January 17, 2013. 87-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the twenty-first dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk is given in Vietnamese and this is a translation provided by Sr. Chan Không.
Thay shares that he has written a document with all the teachings from the winter retreat. At the end of Winter Retreat we can distribute. The focus has been mistakes that have been made about Buddhism.
We hear story of Siddhartha from before he was enlightened. King Bimbisara was impressed with him and wanted him to be the Teacher for the whole nation. Siddhartha said no because he wasn’t enlightened yet. Later, when he was enlightened, he want back to the King at the time when King Bimbisara’s son was trying to take away his power. There was some mental sickness in his son, and later King, Ajatashatru. This is the story we hear that is found in the Samaññaphala Sutta, The Fruit of Contemplative Life Discourse. What is the life of a monastic? What is the freedom of a monastic.
At 43-minutes we continue with sutra study that has been the focus of the winter retreat. What happens when we pass away? Everyone always wants to know and there are lots of theories. Nihilism versus enternalism. The truth must be beyond these mental categories. What is no birth and no death? Impermanence and the middle way. The one who acts and the one who receives are not the same, but not different either. This is the deep looking at impermanence and see the pairs of opposites. We also hear about the time of Lê Dynasty in Vietnam.
Even some scientists have discovered this teaching of no birth and no death. We can transcend these mental categories of placing everything into boxes. When you see that, you can live free and happy in your daily life.
July 15, 2012. 121-minute recording given at Lower Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the seventh dharma talk of the Summer Opening and the talk was originally given in French. This is an English translation.
We begin with a talk for the children. What is the Buddha? How can we make use of suffering? What can we do with anger? What is loving speech? The story of the corn plant. The method of meditation called Signlessness. Uses the birth of a child to illustrate.
Following the talk for children, the main talk begins at 53-minutes into the recording. In classical science things are all outside of each other. In modern science, quantum physics, we see that things are inside each other. In Buddhism, we try to look this way. There is no separate self. Coexistence. This is, because that is. Interbeing.
A teaching in the Four Noble Truths. Why do we have suffering? Hiw do we get understanding and love? How can we see the all in the one?
The noble eightfold path beginning with Right View (the fruit of our meditation). The notions of being and non-being. Right Thinking. Right Speech. Right Action.
July 9, 2012. 94-minute recording given at New Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the third dharma talk of the Summer Opening. We begin with chanting and the talk begins at 15-minutes into the recording.
Bowing. Buddhahood. A lotus for you, a Buddha to be. The seed of Buddhahood.
Stories of being in Paris during the war. Supporting peace and practicing being together. Teaching on kingdom of God and the pure land. It is now or never. This is the teaching of Plum Village. We can do everything in the kingdom of God. Suffering and the noble truths. The buddhadharma can help you. We can love and understand our suffering.
July 7, 2012. 87-minute recording given at Lower Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the first dharma talk of the Summer Opening. The sangha is celebrating the 30th Summer Opening. The talk begins with instruction on how to listen to the chant followed by Avalokiteshvara chant.
The main talk begins at 40-minutes into the recording. We hear stories from the Avatamsaka Sutra (Flower Garland Sutra). The mother of the Buddha and how the friends came to see Siddhartta while still in the womb. She had a lot of space inside for everyone. We can cultivate this kind of space too. Story of Sidhartta making at least seven steps at his birth. What does this mean? Walking like a Buddha on planet earth. Freedom, joy, and happiness is available with every step.
May 27, 2012. 65-minute recording given at New Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is a Day of Mindfulness.
We learn who the Buddha is through the teachings of the Buddha. When we bow to the Buddha, we should see our true connection. Interbeing. The Buddha is enlightened with deep understanding and compassion. How can we produce it? The first step is awareness of suffering. The four noble truths.
The Buddha is a human being. He is not a god. The Buddha is made of non-Buddha elements. Thay then makes the connection to the planet and science. The Buddha can be a sub-atomic particle.
We hear two questions from the audience. How can we handle out habit energy in daily life? How can I heal violence around me?
Thay reminds us the 21-day retreat begins in a few days. This will be part of our 30-year anniversary. For each dharma talk during the retreat, we will sit together in silence for 8-minutes. Stop our thinking and feel the presence of ourselves and others. There should be no noise during this time. Thay also wrote an intimate letter to a young scientist in preparation for retreat.
September 17, 2011. 96-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Ocean of Peace Mediation Hall at Deer Park Monastery in Escondido, CA. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the first dharma talk for the Opening the Heart Vietnamese Retreat. The talk was given in Vietnamese and translated into English by Sr. Dang Nghiem.
We begin with a guided meditation on our parents. Opening the Heart. Thay teaches the corn story to illustrate the concept of continuation. This practice not just for us. It is for our parents, our children. This is non-dualistic way of thinking. We have both blood and spiritual ancestors inside of us. Where do you look for the Buddha? We all have Buddhanature. Do not look for the Buddha on the outside. We also have the dharma jewel. We have a method to practice. If the jewel is not shining than we need to learn how to polish. The third jewel is the sangha. What does a sangha practice? Mindfulness, concentration, and insight.
What is the relationship between the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha? Ate you a true cell in the body of the sangha and the dharma? What is continuation? The nature of things? The cloud and the tea. The child and the father. The corn seed and the corn plant. How do we live deeply? Enjoying each wonderful moment. To use our conditions of happiness. Practicing to generate Mindfulness, concentration, and insight.
August 23, 2011. 122-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the fourth and final talk of the Body and Mind Are One retreat.
We begin with a short guided meditation.
I invite the Buddha to breathe. I invite the Buddha to sit. I don’t have to breathe. I don’t have to sit.
Buddha is breathing. Buddha is sitting.
I enjoy the breathing. I enjoy the sitting.
Buddha is the breathing. Buddha is the sitting.
I am the breathing. I am the sitting.
There is only the breathing. There is only the sitting.
There is no-one breathing. There is no-one sitting.
We are our action. We are our karma. Everyday we produce speech and our action. There is no thinker outside the thoughts. The act of breaking the bread is Jesus. The quality of the sitting is the Buddha. When there is an in-breath is there, you know the Buddha is there. We don’t need a breather. This has to do with the lack of subject and object in our experience of reality. “In breathing and sitting, there is no breather or sitter. There is just the breathing, there is just the sitting.” “When you say ‘The wind blows’, it is very funny. If it does not blow, how can it be the wind? It is like saying ‘The rain is raining.’ If it is not raining, how can it be rain? The same is true for thinking. The thinker and the thought—they are not separate things; they are one.” We can touch the nature of no-self. Emptiness.
A teaching on deep listening and loving speech is illustrated with stories of people attending retreats and transforming their communication. We also hear examples of Israeli and Palestinians coming together. In a discussion about the Five Mindfulness Trainings, particularly the fifth, Thay introduces and shares about The Sutra on the Son’s Flesh, to point out the nature of nutriment and the Four Kinds of Nutriments. He continues on to discuss the three kinds of concentration: emptiness, signlessness and aimlessness.
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.
May 26, 2011. 90-minute dharma talk given in English, with simultaneous translation into Dutch, with Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the second Dharma talk offered by Thay in the Dutch Retreat at the European Institute of Applied Buddhism in Waldbröl, Germany.
Thay shares about the notions of birth and death, creator and creature, and the practice of cultivating right view with regard to these notions. How do we transcend ideas of suffering and happiness, being and non-being, birth and death? Compassionate listening. Applying what we learned from Israeli and Palestinian retreats. Thay also touches on the three actions of body, speech, and mind as our true continuations.
The talk was given in English and Dutch at the same time and is available below for listening or download. You may also view the video.