Breakthrough Into the Nature of Reality


August 20, 2011. 116-minute dharma talk with Thich Nhat Hanh from YMCA of the Rockies in Estes Park, Colorado. The sangha is on the North American Tour and this is the first dharma talk of the Body and Mind Are One retreat.

The first 21-minutes of the dharma talk is for the children. Thay speaks about offering our true presence, the best gift, to our loved ones.

When the children leave, Thay speaks about the term “sahabhu,” which he defines as “co-being” or “co-interbeing”.

In Buddhism we practice mindfulness and concentration. Mindfulness is to be aware of what is there, and we can choose the object of our mindfulness. We can be aware of a flower or a cloud, or of our in-breath. The energy of mindfulness brings with it the energy of concentration. When mindfulness and concentration are powerful we get a breakthrough, an insight—we understand the nature of what is there.

Mindfulness, concentration, and insight. It is insight that can release us from our suffering. Prajna. We also talk of the Noble Eightfold Path and the first is Right View. Right View transcends all other views. Free from the notion of being and non-being. One method to get there is sahabhu. From here Thay explains the Four Noble Truths and the idea of non-dualism and why suffering is a noble truth.

Thay continues to share about the dual nature of birth and death: “We are experiencing birth and death at every moment. Death is now, together with birth. They manifest together at the same time. You cannot say the above exists, and then the below later. The have to exist at the same time. Why are we afraid of dying? Wherever there is death there is life. We are not used to seeing things and thinking of things in term of interbeing. That is why fear and despair are born.”

Buddha. Dharma. Sangha.
Son. Father. Holy Spirit.
Body. Mind. Environment.

In neuroscience they ask whether consciousness is created by the brain; whether the brain and the mind are the same thing. How can something objective like the brain create something subjective like the mind. So there is the ‘in’ and the ‘out’; scientists are still caught in dualistic thinking. The wisdom of non-discrimination can help scientists to get an insight more quickly.

Thay dedicates the last section of the talk to the concrete practice of mindful breathing, including the first few steps of mindful breathing as delineated in the Mindfulness of Breathing Sutra. We are reminded to practice mindfulness and meditation correctly: “Life is already full of suffering, why do you have to suffer more with Buddhist meditation?”

The talk is available below. A video version is available in two parts: children’s talk and breakthrough into the nature of reality.

By Chan Niem Hy

Dharma Teacher.


  1. I was wondering if this is the first talk of this retreat and if they go in order. The top one being the final talk of the retreat.

  2. sorry..i guess it says it’s the first talk. Do they go in order then like I thought?

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