Tag Archives: Summer Opening

I Know You Suffer

July 27, 2011. 93-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh, translated from the French by Sr. Pine, from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat

Thay teaches four mantras that can help us resolve difficult situations with our loved ones: 1) I am here for you; 2) I know you are there, and I am happy; 3) I know you suffer, and I want you to know that I am here for you; 4) I suffer, please help.

Thay also teaches the story of Mr. Truong and Nam Xuong, who lose their love, and her life, due to actions based on a wrong perception. “In our society we have a fear of suffering, but to understand the suffering in ourselves and in the other person is very important. When we are able to understand the suffering inside, we suffer less. And we can see more easily the suffering in the other person; we can understand them.” To go deeper into how we nourish the seeds of anger inside,

Thay explains the teaching on the Four Nutriments: 1) edible food, 2) sense impressions, 3) volition, 4) consciousness.

The talk was given in French and the English translation is available below. There is a video version available too.

Waking Up This Morning, I Smile

July 27, 2011. 31-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh, translated from the French by Sr. Pine, from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat and this talk is for the children.

Before the talk, the Italian Sangha and Joe Reilly & Friends offer versions of Thay’s poem on the Buddha breathing.

In the talk, Thay offers the children another poem that they may recite in the morning: “Waking up this morning, I smile / Twenty-four brand new hours are before me / I vow to go through them in mindfulness / And look on all beings with eyes of compassion.” He talks about his years as a young novice learning poems like these, and how happy he was to grow up in an environment of music and poetry.

The talk was given in French and the English translation is available below. There is a video version available too.

Suffering in Ourselves, Suffering in Other

July 26, 2011. 122-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat and this is a Question and Answer session.

Questions asked:
1) Why are my parents separated?
2) How do I recognize the Buddha in myself and in others?
3) How did Thay practice so that he could be so wise and smart?
4) Why do we have homework?
5) How can I regain trust in someone who has hurt me, especially when that person is someone I love a lot?
6) How can we Norwegians respond to the recent killings in our country?
7) What is the best way to regain a sense of mindfulness after years of conditioning with cell phones, internet, and other things that destroy our humanity? How does a technologically trained person get back to finding the True Way? And is there a place for all of this digital noise in that quest?
8) Is it true that hate is not possible, due to the interbeing of all things in the universe?
9) How can we support human rights in our countries, when many governments seem to act against them?
10) How can I deal with sudden hostility after a divorce, now that communication is blocked?
11) Please help in the case of addiction: what to do when strong craving comes?

The talk was given in English and is available below. There is a video version available too.

Happiness is Made of Non-Happiness

July 22, 2011. 86-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat.

The art of happiness. We have to practice in order to be happy. There is also the art of power. Some believe if we have power then we will be happy.

There are three kinds of power: the power to cut off, the power to love, and the power to understand.

We have no courage to cut off, and that is a power we can cultivate. If do not cut off our craving, our angry, our despair, and other cravings then we suffer. This is a spiritual power. if we can do this, we can be a free.

The power to love, to accept, to forgive, to embrace. We suffer because we cannot accept, because our love is not large enough. Thay shares the story of salt and water. When our heart is large then we don’t suffer. We can cultivate this power of love.

The third is power to understanding. This is the foundation of love. The second noble truth speaks of understanding out suffering. We have to understand our own suffering first before we can understand the other. The Three Doors of Liberation can help us with this power.

Thay would like to write another book call The Power of Suffering. There are ways to suffer. In the teaching if the Buddha, happiness and suffering go together. It is like the above and the below; like the left and right. When we realize that happiness is made up of non-happiness elements, we are able to make good use of the mud of our suffering to grow a lotus flower. If you know how to suffer then you know how to create happiness.

In the Sutra of Mindful Breathing, there are sixteen exercises that can help us understand our suffering.

The talk was given in English and is available below. There is a video version available too.

Let There Be Light

July 20, 2011. 80-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh in French, with English translation, from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat.

Thay begins with a story of creation: God said, “Let there be light,” and the light said, “Wait.” “What are you waiting for?” “I’m waiting for the shadow and darkness in order to manifest together.” There is no subject without object; the two have to manifest together. Further, object and subject are the same thing.

Buddha’s first teaching was on the Four Noble Truths: suffering, the creation of suffering, happiness, and the path to happiness. If we confirm the existence if ill-being, then we also confirm the opposite. This is Interbeing. Buddha’s teaching is both on suffering and on happiness. The first Truth, helps us identify the second Truth.

We can begin a discussion of the Eightfold Noble Path with Right View, the goal of our practice. When we look at a father and a son, we should not see them as two separate entities. Everything is that way.

Thay teaches the Eightfold Noble Path, elaborating on Right Thought, Right Speech and Right Action (three aspects of our daily life) as the development of skillful means with regard to the three types of karma: mind, speech, and bodily action.

What we call death is not really death. Our karma (our actions) continue after we are no longer here in this bodily form. We continue right now in the present moment through our actions. There are two kinds of retribution for our actions: ourselves (our five skandhas), and our environment (relating to Right Livelihood).

We conclude with Right Diligence, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration. Our view on a global ethic is based on these teachings. We have a path and we don’t have to worry.

The talk was given in French and English translation is available below. There is a video version available too.

Relaxing My Body

July 20, 2011. 34-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh in French, with English translation, from Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat. This is a talk for the children.

Thay teaches the children the practice of relaxing the body, smiling to life, and seeing our parents inside. He uses the example of a seed of corn show how our parents are present in every cell of our body: we cannot separate the father from the son. The Buddha is also in us, and we can breathe with him when we breathe.

The talk was given in French and English translation is available below. There is a video version available too.

Making Plans in the Here and Now

July 19, 2011. 120-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from Lower Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat. This is the question and answer session.

Before we begin, Thay offers a teaching on ancestors because today is Ancestors Day. Every home in Vietnam, no matter how poor, keeps an altar for the ancestors. We have two kinds of ancestors: blood and spiritual.

Here are the questions:
1) If we are living in the here and the now, how can we make plans?
2) Why do I have nightmares?
3) How can I help my younger brother to be happy if he annoys me?
4) How to become enlightened?
5) What is freedom, and can you be free even if someone tells you what to do?
6) How can I be kind to myself when I lack confidence?
7) What to do when daughters are treated less equally than sons?
8) We are taught not to judge people and things, but how can we love them without judging?
9) I feel that I attract people who have difficulties. Where is the boundary between being selfish and protecting yourself?
10) I am very confused. I feel caught by impermanence. So when you become a full-time Buddha, you have a state of mind with ultimate freedom and true happiness. But doesn’t that state go against impermanence? When you become a full-time Buddha does the law of impermanence no longer apply to you?
11) I am 50 years old, and I have a 15 year-old son. I would like to become a nun. Can I leave him to take care of himself and come to live peacefully in the temple?

The talk was given in English and is available below. There is a video version available too.

The River of Body and Mind

July 16, 2011. 85-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh in French, with English translation provided by Sister Pine, from New Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat.

Our body is not static; it’s always changing. It is a river and every cell represents a drop in the river. To meditate is to sit at the bank and look at our body. Like the body, there is a river of feelings flowing day and night. We are learning about the five skandhas as the river of body and mind: form, feelings, perceptions, mental formations, and consciousness.

Thay continues into the steps of practice based on the Mindfulness of Breathing Sutra. The first four help us with the physical form and the next four are to help us with our feelings: 1) recognizing the in and out breath, 2) following the in and out breath, 3) mindful of the body, 4) calming the body, 5) recognizing joy, 6) recognizing happiness, 7) aware of painful feelings, 8) embracing painful feelings. These eight are reviewed briefly.

There is also a river of perceptions. Is my perception correct? We also have mental formations. There are positive formations as well as those that make us suffer. Our mind is a river of mental formations. Finally, in Buddhism we speak of consciousness.

We continue with the sutra as it relates to perceptions. 9) selective watering of good seeds, 10) recognizing negative mental formations, 11) concentrate the mind, 12) free the mind. There are three principal concentrations that we practice. They help us transform fear, anxiety, and despair. There are three practices of concentration presented in Buddhist schools. They are 1) the concentration on emptiness, 2) the concentration on signlessness, 3) the concentration on aimlessness. These are also the Three Doors of Liberation and can be found in all schools of Buddhism. We learn of dualism and non-dualistic thinking.

What is happiness? Happiness is made of understanding and love. And with that comes compassion. But we must understand suffering. The First Noble Truth is about suffering. Suffering is essential to happiness.

Being and non-being. Signlessness. These are just notions and reality transcends all notions.

The third concentration, aimlessness, everything is already here.

The talk was given in French and English translation is available below. There is a video version available too.

Pebble Meditation: Children’s Talk

July 16, 2011. 56-minute dharma talk for the children. Thich Nhat Hanh speaks in French, with English translation provided by Sister Pine, from New Hamlet, Plum Village, France. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat.

Four positions of the body. We should hold our body in order to have peace. How can we sit on a lotus flower. When we have peace, we can have freedom and happiness.

Happiness is also possible using mantras. The first is “My dear, I am here for you.” To be there is a practice. We can do this by bringing our mind and body together. The second is “I know you are there and I’m very happy.” It’s just as easy to apply as the first. The person you love is there. The first was to recognize our own presence and the second is to recognize the other.

The quality of our presence is also important. One practice we can use to help with quality is Pebble Meditation. Using a sack of four pebbles to practice a self-guided meditation on being fresh as a flower, solid as a mountain, reflective like water, and free as space. Specific instruction is given for each step.

In the concluding 15-minutes, we are led through the mindful movements.

The talk was given in French and English translation is available below. There is a video version available too.

Miracle of Being Alive: The Greatest of All Miracles

July 15, 2011. 86-minute dharma talk from Stillwater Meditation Hall in Upper Hamlet, Plum Village, France with Thich Nhat Hanh. The sangha is in the annual Summer Opening Retreat and it is the second week.

Thay continues the teaching on mindfulness of breathing, summarizing the first eight steps of the Sutra on Mindful Breathing (he spoke of it during the July 13 dharma talk). The first four help us take care of our body. With the fifth, we touch the realm of feelings.

He teaches on dealing with difficult emotions, including how we can help those loved ones who feel they need to commit suicide because of an emotion. Belly breathing. Focus on your in breath and out breath, following the rise of abdomen. We should remember that emotions are impermanent. We have can peace, solidity, and freedom.

From the realm of body and feelings, we come to the ninth exercise which is the realm of the mental formations. Formation – samskara – is a technical term. The flower is a formation because it is made of non-flower elements. In the Buddhist tradition, there are 51 mental formations. We learn the relationship between mind consciousness and store consciousness and the concept of seeds (bija). We can practice selective watering. In a relationship, we can use a Peace Treaty. He tells the story of a couple whose love is revitalized by the practice of watering good seeds. The ninth exercise is about gladdening the mind.

At the end of the talk Thay shares about the four practices of Right Diligence. It means we should continue our practice. Don’t allow the negative seeds to become a mental formation. If a negative seed becomes a mental formation, we shouldn’t allow it to stay too long, but not by way of suppressing. When you recognize a good seed, try to touch it and bring up. Finally, try to keep the good seeds present as long as you can.

The talk was given in English and is available below. There is a video version available too.