December 24, 2010. 58-minute dharma talk given by Thich Nhat Hanh in Stillwater Meditation in Upper Hamlet in Plum Village. The talk was given in English (French and Vietnamese audio are available as well as video version). The monastery is in the 2010- 2011 Winter Rains Retreat and this was the Christmas Eve talk.
This is a time to go home. Jesus was searching for a home. He was a young man. If you are young, you too may be looking for a home. The Buddha too was a young man searching for his true home. There are those of us who have found their true home. In the here and now. Comfortable in the present moment. They are not looking for anything else.
Thay shares about meeting Martin Luther King 44-years ago in Chicago and how they talked about community. He was trying to build home – the beloved community. To build a loving sangha; very similar to Thay’s dream. If you have a sangha, and can flow with a sangha, then you have found a home. Jesus too found his sangha – not a very big sangha – and they had a difficult time building a sangha after his death. The Buddha too talked of building a sangha. The sangha of Jesus and the sangha of the Buddha had the same kind if aspiration – to reduce suffering.
We can have the sangha in your heart. The sangha is like a beehive – each bee working for the well being of the whole beehive. You are a cell in the sangha body. The time I have spent in the west has been devoted to sangha building. I feel at home because I am a cell in the sangha body. I don’t have to look for anything else. Without sangha we cannot do anything. When a bee is isolated from the hive, it will die. Building the energy of the sangha is the sisterhood and brotherhood of compassion. If your are doing that, then you have a home. If I have a home, it is very clear that youhave a sangha.
Just after the last Rains Retreat of the Buddha (before he died), he gave a series of short dharma talks (5-, 10-minutes) that have been recorded in the Tripitaka. A common theme was about finding our true home. There is a safe island within each of us andif you want peace, freedom, solidity, joy then you must go to this island – the island of oneself. There you have the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha, your ancestors and descendants. The island is the present.
Breathing in, I know the Buddha is Mindfulness. Mindfulness brings you to the present. This is insight. When you can get in touch with the wonders of life, to go back toourselves, then you are being a Buddha. The same thing is true with Jesus Christ.Christians believe that Jesus the Son of God and the Son of Man. All of us are children of the earth, and if we can agree upon this, then Jesus is our brother. The Buddha too is our brother.
The Buddha helped us to touch the ultimate. Nirvana. Absence of afflictions is thepresence of nirvana. It is possible in the here and now.
The deer like to go back to the field.
The birds like to go back to the sky.
The people like to go back to nirvana.
You don’t need to die to enter the Kingdom of God. In the Buddhist practice, all you need to do is breathe in mindfully. To take one step mindfully. Our true home is already there inside. Peace is possible. Brotherhood and sisterhood are possible. Building a sangha is the process and we do this by breathing in.
Merry Christmas to everyone.