
  • Right Diligence
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Concentration

The Noble Truths in the context of mindful consumption and the fifth mindfulness training. Nothing can survive without food. In Buddhism, we speak of Four Kinds of Nutriments.

  1. Edible Food
  2. Sense impression
  3. Volition
  4. Consciousness

We’ve been taking mostly about the second and fourth noble truth so far. The talk continues here with looking more closely at Right View and the other elements if the path.

Teaching on Consumption and the Fifth Training

June 14, 2013. 87-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbrol, Germany. The talk is given in English with simultaneous translation into German. This is the third dharma talk of the German Retreat on the theme Are You Sure?

Following two chants by the monastics, the talk begins at 16-minutes into the recording.

One thing we can be sure of is that there is suffering in yourself and the world. From here, the Buddha built his practice and teaching. Nothing can be by itself alone, it must inter-be with something else. Suffering is the First Noble Truth. Dukkha is ill-being, but we must confirm its opposite as well. This is the Third Noble Truth – the existence of well-being. This way of thinking is the opposite of dualist of thinking and based on Interbeing.

How do we explain interbeing? A further explanation of the Four Noble Truths along with a teaching on consumption in relationship to these Truths. In our community, it is the Fifth Mindfulness Training that shows a way out.

Everything requires food. What are we feeding ourselves? According to the Buddha, there are Four Kinds of Nutriments.

  1. Edible food
  2. Sensory impressions
  3. Volition
  4. Consciousness

Happiness is the Way

May 27, 2013. 69-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Hong Kong Coliseum. The sangha is on the spring Asian Tour and this talk is given in English with simultaneous translation into Chinese. This is the Public Talk.

Thay has a few questions to ask the audience and the questions might touch something very deep in you and provide you with insight to see the way to go. Allow the question to penetrate into your heart.

  • Are you in love? 
  • Are you still in love? 
  • Do you want to reconnect with the person you used to love? 
  • Do you think that he or she is happier than you are now? 
  • Do you have the time for each other or are you both to busy? 
  • Have you been able to preserve your freshness and beauty for yourself and for the other person? 
  • Are you capable to offer him or her freshness and beauty everyday? 
  • Do you know how to handle the suffering within yourself? 
  • Are you able to help handle the suffering in the other person? 
  • Do you understand your own suffering and the roots of that suffering? 
  • Are you able to understand the suffering in the other person? 
  • Do you have the capacity to help the other person suffer less? 
  • Have you learned the way to calm down your painful feelings and emotions? 
  • Do you have the time to listen to yourself, your suffering, your difficulties, and your deepest desire? 
  • Do you have the time to listen to him or her and help him or her to suffer less? 
  • Do you know the Buddhist way of restoring communication and bringing about reconciliation? 
  • Are you capable of creating a feeling of joy and happiness for yourself? 
  • Are you capable of helping the other person to create a feeling of joy and happiness? 
  • Do you really think you have a clear spiritual path to go? 
  • Do you have the feeling of peace and contentment within yourself? 
  • Do you know to nourish your love everyday? 
  • Have you ever met a person who is truly happy? 

During the most recent retreat at the YMCA camp in Hong Kong, we learned about walking meditation. How can we arrive with every step in the here and the now. We also learned how to breatha and sit in order to transform our suffering. In order to understand and recognize the suffering in ourselves and the other person. We only need a short time of practice to gain understanding.

What is compassionate listening and loving speech? How can we create reconciliation?

Making the Five Precepts relevant to our time. The precepts and noble eightfold path are based on the insight of Right View and allow you to transcend all discrimination.

The first training is protecting life. The second is about true happiness. Next we have true love. We’ve already touched on deep listening and loving speech, the subject of the fourth. The last training is about consumption. We cover the Four Kinds of Nutriments.

To Connect

May 26, 2013. 86-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Hong Kong. The sangha is on the spring Asian Tour and this talk is given in English with simultaneous translation into Chinese. The theme of the retreat is Happiness is the Way.

How do we connect with the Buddha? How do we bow to the Buddha? Emptiness. Right View is the ultimate aim of practice. To gain insight into Interbeing and emptiness. What is emptiness? How does this help us remove anger and discrimination?

Concentration allows us to discover this insight. These three practices (samadhi) to Right View are available in all Buddhist traditions. Emptiness. Signlessness. Aimlessness. These are the Three Doors of Liberation.

Mindfulness. Concentration. Insight. A good practitioner can generate these three kinds of energy. If we practice, we can produce Right Thinking and the Noble Eightfold Path. We are free if the notions of being and non-being. We hear the story of Anapindika when he was dying and how Sariputra helped him understand no birth and no death.