Tag Archives: self

Who Am I?

From the Stillwater Meditation Hall at Upper Hamlet, Plum Village. This is the fourth question and answer session of the annual Summer Opening retreat at Plum Village on July 30, 2014. The talk is in English and both the audio and the video are available below.

  1. How do we eat our parents?
  2. When Thay became a monk, was he aware of the suffering in the world or did that come later?
  3. Why sometimes when we cry we are happy and sometimes we are sad?
  4. How did you create Plum Village?
  5. We talk a lot about respecting Mother Earth but a lot of the food we eat here is not organic and comes from far away. I feel blocked when reading the Five Contemplations. This seems incongruent.
  6. Who am I?
  7. How do I recognize suffering in myself and learn to take care of that Suffering? Loneliness.
  8. And we find another person presents not nursing, should we and how do we withdraw?

Looking Deeper into our Minds

August 27, 2013. 101-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh from Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, New York during the 2013 Nourishing Great Togetherness teaching tour. This is the second dharma talk for the 6-day retreat with the theme Transformation and Healing – The Art of Suffering.

Topics

  • Tea meditation – a cloud in my tea
  • A cloud in the calligraphy
  • Working with strong emotions
  • Smile to our anger
  • Mindfulness is to embrace and calm
  • Happiness and suffering
  • Four Noble Truths
  • Ill being and well being
  • Second and Fourth as Path and Nutriments
  • Interbeing of pairs of opposites
  • Right View
  • Right Thinking
  • The notion of self (Diamond Sutra)
  • Right Mindfulness
  • Right Concentration
  • Right Speech
  • Right Action

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.

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.

Enjoying the Space Outer Space

December 2, 2012. 82-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 eighth 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.

Walking. Using the power and concentration of walking meditation. Not thinking. Entrust your problems to your store conciousness. There is a lot of wisdom there from all the generations before you. What is collective consciousness? Store conciousness? How so you feed your conciousness?

At 23-minutes, we begin the sutra commentary. Enjoying the Space Outer Space. Touching the freedom in the present moment, this is the outer space. Also, it is sometimes called the sutra of Nirvana. Gatha #13. Formation is conditioned things. Condition and conditioned. The act and actor. According to the wisdom of the Buddha, you can see that you can’t have the action without the actor.

What is the view that transcends all notions? This isn’t nihilism.

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20121202 from Plum Village Online Monastery on Vimeo.

Nirvana In the Here and the Now

June 13, 2012. 124-minute dharma talk by Thich Nhat Hanh from New 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 ninth dharma talk (of 15).

Investigation of the phenomenonal and noumenal worlds. We use our mind of discrimination to investigate the conventional truth. If we use the practice to look more deeply, we can see the ultimate truth of the same object. We use the mind of non-discrimination for the ultimate truth. And in Buddhism we take care of the mind. We need to train our mind so to create a strong instrument for investigation. The yogi has to be skillful.

The teaching of the Dharma as a finger. A skillful practitioner should not be caught in notions.

The Wisdom of Adaptation. Being and nonbeing. A flower is made of non-flower elements and this principle applies to everything. In the 2nd paragraph of the Heart of Perfect Understanding. Form is emptiness and Emptiness is not form. Form is free from being and nonbeing. They are neither produced nor destroyed. We can apply the Law of Thermodynamics – the conservation of matter and energy. We look then at the Discourse on the Adaption of Conditioned Genesis Connected with Emptiness (Samyukta Agama 293).

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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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The Stream of Our Ancestors

January 15, 2012. 94-minute dharma talk from Lower Hamlet of Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan KhongIn Plum Village we have a gatha, a short poem of practice, that we can use when walking and breathing. It is an art and it can bring us peace.

The Buddha is breathing.
The Buddha is sitting.

Don’t try to look outside yourself. There is no separate self, there are only the five Skandhas: form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and conciousness. All our suffering is based in this idea of a separate self.

I accept myself and I am a part of the stream of my ancestors. I accept this stream. We can go together, thanks to mindfulness, we can recieve these qualities both good and bad. We don’t judge ourselves harshly. We accept, and we apply this to other people as well.

We continue the sutra study (@ 56-minutes) with gatha 38-41. We are studying the Paramartha Gathas, from the Yogacarabhumi Sastra of Asanga. This is the twelfth talk on this sutra.

To Express Our Love For The Earth

November 27, 2011. 100-minute dharma talk from Lower Hamlet of Plum Village, France. This is the second talk offered in the 2011-2012 Winter Retreat. The talk is given in Vietnamese with English translation provided by Sr. Chan Khong.

Thay shares hows to practice when entering the meditation hall for sitting meditation: quietly, stopping our thinking, and at peace. “We want to express our love for the Earth, so we have to walk mindfully, with gratitude.” Entering the meditation hall and settling. Calmly. Mindfully. Paying attention to your breathing and your sitting position. This brings peace to your body and to your mind. Every breath. Every step. We can use the breathing sutra. We can see our mental and body formations. The entire cosmos is inside of you and inside the earth. What is bodhisattva? Enlightened being. An being who has awakening, peace, understanding, love.

At about 38-minutes, Thay continues sharing on the Paramartha Gathas from the Yogacarabhumi Sastra of Asanga. “Yoga means coming together appropriately.” He teaches how subject and object cannot be separated. “Don’t think there is a subject outside of the object. That is wrong thinking. They manifest together, like left and right. Without the left there is no right, and vice versa.”

“Self (?) has various meanings: 1) owner, 2) actor, 3) inheritor. We should understand correctly: There is rain, but there is nothing that rains. There is blowing, but nothing blowing. There is feeling, but there is no one feeling.”

We can let go of conventional designation. Father and son are born at the same time. Subject and object. We have this idea this is my home, my child, my bank account. But there is no owner. There is feeling, but no feeler. There is action, but no actor. There is thinking, but no thinking. The self has an ego that gives you the idea of a separate self. We are not our feeling. This is a construction of our mind. Your presence is your function.

Free from Notions: The Diamond Sutra

September 25, 2011. 100-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 last day of mindfulness held at the monastery. The in-person attendance is a record high with an estimated 1200 people in attendance.

Today’s talk will be on right view. The practice of mindfulness based in right view can heal ourselves and heal the world. But we have to work to practice right view. The tea is the continuation of the cloud and this is the practice of no-birth and no-death. Your own nature is the nature of no-birth and no-death.

In The Diamond Sutra, we are asked to let go of the idea of self and we can be free from any discrimination. The second notion to let go of is the notion of man. We are made of animals, vegetables, and minerals. if we see this, we can see out Interbeing with the planet. The third notion is the notion of living beings. The final notion is the notion of a life span.

If you have not seen the non-Buddha elements than you have not seen the Buddha. The safest method to see the Buddha is to look inside yourself.

The sangha now travels to Mississippi for a retreat.