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.