Tag Archives: Christianity

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.

The Self is Ever Changing

January 10, 2013. 106-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the nineteenth 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.

In our practice of Touching the Earth today, we practiced with the Three Jewels. There is the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. What does this mean? Comparison with the Trinity in Christianity. Do you know how to love? Do you know how to understand? What is the guideline for looking deeply so we can love and understand? What are the elements of a sangha? What can you do to start a sangha? Why is a sangha important?

At 40-minutes we begin the sutra study. What is a seperate self? The self is ever changing. We have the illusion that it’s the same. No sameness. No otherness. It’s the middle way. What is conventional designation? Formation and samskara. You Are, So I Am. Discusses sutra in light of Spinoza, a Dutch philosopher.

In the relative world there is birth, becoming, action, and formation. The teaching of interacting is the teaching of no-self. Thay explores this within the context of early Buddhism and the development of the teaching.

God Can Be A Person

December 24, 2011. 105-minute dharma talk and chanting with Thich Nhat Hanh as he gives the annual Christmas Eve talk from Lower Hamlet, Plum Village. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat and this is the first talk in English. The talk was also enjoyed by over 550 people live via the Internet.

The practice of Plum Village is “I Have Arrived. I am Home.” We can breathe in a feel alive right here and now. We stop all our thinking and focus our mind on our in breath and get established in the here and the now. Mindfulness is a kind of light to know what is happening in the present moment. With mindfulness we can become a Saint, a Buddha, a Bodhisattva . With this light. One day science will be able to measure the type of energy created by mindfulness practice. The collective energy of everyone. We can send waves of mindfulness, compassion and peace, we create interference and enhance the energy of everyone. All of us are looking for our true home. We may only feel happy when we are home. Our practice is to go home in every moment. Breathe and you are alive. Many of us have succeeded in that practice. When we do this, we also become the home for other people.

When we practice like this, we may get in touch with planet Earth. In Plum Village we look at the planet Earth as a bodhisattva. You do not have to be a person to be a bodhisattva. Everything has a buddha nature. During walking meditation, we may see that the Earth is the most beautiful bodhisattva. Patience, stability, creativity, and love – these are some of the qualities of this bodhisattva. We are a part of her. With mindfulness of walking and breathing, we can connect with our body. Your healing must go together with the healing of the planet earth. The earth is not our environment, the earth is us.

We have spoken about two kinds of vertical theology and the horizontal theology. With vertical, we try to get in touch with the absolute; the ultimate dimension of reality. When cannot arrive in our true home without touching this ultimate reality; we have to touch God. What are we? Where do we come from? We want to know our true nature.

In the Christian tradition, we learn that Jesus is the Son of God. It means that through Jesus you can touch the Ultimate Dimension, the ultimate reality, the ground of being, the almighty. We also learn that Jesus is the Son of Man. As the Son of Man, he belongs to the historical dimension where there is being and non-being, birth and death, sameness and otherness, good and evil. Notions that make us suffer. These can the foundation of our fear, anxiety, and suffering. But Jesus is not only the Son of Man, he is also the Son of God. If we get in touch with Jesus deeply enough, then we can see this ultimate dimension. We have to see Jesus as both. In the Buddhist tradition, it is very clear that everyone belongs to the historical dimension and we also belong to the ultimate dimension. This is our nature and we can learn to transcend our notions.

Merry Christmas to everyone.

Watch live streaming video from plumvillage at livestream.com

Jesus is the Bread

September 4, 2011. 91-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 Day of Mindfulnss during a month-long stay in Escondido.

This is a happy moment. When you love someone, you want him or her to be there for you. How can you love if you are not there? To love is a practice. To practice mindful walking and mindful breathing. You can then offer yourself. You are truly there. The most precious gift is your true presence.

Children are flowers in the garden of humanity. Each of us are born as a flower. We need to preserve our flowerness. To be a true lover we need to know how to take care of ourselves. This is a Buddhist practice.

The First Mantra is “Darling, I am here for you.” And, when you want someone to know of your love then you can practice the Second Mantra. “Darling, I know you are there and it makes me happy.

Thay also teaches on listening to the bell, and the establishment of a breathing room for the family to restore your flowerness.

Thay shares with us the about the nature of bread, that contains the whole cosmos: the Buddha, Jesus, all things are in the bread. “You don’t need to think, there is just awareness. Awareness and insight, but no thinking. No thinking is the secret. We can eat every morsel of our lunch in that way.”

He continues to share about the story of the young couple in the Sutra on the Son’s Flesh who decide to move to another country with their son. Faced with starvation in the desert, they decide to kill their little boy and eat his flesh, crying and beating their chests as they do so. “After the Buddha told this story to the monks, he turned to them and said, ‘Dear friends, do you think the parents enjoyed eating the flesh of their own son?’ ‘No, it is impossible that they could enjoy it.’

The Buddha said, ‘Let us eat in such a way that we preserve our compassion and mindfulness, otherwise when we eat it is like we are eating the flesh of our own son.'” “We should be the aware that many of the items that we consume, with the eyes, the ear, the body, the mind, can be very toxic. A television program, an article, may be full of anger, hate and violence. If we allow our children to consume these items, the toxins will go into their consciousness. Even conversations can sometimes be very toxic.”

The talk is available below. A video version is available in two parts: children’s talk and Jesus is the Bread.

Breakthrough Into the Nature of Reality

August 20, 2011. 116-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 first dharma talk of the Body and Mind Are One retreat.

The first 21-minutes of the dharma talk is for the children. Thay speaks about offering our true presence, the best gift, to our loved ones.

When the children leave, Thay speaks about the term “sahabhu,” which he defines as “co-being” or “co-interbeing”.

In Buddhism we practice mindfulness and concentration. Mindfulness is to be aware of what is there, and we can choose the object of our mindfulness. We can be aware of a flower or a cloud, or of our in-breath. The energy of mindfulness brings with it the energy of concentration. When mindfulness and concentration are powerful we get a breakthrough, an insight—we understand the nature of what is there.

Mindfulness, concentration, and insight. It is insight that can release us from our suffering. Prajna. We also talk of the Noble Eightfold Path and the first is Right View. Right View transcends all other views. Free from the notion of being and non-being. One method to get there is sahabhu. From here Thay explains the Four Noble Truths and the idea of non-dualism and why suffering is a noble truth.

Thay continues to share about the dual nature of birth and death: “We are experiencing birth and death at every moment. Death is now, together with birth. They manifest together at the same time. You cannot say the above exists, and then the below later. The have to exist at the same time. Why are we afraid of dying? Wherever there is death there is life. We are not used to seeing things and thinking of things in term of interbeing. That is why fear and despair are born.”

Buddha. Dharma. Sangha.
Son. Father. Holy Spirit.
Body. Mind. Environment.

In neuroscience they ask whether consciousness is created by the brain; whether the brain and the mind are the same thing. How can something objective like the brain create something subjective like the mind. So there is the ‘in’ and the ‘out'; scientists are still caught in dualistic thinking. The wisdom of non-discrimination can help scientists to get an insight more quickly.

Thay dedicates the last section of the talk to the concrete practice of mindful breathing, including the first few steps of mindful breathing as delineated in the Mindfulness of Breathing Sutra. We are reminded to practice mindfulness and meditation correctly: “Life is already full of suffering, why do you have to suffer more with Buddhist meditation?”

The talk is available below. A video version is available in two parts: children’s talk and breakthrough into the nature of reality.