Tag Archives: body

The Way Out Is In

This talk from the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village is dated Sunday, March 30, 2014. The talk on this day is in English.

0:00 Present Moment
14:05 The Feelings
29:04 The Body
37:20 Mindfulness of Compassion (Listening)
1:12:45 Story of Suicide and Transformation

When you breath in, you bring your mind home to your body. A lot of time, your mind is not with your body. But when they are together, you are truly in the here and the now for your transformation and healing. It is wonderful be present and your breath becomes the object of your mind and you can become a free person. You can cultivate freedom. You don’t need to be influenced by your fear and anger. We can make good decisions. The bell of mindfulness can call you back to the present moment. Walking can also bring us to the present moment. Every step. This is the basic practice to touch the wonders of life. At Plum Village, we should learn to breathe and to walk in the present moment.

In the last talk, we learned the 7th and 8th exercises of mindful breathing. The 7th is being aware of the pain within myself. When we have a painful feeling, we know it! Do we know how to handle it or do we cover up the feelings with consumption? We can be stronger with the energy of mindfulness. The energy of mindfulness sees thee energy of pain. And the 8th exercise is to calm down the painful feeling. Holding the child of suffering – embracing tenderly.

What is exercises five and six? Five is to generate a feeling a joy. And the sixth is to generate happiness. We can always bring about a feeling of joy and happiness whenever we want. How? The oneness of body and mind. The sixth exercise is the art of happiness where the seventh and eighth are the art of suffering.

The first four exercises are about the body and the next four are about the feelings. The third is the awareness of body. When you go home to your body, you may notice pain and stress in your body. This makes you suffer. The fourth is to release the tension in your body. Calming your body. This takes care of our body. We them review the first two exercises. One week at Plum Village is enough time to learn the art.

Last time we also spoke about listening. When we have the energy of mindfulness and concentration we can look deeply into the nature of our own suffering. Understanding our own suffering lets us understand the suffering of our parents and our ancestors. We need mindfulness and concentration so we are not overwhelmed by the suffering of ourselves and others. This is the practice. Understanding brings about compassion. Everyone should learn to cultivate compassion. The practice of deep listening and loving speech can always restore communication and bring about reconciliation. What is loving speech? We practice mindfulness of compassion. Thay shares the story of being the Israelis and Palestinians together at Plum Village.

Thay then shares a story of a woman in America who wanted to commit suicide and how she was able to transform her suffering.

The way out, is in.

What is the Fabric of Reality?

Originally given in Vietnamese, available from Lang Mai, the talk from the Lower Hamlet of Plum Village is dated Sunday, January 26, 2014 and is the twenty first talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. English translation, available below, is by Sr. Tue Nghiem. The first 45-minutes of the talk focus on connecting our body and mind through our practice of returning. The second half returns to the sutra study and the characteristics of seeds.

Every time we have difficulties with another person, what can we do? Why do we have these difficulties? Why can we not communicate? Do we blame the other person or are we able to see that both sides have difficulties? We have to look at ourselves. The most basic difficulty is that we can’t communicate or understand ourselves. It’s so easy to just run away from ourselves through reading novels, watching television, go on the internet, etc. But, there may be loneliness, grief, sadness, anger, and emptiness that we cannot bear. We are not at peace with ourselves. Therefore, we cannot easily communicate with the other person because we cannot communicate with ourselves. We can’t blame the other person or ourselves but we try to understand ourselves. This is a courageous act. We can use a friend, a co-practitioner, a sangha to support us to come back to ourselves and recognize our suffering and despair. Our breathing can help us bring our mind back to our body. This is the practice of returning. The method and practice are really simple. With concentration we can cultivate an inner strength. The third exercise from the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing is bringing our full attention to our body and let go of the tension in our body. Mindfulness of the body. Breathing can be the object of our mind to help us return to our body. How is our breathing? We can use the gatha “In. Out. Deep. Slow.” This is the practice of peace.

When Thay taught at university, another professor asked Thay what do we do to sit in meditation? The most basic practice is to harmonize our breathing. When we sit down, the first thing we do is calm down and harmonize the breathing. The second is to harmonize the body with our posture. These two go together – the breathing and the body. This may take a few minutes and then we can go deeper into contemplation. Being aware that we have body and our breathing, this is life.

We can see the miracle if our energy and practice is strong. The Mother Earth is present in our body. We carry in our body the presence of all our ancestors. They continue to live in us. If we are peaceful and joyful then our ancestors are also peaceful and joyful. And so this gatha of practice can be a very deep practice. This is awakening and can come today and can come continuously.

Freedom of in breath and out breath. If the breathing is peaceful then our body is peaceful. We calm our breathing, our body, and then our feelings.

What is that that prevents you from having joy? What is it’s true name? How do we let it entangle us? Plum Village practice is very simple. The energy of mindfulness let us see miracles in every moment. Mindful breathing and mindful steps. To calm down. We can have help
From fellow practitioners.

The characteristics of seeds is Momentary impermance.

Moons and stars are the objects of our consciousness. Everything has a mark or sign. It can be either collective or individual. All these phenomenon are from seeds. There are three kinds of conciousmess in manifestation-only teaching. Store consciousness, Manas, and Perception of Reality along with five sense consciousness plus mind. Store consciousness maintains three things: seeds, our body, and our environment. And the seeds manifests as signs or marks.

What is the fabric of reality?

The fourth characteristic of seeds. And this teaching is a different from the traditional interpretation. The seeds in the store consciousness are neither also door unwholesome because store consciousness is undetermined and unobstructed. Therefore, the characteristic of the seed is undetermined.

The fifth characteristic of seeds is that they wait for conditions to manifest. Interdependent co-arising. And the sixth is neither being nor non-being. In manifestation-only teaching, these are true mental categories and cannot be applied to reality. And that subject and object cannot operate independently.

No sameness, no otherness.
No coming, no going.

The Body and the Environment

Originally given in Vietnamese, available from Lang Mai, the talk from Lower Hamlet, Plum Village is dated Sunday, January 12, 2014 and is the seventeenth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. English translation, available below, is by Sr. Tue Nghiem. Our talk today continues looking at the morning chant and evening chant in addition to a deeper look at store consciousness, the body, and manas.

0:00-8:04 Two Chants from Monastics
8:04-28:40 Walking and Breathing
28:40-1:06:46 Store Consciousness
1:06:46-1:27:25 The Body and the Environment
1:27:25-end Manas and Freud

Continuing on the morning chant verse from the last dharma talk.  The dharma body is our practice. The second line of the verse is sitting still my mind is at peace and I smile. The mind is the second action of karma and the smile is part of our speech. These three karma – body, mind, speech – must calm down. The night is divided into five parts – the fifth part is the early morning and the door of the dharma has opened. In the evening verse, the first part of the night has arrived. In the morning we can penetrate the three vehicles and embrace the two kinds of truth. We vow to go through the day being awake and not as sleepwalkers. Thay teaches on how the text of Chinese, Vietnamese, and English vary.

Walking and breathing. If we can walk with peace and joy, it doesn’t matter how we walk. If we can do it at Plum Village then we can do it anywhere. Walk as a free person. If there is no freedom there is no happiness. Not carried away by the past or future. Every step can condition us to peace, joy, and happiness. We can use our breathing to bring our mind back to our body. This is the energy of concentration. Freedom only takes a few seconds. The Cyprus in the yard. The dharma body is the miracle of the universe.

In manifestation only teachings, the store conciousness contains all the wonders of life. The object of mind. There are three objects of mind. Things as they are themselves. Store conciousness has a direct perception – no speculation and analysis. If it does this then it has mental construction. Being and non-being. Goodness and evil. Store consciousness is neither and has a direct perception and can touch the ultimate reality. It has access to the objects in themselves.

Seeds, Body and Environment. Manas. Subject and object. Store consciousness is the first to come and the lass to leave. Store consciousness controls and collaborates with the nervous system to create balance in the body.

Manas is undetermined, but it is covered up. It belongs to the subconscious. Perception, feeling, mental formation, consciousness. Manas thinks these things are itself but it is not. It doesn’t see the environment comes from the store consciousness too. That is it’s weakness. Manas seeks to avoid suffering, seeks pleasure, it does not know seeking pleasure is suffering, and does not to see the goodness of suffering. Finally, it does not know the law of moderation. Freud called manas the id.

Without manas, the five skandhas are the dharma body. A wonder. According to Freud, apart from id there is the ego. This is the self. This becomes something that is tangible. The ego inhibits id from manifesting. The super-ego looks for ways to free the id by using wholesome means.  More discussion and comparison of Freud psychology and manifestation-only teaching.

Have I Got a True Home?

This talk by Thich Nhat Hanh is from the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village on the occasion of Christmas Eve (Tuesday, December 24, 2013). It is the twelfth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. In this talk we learning about our True Home and Sangha.

Christmas is always an opportunity to meditate on our true home. The Buddha  did not have a home when he was young; he was unhappy even with all the material conditions. And Jesus Christ was born a refugee and was also trying to find a home. But both the Buddha and the Christ practiced and they found a True Home. Have I got a true home?

A place of comfort and ease. When you come to Plum Village you are offered a practice to help you find a home. And home is not located in space and time. Our first fruit of the practice is “I have arrived. I am home.” Our true home is in the here and the now in every breath and every step.

The practice of mindful breathing brings our mind in touch with our body. Our body may be our first home. Are you in conflict with your body? Do you hate your body? We are all flowers in the garden of humanity. Do we know how to take care of our flowerness? Getting in touch with our body is the first step.

We may notice tension in our body and the Buddha offered us exercises to reduce the tension. An act of reconciliation. Very practical. We can smile to ourselves and release the tension.

Why, in some instances, have we abandoned our body? Do you have a feeling of loneliness?are we covering up suffering in our life? We don’t know how to handle the suffering inside of us and we cover it up with consumption. The practice of mindfulness can help you reverse this to take care of your body and your feelings. If you can, then you are creating a true home for yourself.

24-m Consumption and Loneliness
27-m The Art of Happiness (Exercises 5 & 6)
31-m The Art of Suffering (Exercises 7 & 8)
37-m Practicing with a Sangha
43-m Building a Sangha
47-m The Plum Village Sangha
50-m What do I want to do with my life?

The year is ending and it is a good time to ask what we want to do with our life. If you are a couple, you may wish to sit down and discuss your dream and see how to support each other. Jesus had a dream. Buddha had a dream. Can we look at our other relationships and see how they might be improved?

Wherever we go, the sangha is with us. Sangha is our home. We can practice in such a way that our family is our sangha. We should devote our time and energy to building our true home so that we can realize our dream.

Merry Christmas.

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To Meditate is to Look Deeply

May 25, 2013. 87-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.

To meditate is having the time is to look deeply. We first take the body. This is the object of our meditation. Mindfulness of body. We review briefly the realms of  the exercises on breathing: Breath, Feelings, and Mind.

The focus of the talk is on the mind. We start with the concept of mental formations. How do we work with and identify our mental formations. To meditate also means we sit at the river of mental formations and recognize each as they go by. What is store consciousness and mind consciousness? We can water the good seeds in our consciousness. Let us vow to water the good seeds in ourselves and in the other person. The practice of selective watering. The practice of Right Diligence.

This brings us through the for ten exercises from the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Mindful Breathing. There are six more but we’ll continue another day.

The talk shifts to the Fifth Mindfulness Training (35-m) on consumption. The Sutra on the Flesh of the Son illustrates consumption. It speaks on four kinds of Nutriments. The first is edible food.

The second is sensory impressions. How do we consume media, products, etc. The third is volition. What is your deepest desire? The fourth food is consciousness.

The teaching of Interbeing.

The Other Person

May 24, 2013. 84-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.

Thay has a few questions to ask the audience and the questions might touch something very deep in you. It is about the “the other person” in your life.

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 in 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 the 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 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?

It is possible to create a meditation hall on a bus or train and then use the time to nourish and heal yourself. You can use the exercises from the Anapanasati Sutta. The first exercise is to become aware of your in-breath and your out-breath. We can cultivate energy to help heal and nourish. The first energy is mindfulness. This energy can be cultivated with just one in-breath. The second energy we can generate during breathing is concentration. The third energy is insight. This is a kind of vision/wisdom that will help liberate you from suffering. This is enlightenment itself – it can come in just a few seconds! To be alive is a true wonder, a true miracle.

I am alive. Stop the thinking. Enjoy breathing.

The second exercise is to follow your in-breath and your out-breath all the way through. With the third exercise, you become aware that you have a body. Next we calm our body and release the tension and restore peace. Even if we only have a few minutes, we can use these exercises to restore ourselves. Generating joy is the fifth exercise. Next we become aware of the painful emotion that in us – we don’t try to run away from our pain. From here we calm down the pain.

Understanding suffering always bring compassion. We can restore communication with the other person and end suffering.

Many Pairs of Opposites

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.

Sitting is an Art

October 7, 2012. 105-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh at Plum Village. The sangha is enjoying the Autumn Retreat and this is a Day of Mindfulness.

Thay begins his talk today with reminiscences from Vietnam in the 60s. Forty-six years ago, Thay was invited by Cornell University to give a series of lectures on the conditions in Vietnam. The Vietnamese were fighting each other with foreign ideologies and foreign weapons. We were not allowed to use our voices for peace, but there was a peace movement in Vietnam. Thay wrote a book of poems and a book, Lotus in the Sea of Fire, that needed to be published and distributed underground. We also trained many social workers to help orphans and children. Those supporting peace were often threatened and murdered. We need a spiritual dimension in our life so we don’t lose ourselves to despair and to help sustain us.

What do you do when you’re practicing sitting meditation? Sitting isn’t “doing” but it’s more about “being” – harmony, joy, and healing are possible. Sitting is an art. There is no need to do anything. Mind and body must be together to live in the preset moment. One mindful in-breathe may be enough to come home. We don’t need to worry about the future. Teaching on mindfulness of body – it is a wonder, a mystery.

The Kingdom of God. Dharmachaya. The body of the cosmos. Suchness. Reality as it is. We cannot use our notions to describe God. This is available in the here and the now.

Exercises on mindful breathing. Enlightenment is not far away; it can be immediate with mindfulness. Breathing in you can have enlightenment. No thinking. No planning. No fear. Then your concentration becomes stronger. Brings insight to transform our suffering and bring happiness. This is not prayer, this is practice. Happiness does not depend on the outside, it depends on our way of looking at things.

Walking on Mother Earth. Samskara. Formation. We calm down the body formation.

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The Five Aggregates Are Empty

December 15, 2011. 101-minute dharma talk from New Hamlet of Plum Village, France. This is the seventh talk offered in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong.

Insight from touching the earth. Truth is a kind of insight and the object of our religion is truth, goodness, and beauty. We pay respect to Buddha, to God, to Allah in order to gain this insight. When we bow down, we don’t need to personalize the statue but rather something concrete. Understanding. Compassion. Wisdom. Everyone can keep their own religion; touching the earth is not something inanimate. Mother Earth is a great Boddhisatva.

With medicine and health, we can’t just rely on one thing. The same is true in regards to religion. We have to pay attention to our body. Bring out mind back to our body. You have time for your computer, but not time for your body? We are organizing a Health Retreat to restore the well being in your body and your mind (April 2012). If we can breath in, and bring our mind back to our body, then we can stop the alienation created by external forces such as computers, tv, cell phones, etc. Stopping. Calming. Concentration. The breath can be the object of your mind and stop the situation from being dispersed.

About an hour into talk, we resume the Paramarthah Gathas of Asanga’s Yogacarabhumi sutra study with Gatha 17-21, particularly focusing on the verses dealing with the ephemeral nature of all things we think of as ourselves.

17-18. The physical body is like foam. Feelings are like bubbles on the surface of the water. The perceptions are like a magic city. The mental formations are like the stem of a banana tree. The consciousness is like a magic show. That is what the Buddha has taught.

19. Ignorance does not make ignorance ignorant, nor does it make others ignorant. Another does not make ignorance ignorant. Nevertheless ignorance is not non-existent.

20. Ignorance is born from inappropriate attention. Inappropriate attention arises in the ignorant person.

21. Merit, lack of merit and immovability; these formations are imagined in a threefold way. All things have three kinds of karma and these karma’s are not compatible with each other.

Psyche and Soma Are Not Separate

December 8, 2011. 103-minute dharma talk from Lower Hamlet of Plum Village, France. This is the fifth talk offered in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong.

The happiness of the dharma. When listening to a dharma talk, walking, eating, cleaning the toilet, or sitting meditation, this is dharma happiness. When you put the practice into your daily activities, then you can have happiness. We just need to look a little deeper with concentration. Today we can learn about eating mindfully. A piece of bread contains the body of the cosmos. We also learn how to sit correctly.

At 38-minutes we switch to sutra study. The Paramartha Gathas of Asanga from the Yogacarabhumi Sastra. He shares in particular about the 12 Links of Interdependent Origination as a new theory of knowledge, or epistemology. When we look at them deeply we see there is no subjective observer; we are participants in what we observe. Without this insight we fall into the wrong perception that body and mind are separate.