Tag Archives: Dualism

Foundation for All Phenomena is Store Consciousness

Originally given in Vietnamese, available from Lang Mai, the talk from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village is dated Sunday, December 15, 2013 and is the ninth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. English translation, available below, is by Sr. Tue Nghiem.

00:00-10:00 Chanting
10:35-25:42 UNESCO and Violence in Schools
25:42-44:30 The Seed on the Inside and the Seed on the Outside
44:30-55:40 The Seed of Pure/Impure
55:40-end Different Schools of Thought on Store Consciousness

In 2006, Thay gave at a talk at UNESCO in Paris where he suggested that UNESCO organize retreats for teachers from across the globe so that teachers can bring the practice of nonviolence into their classrooms. At the time, the manager at UNESCO was very supportive because in that year there had been 88,000 acts of violence in classrooms in France in 2006. The energy of violence is there is our young people and many parents and children don’t have methods for dealing with the anger in themselves. In our practice, we begin with generating peace in our body and mind to better manage our energy of anger and violence. We want to share these practices with others. If teachers can learn this practice, they will know how to help their students. Plum Village agreed to create documents and materials to support this effort of reducing violence. Two books – Anger and Cultivating True Peace – both teach on this theme. We have led retreats to Wake Up Schools. We have reached out to UNESCO again to see how can we better support UNESCO again to help train teachers? We have also drafted the Manifesto 2000 (which are based on the Five Mindfulness Trainings) with them, but it seems to have been forgotten. The United Nations have accepted some of our practices for nonviolence with the young people. In Spain, there has been an effort to bring this practice to schools.

One characteristic of seeds that we need to discuss is no-inside/no-outside – this is the tenth characteristic of seeds. There is a distinction between inside and outside – inside our mind and outside in the environment. This is a dualistic view and is double-grasping. In the four establishments of mindfulness there are four domains: body, feelings, mind, and objects of mind. In our mind is the phenomena. There are also teachings on karma and retribution in Buddhism. Our actions lead to retribution. The environment is where the body lives. The environment is ourselves also. These two things cannot be separated. This is the best teaching of manifestation-only teachings.

The eleventh characteristic of seeds is pure/impure – this is a teaching of Mahayana Buddhism. In manifestation-only teachings, different sutras explore this theme. The Five Skandhas and the Twelve Localities (Six Sense Organs and Six Sense Objects). The domains of existence – 18 realms. Thay is teaching on a specific verse where all phenomena are in store consciousness. There are six different pathways but there is also a seed of nirvana. The wholesome seeds are there too in the store consciousness. Nirvana is not outside of birth and death. This characteristics leads us to the teaching of the Heart Sutra where there is no defilement and no immaculate.

Neither wholesome/unwholesome, pure/impure. It is indeterminate. You can choose one of the six paths or you can choose nirvana. What do different teachings say about the different mental formations? The Five Particular Mental Formations. More teachings on store consciousness.

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Is our nature goodness?

In this talk we take a deep look at dualistic thinking, the theology and challenges of seeing the world as pure and impure, and more about the seeds.

Originally given in Vietnamese, available from Lang Mai, the talk from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village is dated Thursday, December 12, 2013 and is the eighth talk of the 2013-2014 Winter Retreat. English translation, available below, is by Sr. Tue Nghiem.

00:00-09:50 Chanting
09:50-30:50 Synchronization of Breathing
30:50-48:00 Dualistic Thinking
48:00-1:02 Theology
1:03-1:23 Seeds
1:23-1:48 Pure and Impure

Hearing the sound of the bell, we stop thinking. We breath gently and pay attention our breathing. Simple and easy. An important habit energy. If we do this together, we are a collective and not a separate individuals. This is synchronization. It’s like when water becomes ice – the molecules come together.  Like the photons of a laser beam. The bell is the stimulation to help us stop thinking. In our body there are cells – all the cells work together in synchronization.

We have the habit of dividing reality into wholesome and not wholesome. Well being and ill-being. Right and wrong. Beauty and ugliness. Permanence and impermanence.  Happiness and suffering. Purity and impurity. This is dualistic thinking. If god is goodness them who will take care of the other side? Is our nature goodness?

Manifestation only teaching and this dualistic thinking. Our nature is indeterminate – neither wholesome nor unwholesome. Reality is indeterminate. Discussion on theology and suffering and natural disasters in the world. And I Ching too. In Buddhism we still say nature is neither pure nor impure.

Good seeds, bad seeds, and neutral. And they’ve been there since the beginning. This is a big issue in manifestation only teachings because some see the seeds are determinate. It has a nature that is organic – even love is organic and so is hate. More on the characteristics of seeds (a review).

Seeds that are pure and impure.  The 22 organs referred to in the Shastra.

Keeping the Essential Teaching of Buddhism

February 3, 2013. 91-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the twenty-sixth 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. It is the final talk of the winter retreat.

Are we the soulmate of the Buddha? We are asking if we are making any mistakes about the teaching. Are we misunderstanding the Buddha? We’ve learned about dualistic thinking. And we’ve learned about the unnecessary questions.

How do we practice with the Dharma body? The teaching? Everyone can practice like the Buddha. Everyone can be enlightened. It is not a religion. The teaching of the Buddha non-dualistic. Even right from the beginning Buddhism split into two schools. The misperception started right from the beginning. Again, what is being the soulmate of the Buddha? How do we keep the essential teaching and also the delusion?

What happens if we diefy the Buddha, then what happens? We can get lost in the idea of self. Discovering the middle way. Sometimes we need to dilute Buddhism a little without forgetting the essential teaching.

Signlessness. Seeing the Buddha in others and other things. The Buddha is next to you. Open your eyes. The Buddha is still there if we practice signlessness.

Your self is transforming every day.

What is dualism and nirvana?

December 6, 2012. 105-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet at Plum Village. The sangha is in the 90-day Rains Retreat (Winter Retreat). This is the ninth 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.

When we speak of spirituality, people often think I the east. And when speaking of science, people think of the west. Today these two ideas can come together. Even Christianity is from the east and has non-dualistic elements. In the first half of the dharma talk today, Thay answers the following questions:

What is dualistic/non-dualistic thinking?
What is nirvana?

About an hour into the recording, the teaching shifts into the sutra commentary as it relates to the twelve links of co-arising, the ultimate dimension, teaching on non-action, and the prajnaparamitas.

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A Bodhisattva in Every Step

November 13, 2011. 80-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from New Hamlet in Plum Village, France. The sangha has just returned from the North American Tour and this is the first dharma talk. I am a little hesitant to post because the sound is a bit challenging. The talk is given in Vietnamese and simultaneously translated into English by Sr. Chan Khong. The challenge being you can hear Thay very clearly and it is occasionally difficult to hear the English clearly. It is a lovely talk and a slightly fresh view from his typical dharma talk, so I hope you enjoy it despite the sound issues.

Thay shares about the practice of sitting meditation, and about the beauty of what the Earth offers to us when we are able to overcome our human pride.

You are very proud of your science, your math, but if you look at one petal of a flower you realize that you would have to be an extremely talented mathematician and artist to create such a thing. Human beings are very proud to be the heroic soldier who can do everything, but the Earth is also very powerful. It has created millions of species. Mother Earth offers us air to breathe, water to drink. We have to recognize the planet Earth as a wonderful mother who can host us, who can give us everything we need.

“In every speck of dust there are countless Buddhas. During walking meditation we can touch the Earth in us. We have to be realistic. Don’t search for a bodhisattva in your imagination. It is there in every step.”

You Have to Feed your Love Properly

October 10, 2011. 122-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, NY. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the final dharma talk for the Stepping Into Freedom, Savoring Life Retreat.

“Walking on the planet Earth is a wonder. The Zen Master Lin Chi said the miracle is to walk on earth. Like Neil Armstrong on the moon, we should be mindful of each step. Happiness should be possible with each step.”

Time is a product of our mind. This is dualistic thinking, but we can touch eternity and transcend time. We can transcend birth and death, being and non-being. Walking can bring a lot of joy, but also the highest enlightenment. You can bring this practice home and enjoy every moment of daily life.

Before you bow to the Buddha, you have to meditate. You have to communicate with the Buddha. There is a verse we can learn to touch emptiness. A Christian can practice the same way when bowing to Jesus. Thay continues to share about the Three Doors of Liberation (emptiness, signlessness, and aimlessness) and the four signs, from the Diamond Sutra, in which we may get caught: the concept of a self, of man, of living beings, and of a lifespan.

You may listen or download the audio from this site or watch the video.

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.

Ten Days

January 30, 2011. 85-minute Dharma Talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh, from Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France. We begin with 7-minutes of chanting. Thay reads some Vietnamese Poetry and a love story that takes place during the Lunar New Year.

Breathing in, I dwell on my unborn
Breathing out, no birth and death

Speaks of dualistic views and uses God as the basis for the analysis. Learning to touch the unborn. This is it. Sudden enlightenment.

Today we learn two more particular mental formations. The first is about deep desire, expectation of waiting for something. Feeling very empty. Lack of something. It’s why we check our email. Thay uses a story from a 1995 (Vietnamese) short story to make the point. The title is Ten Days. Ten days of expectation. It’s quite a funny story about young love and waiting.

Drops of Emptiness.

The talk was given in Vietnamese with English translation and is available below (French and original Vietnamese audio are also available, as well as video version).