Originally given in Vietnamese, available from Lang Mai, the talk from the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village is dated Thursday, January 30, 2014 and is the twenty second talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. We are on the eve on Tet, the Vietnamese New Year. This is an English translation, available below, by Sr. Tue Nghiem.
The time is 3:00pm on Vietnamese New Year’s Eve (Tet) and it is an occasion to connect with our ancestors. Without our roots then we cannot survive. In Asian culture we try to connect with the other realms. The world of nine sources. In Vietnam we have a tradition of worshiping our ancestors. Every family has an altar in their home. Every day people offer a stick of incense to their ancestors to help connect to their heritage. It only takes a minute and it is a sacred and scientific act. Connect with our roots. It is good mental health. It is a way to express our love and loyalty. Thay shares a little about the Rose Ceremony. Here in Plum Village, as we study Buddhist teachings, we can see these two realms are one. It is a stream. Scientists are also on this path. Matter and energy are not two deprecate things. There are no boundaries between heaven and earth.
At 25-minutes into the talk, Thay shares about Tale of Kieu Oracle reading, a Plum Village Tet tradition. We learn the story and background of this classical Vietnamese poem.
November 7, 2013. 93-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet of Plum Village. We begin with two chants, one French and one Vietnamese, from the monastics. The talk is originally given in Vietnamese and this is an English translation by Sr. Chan Khong.
Just let the dharma talk simply go into our store consciousness. No effort needed. You can be surprised later when the seeds of the dharma sprout.
Noble path. Suffering and happiness are deeply linked.
Waking up this morning, I smile. No judgement. Compassion. Gatha practice. Every second, every minute, every action. Insight can arise from simple practice. Walking. Sitting. Eating. But it doesn’t mean we ignore our suffering.
Story of Vietnamese patriarch – One Concentration. A history lesson on our spiritual ancestors in Vietnam.
January 3, 2013. 110-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the seventeenth dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk is given in English and we begin with a chant.
There ia a sutra on the contemplation of the body and the body is a big subject of meditation. There is much suffering and misery in this world and some people want to get out of this world. Is there a way to get out of the world of suffering and misery by looking into your body? We can see the four elements – water, air, earth, and heat – in our body. There are six sense organs that can produce the six consciousnesses. When you look into the body deeply, you can see it is a community. Can you see all our ancestors by looking into the body? Is there a self? If we heal ourselves, we can heal our ancestors. We don’t just practice for ourselves, we practice for all our ancestors. Our body is a treasure and we should take care of our body. There is a Buddha in the body. How do we practice? The dharma and the sangha. We organize a “resistance” to keep our practice alive.
At about 30-minutes into the recording, we continue with the subject matter for the Winter Retreat. Pairs of opposites. We hear a teaching on the concepts of birth and death, being and non-being, ultimate and conventional truth, sameness and otherness. Interbeing and the path leading us to the ultimate truth. Everything is a formation, a conditioned dharma. Samsara and nirvana. You may wish to review the video, Thay wrote on the board quite a bit for this segment of the talk.
There is a way a path to this wisdom of adaptation.
August 11, 2011. 26-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from War Memorial Gym at University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this talk is especially for the children.
Story of corn seeds. Grain of corn to be planted and remember to water everyday. And when it becomes a plant of corn, maybe 2-3 leaves, you come and ask the plant a question. “My dear little plant of corn, do you remember when you were a tiny seed?” The plant may not remember, but you do. The plant of corn is only a continuation of the grain of corn. You too were like the grain of corn and we don’t remember, so we need a friend in the dharma to help us. We believe that our father and our mother are outside of us, but that is not true. In addition to being outside of us, they are inside of us; every cell of our body. We are a continuation of our father and of our mother and we can make our father and mother more beautiful into the future. We can bring them into the future.
The talk is available below. There is a video version available too.
July 19, 2011. 120-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat. This is the question and answer session.
Before we begin, Thay offers a teaching on ancestors because today is Ancestors Day. Every home in Vietnam, no matter how poor, keeps an altar for the ancestors. We have two kinds of ancestors: blood and spiritual.
Here are the questions:
1) If we are living in the here and the now, how can we make plans?
2) Why do I have nightmares?
3) How can I help my younger brother to be happy if he annoys me?
4) How to become enlightened?
5) What is freedom, and can you be free even if someone tells you what to do?
6) How can I be kind to myself when I lack confidence?
7) What to do when daughters are treated less equally than sons?
8) We are taught not to judge people and things, but how can we love them without judging?
9) I feel that I attract people who have difficulties. Where is the boundary between being selfish and protecting yourself?
10) I am very confused. I feel caught by impermanence. So when you become a full-time Buddha, you have a state of mind with ultimate freedom and true happiness. But doesn’t that state go against impermanence? When you become a full-time Buddha does the law of impermanence no longer apply to you?
11) I am 50 years old, and I have a 15 year-old son. I would like to become a nun. Can I leave him to take care of himself and come to live peacefully in the temple?
The talk was given in English and is available below. There is a video version available too.