Tag Archives: 2011-2012 Winter Retreat

The Real Kung Fu

February 19, 2012. 58-minute dharma talk from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation. A French translation is also available. This is the last dharma talk for the Winter Retreat.

We recognize the great happiness associated with spending three months together in practice. We also know people can practice at home and participate by listening online to the talks. This retreat goes all the way back to the time of the Buddha. If Thay is still in good health, maybe we extend to four months next year.

We can find joy and happiness with sitting, walking, eating. Every step and every breath is like a jewel. A jewel found in your heart. This is real kung fu – the regular, daily practice, training. The time for sitting is a time for training. Train to touch the joy. Our duty is to practice together, even if we have difficulties and suffering. We try to heal these together, even if it deep down in our store conciousness. The worldly way is to dig down and pull out this suffering and destroy in order to be healed. Sometime we can practice differently – we can lullaby them as sleeping seeds; we don’t need to pull them out. We can water with the beautiful things of life. Thay shares his great suffering of being exciled from his homeland and how he transformed. Slowly Thay learned to feel at home wherever he is – everywhere is my homeland.

Story of a lay practitioner asking Thay if he has any dream to complete before he dies? Thay does not desire anything – everything already exists right here now. When Thay was a young monk he had a dream of a fourfold sangha that could practice together. Thay continues sharing stories of being in Vietnam during the war and reconciliation.

Mindfulness as Electricity

February 16, 2012. 80-minute dharma talk from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation. A French translation is also available.

If our body is like a computer, then mindfulness is a source of electricity. We need to keep mindfulness on. The practice of Plum Village is being truly present. Be in touch with the miracles of life and know of the suffering. We need to take care of our garden and our garden is the Fve Skandhas. Using the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing, we can create joy and happiness four ourselves and others. Thay teaches the first eight.

At 24-minutes we look at the 8th gatha of The Treatise on the Objects of Cognition (?lambana-parake) by Dignaga. Energy. Force fields. Electrons. Is the ultimate reality like a force field? Bija (seeds).

16 Feb 2012 from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

Making Peace with Ourselves

February 12, 2012. 79-minute dharma talk from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation. A French translation is also available.

Learning to connect with oneself. In Plum Village, our practice is simple. First, we learn how to breathe. We can start to connect with ourselves through the in-breath. The in breath is us. If you practice, the quality will improve. More gentle. More light. We use a gatha: In. Out. Deep. Slow. Calm. Ease. Smile. Release. Present moment. Wonderful moment.

Working with feelings through our breath is also possible. This is taught in the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing. Practicing means taking care of our body and our mind. We have the five Skandhas. There is still suffering alongside the well being, but we can be harmony with ourselves. Make peace with ourselves. We don’t need to commit suicide.

At 21-minutes we resume the sutra study of “Alambanapariksha and Vrtti” with gatha #7. Last time we talked of the image of perception. The subject and the object take refuge in each other; like the right and the left. We call this Interbeing (in science this is called Entanglement). They must manifest at the same time and serve as conditions to each other. Thay then teaches the six characteristics of bija (seeds).

Making Peace with Ourselves from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

Subject and Object of Perception Produce Each Other

February 9, 2012. 60-minute dharma talk from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation. A French translation is also available.

How do we invoke the Buddha’s name? Taking refuge in the Buddha. I take refuge in the Buddha. I take refuge in the Buddha in myself.We must be skillful. This is a deep practice, and how to practice to let the bodhisattva (great being) do everything for us, not just the sattva (living being): when we invoke the name of the Buddha or the bodhisattva in this way, we live fully in each moment. Calling the name and visualizing are the two methods for invoking. We call the name, touch the earth, visualize. There is a connection that is very close. We have the seed of enlightenment. Even listening to a dharma talk can be invoking if we have mindfulness, concentration, and insight. In fact, we can apply this to all our activities.

At 28-minutes, Thay continues to teach the current shastra, or commentary, that we are studying, Dignaga’s ?lambana-par?k??, discussing substantialism, the nature of svabhava, and realism. Thay summarizes the verses of the shastra up until this talk, starting with the first verse.

“Subject and object of perception produce each other; they do not manifest separately, just as the back cannot be without the front: you cannot remove the back without also removing the front. If you are sad, you are sad about something. There cannot be sadness about nothing. So we see that subject and object inter are, they have produced each other, and they may manifest at the same time.”

The Perception of Images

February 5, 2012. 92-minute dharma talk from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation. You may also listen to the French version.

In each of us we find an object to cover emptiness inside of us. We are like a pot without a lid, and we search for a lid thinking it will help us. As a baby we cried. Part of the reason for crying arises from fear. This fear comes into adulthood with us. We should reflect, use mindfulness, to realize we are no longer a baby. Our first mantra, I am here for you, it starts with ourselves. Being present for ourselves, what does that mean? Body and mind connects to recognize the miracles of life. We are an adult we can use out mindfulness to be present and let go of our fear. We can take refuge in the three jewels: the Buddha, the dharma, and the sangha.

At 38-minutes we continue studying Dignaga’s Alambana-pariksa shastra, begun on February 2 dharma talk, with the third and fourth gatha. The things we see, they contain the four basic substances. When the atom comes together, it manifests these elements. Harmonizes. They are not only the production of conciousness, but the real thing. Fourth gatha. Images perceived. They are not something real. The accumulation of atoms are not different with the different sizes of the objects. For example, a dot can be made into a circle or into a square. The object is only a mental construction. This relates to the “universal” and the “particular” and their Interbeing. The images that we perceive in various forms are not real, but only a conventional designation.

The Atom of your Consciousness

February 2, 2012. 82-minute dharma talk from Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation by Sister Chan Khong. You may also listen to the Vietnamese or French versions.

I am here for you. This is a mantra of love. This is also taking care of yourself. If we can’t do this – our own presence – we can’t be there for another person. Invite yourself to be fresh. We entrust ourselves to the sangha. We don’t try to hide our weaknesses.

At 25-minutes, we begin looking at a shastra, or commentary. Thay provides instruction, corrections, and analysis of Dignaga’s shastra, a student of Vassubandhu’s, also of the Yogacara school. Buddhist logic. The commentary is Dignaga’s Alambana-pariksa, discussing substantialism, the nature of svabhava, and realism. The object of our Conciousness. We can only see the object, not the the smallest elements – dust, atom.

Removing the Net of Doubt

January 29, 2012. 101-minute dharma talk from Lower Hamlet of Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation by Sister Chan Khong. French and Vietnamese versions are also available.

Practicing mindfulness the whole day long. We are kind of like a big power plant producing mindfulness all day. There are five kinds of power.┬áThe first one is faith. The opposite of faith is doubt. The faith comes from your living experience. This year our parallel sentence includes “Removing the Net of Doubt” with the other side being “Lighting the Torch of Wisdom.” this comes from your deep vision. Insight. But remember, no suffering, no enlightenment. The second power is vision. The flash of vision must be continuous so it can transform into action. Keep steady throughout the day. The architecture of suchness. We can use the three doors of liberation. With diligence we can maintain the third power: concentration. We practice appropriate attention.

In this talk we also return to the Paramartha Gathas we’ve been studying most of the winter retreat. Thay discusses different types of science as It relates to the teachings of the patriarchs. We can use out knowledge to compare and understand better. If you have been listening this winter, and you have some insight, please write to us so we can prepare for the 21-Day Retreat on the topic of science of the Buddha.

A Peaceful River

January 26, 2012. 105-minute dharma talk from New Hamlet of Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation.

We have learned that birth and death are nirvana. There is nothing separate. The river of life can either be nourishing or less nourishing depending on the inputs. We also have outputs. A river will also continue. It cannot die, so we need be in a way to make life more beautiful. We don’t have to aim at anything – aimlessness. This is the first door of liberation. We are already what we are searching for. With that deep vision, the river can run peacefully.

Today we begin a new text, Praising the Buddha of Light. Amit?bha Buddha. With each renewal of a text, what we’re doing here, we have to reflect back to the original. There are also texts in the Mahayana tradition that were written hundreds of years after the Buddha. Sometimes of these later texts are even more profound (such as the Avata?saka sutra). Thay talks about how Buddhism is different depending on the country and the time.┬áPure land is in your heart. You are of the nature of Amitabha. Every living being has a Buddhanature.

Letting Go and Nirvana

January 19, 2012. 91-minute dharma talk from Upper Hamlet of Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong. This is the last talk on the Paramartha Gathas we have been studying this winter retreat.

Breathing in, I smile to life. We are present to life. And closely related: I am of the nature to die. I cannot escape death. Many people also fear growing old. I am of the nature of growing old. I cannot escape old age. I am of the nature to be sick. I cannot escape sickness. We can look deeply at sickness, old age, and death. We should also let go of all our titles, money, degrees, family, etc. Then when it’s time to die, you can go easily. The fruit of my thinking, speaking, and action is what will continue. Birth and death. Past. Present. Future. Nirvana is in life. In affliction.

We complete the sutra study (@ 52-minutes) with the last few gathas.

The Stream of Our Ancestors

January 15, 2012. 94-minute dharma talk from Lower Hamlet of Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan KhongIn Plum Village we have a gatha, a short poem of practice, that we can use when walking and breathing. It is an art and it can bring us peace.

The Buddha is breathing.
The Buddha is sitting.

Don’t try to look outside yourself. There is no separate self, there are only the five Skandhas: form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and conciousness. All our suffering is based in this idea of a separate self.

I accept myself and I am a part of the stream of my ancestors. I accept this stream. We can go together, thanks to mindfulness, we can recieve these qualities both good and bad. We don’t judge ourselves harshly. We accept, and we apply this to other people as well.

We continue the sutra study (@ 56-minutes) with gatha 38-41. We are studying the Paramartha Gathas, from the Yogacarabhumi Sastra of Asanga. This is the twelfth talk on this sutra.