Tag Archives: Buddhism

Mother Earth Has All the Seeds

The sangha held a monastic ordination ceremony on this day and so Thich Nhat Hanh spent some time talking about being a monastic. The second part of his talk is fantastic and touches deeply on his revolutionary nature and how Buddhism must be progressive and change. We conclude the talk with the winter retreat by learning more about the characteristics of the seeds.

Originally given in Vietnamese, available from Lang Mai, the talk from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village is dated Sunday, December 8, 2013 and is the seventh talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. English translation, available below, is by Sr. Tue Nghiem.

00:00-06:40 Chanting
06:40-13:45 New Monastics Introduced
13:45-34:30 Being a Monastic
34:30-54:28 Renewing Buddhism
54:28-1:06 Poetry and Walking
1:06-1:41 Sutra Study

Thay introduces the verses for the new year. New year, new me. Joy within, joy all around.

Being a Monastic
Purpose of the new monastic family. A new life. When we become a monastic, we let go of everything. The accomplishments and difficulties belong to the sangha. There is no individual future. We must take care of the entire family. How is this different from lay dharma teacher? The needs are great and we need more monastics and dharma teachers. Importance of organizing and leading retreats. We are a practical community; not theoretical. We also have the Five-Year Program as a dharma door for young people.

Renewing Buddhism
Buddhism is an art and must be progressive otherwise it stands still. We can modify the teachings so it’s applicable to society. New sutras, training,  precepts. New findings and new research. If we don’t renew then Buddhism stands still and we don’t honor the ancestors. It must be appropriate for the people and era otherwise it is not true Buddhism. See how the Five Trainings or Ten Novice Precepts of Plum Village are very different from traditional and much better. We must have courage to renew. Can we reduce the number of monastic precepts? A new Buddhism.

Poetry and Walking
Thay shares a poem he uses for walking meditation down and back from Son Ha.  Nourishing the sangha with mindful breathing and mindful walking. Can we be a cell of the sangha and if the Buddha?

Sutra Study
Review of the first ten characteristics of the seeds. Are the seeds innate? We need to sow and water the seeds. To cultivate the seeds. If we don’t have happiness then we need to plant it so it’s possible. Mother Earth contains all the seeds and we must protect the environment. The insight of manifestation only is non-duality. No double grasping. Subject and object are not different.

Orientation for Applied Ethics Retreat

April 4, 2013. 116-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh, Brother Phap Dung, and Sr. Tue Nghiem from Mahachulalungkornrajavidyalaya University in Bangkok, Thailand. The sangha is in the 5-Day Applied Ethics Retreat as part of the spring Asian Tour. The talk is given in English with simultaneous translation into Thai.

We begin with an introduction to listening to the chant by Thich Nhat Hanh. How do we move from mindfulness of suffering to mindfulness of compassion leading to our transformation and healing? We hear the monastics chant the name of Avalokiteshvara at 14-minutes.

The main talk by Thich Nhat Hanh begins at 36-minutes. Happy teachers will change the world. What to do when we hear the bell? How will it help our breathing? Being established on the present moment. Gives us the power to heal. What is walking meditation? Why do we practice walking?

Beginning at 60-minutes two monastics, Brother Phap Dung and Sister Tue Nghiem, teach about the breathing practice, sitting practice, eating practice, and noble silence practice.

Early Buddhism, Four Powers, and Two Truths

November 11, 2012. 99-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha had just begun the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the second dharma talk of the retreat with the theme Are You The Soulmate of the Buddha? The talk was originally given in Vietnamese and this English translation is provided by Sister Chan Khong.

At the time of the Buddha, he accepted many of the existing teachings such as reincarnation and karma. The gods were Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva. The Buddha took the teachings deeper. Thay makes the observation that at this time in history, the highest caste was the spiritual teacher and the business person less. It is the opposite today. Thay then teaches about the expansion and history of Vedantism and Jainism. The states of meditation in Jainism. Thanks to concentration, the practitioner can have joy and happiness. More inner peace. No suffering. No joy. Purification. The Four Brahma Viharas (Immeasurable Minds). The Buddha accepted their teaching but also created his own way.

The Four Powers.

  1. Deep Desire/Aspiration
  2. Mind
  3. Diligence
  4. Looking deeply

We’ve been learning the methodologies of Buddhism (last time it was the Four Criterion). Today we talk about the Two Truths: Relative Truth and Absolute Truth.

Download or watch below.

Question and Answer Session: Is there a life after death?

July 24, 2012. 80-minute recording given at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is the fourteenth dharma talk of the Summer Opening and this is a session of questions and answers.

Children

  1. How can you make new friends after moving to a new school?
  2. If there is no such thing as death, then why is it wrong to kill?
  3. I suffer a lot from my father. I don’t want to see him anymore. Can I stop trying to change him?
  4. Why did you become a monk?

Adults

  1. I am the last child in my family linage and there is lots of suffering to transform. How do I help my parents generation? Secondly, why is there still discrimination against women in Buddhism?
  2. Is there life after death?

The Temple of Brotherhood

June 9, 2012. 127-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet in Plum Village during the 21-Day Retreat with the theme The Science of the Buddha. The talk is given in English and this is the sixth dharma talk (of 15).

Just prior to this session, those attending the retreat received a 86-page booklet with sutras and a Letter to a Young Scientist.

Three energies of practice

  1. Mindfulness
  2. Concentration
  3. Insight

The practice of looking deeply along with a discussion of zen history. Tang Hoi, a vietnamese monk, brought zen to China. Zen. Chan. Thien. Dhyana.

Four Notions of Letting Go (from Diamond Sutra)

  1. Self
  2. Man
  3. Living being
  4. Life span

Thay spends the majority of talk teaching on self. A similar teaching is also found in Sutra #296 from Samyukta Agama.

We read from The Paramartha Gathss of Asanga Gathas on the Absolute Truth (verses 1-2)

1. There is absolutely no subject, no agent and no one who enjoys the fruit of action (no one who feels). No dharma (phenomenon, object of mind) has any function. Nonetheless the passing on of one effect to another does take place.

2. There are only the 12 limbs of existence, the aggregates, the realms (ayatanas) and the worlds (dhatus) that are always changing. When we observe thoroughly and contemplate these things we shall not find a separate self anywhere.

Twelve Ayatana

  • Eyes (form)
  • Nose (smell)
  • Tongue (taste)
  • Ears (sound)
  • Body (touch)
  • Mind (objects of mind)

There is no “self” in this. The 18 dhata includes all the twelve above plus the following:

  • Eye consciousness
  • Nose  consciousness
  • Tongue consciousness
  • Ears consciousness
  • Body consciousness
  • Mind consciousness

Why do you think the “self” doesn’t change when everything else does?

At 1:28, Thay reads (not provided in the book) the Sutra #300 from Samyukta Agama. We continue with verse 44 from the same text above, followed by a portion of the “Discourse on the Middle Way”

44.  Living beings is the name of a continuous stream and all phenomena as the object of perception are only signs. Therefore there is no real change of birth into death and death into birth and no person who realizes nirvana.

At the end of talk, Thay provides commentary on why the Buddha had to continue the practice beyond enlightenment.

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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.

The Joy of Simplicity

December 4, 2011. 103-minute dharma talk from New Hamlet of Plum Village, France. This is the fourth talk offered in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong.

In the last dharma talk, we learned about walking mediation. Today will learn about the practice of sitting meditation. Sitting in the spring breeze – we should sit relaxingly, joyfully, happily. We don’t sit for enlightenment. No aim to become a Buddha. We sit straight, but relaxed. This morning, the Morning Chant was so beautiful and is different from when he was a young novice monk. Thay talks about the traditional way of offering the chants in Sino-Vietnamese and discusses the lines of the Morning Chant and the Evening Chant. He tells the story of sitting all night in meditation with Ananda and a group of new bhikshus – we just sit happily. We can apply this to sitting in the airport or the train station. If we can sit like this, the world can have a lot of peace and joy. We can apply this practice into other activities of the day, like sweeping or moping. Thay talks about his life as a novice where there were no toilets in the temple. “Having toilets to clean can be a source of great happiness.”

About one-hour into the talk, we continue the teaching on the Yogacarabhumi Sastra, Verses 9-12 of the Paramartha Gathas of Asanga. What does the absolute truth say about cause and effect? What is co-being, co-manifesting? The “twelve” links of co-arising.

Non-Dualistic View of Bodhisattva Gaia

December 1, 2011. 98-minute dharma talk from Upper Hamlet of Plum Village, France. This is the third talk offered in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong.

Thay shares about truly being present when we touch the Earth while practicing walking meditation, about not getting caught in a dualistic view of nature and the Earth. “The Earth has many good qualities: solidity, endurance, and the capacity to embrace all things. When we feel lost we can go back to our mother, the Earth. When can call her Bodhisattva Gaia. The sun is like Vairocana Tathagata. Aware of the Earth and Sun like that, every step is nourishing, every step is healing.”

At about 52-minutes into the talk, Thay continues his teaching on the Yogacarabhumi Sastra, explaining Verse 6-9 of the Paramartha Gathas.

What You Know Could Be An Obstacle

November 24, 2011. 95-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from the Full Moon Meditation Hall in New Hamlet, Plum Village, France. This is the first dharma talk for the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk was given in Vietnamese and translated into English by Sr. Chan Khong [Vietnamese version].

Thich Nhat Hanh begins by talking about the importance of putting into practice what we learn when we study about Buddhism. Listen. Look Deeply. Put into Action. This is how we achieve the gate of liberation. We can also learn to think skillfully. Right Thinking and wisdom can arrive. The main teaching of Thay is to have arrived in the present moment. To be home. And yet, there are those who have heard this thousands of times but they have not reached a place of deep wisdom. It is not just an accumulation of knowledge.

“When we share the Dharma it should come from a place of happiness. Some people, including monastics, can give very good Dharma talks on ‘I have arrived, I am home,’ but they are not truly happy.”

We don’t need to use what we know when listening to a dharma talk. This leads to comparing. You just receive it. The Buddha said some students receive enlightenment just like that. Right away. Not the fruit of your knowledge. What you know, could be an obstacle. It is only intellectual.

He then begins study of the Paramartha Gathas, from the Yogacarabhumi Sastra of Asanga. Asanga is a very profound teacher who began in Theravada, but then followed Mahayahana Buddhism. This Gatha speaks about the Absolute Truth. It’s been translated three times from the Sanskrit. We have the Chinese texts as well as a Vietnamese translation by Thay. English is being produced for this teaching. [Note: When texts become available, they will be posted]

The first verse:

There is absolutely no subject, no agent and no one who enjoys the fruit of action. No dharma has any effect. Nonetheless, the passing on of one effect to another does take place.

Thay shares about physics in the light of this teaching: “What is the electron made of? All things are composite. There are many things that come together to make everything. When we look skillfully we see only action: we don’t see any owner, actor or inheritor.”

Recognizing the Fruit of Our Habits

June 16, 2011. 70-minute Dharma Talk in Vietnamese, with translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong, given by Thich Nhat Hanh in Assembly of Stars Meditation Hall, Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France.

In this talk we study the Sutra on Keeping a Pure Mind While Doing Alms Round (#236). The sutra demonstrates that the practice is all day long and in all positions. Walking. Sitting. Eating. Etc. The practice today is the same as the time of the Buddha. The sutra also speaks of emptiness samadhi (deep concentration). Recognizing and embracing is the third aspect of the sutra.

Impermanence, Non-self, and Nirvana. The Three Dharma Seals. Some schools call the third as suffering, but Thay feels this is not correct. Emptiness, Signlessness, and Aimlessness. These also are known as dharma seals (Tripitaka) – sometimes called the Three Doors of Liberation.

We then move to another sutra (#293), a sutra about interdependent co-arising conditions, and Thay recognizes this is very difficult. At the end he reminds us to drink some tea.

The talk was given in Vietnamese with English translation and is available below. There is a video version available too. Please note, we are missing just the first minute or two of the recording.