Tag Archives: Buddha

This Moment, Only Once

The audio archives contained here will continue to grow and change moving forward. In addition to sharing Thich Nhat Hanh talks from the archives, we will also share current talks from senior dharma teachers from our community. This rich and lively talk was given in the Assembly of Stars Hall in Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, on Thursday May 21, 2015, as part of the community’s Spring Retreat.

Thay Phap Hai

Thay Phap Hai

Brother Phap Hai (Brother Dharma Ocean) offers some challenging questions to help us energize and focus our practice and truly arrive in ourselves in the present moment.

What is the “seed sound” of the Plum Village practice “I have arrived, I am home”? What is the difference between knowledge and insight? What is the original meaning of the word “Path” in Buddhism? Have you actually ever “seen” the Dharma? If you saw the Buddha today, what would you ask?


Evolutive Dharma

From the archives, this talk by Thich Nhat Hanh was given during the 2002-2003 Winter Retreat (January 19, 2003) from the Upper Hamlet of Plum Village. The one-hour talk begins with a short chant in English by the monks and nuns.

The living Buddha. How do we get in touch with the living Buddha? When we think of the Buddha, we have a notion. We think of Shakyamuni. If we are caught by the notion of the historical Buddha we cannot be in touch with the living Buddha.

The practice of signlessness. With the eyes of signlessness, we can recognize the cloud in the tea or the ice cream. This is not something metaphysical or abstract. We see people and things in their new forms with the eyes of signlessness. We can be free from our ignorance. Impermanence makes life possible. It allows the Buddha to grow beyond his 80-year lifespan.

The living Dharma. The living dharma is something you can see for yourself, something that grows. The dharma needs to be offered in an intelligent way: it must be the right teaching for the right person, it must be flexible, and it must be able to grow.

The notion of the evolutive dharma. The nature of Interbeing can help us touch our true nature. Buddhism is only made of nonbuddhist elements. Buddhism has no fixed identity and is evolving. It’s like a Bodhi tree remains the same tree even as it grows in different directions. The living dharma is alive, moving, and growing.

And the living Sangha has the living Buddha and living dharma inside. Practice in an intelligent way and don’t be caught in fundamentalism. Even in the Buddha’s lifetime, the Dharma and Sangha were evolving. Fundamentalism is our enemy.

Thanks to our practice and our enlightenment, Mahayana Buddhism can grow. Different types of concentrations – impermanence, nirvana, no self – will help us grow in the practice.



What has Buddha-Nature?

December 1, 2013. 93-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet of Plum Village. This is the fifth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. We begin with two chants from the monastics. The talk was given in Vietnamese and this is an English translation by Sr. Tue Nghiem.

An issue in Christianity has been the question whether God a human or not a human. Theologians have said, though God is not a person but God is not less than a person.  In Buddhism, there is the idea of sentient beings that suffer and Buddha’s who have enlightenment. But when we become a Buddha, we continue to be a sentient being. I’m Mahayana Buddhism, these two are not separate. Sentient beings and Buddha’s are not different but two pairs of opposite. One cannot be without the other. Humans are composed of non-human elements. This is a non-dualistic insight. Interdependent co-arising.

Everything is impermanent, including enlightenment and Buddha. We must continue to cultivate happiness and insight. Can the Buddha be recognized in another form than a human? Consider what is written in the Diamond Sutra. We also need to remove the dualistic thinking regarding inanimate objects. Even a rock has Buddha-nature. We have to transcend the idea that Buddha must be a human.

Applying this teaching using sitting and breathing. Thay provides instructions.

At 58-minutes, we continue with the winter retreat teachings from the 30-verses of Vasubandhu with the 3rd verse.

Its appropriations and its manifestation of locality
cannot be known intellectually. It is always
associated with contact, mental attention, feeling,
perception, and volition.

Seeds. Form. Signs. Consciousness. Names.


Vesak Talk in Hong Kong

May 19, 2013. 32-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from the Lotus Pond Temple in Hong Kong. The sangha is on the spring Asian Tour and this talk is given in English with simultaneous translation into Chinese. This is a Day of Mindfulness celebrating vesak.

Birth story of Siddhartha and the relationships in the family that effected his birth. Siddhartha left shortly after the birth of Rahula, his own son, in her to search for the way. He was doing that for all of us – his father, his mother, his country. When you become a monk or a nun, you do so for more than just yourself. He found a way to reduce tension in his body, to calm down his feelings,  to see the deep roots of suffering in himself and other people, found a way to restore communication, and most importantly the nature of no-birth and no-death. Today we celebrate Siddhartha’s birth.

The Buddha saw that happiness is possible and it’s made of understanding and love. It only takes a short time to learn this path. We can learn to release the tension in our body, to calm our painful feeling and emotions, to learn how to generate a feeling of joy and happiness, and to understand the suffering in oneself and in the other person. We can use the Sutra on the Four Foundations of Mindfulness and the Sutra on the Full Awareness of Breathing.

Shakyamuni is a Teacher and not a God.


The Story of King Ajatashatru

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.


Interbeing of Father and Son, Exploring the Fundamental Teachings of the Buddha

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.


The Truth About Happiness

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.


Arriving in Plum Village

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.


Who is the Buddha?

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.


Full of Wonder

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.