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.
July 1, 2012. 50-minute recording given at Lower Hamlet, Plum Village by Thich Nhat Hanh. This is a Day of Mindfulness. We begin with chanting.
When you set up a practice center, you have to think of the sangha. A sangha is a group of people who practice together and the environment is good, nourishing, and healthy. When people arrive at a practice center, she should feel the energy right away.
We practice mindfulness as manifested from the Five Mindfulness Trainings. These generate a healthy environment. This is what the Buddha did right away and we too can create such a practice center.
Suffering is part of life and with mindfulness we can make good use of our suffering. We can produce joy, happiness, and compassion. The law of Interbeing is suffering and happiness. The mud and the lotus.
The holy is made of non-holy elements. We can generate holiness if we understand suffering and allow compassion to arise in us and we don’t suffer anymore. The Five Mindfulness Trainings can help cultivate this holiness.
Being a monastic. We have 10-precepts. It is a holy life. Training as a monastic, you also need a sangha. You cultivate the mind of love. Boddhichita.
May 3, 2012. 95-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village during the 12th annual Francophone Retreat. The talk is given in French with English translation. This is a session of questions and answers. Before we begin, we are told about a new French translation of The Novice and also the 5-year monastic training program.
How can we practice when sadness takes over, especially when death is all around me?
How can I get out of the trap of the past? The shame of not being loved in my childhood.
How can I open my heart?
How do I take care of myself even though taking care of others brings happiness too?
How can I help young people who are addicted to online video games?
A question on sexual abuse and a lifetime of suffering. How to create healing and forgiveness?
How not to be overwhelmed by global warming crisis? Despair.
How can you help someone dying in suffering when the person has no faith?
March 18, 2012. 70-minute talk from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village, France. It is a rainy day today and we hear responses to a series of questions presented by a magazine in the UK on the topic of climate change and global warming.
Do you believe humans can avoid a global ecological collapse, or are we driving ourselves towards one?
The urban population across the world is growing. What if anything is lost by our increasing switch towards being an urban species?
Are we a vulnerable species or one still in control of our destiny?
There is strong support for engineered solutions to our ecological problems, for example reflecting the sun’s rays, sucking up carbon emissions, or lab-grown meat. Is this the right approach for us to be taking?
Most of us in the West are still attached to a high-consumption lifestyle. We like to buy new and exciting things. Is there a strong enough alternative lifestyle out there that can convince us to leave this high-consumption lifestyle we have?
Have we found a new narrative, one that can help us learn to live more sustainably before it is too late?
What is the hardest part of the lifestyle you have chosen to live, and how do you attract young people to follow?
Can we strive for financial and spiritual contentment, or are they mutually exclusive?
Most environmentalists narrow down the problems we face into two issues: overconsumption and overpopulation. Where do you stand?
February 19, 2012. 58-minute dharma talk from Upper Hamlet in Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation. A French translation is also available. This is the last dharma talk for the Winter Retreat.
We recognize the great happiness associated with spending three months together in practice. We also know people can practice at home and participate by listening online to the talks. This retreat goes all the way back to the time of the Buddha. If Thay is still in good health, maybe we extend to four months next year.
We can find joy and happiness with sitting, walking, eating. Every step and every breath is like a jewel. A jewel found in your heart. This is real kung fu – the regular, daily practice, training. The time for sitting is a time for training. Train to touch the joy. Our duty is to practice together, even if we have difficulties and suffering. We try to heal these together, even if it deep down in our store conciousness. The worldly way is to dig down and pull out this suffering and destroy in order to be healed. Sometime we can practice differently – we can lullaby them as sleeping seeds; we don’t need to pull them out. We can water with the beautiful things of life. Thay shares his great suffering of being exciled from his homeland and how he transformed. Slowly Thay learned to feel at home wherever he is – everywhere is my homeland.
Story of a lay practitioner asking Thay if he has any dream to complete before he dies? Thay does not desire anything – everything already exists right here now. When Thay was a young monk he had a dream of a fourfold sangha that could practice together. Thay continues sharing stories of being in Vietnam during the war and reconciliation.
October 9, 2011. 105-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 third dharma talk for the Stepping Into Freedom, Savoring Life Retreat. Today we have a session of questions and answers.
Our practice to ask a question that will benefit everyone. We begin with the children, then teens, and finally the adults.
When you are very upset, how can you show it without hitting?
Do you ever get frustrated with yourself?
How do I not suffer when people are not being good to this world?
How young were you when you became a monk and what types of commitments did you need to make?