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May 16, 2010. 68-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh in Upper Hamlet, Plum Village. The talk was given Vietnamese (found here) and is translated into English by Sr. Chan Khong. This is the fifth in a series (Part I, Part II, Part III, Part IV).
Thay provides a commentary on Gathas 20-23 and some of the language is being changed as the dharma talks occur. For example, it has been suggested that the sutta be called Net of Attachment. This is a work in progress.
20-21. By tying ourselves in the net of sensual love and taking shelter under an umbrella of sensual love, we are binding ourselves in the cycle of attachment like a fish that swims into his own trap. Caught by age and death, we just circle around the object of our love like a calf looking for his mother’s utter. If we are able to let go of desires and do not follow the tracks of the love vehicle, we can get out of the net of sensual love and nothing else can harm us anymore.
22. If we are able to go the whole way, leave behind all the fetters of attachment and suffering, and if we are liberated from all kinds of discrimination and go beyond all dualistic notions, we are a monk of great understanding.
23. Don’t keep company with those who go against the true teachings and don’t let yourself be pulled along on the path of attachment. If the practitioner has not yet transcend time and space, he is still caught in dualist views.
Listen closely to the commentary on the 22nd stanza because Thay mentions this is the very seed of the middle path – very Mahayana. The talk ends with a lovely letter written by a young nun of her experience of this sutra.
As a reminder, this text is from Chinese Dhammapada and originally in the sanskrit (Taisho #213). The sutra has 32 chapters, has 752 stanzas, and was translated to Chinese in the 3rd century.